This is a series of walks that link the mountains with the sea. They start in La Preste, the highest village of the Haute Vallespir valley, high on the frontier between France and Spain. Each day you will be walking a little further eastwards, sometimes assisted by a strategic taxi transfer, to get a little nearer to the "Big Blue", as the Mediterranean is called in these parts. The route follows a series of waymarked paths across the mountainsides through the heavily scented maquis and visiting some historic towns on the way to the port and beautiful town of Collioure. On your way you will be able to sample the wines of Roussillon, delicious local honeys, and the Catalan cuisine.
This walk is best described as moderate but should present no difficulties for anyone in reasonable condition and accustomed to walking. Day stages: All of the day stages are 4-6 hours of actual walking. An overnight change of clothes also has to be carried on two days because one hotel is too far by road to transport baggage.
La Preste La Bains is the highest village of the Haut Vallespir Valley high on the frontier between France and Spain. This small hamlet has a large Spa so if you wish to relax in thermal baths or treat yourself to some pampering then plan to arrive early.
Accommodation: Locally run 2* star with views down the valley. The hotel caters mainly for walkers and those staying for spa treatments. The hotel has a panoramic conservatory, laundry facilities, lounge and restaurant. The food is tasty and well presented.
From La Preste (1000m) make your way up the forested slopes of the Haut Vallespir Valley on well graded paths, to the Col de Siern (1629m) on the Franco-Spanish frontier, with fine views west to the Pic de Costabonne (2465m). We descend on the Spanish side and follow the Rio Ritort Valley down to the Spanish village of Mollo (1182m).
Accommodation: Our usual accommodation is a 29-room hotel in a typical Spanish mountain village with views over the Pyrenean foothills and with Catalan and International food. This hotel does not have an official rating but the rooms are some of the best on the trip.
Recommend an early start to allow more time to explore Prats-de-Mollo at the end of your day. From Mollo you take a more easterly route to return to France, following the Torrente de Fabert to recross the frontier at Collado des Prats (1596m). Here you descend a ridge between forested ravines to Prats de Mollo. This is the birthplace of Catalan resistance. Clinging to the southern slopes of Mount Canigou, this 1,000-year old town, with its picturesque old quarter and architecture by Vauban, has retained its original charm. The ramparts, the Gothic church with its Baroque altar, the old medieval quarter, Fort Lagarde and the nature reserve bear witness to its rich heritage. You can easily spend a couple of hours wandering around and walking up to the fort.
Accommodation: 2* either a small Logis de France hotel and restaurant in the shadow of the walls of the old fortified village or another hotel of similar size and standard just a 5 minute walk away.
Start the day with a road transfer to a farm, Pla Boula (900m), high up on the south flank of the Vallespir. A fine ridge walk takes you via Serre de la Garsa (1212m) to Pilon de Belmatx (1280m). At Col des Paracolls (902m) join the GR10 coast-to coast Pyrenean long distance trail to start the descent to Amelie-les-Bains (220m).
Accommodation: A fairly large 3* hotel with 66 rooms with ensuite facilities and swimming pool. The hotel is 5 minute walk from the town centre, shops, restaurants and cafes.
A short road transfer to Chapelle St Paul, followed by a walk via the famous Pont du Diable (Devil's Bridge) over the River Tech and up to the Ermitage St Ferreol. Then a traverse to the tiny village of Vives and the viewpoint of Puig Sangli (209m) and down to Le Boulou.
Accommodation: Our 3* hotel is on the quiet back streets on the edge of the old town overlooking the Tech valley.
Take a taxi transfer high via the border town of Le Perthus to join the GR10 at Coll de L'Ullat at 930m. The route starts with a steep climb bringing sweeping views to the west. Forest paths reach the border ridge at 1130m with views to the coast and the summit of Puig Neulos, which is reached by an open ridge walk. The views are magnificent to the mountains and the Mediterranean. Descend to the ancient walled village of Laroque-des-Alberes for refreshment and a taxi transfer to Collioure.
Accommodation: for two nights, you stay in a 2* hotel furnished in Catalan style It overlooks the harbour and the citadel of this picturesque town, which has long attracted artists. All the rooms have ensuite facilities. There are numerous good restaurants in the town and along the waterfront to sample the local cuisine.
Pack your swimming costume and towel for today. Walk up from Collioure (sea level) to Tour Madeloc (656m), then descend to Col des Gascons and follow the GR10 long distance trail among vines to down Banyuls. Explore Banyuls, take a swim or try some of the local wines. Catch the train back to Collioure for your last nights accommodation.
Depart Collioure after breakfast.
Per Person, Twin Share