After a long gray Winter, (yes even in the South of France it gets gray sometimes!) Spring has finally arrived in the Pyrenees. I used to think Fall was my favorite season, but with the return of the sunshine, flowers, and the bustle of life, I think Spring has stolen my heart. In between April showers, are beautiful partly cloudy days perfect for hikes and long walks in the countryside.
After my most recent long hike to the Tour de la Massane, I wanted to try a calmer trek in a different part of the Pyrénées-Orientales. I remembered another blogger post about a hike near the Conflent area that looked interesting because of the vegetation. The town of Ille-sur-Têt is known for its rock formations, but there are also some lovely trails in the area. You can find a detailed itinerary on Jade’s site for this hike, but even if you can’t read French you can still download her map onto the Google Maps app.
My boyfriend and I went on a quiet Sunday and were able to walk to the trailhead from the train station. There were a few other hikers we passed on the trail, but for the most part, it was pretty empty. After getting an areal view of the rock formations, we were surrounded by rocky terrain dotted with yellow flowers. I’m not quite sure what this plant is, but I’ve been seeing a lot of it all over the region this time of year.
Like many others during the pandemic, I found my solace in nature this year. I’ve always been a fan of the outdoors, but lately its been one of the only things keeping me from completely breaking down. A few days ago restaurant terraces and shops have reopened in France and life slowly seems to be returning to some sort of normalcy. Before the grand reopening, I was spending every chance I go to go out on a hike to avoid spending all day inside on my couch. The weather hasn’t been too warm yet, so I’ve been able to handle going out for day hikes.
This hike had so many wonderful views of the pic du Canigou. You would think that after living here for almost two years now, it wouldn’t phase me, but I’m still enamored with this little mountain. Eventually I’d like to climb the Canigou as a rite of passage for living in Catalan country. It’s 2 ,784 m (9,133 ft) tall , so I’d have to camp or stay overnight at a refuge there. In the meantime, I’ll keep training with smaller hikes.
The rocky landscape of Puig Pedrous was almost lunar. From the fairy chimneys to the rugged terrain, I felt like I was no longer in the South of France. I’ve been spending a lot of time on the coast lately, so it was refreshing to experience a different type of terrain.
As we approached the peak, we witnessed an interesting sort of bird! I was able to capture a few shots of it with my zoom lens and we deduced it was either a vulture or a condor.
Not to be confused with the much higher peak at the French-Spanish Border, Puigpedrós, Puig Pedrous is only around 500 meters (1,640 ft) in elevation. I couldn’t find a ton of information about the area online, but I was told by another hiker that this rock structure used to mark an older border between France and Spain.
After the peak, you can choose to continue on to other villages for a longer hike or loop back to Ille-sur-Têt. Even with the clouds, this isn’t a very shady trail, so hats and sunscreen are advised!
The loop is of medium difficulty and is about 3.5 to 4 hours long. There also seemed to be a few mountain bike trails in the area as well. I love cycling and hiking, but I’ve never tried mountain biking as it honestly terrifies me. Perhaps I will conquer that fear one day, but I’m not keen on trying it anytime soon!
Along the path we spotted many trees charred by lightning storms. It was overcast during our hike that day, so I’m glad it didn’t start raining and storming.
On the way back to Ille, there were even more majestic views of the Pyrenees and the mountain towns below. I haven’t made an official announcement on the blog yet, but I will be moving at the end of the summer as my lectrice contract comes to an end and I embark on a new adventure. Before restarting in my new city, I want to enjoy the nature of this part of France as much as I possibly can!
Keep an eye out as you walk because you might just see some ruins hiding in the hills! If you are feeling even more adventurous, you can change directions to visit Rodès and its castle.
Before you head back into town, you might want to veer off the path for a moment to discover the ruins of the Medieval village of Casenoves. The church has been restored, but there are some other ruins of buildings around it to discover. The rest of the journey ended alongside the river Têt with the Pyrenees fading into the distance behind the trees and clouds. Sundays are pretty quiet in France, so taking little break in nature was the perfect closing to the weekend.
Thank you so much for reading and make sure you’re following the blog to stay updated with all my adventures in France!
À la prochaine,