If a low-key countryside hike with stunning views of the Roussillon plain and surrounding Pyrenees is what you’re looking for, a walk to the summit of Força Réal may be for you. From the quaint town of Corneilla-la-Rivière, you can walk through vineyards and olive groves to this 510 meter peak. Don’t forget to check the weather before visiting however; sunshine and wind are abundant in the region!
Important Hiking Info
Corneilla is easily reachable by car or the regional Lio Bus 510. It’s possible to do a loop from Corneilla or you can take a shorter loop through Millas, which is accessible by train. Both the train and the bus are only 2€ round trip. We chose a modified route in Corneilla since we only had a few hours on our hands. If you take the bus, after getting off at the Clavé Verte stop, walk through the center of the village and follow the “Route de Força Réal” until you see the trail on the right.
On the Trail
I’m sure I’ve mentioned on this blog before that the Languedoc-Roussillon region is the largest wine producing region in France. So naturally, whenever I go out in the countryside, I almost always pass by some vineyards!
On the trail, you’ll also be able to see some great views of the Canigou, the favorite mountain of the Northern Catalans. Most of the path isn’t very steep, so the it’s ideal for a moderate hike. Once you get closer to the peak, it becomes a bit more difficult. There is no shortage of vegetation along the trail, but there is very limited shade so keep that in mind before making the trek. When I went in May, it was already quite warm, so I brought a large brimmed hat with me.
Although the countryside views are the main attraction of this trail, the flora and fauna shouldn’t be ignored! In the height of Spring, you can spot Spanish lavender, thistles, and more! We even saw a cool little honeycomb and bee on the side of an aloe plant.
After passing through the vineyards, you’ll reach the Sentier des Olivères. The grove has been here since Neolithic times, but in the 1950s the trees were wiped out in a massive freeze. Fortunately, the oliviers were able to regenerate and in the 70s, volunteers helped start olive oil production back up in Millas.
As you approach the peak, you’ll start to see magnificent views of the plains and neighboring Corbières Mountains. You’ll also be able to spot several wind turbines. Provence is not the only windy part of the South of France; in the Pyrénées-Orientales, you’ll be swept off your feet by the Tramontane wind!
Look closely in the hills for towers and castle ruins. Since the region is near the French-Spanish border, it has been a strategic area throughout history.
The Força Réal Summit
Força Réal is Catalan for “royal strength” and was the name of a medieval fortress that once sat on this peak. Today it’s recognized by its radio tower, which can be spotted all throughout the region.
It was super windy at the peak when we visited, so be prepared to secure anything that could easily blow away. I noticed a parking lot close to the peak, so it seems it’s also possible to visit by car rather than by hiking up. To the north of the tower is a little hermitage. It once was a “conjurador” which served to chase the disastrous storms formed by the Tramontane away from the Roussillon plain.
Before catching the bus back to Perpignan, my boyfriend and stopped by the olive mill, le Moulin de Minèrve to pick up some organic, local olive oil. In the shop, we were greeted by owner Charles, his daughter, and their dog. Before giving us a free olive oil tasting, he told us all about his mill and the types of oils they sold. Even though I’m an introvert, I appreciate the kindness of folks in southern France and their willingness to strike up a conversation.
As always thank you so much for reading! Make sure your following the blog for more adventures abroad and guides to hidden gems in France.
À la prochaine,