Begin your adventure with your head in the clouds in the Costabonne Mountains and finish with your feet firmly in the warm waters of the Mediterranean. This trekking trip can be strenuous at times, but it’s well worth working up a sweat when you can finish your days with superb French dishes and wines.
Day 1 - Setcases
Your trip starts with your arrival in the village of Setcases, in Spain. This small mountain village is located on the Ter River, at the concourse of the Vall-llobre Stream in the beautiful Ter Valley. Setcases can be reached by a combination of public transport and taxi from Barcelona. Regular trains depart from Barcelona to Ripoll and a bus service operates from Ripoll to Camprodon. A short taxi ride from Camprodon takes you to Setcases. Alternatively, you may wish to book a private transfer from Barcelona Girona Airport (GRO), Figueras Railway Station or Perpignan (France) Railway Station to get you to Setcases – please inquire with Peregrine at time of booking. Tonight is spent in a traditional family-run hotel where you will receive a warm and friendly welcome from the family. Dinner this evening is served in the hotel's restaurant, which serves traditional local Catalan fare in a relaxed and homely atmosphere.
Day 2 - Setcases - Mollo
Your first walk in the Pyrenees takes you from Setcases to Mollo. You spend most of the day following the GR11, a path that crosses the entire Pyrenees on the Spanish side. As you hike up and down the steep and rugged mountainous terrain you are rewarded by stunning views of the breathtaking landscapes that surround you. Mountain trails take you by combs and cols and through beautiful wooded valleys of beech trees and coniferous forests. From a crest you descend into the small historic town of Mollo, passing peaceful pastoral lands on the approach. In Mollo, you encounter the town’s charming Romanesque church named Santa Cecilia. This afternoon you can relax in the town and in the evening enjoy a well-deserved dinner in the hotel restaurant. (Walking time: 4-5 hours / 13 kilometres / Level +:550m, Level - :650m)
Day 3 - Mollo - Prats de Mollo
Today as you cross the Pyrenees you walk from Mollo in Spain to Prats de Mollo in France. You leave the South Catalonia following an old smugglers’ path and en route visit a tower known as ‘Tour de Mir’. On today’s walk you enjoy sweeping views over the Vallespir Valley. On arrival in the medieval city of Prats de Mollo, highly recommended is a wander through the old streets and a visit to Fort Laguarde. This impressive castle was built by Marshall Vauban in 1683 to strengthen the town’s defences. This evening is spent in a basic hotel in the town centre. (Walking time: 5-6 hours / 14 kilometres / Level +:440m, Level -:885m)
Day 4 - Prats do Mollo - Amélie-les-Bains
This morning you are transferred to St-Laurent-de-Cerdans - the starting point for your walk to Amélie-les-Bains. A quick climb takes you to the Pilon de Belmatx (1280m) and from here you experience spectacular 360-degree views over the Costa Brava, Canigou Mountain and the Côte Vermeille. Beginning your descent, you walk firstly down a long and rocky trail and then follow a path through dense chestnut forests before eventually arriving at the town of Amélie les Bains. Upon arrival in Amélie-les-Bains there is time to explore the lively streets of this pretty place which is famous for its natural-healing sulphur springs that rise from the Gorge do Mondony. Amélie-les-Bains is today one of the most frequented thermal bath towns in France. This evening is free for you to relax and unwind in Amélie les Bains. You may even catch a local game of boules - a popular social pastime for Amélie’s residents. (Walking time: 5 -6 hours / 12 kilometres / level +: 362m, level - : 1018 m)
Day 5 - Amélie les Bains - Céret
Today you can enjoy a more leisurely pace with an easy walk from Amélie les Bains to the lovely town of Céret. You pass the small village of Reynes at the bottom of a valley then from the Col de Boussells you soon start discovering Céret, with its surrounds abundant in cherry trees. The area is known for its cherry orchards and the mild climate assures early fruit maturity around mid April. Tradition states that the first pick of cherries is given to the French president as a gift from Catalonia. You soon begin to experience the magic of Céret as you follow the small and narrow street into the town centre. An artist’s town, various well-known cubism painters were inspired by Céret and spent much time here. A key centre of Catalan culture and traditional, the town’s renowned Museum for Modern Art is highly recommended and exhibits works by Picasso, Matisse, Chagal, Maillol, Dali and Miro. Your hotel in Céret was frequented by some of those famous artists who donated some of their original works to the hotel owner who proudly puts them on display on the hotel walls. (Walking time: 4.5-5 hours / 10 kilometres / level +: 380m, level - : 320m)
Day 6 - Ceret - Banyuls sur Mer
This morning you are transferred from Céret to Pic Néoulous, where you commence your final and longest walk of your journey, taking you down to the charming town of Banyuls sur Mer, located at the base of the Pyrenees and on the shores of the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. From Pic Néoulous (1260m) you experience fantastic views of the Mediterranean, the Roussillon Plain and the Pyrenees. Today’s trail takes you along the Albères, the colourful foothills of the eastern Pyrenees, before a step and rocky descent from Pic Sailfort to the Cap Béar. Passing through picturesque hillside vineyards you reach Elmes’s beach before continuing on to Banyuls sur Mer. Tonight is spent in Banyuls sur Mer. (Walking time: 7.5-8 hours / 22 kilometres / level +: 642m, level - : 1589m) Please note: For those people who prefer an easier walk today, there is the possibility to do a shorter walk (4.5-5 hours) that commences from Col de la Serre.
Day 7 - Banyuls sur Mer
Your trip ends this morning after breakfast in Banyuls sur Mer. After a week of hiking, you may want to reward yourself with some time relaxing on the shores of the Mediterranean, soaking up that wonderful seaside atmosphere. Additional nights’ accommodation can be booked in Banyulssur Mer – please inquire with Peregrine or your travel agent. Banyul sue Mer Railway Station provides rail connections to other destinations in France and Spain, including Perpignan (France) and Barcelona (Spain). Alternatively you can book an onward private transfer to Girona Airport in Barcelona (served by the budget carrier, Ryan Air) or to Perpignan Railway Station in France – please inquire at time of booking.