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The Pyrenees of the Cathars

Walking in the heart of the Pyrenees, among the forests and mountains.
  • Duration 7 days
  • Activity Walking holiday with a donkey
  • Holiday among adults, with family
  • Theme mountain
540€

Information : The Pyrenees of the Cathars

  • Comfort
  • Difficulty
  • Note No note
  • Roadbooks French

Presentation

In the heart of the Pyrenees, among the forests and mountains, there lies a land of wonderful countryside perfectly suited to recharging your batteries away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. From pass to pass in an unspoilt environment, you will love the calm of the green-hued mountains, symbols of serenity and well-being. The high plateaux are a perfect example of the wealth and variety of the French natural heritage. The holiday is crowned by a two-night stay at an altitude of 1600 metres, in a convivial and welcoming mountain refuge, where you and your family will stock up such memories of this special place so close to nature, as you will never forget!

You'll love

  • the peace and calm of a protected environment that remains unspoilt
  • walking over the plateaux with fabulous views over the Pyrenean peaks
  • unique mountain vegetation
  • two nights in a mountain hut at 1600 metres altitude

Program : The Pyrenees of the Cathars

  • D1 Arrival in Belcaire

    Arrival in the afternoon.
    Reception in Unac where the donkey handler ("ânière" in French) will give you some useful information (about an hour) on your stay.
    Then you go on to your hotel in Belcaire (45 mins in a car).

    Dinner, night and breakfast in Belcaire.

  • D2 Car trip to Prades and walk from Prades back to Belcaire

    10.5 km stage, total uphill 185 metres, approximate time 3hrs30.
    Transfer to Prades where you will park your vehicle for the entire holiday.
    First steps in handling a donkey.
    This first walk helps you to get to know your travelling companion.
    You go through a small village with around 20 inhabitants, Montaillou. You may like to make your way up to the castle ruins and enjoy the superb view over the upper valley of the river Hers. Then, after going through some woods, you come to Belcaire with its small lake, quite suitable for a dip and a rest after your day's walk...

    Dinner, room and breakfast in Belcaire.

  • D3 From Belcaire to Comus

    12km stage, total uphill 420m, around 4hrs.

    A walk setting off from Belcaire that leads into the heart of one of the finest pineforests of the Aude. How pleasant it is to walk in the cool and tranquil shade of the trees rising above.
    Who knows? - you may even come across a stag at the forest's edge! On the way down towards Comus, the plain of the Pla du Boum opens out before you; keep an eye out for rare and lovely orchids and other summer flowers (but please don't be tempted to pick them...)

    Dinner, room and breakfast in the chambre d'hôtes in Comus.

  • D4 Circuit around Comus itself

    10.8km stage, total uphill 380 metres. Around 3hrs 30.

    Starting from Comus you gradually gain height overlooking the valley till you come to a pretty, open plateau typical of the Pyrenees, the Pla de Boum. The second part of the route leads you into the state-owned forest ('domaine') of La Plaine, then you come to a phenomenal panoramic view including the lofty Cathar Castle of Montségur and the plunging Gorges of La Frau. 

    Dinner, room and breakfast in the chambres d'hôtes in Cornus

  • D5 From Comus to the Mountain Hut at Le Chioula

    14.7 km stage with total uphill 845metres. Around 5hrs30.


    This is certainly the most challenging stage of your holiday, in terms of both distance and effort. After a fairly slender path climbing out of Comus, the view opens out and with the height gained you will tend to forget your efforts as you can now enjoy a series of superb viewpoints over the Pyrenean mountains. One last small push and you arrive finally at the 'refuge' (mountain hut) du Chioula, 1600 metres. Here you'll find an atmosphere that is at once inhabitual and restful.

    Dinner, night and breakfast in the Refuge du Chioula.

  • D6 Circuit centred on the Refuge

    A 4.5 or 7.8km round walk with total uphill 80 metres for the first, 180m for the second. About 1hr 30 or 2hrs 45.

    Today it's a stroll! You can relax with a walk around the Roc de l'Orri d'Ignaux, all on tracks, with breathtaking views over the Pyrenees.

    Dinner, night and breakfast back at the Refuge du Chioula.

  • D7 From the Refuge du Chioula to Prades, then departure

    10km stage with total uphill 150m. Around 3hrs30.

    For this ultimate (mainly downhill) ramble, you follow the Chemin des Bonhommes (literally 'the path of good men'), which was taken by the last of the exiled Cathars hundreds of years ago. After you reach the highest point of your adventure, the Col de Balaguès - 1669 metres - you may like to take the time to look at the typical mountain flora at your feet: gispet (Festuca Eskia - tall fescue), gentiane ( gentian), aconit - wolfsbane to Harry Potter!, myrtillier (blueberry). Then, along a somewhat narrow path you descend progressively to Prades, 1250metres, a truly calm and authentic village, where you pick up your own vehicle.

    Departure late afternoon towards the Col du Chioula to get your luggage.
    Optional addition: extra night at Ax les Thermes.

Tariffs high season

From July to August, departure everyday

IN A FAMILY ROOM

Adult : 570  €
Junior (12 - 17) : 570 €
Child (2 - 11) : 370 €
Baby (0 - 1) : 70 €

IN A DOUBLE ROOM

Adult : 610 €
Junior (12 - 17) :  610 €
Child (2 - 11) : 550 €
Baby (0 - 1) : 70 €

IN A SINGLE ROOM

690 €

SOLO TRAVELLER

730 €

Tariffs low season

From April to June and from september to october, departure everyday

IN A FAMILY ROOM

Adult : 540  €
Junior (12 - 17) : 540 €
Child (2 - 11) : 350 €
Baby (0 - 1) : 70 €

IN A DOUBLE ROOM

Adult : 580 €
Junior (12 - 17) :  580 €
Child (2 - 11) : 520 €
Baby (0 - 1) : 70 €

IN A SINGLE ROOM

660 €

SOLO TRAVELLER

700 €

What's included?

  • 6 nights in full board accommodation (breakfast, packed lunch, evening meal)
  • Accommodation in small family hotels, B+B, and mountain refuge hut
  • Roadbook and waymarked maps provided
  • GPS traces on demand
  • Logistical and technical assistance
  • Baggage transfers

Optional

  • Donkey rental:  from 350 €

What's not included?

  • Beverage and extra
  • Round trip transfer from Home to the first accomodation
  • Facultative cancellation and rapatriation insurance

Characteristics of circuits

  • Place-to-place self-governing walking trip with a pack donkey, suitable for families.
  • Daily stages between 4.5km and 15km, about 2hrs to 5hrs30 walking per day at your own rhythm, of course.
  • Average height above sea level: 1300metres, (around 4250 feet).
  • Route: over paths, cart and other tracks, and narrow roads with light traffic.

Organisation

These walks are much more about relaxed exploration than athletic performance. Your roadbook will guide you from beginning to end, and at each stage you'll find a place for the donkey to drink, eat and rest. We also provide the logistical and technical support necessary.

Leading a pack donkey: travelling with a donkey is a superb way of enjoying a family walking holiday at the slow rhythm of the animal. They are great company for children and adults alike.
The donkey's role is to carry your baggage for the day (or the whole trip in the case of short stays). It can also, under your supervision and at your own risk, carry children one-at-a time if they start to feel too tired, provided that you observe a few common-sense principles:
1) the child carried must be at least 4 years old and capable of holding Her/himself seated upright on the moving animal;
2) the terrain should be even, not bumpy or rocky, and
3) the donkey's total load must be under 40 kilograms.
Looking after a donkey requires some attention, which is why we only provide one donkey per family per holiday.

On longer holidays you change accommodation every other day, which gives you the chance to better explore your surroundings or simply take the time to rest and relax...

Accommodation has been chosen for its atmosphere, warm welcome and environmental and architectural excellence.
N.B: the accommodation described above is given as an indication and may vary according to availability at the moment your reservation is finalized.

Access

By car

N20 direction Ax les Thermes

By air

Carcassonne Airport or Perpignan-Rivesaltes Airport

By train

TER railway station of  Quillan then bus line Comus - Belcaire - Quillan

Also Bus Line Quillan - Perpignan

Information

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