Jul – Oct
Dates
Intermediate
Level
5 nights, 4 Days
Duration
16+
Age

A stunning mountain walking holiday in the Pyrenees

INCLUDED Transfers from Toulouse
5 nights accommodation
4 picnics
4 days guided hiking
5 breakfasts and dinners
NOT INCLUDED Flights Drinks with meals
OPTIONS Extra nights at the end of your walk
CONDITIONS For between 4-8 people

If you’re time-challenged and really want to get the most of your precious holiday time, this 4 day guided mountain walking holiday in France is just the ticket. It’s a wild and spectacularly beautiful walking holiday which takes in both the Ariege and the Catalan sides of the Pyrenees mountains.

This mountain walking holiday is also available as a women only walking holiday on request.

Available on demand from July to early October

About the route

This is a historic route as it follows some of the paths that were used by those fleeing the Nazi regime in WW2. Less frequented than the classic waymarked Chemin de la Liberté that leaves from Saint Girons, this walking route has an authenticity which is maybe missing from the classic route.

As you make your way up into the high mountains from the Ustou valley you’ll start to appreciate just what a journey the escapees undertook. Ill-equipped women, children and the elderly fled France, often at night, often in the winter, to seek freedom in Spain. It was a journey fraught with danger and you can’t help but have them in your thoughts as you follow in their footsteps.

Make sure you make the time to stop and contemplate on this mountain walking holiday, to absorb the beauty of the Ariege Pyrenees natural park on the French side and then the Alt Pirineu Catalan Pyrenees across the border in Spain. The beauty of the high mountain landscapes are breathtaking with mountain lakes, plunging waterfalls and vague footpaths bordered by colourful wild rhododendron .

Is this mountain walking holiday for me?

If you’re a fit, adventurous hillwalker you’ll be in your element on this mountain walking holiday in France, especially if you enjoy walking on the wild side. You’ll learn all about the history and culture and enjoy local gastronomic specialities as you explore these two distinct mountainous areas.

There is plenty of ascent on this walking holiday and you may be on your feet for up to 8 hours a day (see itinerary tab), walking at a steady pace. You’ll get maximum enjoyment out of your days in the mountains if you are already used to this kind of walking. Walking poles are very useful on this terrain to take the strain off your knees!

Your accommodation will be dormitories in hostel type accommodation, a mountain refuge and on a campsite. A kit list will be provided when you book.

 

1

Arrival

Your adventure begins with a transfer from Toulouse airport to your overnight accomodation at the hostel Gite l’Escolan in the wild Ustou valley area of the Ariege Pyrenees. Here, your guide for your walking holiday will go through your route for the coming few days.
2

Day1

Ustou Valley to Bordes de Graus
Ascent – 1620m
Descent – 1025m
Walking time – 7h30
Your walk will take you in the direction of the Spanish border via the superb Ossèse valley. You’ll reach the port de Marterat at 2215m alt from where you’ll cross into Spain. You’ll pass high mountain lakes before reaching Graus where you’ll spend the night on a campsite in the village. There’s a restaurant on site where you’ll enjoy a well-earned meal of local cuisine
3

Day2

Bordes de Graus to Certascan
Ascent – 1320m
Descent – 420m
Walking time 5h15
This will be your second day on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. The route takes you initially through impressive pine forests before you reach the high mountain pastures. Marvel at the magnificent lac Blaus which you’ll pass en route to the Col de Certascan at 2586m alt. If you’re feeling fit and strong you may choose to ascend pic de Certascan (2853 m) with its breathtaking views over the lac de Certascan, the largest natural lake in the Pyrenees.
Overnight at the refuge de Certascan
4

Day3

Certascan to Aulus les Bains
Ascent – 550m
Descent – 2000m
Walking time 8h30
This is the Queen stage of your walking holiday, the longest stage but the one with the most descent. It will take you through stunning and varied landscapes from the mountain refuge back over the high mountains to the Garbet Valley in the Ariege Pyrenees. You’ll pass numerous picturesque lakes such as Romedo, Seno, Coltax and Guilo and will cross back into France via the port de Guilo at 2371m alt. From there you’ll descend down to the Cascade d’Ars waterfalls via old, less frequented paths to arrive at Aulus where you’ll spend the night
5

Day4

Aulus to Trein d’Ustou
Ascent – 950m
Descent – 940m
Walking time – 6h
On this fourth and final day of walking you’ll discover the wild beauty of the Couserans area of the Ariege Pyrenees. Magnificent woodland, streams, small waterfalls, this is a special and unspoilt part of the world. Magnificent views of the mountains surrounding the ski resort will be your reward to the climb up out of Aulus. From Guzet you’ll follow the waymarked GR10 back down to the Ustou valley with its picturesque hamlets. Arrival at the Gite d’Etape l’Escolan marks the end of your walking holiday. Time for a hot shower, a good meal and a comfortable night’s sleep
5

Day5

Transfer back to Toulouse for your flight home.

The start of you walking holiday will be in the beautiful Ustou valley in the Ariege Pyrenees

Mountain lake on the France and Spain mountain walking holiday
Passing waterfalls on the French side
River running down from the mountains
You'll pass numerous mountain lakes on this guided mountain walking holiday
Stay at the Certescan refuge on a mountain walking holiday in France and Spain
A wild and beautiful mountain walking holiday in France
The campsite base in Spain on this mountain walking holiday
Discover beautiful waterfalls on this mountain walking holiday in France

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