Sun: Our pick
up is at Toulouse Rail Station at 3.30 pm. (Meet at the station main door)
From here we transfer by private coach to Collioure (about 2 hours). In Collioure our hotel is located on a quiet cul-de-sac in the centre of the
town just 100 metres from the beaches and from the main plaza. Collioure
has much to explore with its castle, narrow cobble stoned streets, museums and art galleries.
Wine tasting is available in the many local cellars.
Mon: We walk from Collioure (about
gently ascending and walking along a spectacular ridge leading to
several old castles. There are lovely views through the vineyards to the
sparkling Mediterranean to the south and the Pyrenees Mountains to the north.
At the Notre Dame de Consolation Hermitage we pause to visit a 15th century
chapel. From here, walkers may choose either
a short but steep path or an easier route up to a quiet country
lane. This leads gently downwards amid vineyards and back to the
town. In the afternoon we explore the town with its quaint
streets, outdoor cafes, castle and "art trail".
Tues: Travelling by
private bus, we cross into Spain and reach the St Pere de Rhodes Monastery.
This is considered to be one of the best preserved medieval buildings in
Europe and is atop a hill overlooking the Mediterranean.
From here we have a
lovely walk on the rocky headland with views of the sea. A substantial three
course lunch (including wine) is served in the atmospheric monastery
restaurant with fabulous views over the valley below. You can hear
the strange tale of the monastery's founding in the 800's when
a group of monks were sent by the Pope to hide the relics of St
Peter and other saints from the Barbarians who were invading Rome.
Wed: Today is a non-walking day but there are lots of things to do.
Staying in Collioure and exploring the Castle, museums, shops and art galleries is
one possibility. Some people may choose to take the train half an hour to the
interesting City of Perpignan. If you feel like a full day
excursion it is possible to go by train (about 1.5
across the Spanish border to the town of Figueres to
see the Salvador Dali Theatre Museum. When Dali was alive he set up this
museum to display his works in an old theatre in his home-town. Today it is
one of the most famous museums in the world and the second most visited in
Spain (the first is the Prado in Madrid). Even if you are not a fan of modern
art you will find this eccentric museum entertaining. Rail tickets and museum
tickets can be purchased online in advance.
Thurs: Today we head inland to walk in the beautiful
foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. We walk to visit Queribus, a castle that was the last of the Cathar
strongholds to fall in 1255. (The Cathars were medieval religious heretics
who held such radical ideas as equality for women). The heights of Queribus
afford splendid views of Peyrepertuse (another Cathar castle) and the
After a picnic, we descend a combination of stony paths and wider gentler trails for about 2.5 hours.
Fri: We travel a short
distance by local bus to Port Vendres,
a colourful fishing village on the Mediterranean coastline and from here we
walk along the rocky headland to a lighthouse. This is some of the best coastal
walking along the whole of the Côte Vermeille with lovely views over the
bays to the coast of Spanish Catalonia. Two walks are offered today. The more
energetic walk is along the coastline and takes about five hours with a
stop for a picnic lunch in a quiet cove. The narrow rocky footpath has lots
of up and down and a few short but steep climbs. The views are magnificent with
the Pyrenees Mountains as they meet the Mediterranean. The less strenuous
walk is on quiet trails and an easy footpath with lovely sea views.
Sat: Today we leave Collioure and travel north towards the medieval
walled city of Carcassonne. Along the way we stop for a lovely
stroll along the Canal du Midi. Constructed in 1667 this canal and
the footpath along it are a World Heritage Site. In the afternoon we
visit Carcassonne. Entering this old city is to be transported back
to the Middle Ages and, in spite of the many souvenir stores, one
can easily imagine knights, troubadours and fair damsels. We have
time to explore the town with its old walls, an "Inquisition Tower",
"Tower of Justice" dungeons, castles and courtyards then continue to
Toulouse where we stay near the old town centre. Dinner
is at a Toulouse restaurant.
Sun: Tour ends after breakfast. It is an easy 15 minute walk from the
hotel to the Matabiau Rail
Station.. Or the Airport shuttle bus stops directly in front of our hotel.