Walkers' World 
Guided Rambling Holidays
Languedoc   South-west France


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. 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 or taste wine in the many local cellars.  

Mon: We walk from Collioure, gently climbing into the hills beyond and walking along a 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 filled with marine ex-votos.  From here, walkers may choose either a short but steep path or an easier route up to a quiet country road. This leads gently downwards amid vineyards and back to the town. There is free time to stroll the quaint streets, relax at an outdoor cafe or to browse in the shops and galleries

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. The relics were hidden in a cave but later the monks could not find them.

Wed:  Today is a non-walking day but there are lots of things to do. Staying in Collioure and exploring the Castle, the Museums and art galleries is one possibility. Some people may choose to take the train half an hour to the City of Perpignan and those who feel energetic can go by train (about 1.5 hours)
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 surrounding countryside. After lunch in a picnic site below the castle, we descend a combination of stoney 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 a 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 ramble 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 roads and an easier footpath. Depending on walker energy and experience levels the guides may offer a longer hike to the historical site of Paulilles with its former dynamite factory, Catalan boat-building workshop and gardens. Paulilles is one of ten "Grand Sites de France" and is preserved as as national monument and educational/cultural centre. Dynamite was invented by Alfred Nobel (Nobel prizes) and the French engineer Paul Barbe established the first factory for dynamite on this site. It operated from 1870 until 1984. 

Sat:  Today we leave Collioure and travel north towards the old city of Carcassonne. Along the way we stop for a lovely stroll along the Canal du Midi. Constructed in 1667 this canal and the footpaths 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 at the Grand Hotel Les Capitouls which is close to the old town centre. Dinner is at a Toulouse restaurant.

Sun: Tour ends after breakfast. A shuttle bus to the airport leaves from the rail station every twenty minutes. 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.

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