Vernet Les Bains to Villefranche de Conflent ridge
Country - France
Region - Pyrenees Orientales (66)
Author - John Owens
Time - 3.00 hours
Comments Best as a 'point to point' one way walk but there are buses back to Vernet Les Bains (check timetables here).
Our description starts from the Route de Sahorre because our apartment is there - www.goodviews.co.uk. There is another option to shorten the walk by starting from the tennis courts and swimming pool then carry on down their road Avenue Saint Saturnin (on the opposite side of the River Cady than the old village of Vernet Les Bains) gradually rising on a path to the left of the equestrian centre. This is well signposted.
Villefranche de Conflent is an interesting venue in itself. For eating, shopping, Cave Tours (3) walks of the Ramparts and possibly Fort Liberia. This could be a half day stop.
Easiness and Safety The final descent through woods is windy and well-travelled by young and old. The ridge walk itself is wide and dry. Take water !
Start Point Park near at the start of the Route de Sahorre (D27) or in Ville Franche and then get the Bus to Vernet les Bains, disembarking at the Post Office).
Getting there From Villefranche de Conflent on the N116 turn left towards Vernet les Bains. On the outskirts of Vernet take the main road by the river Cady until you see a signpost to Sahorre over a bridge to the right.
The Walk As described above the shorter version of this walk ascends gradually (in fact it starts with a descent to the Swimming Pool and Tennis Court complex) using the Avenue de Saint Saturnin.
However the walk up the road towards Sahorre is not too demanding. Just over a kilometre up the road there is an opining and road to the right. Technically it is known as La Serre but you will just recognise it as the ridge. There is also parking here!
From here the walk is more or less straight along the ridge in a broadly Northerly direction. To your right is the Cady valley with settlements of Vernet Les Bains and Corneilla de Conflent. Beyond the valley is Mount Canigou peaking at approximately 9000 feet. If you are here on the first Sunday in August there will be races up and down the Canigou (one for walkers and one for runners). To the left is the valley of La Rotja with Sahorre and Fuilla as its principal settlements, though you can see mountain settlements and wonder what they might be like in winter!
Whilst on the ridge, look out for the little church of St. Clement de la Serra. In shape it looks like a crib. Inside (although it is now open air) the altar has many figurines. As you get closer to Villefranche there are Towers, a small quarry and some large rock formations with indentations which some people assert were prehistoric table and cup holders.
As you start seeing glimpses of Fort Liberia and the valley of the Tet you need to be careful in picking out the path to Villefranche de Conflent. The signposting is adequate when you find it!
In Villefranche become a tourist and wander in the shade.
Facilities Both Vernet les Bains and Villefranche de Conflent have restaurants and cafés. Both have museums and shopping facilities. The Canalettes (caves) in Villefranche are interesting. The walk to Fort Liberia is not too difficult and the reward of the vista from there is worthwhile.
Walk Duration 3 hours with about 1.5 hours uphill
- IGN Carte de Randonnée - Font-Romeu/Capcir - 1:25000 Sheet 2249ET
French IGN mapping is available in digital format by area and 'cut your own' maps. For more information and availabilty go to the Anquet website.
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