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.
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. We have a wine tasting at a local wine cellar and then 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
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
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 local restaurant and a
traditional "cassoulet" is always a tasty menu option..
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.