Walking / Hiking
The Canigou Massif dominates its surroundings and is very important for the Catalan region and its people. The key high point is 2,785m but there are higher peaks to the West. It is visible from far away in Spain and in France. During the seasons it can look completely different from one day the next taking on different moods with the changing weather.
The lower slopes of the Canigou are forest but all the peaks are rock and cliff. There are wonderful views from Andorra to the Med from the top.
The Canigou lies between the Tech and Tet valleys. The Canigou can be climbed from different directions but the full climb will most likely include a night in one of the refuge posts. You need to plan your route carefully depending on how challenging you want your climb to be. There are also options of Jeep rides half way up the mountain for those that do not want to start at the bottom for whatever reason.
There are many day walks you can do on the massif, including:
– The Balcon de Canigou, a high trail amid cliffs, with huge views to the north-east.
Both the HRP and the GR10 circle round Canigou’s northern flanks, and a diversion can be made to its heights.
There is a race up the Canigou in August but this is for the extreme ones!
A good book for Canigou walks is Le Guide Rando’s Canigou, Vallespir – Conflent. In French. The Rough Guide to the Pyrenees also has a good section on the Canigou.
At Canigou Lodge we have many maps we can show you or maps can be bought from the Tourist Office in the town.
These are the nearest 5 resorts – all within 1 hour – 1hr15 from here, providing the roads are reasonably clear. Les Angles and Font Romeu are the biggest and are the best for chairlifts, but Font Romeu has quite a few short runs and except for a couple of good long reds and blacks is more suited to beginners or intermediates. Les Angles has many reds (and some blacks when there is plenty of snow), and is good for intermediates. Both have ski schools for beginners and improvers.
The other 3 stations are smaller (and cheaper), with fewer runs,and have only 1 or 2 chairlifts each, with many drag lifts. However they are good out of peak season, when there are no queues, and suited to all standards of skiers. All 5 have some opportunities for off-piste.
There is also a very small station at La Quillane (on the way from Mont Louis to Les Angles). This is aimed at beginners and young families and only has 3 or 4 runs (greens and easy blues) with a couple drag lifts.
Some ideas for villages, towns and cities to visit:
There are many beaches to choose from for a day trip from Canigou Lodge but I have chosen this one to tell you about.
You will find it close to Collioure near the border with Spain on a section of the Coast called the Cote Vermeille. The Canigou can be seen from the beach and the low hills of the Eastern Pyrenees behind the town and beach create a beautiful setting.
This sandy beach is almost seven kilometres long but has many rocky pools to explore. It has been awarded the Blue Flag for its cleanliness and facilities. Beside the forest is a pine forest stretching over 12 hectares for a change in scenery from the sand. You can participate in many watersports here including windsurfing and scuba diving.
After enjoying the beach, you can drive to Valmy which is well worth the trip for the beautiful views and sites of Eagles soaring above you. There is also a 19th century Chateau there which is one of the earliest buildings constructed with reinforced concrete.
There is a 13th century tower near Valmy which was used for defence and built on a rocky peak. This is the Massane tower and is situated North of the town.
There are many coastal walks in the area passing coves, hamlets and ports including Le Racou.
This is a very interesting area historically as well as there was a large camp for prisoners, republicans fleeing Spain at the end of the Spanish War in 1939.
Muscat or Moscatel has been part of the Mediterranean for hundreds of years. There are more than 200 varieties of the Muscat grape family. The colour also varies dramatically from white to almost black. We often think of the sweet Muscat wines but there are lovely fine, light and even sparkling Muscats as well as the deep, dark and sweet ones. It is said that the Muscat grape is the only one that produces aromas and flavours in the wine it produces which is just like the grape itself. When you are in the area, look out for the various Muscat Sec and see what you think
Rosewine is not so popular in colder countries but in the summer in the South of France, there is nothing better than a chilled glass of rose and sometimes it is all you will be offered. The wine should be young, not older than 2005 and most people say the paler the better. This is not always the case but avoid the very dark rose wines. There are so many to choose from, just make sure they are well chilled!
There is a Pyrenean wine based aperitif called Byrrh which is produced near Thuir which you should also try.
Specialised Art Weeks
Thermal / Spa
Vernet-Les-Bains has its own Thermal Spa in the beautiful surroundings of the village. It offers treatment for rheumatic and respiratory disorders amongst other things.
Tectonic activity under the Pyrenees heats the water and should that water come to the surface then we know it as a hot spring. There are many to visit in the mountains outside the village. For years, health spas have been situated around these springs and Vernet-Les-Bains is no exception. This was the reason for Rudyard Kipling coming to the area as recommended for his wife by a Swiss Doctor.
Out and about
Monday, Thursday and Saturday
Tuesday and Saturday
There is a market everyday but the best is on Saturday
An outline of the summer program coming soon:
Open day at the farm
Many of the farms of the Pyrenees-Orientales open their doors to the public and invite you to learn about the methods of production and skills involved and taste a wide range of products from honey, foiegras, olive oil, fruit, veg, mohair, plants, vinaigre, snails, apple juice, goats cheese and more.
There are many opportunities for kayaking and canoeing for all levels from day trips to excursions camping on the way. If you are interested then please get in touch for details.
Our local restaurant, Le Cortal, is wonderful and within 10 minutes walking distance from Canigou Lodge. If you would like us to make a reservation for you on your first night or at any other time, then please just ask or get in touch yourselves in French or English. Their speciality is cooking on hot stones and wonderful steaks!
Restaurant link: http://bistrot-lecortal.fr/
The food in the Languedoc is very varied and seasonal. Each area has its own speciality. Markets are a wonderful way to understand the produce of the month and a fun day out too.
Famous ingredients of the area include:
Oysters (from Etang de Thau)
Cherries (The local dessert using local fruit is called clafoutis)
Pork sausages (ollada is a well-known soup made from Pork)
Olives (Tapenade and oils)
This is only scratching the surface of what the area has to offer. The variety is incredible and it is worth coming here simply for the food alone!