Hike to the Abbey of St Michel de Cuixa, France

Snowcapped mountains, a fromagerie and a visit to a pretty mountain abbey make for a lovely afternoon on the trail. The only thing missing is the crusty bread and wine. Bring your own for a superb French picnic.

This 14 kilometer loop hike (510 meter change in elevation) starts and ends in Taurinya, along the D27 3-4 kilometers south of Prades. You’ll pass the Abbaye de Saint Michel de Cuixà on the way to town. Park at the parking lot at the Bistrot de pays El Taller or further up the road at the parking lot marked Massif de Canigou.

From the parking lot turn right, continuing straight and follow the yellow blazes up the road until you reach a fork with the path to the left marked “Cami de les Tarteres” (1). Take this trail and continue following the yellow blazes and signs to the “mines du Salver” (2), an old mining camp, about ¾ of a mile. Wander through the camp and head towards the right, passing a small stone building missing its roof.

The yellow blazed trail descends and when it starts to climb again ignore the yellow blazes that continue down the hill and instead continue straight ahead (the trail marked with a yellow X). Follow the road uphill around two bends through a chestnut forest. Next descend through an area of old mine tailings and climb a steep trail to a crossroads. Here continue straight ahead picking up the yellow blazes again. Along this road you have views of the Mediterranean to your right (3).

Continue downhill over a pass through a grassy area eventually meeting a paved road. Continue following the yellow blazes along the road until just before the fromagerie (4).

You may want to stop here for some local chèvre. At the gate note if the sign indicates that it is open “ouvert” and if so continue to the back of the house.

With your chèvre in hand, return to the road and find the yellow blazed trail that splits from the paved road just across from and just before you reached the fromagerie. Continue through the forest to the tour de Cours (5).

The yellow blazes continue past the left side of the tower through the forest down a series of switch backs, eventually hitting a dirt road.

Continue along the dirt road until it starts to climb and then take the trail (yellow blazed) to the left that continues downhill to a canal. Turn left and continue along the canal arriving at a crossroads with a small bridge across the canal (6). Turn right following the red and white blazes along the dirt road down to river and back up to the abbey parking lot (7).  Although much of the ancient Abbaye de Saint Michel de Cuixà has been rebuilt it’s worth a short stop to visit the crypt, cloister and chapel (5 Euros). Check opening hours as it is generally closed between 12-2pm.

Past the abbey pickup the yellow blazes into the peach orchard and continue into the forest, eventually rejoining the main road (D27) that leads back to Taurinya. Turn left onto the main road and after 10 meters there is a yellow blazed trail to the left (looks like you are entering someone’s private property, but it is clearly blazed yellow). Here, it started to rain on us and we took the main road back to the parking lot, dommage, but you can continue following the yellow blazes through the forest passing a couple of small monuments along the way.

From Les Pyrénées-Orientales– balade et randonnée à pied, #14 Les Balcons de Taurinya

For links to all the posts in this series see the French Pyrenees page.