3 Months in the French Pyrenees


From April to June of 2012 we lived in an old Catalan farmhouse outside of Ille-sur-Tet in the “peach valley”. Below is an outline of posts related to our experiences exploring the Pyrenees, including tons of hiking and visiting the towns, markets and other regional sights. In 2022 we returned to the region for the 10th anniversary of when we lived there.

Return Trip September, 2022

Laruns, Haute Pyrenees
Laruns, located in the Ossau Valley, makes a great base for exploring the trails of the western side of the high French Pyrenees. It’s just large enough to have good services – restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, a boulangerie, a cheese shop, etc. but small enough that it retains its village ambiance. Post includes exploring a local trail and sleeping and dining in Laruns.

Return to the Têt Valley
The Têt Valley, located in the foothills of the eastern Pyrenees just north of the Spanish border, is a beautiful agricultural region known for peaches and apricots. There are also vineyards nearby, quaint villages to explore and walks in the mountains or countryside. We revisited some of our favorite spots including local hikes, scenic drives and lunch in Collioure. Post also includes sleeping at a VRBO outside of Castelnou.

April – June, 2012

We’ve Moved to France
Our arrival was not as easy as planned.
Home Base Ille-sur-Tet
Review of Ille-sur-Tet as a home base for exploring the region.

Gavarnie – Hiking the High Pyrenees – June 2012
Hiking the Cirque de Gavarnie
A stunning 15 mile loop hike up over the Cirque de Gavarnie, past the Breche de Roland and back to Gavarnie through the Bellevue Plateau.
Hiking the Cirque de Troumouse
Another stunner, this 8 kilometer loop hike has fabulous views of the cirque.
Home Base Gavarnie
Hotel and dining options in Gavarnie.
Short Day Hike out of Gavarnie
A pretty 3-mile hike in the hills above Gavarnie.

Tet Valley Hikes
Hike to Eglise de Comes with Views of Canigou
Hike starts at the picturesque hilltop village of Eus and affords fantastic views of Canigou, the highest peak in the eastern Pyrenees.
Hike to the Abbey of St Michel de Cuixa
A 14 kilometer loop hike through the hills outside of Prades, including a visit to the abbey.
Hike to Saint-Martin du Canigó
A pretty 6 kilometer hike in the upper Tet Valley.
La Reserve de Jojols
This 8 kilometer Tet Valley hike affords good views of Canigou peak.
Hike around Villefranche
This 11.5 kilometer hike through the countryside starts in Villefranche, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Trobada Festival on Canigou
This hike to the peak starts at Chalet des Cortelets, where Catalans gather for the festival of St Jean. The next morning they bring their bundles of sticks up to the peak to be burned in a bonfire the following weekend.
Train Jaune
This 10.5 kilometer upper Tet valley hike uses the local yellow tourist train to complete the loop.
Hike – Le Chemin des Estives
This steep 12.5 kilometer hike near Canigou is one of my favorites in the area.
Fillols to Chalet des Cortalets, Canigou Peak
This 22 kilometer hike is one of the toughest in the area.

Tech Valley Hikes (near Ceret)
Hike to Siern Pass
While not my favorite hike, this Tech valley trail affords pretty views of the mountain pass and Canigou in the distance.
Hike to le Pic des Salines
This Tech valley hike, south of Ceret, runs along the Spanish border with great views of the Mediterranean Sea and the western Pyrenees.
Coastal Walk to Collioure
This 10 kilometer coastal walk starts in Racou and uses the bus to complete the loop. Includes lunch in Collioure and a visit to one of the anchovy processing demonstrations.

Hikes North of Ille-sur-Tet
Vineyard Walk Planezes
Pretty walk through the countryside with the vineyards just starting to leaf out.
Vineyard Walk Planezes – Take II
What a difference two months makes. The same walk as above with the vines fully leafed out.

Towns and Markets
Collioure, France – Best Anchovies in the World?
Sunday visit to this colorful seaside town.
Ceret’s Saturday Market
Lively market in a charming town at the base of the Pyrenees.
Thuir Spring Market
The annual Marche Gourmand de Printemps (The Spring Gourmand Market) is more of a festival than a true food market. Still there are tasty treats to be discovered.
Evol, Quaint Hamlet
This charming upper Tet village is listed as one of the most beautiful in France.
Prades Tuesday Market
Visit this market for a taste of a true locals’ market.
Perpignan’s Saturday Farmers Market
A visit to this small but delightful food market.
Listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Post includes lunch and a visit to the castle.

Regional Sights
Prieure de Serrabona
Visit to this 11th century Romanesque structure famous for its stunning rose marble cloister.
Orgues of Ille-sur-Tet
A small yet picturesque natural wonder just outside of Ille-sur-Tet.
Romanesque Art near Ceret
Post includes visits to some of the areas top Romanesque sights – Le Cloitre d’Elne (my favorite), La Maison de l’Art Roman de St Andre, L’Abbaye de St Genis-des-Fontaines and La Chapelle St Martin-de-Fonollar.

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