The region is so varied that one day you will be walking through spectacular, high Pyrenean passes and the next day walking through the vineyards or along the Mediterranean coast in Spain. We can hike up to the imposing Cathar castles and take time out to try the local wines at the end of the day. Since we have spent 3 years exploring the area we can make sure that you see the best parts of the region
Each night you will return to Sanglier lodge, in the haut Vallespir valley. Each room has its own en suite bathroom and outside you will find a swimming pool and plenty of room to recover.
If you enjoy wonderful food to follow up your walk then expect only the best as we use some of the best local restaurants in France and Spain or produce meals in the lodge which are guaranteed to keep you coming back for more.
We have entertained guests from all over the world and keep in touch with all of them. If this type of small group active walking holiday in France appeals to you then please drop us an email or give us a call.
Where will we walk?
In the eastern Pyrenees which form the border with Spain, a coastal and mountain area of spectacular scenery and diverse culture. It is also one of the least populated areas in Europe, and is a nature lovers paradise. There are dozens of trails in the mountains where you are unlikely to see other hikers, and there are also fascinating coastal walks along parts of the Costa Brava. Apart from Mount Canigou there are other 3000m peaks [Puigmal; Carlit] further afield and dozens of lower altitude walks in the vicinity.
What will I need to bring?
The vegetation and temperature can change markedly at different altitudes, and while we enjoy an amazing 300 days of sunshine a year, sudden storms can occur and fierce winds can suddenly erupt. Please bring your own clothing for sudden weather changes and hiking boots. We can provide everything else. You will not need compasses, maps, GPS receivers or any survival gear unless you wish to bring it, as you will be in the care of an experienced ‘mountain man’ at all times.
How fit will I need to be?
This is a holiday for healthy, physically active people, so a reasonable level of fitness is required, but you don’t need to be super fit and it’s certainly not a competition. Nor is age any barrier; many regular hill walkers long past retirement age are fitter than their children and grandchildren! Perhaps that’s because they do lots of walking in their retirement, are in great shape and able to walk for several hours in a day.
What time of day do we walk, and for how long?
The length of the walks is variable and depends upon weather conditions and how much the guests want to do, which might be anything from 1-10 hours. Three or four hours at is about the average duration, and the pace is dictated by the party itself and varies considerably, so there are no hard and fast rules. You will not, however, be left behind or expected to do more than you want, and the day after a long walk we will probably do a short one, and vice versa. For mountain walks we usually depart fairly early in the morning. We may halt at lunchtime for a big meal , or we may picnic in the mountains on a longer walk and have the main meal at dinner. If we are doing a coastal walk we may have a lazy start to the day, have ‘brunch’ and then head down to the coast for an evening walk and dinner in a selected restaurant.
A summit attempt of Mount Canigou may take two full days. The peak of the massif is two and a half thousand metres higher than the lodge so there's a lot of climbing. You'll need to be in good shape for this one, but it's glorious if the weather's fine. We have to make the mountain refuge on the first day in order to attempt the summit the following day and we carry picnic lunches in our day packs. Good food and wine and all your personal effects will have been taken to the refuge in advance, so you won't suffer an uncomfortable night.
What size will the group of walkers be?
Our groups are limited to 10 people not counting Actif Vacations personnel, to ensure that everyone gets the care and attention they deserve, and everyone has an opportunity to really get to know the others.
Will it be challenging enough for a serious athlete?
If you seek a more challenging week, it would be best to book the entire lodge with a group of like minded friends and people who you know are of similar ability. Then we can set a more arduous pace, and if you wish to do some serious rock climbing you will be placed in the hands of a guide qualified in France for those disciplines.
Do you take kids, and what age?
Children are welcome, but please ask yourselves whether they would enjoy mountain walking every day. Are they physically active, outdoor loving kids who are old enough to manage a fairly long walk, and who do so on a regular basis and enjoy it? If they have never shown any interest in this sort of thing it might be better to send them on a school expedition first. If the kids are very young we should be able to arrange some child care for a small fee while you’re out walking.
What's on the menu?
There really isn't space here to talk of menus; c'est La France! But in a nutshell:
Breakfast; normally muesli, fresh fruit and juice, yoghurt, croissants, baguettes, pain chocolat or pain raisin and fresh ground coffee. If we’re having brunch it’s a bit of a blow out but you’ll have plenty of time to digest this before lacing up your hiking boots!
Lunch. Some days we'll go to a restaurant for an absolute pig-out [we shouldn't talk like this, how about gourmet experience] on delicious French food washed down with copious quantities of Muscat, or an AOC vin rouge and Armagnac Don't feel guilty; you've earned it but since that will consume the entire afternoon we won't do it every day. If the weather is fine a picnic in some stunning will generally be the order of the day. If we’re on a long walk far from any access roads we may have to carry the picnic!
Dinner. Maybe we'll stay down in Collioure or Port Vendres for a romantic evening in a restaurant in that glorious old harbour; other days we'll eat at the lodge. When the weather's good [90% of the time] we eat outside for most meals. We'll make sure that your eating and drinking is a memorable experience. We take the view that food and drink is far more than the mere satisfaction of appetite, and that the pleasures of the table are a vital part of your holiday. .
What will we normally do when we’re not walking?
You’ll probably want to collapse around the pool, but there is a marvellous array of things to see and do here, and although we get an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, you could be unlucky. Most of the abbeys and churches have fascinating histories stretching back over 1000 years. Planning permission in the area is so stringent that the medieval towns and villages look as they did centuries ago. The coast is not far away, with good beaches and restaurants. There are bird reserves, a marine reserve, golf courses, and a tennis court in Le Tech. There are extensive limestone caves to see and the narrowest gorge in the world is 10 minutes from the lodge. A fine museum of modern art is located in Ceret, and the Salvador Dali museum in Figueras.
You can go fly fishing in the Tech river if you wish, or take a thermal bath in La Preste. There is a fantastic equestrian display at Fort Lagarde in the summer months.
Opportunities for wine tasting are almost limitless. You will barely scratch the surface in a week, and being right on the border we can be Spain one afternoon and French the next! Frankly, it would be hard to imagine a leisure activity which you can’t do here.
Our price is 1100 Euros (769 GBP*) per person for a full week, and this includes all the lodge facilities, all activities, all transport, all breakfasts and lunches plus 3 dinners (For the other dinners we will stop at local restaurants ]wine or beer with meals and plenty of drinks and snacks to keep you going during the day; almost everything in fact.
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