Escape weekend: a hike on the windy balconies of the Mediterranean

From the heights of Fitou, a wide panorama embraces the sea and the ponds but also the Pyrenees and the Corbières.

Between Fitou and Salses, south of the Park, the territory oscillates between Aude and Pyrénées-Orientales. It is here, on the former Occitan-Catalan border, that many trails and loops have been laid out to reveal the rich natural heritage.

The town of Fitou has three of them, among the most interesting because they offer splendid panoramas from the balcony over the sea and the ponds. The Col du Pré, on the heights of the village, is an ideal starting point to appreciate its diversity.

Many capitals

The hiker, who will prefer to engage in spring or autumn (but nothing prevents you from testing this winter), is immediately impregnated with a dry atmosphere of scrubland. Swept by a Cers as generous as the rays of the sun, the stony paths radiate minerality. All around, the many stone walls once used for crops or sheep breeding reinforce the general impression. Like the many capitelles that adorn the surroundings of the trails.

No less than 286 listed in the municipality of Fitou alone. The shepherds are no longer there, but the local associations and the know-how of Guillaume Sales, technician of the Narbonnaise Regional Natural Park, have brought them back to life. Sentinels bearing witness to a pastoral past, they defy time and invite the hiker to reflect.

Because very quickly, the landscape widens. Holm oaks, olive trees and Aleppo pines had already softened the austerity. Here, a sinkhole, where wheat was once grown, now shelters an impeccable plot of fitou whose leaves display all the colors of autumn. There, the horizon makes its first openings towards the Big Blue.

The sea, Leucate, the oyster beds and the Albères on the horizon

Further on, the panorama becomes sublime and the view is breathtaking. As on the heights of Bages and Peyriac-de-Mer, other flagship paths of the Park, the eye does not know whether to prefer the village of Fitou and its ruined castle at its feet, Leucate and the sea in the distance, the lido, the oyster beds and Port-Leucate straight ahead, or the Albères massif and a bit of Canigou on the far right. A little further on, as the wide stony path returns to the interior of the Corbières maritimes, we meet Thomas and Catherine. Le Cabestanyenc wanted to show the show to his mother, who came from Paimpol. The Breton appreciates: “The sea, the mountains… There is such diversity. And what’s more, it smells good! I love it”.

If she returns in a few years, Catherine may have the chance to come across sheep, which once inhabited this territory. Disappeared in the inter-war period, they could be reintroduced by man, in particular to replay their role as excellent firebreaks.

The capitelles will be there, faithful, to welcome the shepherds. If she puts herself in expert mode, Catherine may even be able to spot the Lark of Thékla, a kind of little lark with a brown crest, very rare, which only breeds in the Aude and the Pyrénées-Orientales.

In any case, hikers will have no trouble venturing here, between sea and mountains, with the whole family. The landscape openings promised sometimes on the Big Blue and the ponds, sometimes on the Pyrenees and the Corbières, prohibit any monotony. A path conducive to meditation on the turquoise background of the Mediterranean.

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Escape weekend: a hike on the windy balconies of the Mediterranean

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