Walk it, Run it, Bike it
With Leigh and Merry Foster
Saint André to Saint Génis des Fontaines circuit
Total length 19km
Difficulty : easy
Whether you’re in training for the Tour de France, the London Marathon or just trying to lose a few extra kilos, this ‘piste cyclable’ has something for everyone. If you mess around with Google maps you can find a variety of loops to make this longer or shorter depending on how energetic you’re feeling.
Veer off at any time for a cooling drink at one of the pretty Albères villages along the route: Saint André, Palau-del-Vidre, Sorède, Laroque-des-Albères, Saint-Genis-des-Fontaines, Villelongue and Montesquieu.
Coming from Argelès to Le Boulou on the ‘voie rapide’, turn right at the Saint André roundabout and park in the newly created car park. Mount your steeds, climb on to your scooters or roller skates, put your running head on….and off we go!
Take the roundabout exit towards St André, following this road about 400 metres and turning left at the sign towards ‘El Rancho’.
Don’t be put off by the builders yards, very soon you’re out in the peaceful countryside enjoying scenic views and Canigou, forever in the distance as a fantasy target to achieve.
After about 900 metres, turn right onto the EuroVelo 8 (EV8) cycle route, an ambitious project being built to connect Athens to Cadiz in Spain!
This threads through the countryside towards Vinya Vell on the outskirts of St André where you cross another narrow road, Chemin de la Pave, and after 400 metres, criss-cross over the small stream ‘El Milossa’ on a series of new bridges and passages à gué (pronounced ‘gay’).
On the far side of the stream, pass a few more isolated villas, before meandering west again for about 1 km to the Chemin de St André. Turn left here and follow the road markings through the new houses, then turn right towards the ford across the river Sorède.
Stop here and listen to the frog chorus. Continue past the Sorede sports hall until you reach the D11 road from Sorède to Palau del Vidre.
Why not include lunch in your itinerary and stop off at the Salamandre in Sorède?
Under new ownership this season, this small restaurant is open 7 days a week and comes highly recommended.
Cross the road and wind westwards across vineyards, turning left towards Sorède village centre, right after about 200 metres, by the farmer’s water pump onto Riba d’Ases.
After the passage à gué, cross the D50 Avenue des Baleares and continue to follow the EV8 signs stream, and vineyards towards Saint Génis des Fontaines.
Signs direct you to the village centre, across the main road (D2), and past the Gendarmerie on the Allée des Moines. Go under the bridge at the ‘voie rapide’ and turn right, (unless you want to add on a visit to Le Boulou which is left) and sail past vineyards, cherry, peach and nectarine orchards, family allotments, stables and the gloriously majestic Chateau de Villeclare, the family seat of famous French equestrian, Jonquerès d’Oriola, and source of some wonderful wines.
There are a few stretches where local traffic is permitted, but mostly your only companions will be other walkers and cyclists. Wild meadows, mimosa and blossom in spring, broome in early summer and teams of multi-coloured laurier rose, oleanders provide a fitting backdrop for butterflies and birds of all varieties.
Back at the car, look out for the sign to Mas Cristine, a further five minute walk, to end a perfect afternoon with a ‘dégustation’ of their excellent wine. Covid permitting of course.
Santé – and happy cycling!