by Madeleine McMullin
This walk starts from Palalda, near Amélie-Les-Bains. With bar, postal museum that also sells crafts, and a sprinkling of artists/craftspeople, all of which may or may not be open depending on the day and time of year, the pretty medieval, cobbled village is well worth a visit itself. On summer Fridays, it has a small night market with a traditional bread oven baking delicious bread and pizzas, a seafood man selling fresh oysters, prawns and mussels, and the bar puts on a paella or similar dish. Locals and tourists mix, and the atmosphere is lovely.
Palalda is a pedestrian village, so park in one of the car parks on the D618, and find the track marked with a yellow and red way-marker leading up to the left of the road as you come from Amélie – between the bus stop and the church on the opposite side. After a short while, follow a yellow signpost pointing up a path to Montbolo.
The path climbs fairly steeply through the woods but after about 15-20 minutes you will come out onto a meadow, where a yellow sign points left to Montbolo again. Skirt the bottom of the meadow and continue back into the woods.
After about 20 minutes, turn left at a junction towards the Al Sola convalescent home, leading you up the right side of the building and turn right, up some steps. Climb towards an electricity substation across a drive to a farmhouse, and stop to admire the goldfish in the water tank beside it. Continue up and across the road and back into the woods again.
You will soon see a path to the left signed Amélie. Ignore and carry straight on. You will come to the road again and get your first glimpse of Montbolo to the left. Continue up the path opposite and after 10-15 minutes you will arrive in Montbolo itself.
This beautiful little village has stunning views across the plain to the sea, and round to the mountains on the Spanish border. It is always extremely well manicured, with lawned slopes rising up beside the church and a ‘jardin botanique’ and ‘parcours géologique’ where different stones mined in the Canigou are on exhibition.
Every 30th July, the RODELLA DE MONTBOLO takes place. FIND OUT MORE
The Point d’Art is a delightful panoramic bistro de pays run by a local lady and her English husband, the chef. It is advisable to book.
The set menu is good value at €19.50 for 3 courses. I went for the à la carte and chose smoked salmon and asparagus tartlet, which I shared with my other half, who gave me half of his wild mushrooms with puff pastry in return. Both were delicious.
For mains, I had lamb flavoured with 9 spices, which was perfectly cooked, pink and tender, with courgettes and a choice of mash or chips. . My partner had boles de picolat and chips, which he loved.
I passed on pudding, but his strawberries in Maury with cream and ice cream were very good, and the others enjoyed their bras de Venus (swiss roll) in Banyuls.
Washed down with copious amounts of wine and a few coffees, the final bill was an acceptable €30 per head.
!! WATCH OUT !!
They don’t take cards, so make sure to visit the cash machine before leaving Amélie
as it’s a long walk down and back up again if you don’t have enough money!
The Way Back Down…..
……is the same as the way up. However, if you really want to work off that lunch, there are two options:
1. Return the way you came, and take the fork that leads down to the right, towards Amélie. It will take about an hour including a walk on the road for a small section, and brings you out on the north side of the river. From there you can follow the river for 20-30 minutes to the bottom of Palalda and walk up through the village to your car.
2. The longer option is to head up the slope beside the church to the road at the top, and turn left towards Can Kirc. After a while you will see a path marked with yellow, leading down to the left, past an antenna. This will bring you down beside the swimming pool in Amélie, from where you follow the river to the bottom of Palalda and walk up to your car as in 1, above.