Le Coronat from Jujols

with Mike Rhodes


The spectacular walled town of Villefranche de Conflent is well known to residents of the P-O but above the crags that tower over this Vauban designed town lies a whole range of walking trails, collectively known as Le Coronat.

One of my favourite walks starts and finishes in the pretty south facing village of Jujols, (960m. GPS 31N442187E 4713433N.) There are several alternative routes starting in Jujols with one popular walk descending past Fort Liberia and ending in Villefranche but this does require two cars.

Le Coronat from Jujols

This walk follows good paths, but does climb 800m and requires a reasonable head for heights traversing the cliffs. With stops and lunch, allow 5-6 hours. Views both on the walk and across the valley to the south are stunning.

To get to Jujols, follow the N116 from Perpignan, past Prades and Villefranche. Just before Olette, Jujols is signed to the right. After 5 kms of climbing,  enter the village but do not go straight on Jujols has VERY narrow streets. Turning left at the information panel and then right into a parking spot.

Villefranche de Conflent

Retrace your steps to the info panel and walk N up the main street. The start of the walk is way marked but easy to miss. Aim for a path that traverses into the obvious stream valley to the right. Leaving the tarmacked streets of this fascinating village, pass an old laverie with the water coming from an underground source. Follow the path just above and to the L of the stream. Depending on the time of year, look out for a huge and varied range of wild flowers and butterflies.

The path climbs gently for 750m, passing a track to the R, but we stay on the LH side of the stream climbing easily for another 350m to a steeper section of zig zags which lead to a stream.

Ignore the rough track climbing to the L but cross the stream and follow the path crossing the hillside to the R. The path climbs and turns a ridge heading into a second stream valley.

Continue on the track on the other side of the valley and you will join a wide 4×4 track. Ignore  any paths going to the L or R and keep the trees to your L. The path comes out into open hillside and then turns sharply to the L.

At this hairpin leave the 4×4 track and take a small path climbing straight up the hill side passing a ruin at (1387m). Continue N past a shepherds hut and up to the Refuge de Roque Fumade, (1465m).

It is possible to stay in this unguarded refuge but you need to arrange for a key. If walking to Villefranche, take the track to the R of the refuge but we go to the L for 350m to join a wide 4×4 track.

Le Coronat from Jujols

At this junction we have a choice of routes.

1.Take the track to the R for 1k and then a track to the R for another 500m past a ruined but stunning building made of unusual red stone.

This track ends in an old red marble quarry with huge slabs of perfectly cut marble just waiting to be used. Interesting detour – but now we must retrace our steps 1.5k.

2.This is the route we will take, whether we do the detour or not. From the junction a small path (signed) climbs up the hillside for a short distance and starts to traverse to the L through a series of cliffs on one of the most spectacular paths in the area.

Good but narrow in places, and needs a steady head. At the end of the traverse, the path starts to climb again under more cliffs and then enters the forest.

The path descends and then climbs gently as it traverses through the forest and then descends to the Col Diagre (1462m) with a small shelter and info panel. Across the road is a beautiful, cold water source.

Now it is downhill all the way to the car so follow the path by the water source until you meet a 4×4 track which can be followed all the way to Jujols or short cut some of the bends by taking paths. You will arrive in Jujols just by the car park.

Take a little time to explore Jujols as it has some really pretty streets and houses and a superb pottery with the lady owner speaking some English and a selection of oven to table wear pottery.

Unfortunately despite a lot of renovation taking place, there is still no café in the village but it does have an Auberge and lots of self catered accommodation.

Dependent on conditions, this is a walk that can be done most times of the year and is especially good in the late spring when the wild flowers are at their best.

Mike Rhodes is an International Mountain Leader / Accompagnateur de Montagne, lives all year in Les Angles and specialises in guided walks in the high mountains and Snowshoe trips in winter. He can be contacted on 0033(0) 46 80 43 728 email: mike.rhodes@free.fr or visit his web site at www.pyrenean-trails.com



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