by Tim and Chris Parker
A cool walk for hot summer days, this 3h 30 mins – 8 km circular walk has approximately 450 metres of ascent, virtually all in the first half, along shady forest tracks. Well signed route: first half – orange spots going up through forest and some yellow way marks: second half – clear red and yellow waymarking Montbolo to Palalda.
Access: map IGN 1:25000 CERET : AMELIE LES BAINS – PALALDA 2449OT
START OF WALK AT RUE DES GINESTAS
Either walk through town centre or follow main road on footpath, direction Arles sur Tech to reach a bridge over river Tech at traffic lights.
Turn right across bridge, cross road and a park area (through gates) then turn left along Route de la Corniche behind swimming pool. Look out for second right – rue Heliopolis – and turn up this steep little road. Find start of footpath, signed to Montbolo, beside entrance to rue des Ginestas.
- Pass behind flats and then turn to rise steadily through forest in zig zags. Near start of ascent cross a double track. Orange spots on trees mark the route.
- Continue upwards for about 50 mins to reach large cairn where alternative track from Pla Bernadou joins on left. Continue upwards for few minutes to sign indicating Montbolo straight on and ascent to the “Antenne” to left. Follow Montbolo.
- Path contours the side of a steep valley and descends to cross a stream and then rise the other side. Reach road into Montbolo at approx. 1h 40 mins from start.
Combine a visit to this delightful village, with its amazing views and fortified XII century church, with lunch at the panoramic *bistrot ‘Le Point d’Art’ run by a local lady and her English husband. Take a wander through the ‘jardin botanique’ and the fascinating ‘parcours géologique’ where the different stones mined in the Canigou are on exhibition. If you’re feeling fit, walk up to the ruins of the old mine workings of Batère, a fascinating insight into the mining industry of Canigou’s past, with stunning view over Canigou, the Albères, the Vallespir, the Tech valley, the Roussillon plain and the Mediterranean.
* ATTENTION. The restaurant doesn’t take cards, so make sure you have cash if you don’t want to be stuck with the washing up!
- Turn right into this well-kept village with its wonderful views across the mountains. Cross the park on right, (viewpoint available) descending to left alongside large stone building and parking area.
- Turn right past interesting sculpture and follow road round bend to Le Point d’Art Bistrot de Pays, behind the Mairie
- Path for descent starts behind the Bistro de pays and is very well marked with red and yellow waymarks.
- After 2 road crossings the path divides – right directly down to Amelie past the cross which dominates the hill across from town – and left to Palalda. We chose left and descended to La Sola convalescent home, passing an imaginative electricity sub station disguised as a stone cabin!
- Emerge at small field and follow edge to wide track. Cross and descend once more into forest to left of gates to an old property.
- Emerge, about 1 hour from Montbolo, onto double track and into Palalda.
Do make time to explore the fascinating medieval centre of the village. There is a Bistrot de Pays for refreshments.
This pedestrian only village has 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.
- After exploring the village centre drop down to the riverside through the maze of narrow streets. Turn right to make your way back into Amélie. Pass under the impressive stone bridge carrying road to Super Amelie
- Soon after this find a footbridge over the Tech on left. Cross river and turn right to return to parking.
Named after Queen Amelia, wife of King Louis Philippe who launched the thermal station in the XIX century, Amelie les Bains is a lively little spa town, well known for its sulphur springs and baths. The spa is well known for treatments of rheumatism and respiratory problems. The rivers Mondony and Tech meet here and the town is surrounded by forested mountains. There is a good selection of bars, cafes, restaurants and shops and a helpful Tourist information office on the main street as well as a charming little daily market and a large bustling one on Thursdays.
Although you could park near the Swimming pool or at Palalda to do this walk we suggested parking in Amelie as it offers lots of options for refreshments at the end of a really good walk.