Walk the Region : Around the River Lamanère

By Tim and Chris Parker

Hot under the collar in the summer heat? Why not head for the cooler air of the Tech Valley and the tiny village of Serralongue nestled in a hollow of mountains, just ten minutes before France’s southernmost point?

Much of this enjoyable 2 ½ – 3 hour walk is in forest, so perfect for hot days.

Key Info

6km with 170 metres of ascent.

Terrain is forest path, wider piste and a short section of road.

Yellow waymarks on most of route.

(Note for cheese fans – the extra time allows for a dégustation and/or purchases at the fromagerie de Mouly Benc)

Access:  map IGN 1:25000  Massif du Canigou  2349ET

walk the region lamanere

Serralongue

Serralongue village itself was built in the 10th century to provide lodgings for the serfs of the Castle of Cabrenç. Imagine the walk to work and back every day! Cobbled roads, old stone houses, and a large and ancient ‘laverie’ await you in this tranquil village.

serralongue

Start

Village of Serralongue.  Take the D115 from Perpignan via Amélie les Bains and Arles sur Tech. Continue in the direction of Prats de Mollo. Turn left, signed Serralongue, on D44. Use car park at entrance to the village. On a clear day the view of the Massif de Canigou is stunning.

The walk

When you can take your eyes away from the wonderful mountain views, make your way up the approach road into Serralongue itself. Behind the village the 3 Towers can be seen on the horizon

Les Tours de Cabrenç (Cabrens)

The three towers of Cabrenç are easily visible, perched on a nearby mountaintop. The first is the remains of the 10th century castle, the second the keep of the castle added in the 12th century and the third the signal tower built in the 14th century.

View of 3 towers from Serralongue

Before turning left into the main street by the school and Mairie, take a peek at the old washing area (laverie) on the corner and imagine the ladies meeting up for a wash session and a gossip. There is a toilet available behind the laverie which is not quite so ancient!)

laverie serralongue
The old laverie

Continue up the main street, noticing the dates on which some of the old stone houses were built. The bar/café/restaurant is a local meeting place and good stop for refreshments either now or later.

Towards end of street bear left up steep narrow street to the 11th century fortified church with Roman origins.

Pass the local ‘musée médiéval’ on right (opening hours info from the Mairie on  04.68.39.61.34). The wonderful ironwork on the solid oak doors is of particular note at the church.

church serralongue

The Conjurador

Built to appease the elements and chase away evil spirits, famine, drought, floods and war, each wall has an opening that faces one of the cardinal points. Centuries ago, when bad weather threatened, the priest would perform the ceremony as inhabitants held hands, prostrated in a circle.

conjuradora



Beside the church take a paved path uphill to visit the Conjurador. Also find a table d’orientation telling you that you are 112 km from Barcelona, 40 km from Collioure and Canigou is all around you!

Did you know?

Another walk for another day, the walk up to the tours of Cabrenç is much more strenuous, and more fitted to goats than humans. In fact, did you know that the word ‘cab’ (as in taxicab) actually comes from the Spanish for goat (cabra) as the first carriages for hire were so bumpy that they reminded people of goats bouncing around in the hills! Cabrenç, meaning goat in ancient Catalan, seems an apt title for a path that could well have been designed by these tough little animals!

goat

Go back down a few steps and turn left across church car park. Follow road and halfway along the cypress trees pick up a small signed footpath on right (opposite a tap in stone on left). Join wider track, turn left 50 metres then pick up another footpath on right.

Reach the D44 and cross it to pick up delightful forest path down to Galdarès. Ignore path on right at early junction.

Galdarès
Galdarès

Lamanère

This village, the furthest south in France, is almost lost in the wooded valley of the Lamanere river, its solid houses and sturdy church built on steep riverbanks, their stones a rusty red from the iron they contain. Once two small espadrille factories and nearby mines provided work. Now all that remains of village industry is the small museum dedicated to La Vie d’Autrefois, snapshots of lives spent iron mining and sewing espadrilles. Collect the key from the Centre d’Accueil (Welcome Centre) if you wish to visit.

Bertrand GRONDIN

Arrive at Galdarès, turn left to cross the bridge over the Lamanère. The locals told us later that a short distance upriver on left is a waterfall. Take care walking up the narrow road for about 500 metres. Soon after big bend find turning signed Mouly Benc on left.

Follow this narrow road, which soon becomes an earth piste, for about 1 ½ kms, following  signs to Mouly Benc at junctions. River Lamanère is below and gradually Serralongue comes into view on left across the valley. Arrive at the fromagerie.

Mouly Benc

It would practically be rude not to!

Jonathon or Kévin Astrou, or Marie, will be pleased to show you the delightful choice of cheeses and yoghurt on offer! Make an appointment in advance on 06 80 43 79 39 or 06 72 17 59 26 or find them and their cheeses at markets in Amélie on Thursdays, Prats de Mollo on Fridays, Céret on Saturdays and Serralongue on Sundays from mid June to the end of September.

After your visit, cross field below house to the bridge over the Lamanère rebuilt by the proprietors following floods. Fence has removable wires to reach bridge. Wonderful deep pools of clear water look wonderful and tempting for swimming!

EDIT : since publication we have been informed that the wooden bridge is in fact closed. Follow clear signs (yellow markings and wooden arrows) to cross the river.

Follow short steep path to left, arrive on level area and go straight up broad slope ahead. At top is a junction. Turn right onto narrow footpath on and follow it uphill to Serralongue. After series of zigzags, cross broad track to continue upwards. Emerge near some houses to find D44. Turn left to car park – unless, of course you choose to spend more time in this delightful village!

All along the watchtowers

Have you already spotted the watchtowers dotted around the high mountain tops? This clever network of signal towers (tours à signaux) was originally set up in the 13th century by the Rois de Majorque as a defence system to protect the Roussillon from invaders. Information was passed quickly around the region, using smoke during the day and bursts of fire at night.

Signals were black or white, discontinuous or continuous according to the danger. For example, one cloud of smoke might indicate 500 men on foot.

Find out more here.

watchtowers

Walked up an appetite? Call in to Chez Fleur!

Do you know your P-O Rivers?

The Agly:  starts in the Corbières and runs through Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet, Estagel, Rivesaltes and Saint-Laurent-de-la-Salanque before arriving at the Med near Le Barcarès.

gorges galamus
Gorges de Galamus on the River Agly

The Têt:  flows from Lac de Bouillouse, Pic de Carlit in the High Pyrenees and winds through the centre of Perpignan. Longest river in the P-O

lions clean tet
© Doronenko CC BY-SA 3.0

The Tech: starts over the border in Spain, flows through 25 different towns including passing under the Pont du Diable in Céret, and ends in the sea between Saint-Cyprien and Argelès-sur-Mer.

pont du diable ceret
Pont du Diable, Céret



Comments


  1. When we tried this it all worked well until we got to fromagerie. We met the owner who told us the path below his property was very steep on the other side of the bridge and advised an alternative route. We struggled to find a path after a while and ended up climbing through a fence and following an animal track very steeply uphill. Moral of the story do as it says in this piece and ignore the owner !

    1. Haha. Good advice Robert. Hope you had a fabulous day anyway.

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