First day hiking the beautiful trail GR de Pays Tour de Cerdagne in Pyrénées-Orientales, France | Font-Romeu to Dorres
This was our first day of GR de Pays Tour de Cerdagne trail that we decided to do as a tribute to this beautiful region where we have been living for the last 3 years now. It is a circular trail that can be done in either direction and we decided to go counter clockwise starting in Font-Romeu village. Previously we have done the parts of this trail here and there but have never had a chance to hike it as a whole. So we thought it would be an amazing hike to do to be able to pass by many interesting attractions and overall show the different parts of the region. It is 70km easy to moderate difficulty trail with just few steep uphills and downhills. And it can be done in 4 or 5 days depending on your goals.
So for the first day we planned to hike 16kms from the town Font-Romeu to Dorres village. It was a sunny September morning and the day was expecting to be very warm and summer like.
We started our trail on the forest paths that were going mostly on the flat terrain and had lots of shade. On the way we met quite a lot of bushes of red currant growing in the forest alongside the trail. It was a sour one but still nice to taste. After several kilometers we went out to the car route and entered the village of Egat. We passed by the old half ruined Torre dels Moros dates back to 1294, as well as the roman church and the trail walked us back to the forest. All day long we followed the red yellow sign of GR and it was nice and accurate.
Soon we came out to the open fields with no shade and had to follow them for quite some time. But fortunately there was a fresh wind coming our way and the weather wasn’t too hot. The trail was going mostly flat and from there we started to enjoy the nice views over the Cerdagne valley in all its bright glory of the afternoon sun. High in the sky we were seeing lots of colorful parachutes flying and people paragliding. It always looked so tempting to us especially because there is a paragliding school here in the region.
We had our lunch in the shade of the big tree and then descended down in the Targassonne village with its rocky buildings and farmlands. When we crossed the major car road we began to follow the nice shaded path following the horse pastures and fields. Under our feet there were quite a lot of dry yellow leaves and it reminded us of the proximity of the autumn. And it was a strange feeling because we clearly felt that the summer flew by very fast this year and we didn’t have time to enjoy it thoroughly. With the contrast of the last year when we spent 4 full months living in the tent this year it definitely felt like not enough hiking and outdoor adventures.
After passing by the camping La Griole the trail started to climb uphill. And we were getting close to the Themis Solar Plant which was seen from a far as a huge tower. It was operating in the 1983-1986 years and then closed due to a lack of financial support. It looks very impressive from the side and covers quite a lot of area with the mirrors. It has become a research and development center nowadays and has an exposition open to public as well as the excursions. An interesting fact is that the region of Cerdanya considered to be one of the best for the solar installations because it has almost 2400 hours of sunshine a year. Thus there are a lot of experimental and real solar installations all over the region.
This place is very special to us because this was the final destination of our very first hike in the region when we first moved here. And it was the one we actually filmed. It was very exciting time in our lives and thus it holds a special place in our hearts.
So after we walked by the solar station we were back to the open fields again with no shade at all and there under the afternoon sun it was starting to get hot. We had to do the final major downhill of 600m to the village Angoustrine. It was quite tiring 4km long steep downhill so it took us some time to get through. Also in some places, the trail was very narrow and there were many spiky plants on the sides so it was making it harder. In the end we felt our legs trembling and the muscles were sore. We were feeling that we need to start looking for the camp spot as soon as possible.
We still needed to cross the town Angoustrine and then had to do several hundred meters up to the village Dorres. There we hoped to be able to find a quiet and secluded place for the night. Dorres turned out to be a small pretty village with a beautiful church in the center and in the sunset light it looked even more magical. It felt very warm and nice. Close to the village were located the Dorres Roman Baths – quite a popular attraction dated back to the Middle Ages.
So we collected the water from the source close to the church which was nice because it meant we don’t have to filter it and headed towards the fields. We had to wander for quite some time before we were able to find a spot to camp close to the tree line and deep in the fields. There we had already little time to spare before darkness and so we cooked our food, had our dinner and went to sleep. It was quite an easy and beautiful day and we got lucky with the weather so we hoped this hike would continue to go this way.