Walking through historical roman villages and Santa Maria de Bell-Lloc church | Tour de Cerdagne Day 2 Dorres to Puigcerda in Pyrenees, France
This was our second day of GR de Pays Tour de Cerdagne in Pyrenees-Orientales, France. We hiked 17kms from the old Roman village Dorres, Santa Maria de Bell-Lloc church, passed by La Tour de Carol-Enveigt and Spanish town Puigcerda and crossed back to Bourg-Madame, France.
The day before we had to spend quite a bit of time wandering around and had to get away from the official trail in order to find a camp spot. It was quite tiring and we got exhausted. In the end we climbed up right into the fields on quite a slope and were able to find a more or less flat spot there. We had very little time of daylight left and so we cooked our dinner and went to sleep right away without having an outdoor shower. At night it was quiet except for the animal sounds that we thought were the deer and maybe some kind of predator such as a fox.
We packed up our tent, had breakfast, did a bit of warm up and were good to go. We started that day quite late at 11am but we still hoped to be able to arrive to our destination earlier than the day before so that we have time to rest. But that would depend on the difficulty of the trail.
So first to get back to the official trail we had to get through the challenging steep uphill through the thorny bushes and plants following the deer path. Then we had a several kms more of an uphill to make in order to get to the Santa Maria de Bell-Lloc church standing on top of the mountain. This now half ruined church was built back in the 13th century by Romans and it used to be much bigger back then. Its name Bell-Lloc in catalan means “beautiful place”. On the info board close to the church we read that once it served as a shelter or refugee as well as the church for the many pilgrims that were coming and going back then.
The Santa Maria de Bell-Lloc was our highest spot for the day and we could see from it all the trail we had to do in front of us for the day. There we could enjoy some wonderful views of Cerdanya valley on a beautiful sunny day with the small rocky villages lower down. There were many eagle like birds in the sky circling around and it was a very pretty picture as well. So we have spent some time contemplating this beauty and taking photos and then got back on the trail again.
The weather was very nice and even hot in the middle of the day and it felt like summer the second day around. Even at night we didn’t feel cold at all and we think it was around 11 degrees Celsius which wasn’t bad at all for the start of September.
The trail was going a bit uphill for several hundred meters and then started to go downhill. It was going in the forest so we enjoyed having the shade in the middle of the day. Before the major downhill we turned to wrong way and lost our track because we didn’t pay attention to the crossed sign on the rock. Fortunately we didn’t get too far away before we realized it only a km extra or so. But it was a reminder to be more careful and watch the signs better.
Then the path got quite steep for several hundred meters and it was the most challenging part of the day. As the terrain was quite sandy and narrow we had to watch our step. It seemed to us more of a bike track than a hiker trail. But it didn’t last for too long. We had our nuts and chocolate for the snack in the shade of the tree and continued forward.
Soon we came down to the village Brangoly and Feners that were very small and old looking ones but were pretty charming. The place was very serene and isolated and we have spotted some luxury place to stay there as well.
So when we passed by these villages following the car road we decided to do a shortcut and not get through the village Bena but rather go straight to the town Enveitg. This way we would save up some time and powers and have more chances to get to the camp spot earlier.
So we did, followed the secondary car road where there weren’t much traffic at all. It was going along the yellow open fields without much shade at all and we got quite hot there. In 2.6 kms we were almost at the village Enveitg and when we were about to enter it we stopped to have our lunch break right at the side of the road.
After our nice break and a bit of rest and stretch we continued to stretch further along the trail. We passed through the village Enveitg quite fast and were out in the open fields again but this time on the dirt car road that we had to follow for several kms until Puigcerda. On the way we met many rich fruit gardens in the people’s backyards with lots of apple and pear trees in them. Then we crossed the railway of the Little Yellow Train which is one of the tourist attractions of the region and then the path went along the bigger railway connecting the Spanish Puigcerda and French La Tour de Carol. Overall it was very easy and flat part of the trail. And we didn’t notice how we stepped into the town Puigcerda.
There we had to do our shopping and bought some fruit and veggies to get us through the weekend when no shop is open. And of course on such hot day we couldn’t skip our portion of ice-cream that we had sitting on the bench in the park Shierbeck at the estany de Puigcerda. It was a nice green park full of big trees, squirrels running around and birds singing. On the lake itself there were many birds as well such as ducks, goose and swans. The town is quite small but colorful in the centre with the buildings painted in different colors. And this town is one of the major and important commercial spots in the region of Cerdanya.
So after spending an hour or so there we had to rush and crossing back to France we quickly got through the French town Bourg-Madame and were in search for the camp spot in the fields. It wasn’t very hard to find a flat spot but there were no secluded ones as there wasn’t enough forest. So we had to stay in the open field close to the tree line and just hoped that we weren’t seen from the dirt farmer route that was going quite close.
In the end we did 17 kms with several uphills and downhills that day and could say that it was a moderate difficulty day with some easy parts as well. We were tired enough but still managed to take a quick shower just to wash away some dust and sweat. Then set up a tent, cooked our food with salad and cheese that we bought that day and had little time to chill out before the night came. But the weather was still very nice and warm even in the evening and so we hoped to have a good night sleep.