Scenic Autumn Easy Trail to take in Cerdanya Valley in Pyrenees | Day 3 – Llivia, Estavar, Odeillo-Via
It was our third day of hiking in the Cerdanya valley region and that day we came to the Spanish enclave – Llivia village, then hiked through Estavar and Bajanda and climbed up to the Odeillo-Via village in France.
We had a quiet peaceful night in the fields of Cerdanya when there was almost no wind and all we could hear were the cow’s bells. And compared to the previous night 1800m camping spot it was much warmer too. But we could feel that it was much more humid in the morning. We woke up quite late because we felt quite exhausted after not having a good sleep two previous nights and felt that we need more rest so we gave up and allowed ourselves to sleep in. We also took our time to have breakfast, wrap all our stuff and pack our tent.
So we started our day only at 11am but felt much fresher and with a clearer head. We had a plan of doing around 12kms to the village Odeillo-Via in France doing a 300m climb and follow the path along the gorge.
The start of the day was bright and sunny and our trail was leading us through the scenic panoramic fields with amazing mountain views on all sides.
We followed the gravel route and already could see the roofs of the Llivia village on the horizon. Llivia is a very interesting site primarily because of its location, it is basically an enclave inside the French territory. In 1659, when due to the Treaty of the Pyrenees many regions including northern Cerdanya were ceded to the French Crown. Llívia did not become part of the Kingdom of France as the treaty stipulated that only villages were to be ceded to France, and Llívia was considered a town and not a village because of its status as the ancient capital of Cerdanya. And thus it was left as an enclave in France and since then it didn’t change. So in our opinion, this village is worth a visit if you are in the region.
So we enjoyed following this easy farmer’s route and soon entered the Llivia village. We walked through the very narrow main streets of it and could see that although the center of it left untouched and has an ancient look, the outskirts of the village were slowly growing with the new houses and buildings, this way making the village bigger.
There we went to the grocery shop to buy some snacks and as we felt warm we bought an ice cream as a treat too. It was so nice to sit in the warm sun and enjoy the snack, taking advantage of such pleasant day.
After spending half an hour or so in the park area at the river we got back on the trek again. We had to cross several car roads before we got to the French village Estavar. It had a beautiful Roman church in the center of it and nicely conserved historical center. Then we came out to the gravel route going in between the fields. From there we started to admire the magnificent views of the valley below with blue endless mountain ranges disappearing in the haze and lots of multicolored trees as far as the eye could see. On the other side we could see the high glorious snowy peaks of the Carlit mountain range.
The trail was gently climbing up and it was a pleasure to walk. On some fields we have spotted the unusual looking agriculture grown and remembered that we heard the information about how the climate change makes the conditions favorable in the region for the vineyards to cultivate. So we may see more and more of them appearing on the fields instead of usual agriculture.
Then we came to the small old village Bajanda that we passed very quickly and were out on the farmer’s route again getting even more breathtaking views of the valley and its wonderful colors as we were getting higher. At that point we were almost half way done for that day.
Then the trail turned away from the valley leading us towards the gorge. We began to follow the local yellow sign of the trail PR10 to Costa de San Vicens. We have already done this part before and knew that this is a scenic trail going along the mountain hill and river gorge through the forest that nicely connects one village to the other.
So at first it was following the wide farmer route but soon it started to become narrower and was going almost at the edge of the mountain side. It had quite a lot of bushes on the sides that we knew will bloom in bright yellow in spring. Then we gradually came into denser forest with lots of birch and pine trees growing on the sides. And there were lots of bright yellow leaves under our feet and left on the trees. On the other side we could enjoy the views of the steep cliff and lots of water streams or waterfalls coming down with power to join the river below. The path was nicely made too and in some parts had wooden bridges and passes. Sometimes the path was going right alongside the rock wall and it was making it even more special. The trail was mostly going flat and we believed was available for all the fitness levels, except for the winter or cold times when there may be too much wetness or ice on the trail it could become a bit dangerous because of how narrow it is. So overall an amazing walking path and a good trekking idea for a day hike for example.
The nice autumn sunny and warm day continued for the whole trail and we appreciated it a lot. Closer to the end the cool wind from the North started blowing and it was getting colder. At the end of that scenic path we came all the way down to the river and crossed it through the big wooden bridge. Then we had to follow the zigzagging road climbing up to the Via village that wasn’t too long. There we saw many cow pastures and had to cross the Little Yellow Train railway on the way. Soon we came to the Odeillo which was the upper part of Via village. We walked almost till the darkness and there we finished our 12kms peaceful and easy trail for that day.
We were quite happy about the whole trail that we did in 3 days starting from Planoles following GR11 and coming to Cerdanya valley. We were inspired a lot by the variety of autumn beautiful colors and smells and all the amazing views we met on the way. The nice warm weather helped a lot too with no rain or stormy wind. We would advice to have enough warm clothes as well as the 0C sleeping bag with you in order to be comfortable at nights as the temperature difference between night and day can be quite drastic at this time of the year. Also having the fuel and a drinking cup to heat up the water would be a great help on colder nights too. We realized that hiking in autumn has its special atmosphere and we absolutely fell in love with it. We hadn’t have much experience of it before because of the fear of being too cold at night and camping in freezing conditions. But this experience showed us that it can be perfectly fine and enjoyable if you have the right equipment. Hope this trip will be inspiring to you to do your autumn hiking in the region where you live and also come to discover the Cerdanya region if you have a chance.
If you are interested in exploring more hiking trips in Pyrenees you can check out our other hike reports from the region here: