Last summer we stayed for one week in a camping in Le Cerdagne-Pyrennes Orientales. Here are some tips and recommendations for campers thinking on visiting this area.
1) Save money: Municipal campings in France
France has a huge network of municipal campings around the country and camping is a culture there. You can find your camping in this website: http://www.camping-municipal.org/ %5BWe have to confess that we were thinking on camping in the Catalan Pyrennes but as camping are cheaper in France, we just went a little bit North :D]
At the end we went to the Camping Pla de Barres (http://www.pladebarres.com/), near the town Mont-Louis. A camping in the middle of the forest as you were literally camping between huge trees.
2) Take advantage: enjoy wildlife
The amazing of being in the middle of nature is that you’re a foreign in the wildness and observing, finding and taking pictures of wildlife is an option. One afternoon we had a walk around the camping for doing this, having a look at the flora and the fauna of the area. Though we’re not wildlife photographers, we finally catched a couple of our friends
3) Weather: Special gift for fog lovers
Staying at 1600m above the sea in the middle of the mountains means weather instability. Make your plans day by day an have a look to the local weather forecast, particularly if you’re planning to do trekking. We found this situation a special gift for us: we confess that we’re fog lovers and one afternoon the fog just took the mountains and the camping disappeared and it was amazing to have a walk around the camping and observe everything through the fog lens.
4) Vauban memories: a walk around Mont-Louis
Mont-Louis (http://www.mont-louis.net/) is a small town that is one of the fortified towns (Citadel) that the genuine Vauban designed. According to the website: “the Citadel draws a square flanked by four bastions and covered by three half-moons”. You can check the schedule for visits and touristic visits to the Citadel and the military centre. Another interesting thing of this town is the solar furnace, which was set up in the 1950s to test the resistance of materials (you can visit it with a fee). We just spent an afternoon walking around this hidilic small town.
5) Trekking: going to Bouillosas lake
The area around the Bouillosas lake is a perfect zone for trekking, getting in touch nature and relaxing.
TREKKING: From the Bouillosas lake, you can follow various paths to dicover the area:
- Boucle des étangs du Carlit: 5 lakes during 2h30 or 12 lakes during 5h
- Boucle de la Pradella: 1h30
- étangs des Esquits: 2h
- Boucle du lac d’Aude: 4h
From the Camping Pla de Barres you can walked to the Bouillosas lake. It will take around 3h, depending on the stops, etc. We chose this option to avoid using the car (as the access to the lake is restricted in summer and you have to take a bus or go really early in the morning) and to escape from tourists (the Bouillosas lake is a touristic hotspot of the area). So, we enjoyed a calm path only for us, following the river, crossing some meadows, finding and playing with some wild horses…
Just before reaching the Bouillosas lake, there is a field with some small lakes (Pradella lakes). Once we reached there, the calm disappear… and we were following all the other tourists to the Bouilloses lake. This area is full of wild horses that got used to people, and you can approach and caress them. We looked for a hided spot to have our sandwich and rest a little bit and we started our way down again.
We chose an alternative path from the Bouilloses to the Pradela to avoid the touristic traffic jam in the normal path. And we just nailed it! It was an amazing small path along the meadows.
6) Relax time: bathing in Spas and in lakes
There are a lot of spas in this area that use hot groundwater. Well-being is one of the characteristics of the Pyrennes-Orientals. Check the offer in: http://www.tourisme-pyreneesorientales.com/en/464/pages/d/well-being/health-and-fitness/page/0
But if you want to have fun with freshwater, instead of hot one, you can just go to one of the multiple lakes of the zone. We found out that there’s a recreation are in the Lac de Matemale (just down the sky stations of Les Angles) (http://www.matemale.fr/). This place is perfect for families, there are places to rent small boats, kayaks, etc… There’s a park of zip-lines between the trees. And a lot of places to have fun. But… being honest, we were not in the mood for being sorrounded by people and tourist in a noisy environment. We were thinking on a calm area where we could have a fresh bath and relax for a while [Yes! we maybe are a bit hermit-like when we’re enjoying the nature, but we’re not socipaths :P]. So… we took the car again and went to the opposite site of the lake, we found a campingcars parking and we walked a bit until a calm place for our purpose: a silent and relaxing bath in the nature.
7) Adventure time: Via Ferrata of Lló + Climbing
If you like adrenaline and adventure, we really recommend to do this Via Ferrata. There are options for families and kids, and they also have a park of zip-lines. You can see more details in my post Via Ferrata in Le Cerdagne: Lló
Along the road RD60 that goes from Mont-louis to the Bouillosas lake there are several spots for climbing.