Although we were not far from the flat shores of the Mediterranean, it was a surprisingly hilly walk.
We climbed immediately into the Corbières, a mountainous area with many rich valleys full of vines. Using traditional paths from one valley to the next, we managed to get lost frequently, but not seriously, and never for long.
The villages along the way provided us with rest, refreshment and interest. They had that air of self-containment that we find so attractive, where all the people seem to know each other and be absorned in local matters.
The exception was Lagrasse, which was a Plus Beau Village and consequently more focused on tourists. However it was really beautiful and we enjoyed exploring it.
Camping grounds in this corner of France are not generally as good as elsewhere, with the result that we stayed in hotels for three nights in a row, saving the best till last.
Getting to Port-la-Nouvelle
This year we started with a couple of days of leisure in Arles-sur-Tech, a village in the Pyrenees within sight of the Spanish border. A friend of ours was staying in a cottage there.
From the moment when we stepped out of our front door to the moment when we stepped into hers, we travelled continuously for 45 hours – by bus, plane, train and foot (in Paris we had a few hours to spare, so we walked from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon, stopping for breakfast along the way).
From Paris we caught the TGV to Perpignan and then the €1 departmental bus into the mountains.
Two days later we returned on this same bus and took the local train up the coast to Port-la-Nouvelle.
To get directly to Port-la-Nouvelle from Paris, you could get a TGV to either Narbonne or Montpellier, and then a local train.
Day 1: Port-la-Nouvelle to Sigean
Day 2: Sigean to Bizanet
Day 3: Bizanet to Fabrezan
Day 4: Fabrezan to Lagrasse
Day 5: Lagrasse to Capendu