Chemin de la Liberté – WWII Freedom Trail over the Pyrenees I 6 days I JULY I AUG I SEPT
The Chemin de la Liberté is a demanding but spectacular freedom trail of great historical interest. Over the course of four days you will follow the escape route used by thousands fleeing occupied France during World War II.
You will begin in St Girons, before trekking high into the Pyrenees. Here you you will stay in a mountain refuge at over 2,200m before descending into Spain. We offer the highest standard of wild camp support including pre camp buffet lunch, tent and cooking equipment transfer for wild camp, support staff and a sleeping bag and mat out service so you can travel lighter.
Click ‘reserve’ below to select your preferred trip dates. If you would like to travel on dates not available below, please contact us to enquire about alternative dates.
Reviews 4 Reviews5/5
Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Tough - Trip grade 4
6 - 25
Chemin de la Liberté – `The Freedom Trail, Ariege Pyrenees
Duration: This trek can be done in 5 or 6 days and includes 3.5 days of trekking.
Option A – 5 days total, 1 night in an auberge, 1 night wild camp, 1 night high mountain refuge, 1 night hotel £575 per person for groups of more than 6 people.
Option B – 6 days total, 3.5 days trekking, 2 nights in an auberge, 1 night wild camp, 1 night high mountain refuge, 1 night hotel, £750 per person
Private groups – With Private groups of more than 6 people we can offer changes to the services mentioned to tailor this to the groups needs.
About Chemin de la Liberté – The Freedom Trail
Every year, the “Chemin de la Liberté ” trail inspires trekkers in the Pyrenees to make their own journey to commemorate the 782 Allied airmen and Jewish refugees who risked their lives escaping during World War II through Ariege.
Dates & Availability: Trips available mid July – September. Please note these are booking up quickly. If you would just like to visit the Halifax bomber memorial site, please contact us. We offer this excursion from June.
- Accommodation and food as specified in the programme
- Transport to and from Toulouse Blagnac on a single timed transfer per group. Other transport options on request.
- Local transport as per the itinerary
- Guiding by a qualified International Mountain leader
- One guide to 10 guests maximum ratio
- Wild camp support – Three course evening meal and breakfast
- Tents carried in by our team
- Sleeping back and mat carry out on request by our team so you travel lighter
- Transfer of bags from location to location on the first 2 nights
- Buffet lunch at the Col de Core
- Mountain snacks
- Any additional transport or accommodation needed if you have to leave the group for a medical or fitness reason
Transfer Toulouse to St Girons
Collection at Toulouse Blagnac airport and transfer to Seix which takes approximately 1.5hrs. You are free to explore this lovely small town. Auberge accommodation in Seix. Toulouse was a major gathering point for the crossing of the Pyrenees and many fugitives gathered in the Hotel de Paris, managed by Monsieur and Madame Montgelard, who were both eventually captured and deported to concentration camps in Germany; only Madame Montgelard returned.
La Soumere - Aunac or Esbintz
Trek approx 3-4 hours
We visit the Chemin de la Liberte museum in the morning in St Girons and then walk from La Soumere – Aunac (3.5hrs) taking lunch at the Louis Barreau memorial. After this we contour down and round before making the final ascent to Aunac on a forested path around a curious cone shaped mountain. It is easy to see how people could remain well hidden in this terrain! Overnight accommodation is provided at Aunac Auberge which used to be a meeting place for escapees or Esbintz depending on the size of our group. Dinner 7pm. (B,L,D)
Aunac or Esbintz – Subera Hut (1499m)
Trek approx 6-7 hours
After a hearty breakfast with wonderful views, we head off through the forest for a long day of trekking. Our path takes us steeply up to the Col de le Core (1395m) – this is a fairly demanding ascent but the views around us are spectacular as we gain height. Here we enjoy a buffet lunch and collect our kit for tonight. The hard part of today’s trek is behind us as we contour around the mountain-side, getting a glimpse for the first time of the terrain that awaits us. In less than two hours we should reach Subera Hut, set in pasture meadows at the foot of towering cliffs. There are often cows grazing here, and we can hear the welcoming sound of their cow-bells. Night camp at the Subera Hut (1449m). (B,L,D)
Subera Hut – Estagnous Refuge (2240m)
Trek approx 8 – 9 hours
A challenging day lies ahead of us today, as our trek heads into serious mountain terrain towards the Col de Craberous (2382m), passing the crash site of a British Halifax bomber. 80km off its intended route, it sadly crashed on a training flight in July 1945, killing all seven on board. Wreckage is left untouched out of respect, and a plaque commemorates the crew. We continue to climb to the top of the col and descend to Espugues refuge and towards a beautiful mountain lake for lunch. We’re likely to see wild horses in this area. As we near the snow-line, the scenery becomes more impressive; craggy peaks and towering cliffs, with patches of snow between the jagged rocks. It’s hard to imagine how those escaping France would have felt, making this journey in the dark and in fear of betrayal and capture. Rising up from the lake there are some bouldery steps where hands are needed and it’s neccessary to put one or more walking poles away. After our last steep climb trends across over glacier scraped granite slabs up to the cap de pecouch. We descend over boulder-strewn slopes to the Estagnous refuge. (2245m). (B,L,D)
Estagnous – Spanish border – Vielha
Trek approx. 6-7 hours; drive approx. 1 hour to Vielha
We set off from our hospitable refuge, and trek downhill to the lovely Lac Rond (1929m), stretching out any aching muscles in anticipation of the next challenge. Lac Long lies only about half an hour away, but is 200m above us, and the path to it is extremely steep. In places there is via ferrata cableway to assist. Once at Lac Long (2125m) the border at the Col de la Clauère is almost within sight. Our path crosses a deep gully, usually filled with snow, which provides an arduous slog to the top (2522m), where we gaze into Spain – another stunning view! We traverse across before descending on vague sheep track paths to reach a lake. This is swimable in on warmer days. Afterwards we continue the descent past some small waterfalls and an abundance of sunny side of the mountain flowers. We get into our waiting transport and drive to the Spanish ski resort of Viehlha. 3* hotel. Alternatively we can transfer you back to St Girons. 3* hotel. (B,L)
Morning transfer to Toulouse Blagnac Airport from Viella. (Lunch not included) (B)
Extra day relaxing
Today is free to relax! Ax-les-Thermes is a lovely old spa town, and a spa is the perfect way to treat yourself after the rigours of the past few days! The sulphurous hot springs have been used since Roman times. There are also many cafés to visit, and plenty to see if you feel like a gentle wander around town. We meet again in the evening for a slap-up dinner to celebrate our huge achievements. (Lunch and dinner not included)
Accommodation will be provided either in a Gite a Chez Arran, with a pool and relaxation area, or a hotel in Ax -es-Thermes. (B)
We are free until it’s time to transfer to Toulouse Airport for our flight home (Lunch not included). (B)
You will walk with only a day sack on the first 2 days of the trek and our team will meet you with your additional luggage at the end of the day.
Day 1 On the first night you will have the chance to sample local cuisine at a local restaurant in Seix.
Day 2 The second night offers a farm experience with all home grown and made produce at Aunac or Esbintz. All our clients report having had a fabulous meal brought to them by Adeline (Esbintz) or Francois (Aunac). You may sample sorbet made on site!
Day 3 On arrival at the col de la core you will receive a buffet lunch before the evening wild camp. For dinner we give you a 3 course meal including tasty starters that are carried in by our team.
Day 4 In the evening you will have a dinner provided by the Estagnous refuge and drinks are available from their bar
Day 5 Celebratory meal in Vielha A rewarding tapas meal with an excellent local wine selection and a great variety of gins and juices too!
Lunches: On most days you will receive a large and varied packed lunch but please do supplement with your own snacks.