Chemin de la Liberté Freedom Trail- WWII route over the Pyrenees I 6 days I JULY I AUG I SEPTfrom
The Chemin de la Liberté Freedom Trail 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.
ITINERARY THE FREEDOM TRAIL
Day 1 Transfer Toulouse to Seix or Chez Arran
Collection at Toulouse Blagnac airport and transfer to Seix which takes approximately 1.5hrs. You are free to explore this lovely small town. You will spend the night in one of 2 traditional family run auberges in Seix. We also have the option to stay at our www.chezarran.com apartments with pool, thai cushion area and large gardens with a morning transfer of 1 hr across the Pyrenees to reach Seix and St Girons. Visit Tarascon sur Ariege Evades memorial and take a short walk depending on your flight arrival time.
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. Fom here escapees headed both to Tarascon Sur Ariege and St Girons to begin thier escapes into Andorra or Spain.
Day 2 La Soumere – Aunac or Esbintz Trek approx 3-4 hours
We often visit the Chemin de la Liberté 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. (B,L,D)
Day 3 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)
Day 4 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)
Day 5 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 Vielha. 3 or 4* hotel. (B,L)
Day 6 Depart Toulouse
Morning transfer to Toulouse Blagnac Airport from Viehla. Enjoy the magnificent sporty town of Viehla, it’s cobbled streets, tapas bars and also a museum should you wish. We are free until it’s time to transfer to Toulouse Airport for our flight home (Lunch not included). (B)
Reviews 8 Reviews5/5
Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Tough - Trip grade 4
6 - 25
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.