Classic Chemin de la Liberté

6 Days

Dates

TRIP DATES AVAILABILITY PRICE SPACE LEFT
July 5, 2024 - July 10, 2024 Guaranteed £925
3 Available
August 1, 2024 - August 6, 2024 Guaranteed £925
4 Available
August 7, 2024 - August 12, 2024 Available £925
5 Available
August 21, 2024 - August 26, 2024 Available £925
Available
September 15, 2024 - September 20, 2024 Limited £925
1 Available

A tough WW2 Escape route across the Pyrenees from France to Spain as featured in books and on TV

  • Refuge, wild camp, hotel
  • Toulouse
  • Summer
  • Toulouse or Barcelona
  • Tough
  • 2-20

Overview

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. Over 33,000 Frenchmen alone escaped Nazi occupied France by crossing the Pyrenees into Spain or Andorra. We have taken over 600 people successfully on this journey since 2014 and celebrate the resilience and bravery of those who undertook the crossing during WW2. This route is recognised as one of the hardest escape routes in the Pyrenees and it is commemorated by the local community. Our guides have immersed themselves in the routes history and we have also pieced together evidence to help relatives of escapees follow in the footsteps of family members across the East of the Pyrenees. In doing so and through local literature, we gather together passeurs stories and the information on how the escape lines worked as well as how they changed during the war.

We offer the highest standard of wild camp support including pre camp buffet lunch, tent and cooking equipment for larger groups and experienced support staff. We relish helping this tough adventure become a reality for fundraisers, families, individuals, groups of friends and large travel companies alike.

If you would like to travel on dates not available below, please fill in the contact form or email us ASAP for 2024 or enquire about 2025 now.  We can take large bespoke bookings of up to 21 people with our camp support and logistics tteam. We offer a zoom call to chat through the freedom Trail options and to answer any questions. Contact anne@freedomtrailtreks.com.

Itinerary

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. For Sepember treks and smaller groups you will stay on N1 at 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 to the Tarascon sur Ariege Evades memorial may be possible 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. From here escapees headed both to Tarascon Sur Ariege and St Girons to begin their escapes into Andorra or Spain.

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)

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. At the col de la Core you will take in your night it for the next 2.5 days but our team will take out your sleeping mats after the wild camp. In less than two hours you an undulating path leads to Subera wild camp in approximately 2hrs. Subera is set in pasture meadows at the foot of towering cliffs and you may be lucky enough to meet Gilles, the local berger, who looks after the wild horses and cows around and above the refuge. Night camp at the Subera Hut (1449m). From now on we move further away from the road and you will at times be 3.5hrs from the nearest road which gives a splendid opportunity to detach and feel at one with nature and the enormity of the challenge escapees experienced with little kit and food. (B,L,D)

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 de craberous 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). +1500m (B,L,D)

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 swimmable 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)

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. Departures are usually late morning or early afternoon. (B)

What is included?

Included in this trip

  • 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 bag 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

Not included in this trip

  • Flights
  • Insurance
  • Mountain snacks
  • Any additional transport or accommodation needed if you have to leave the group for a medical or fitness reason

Dates

TRIP DATES AVAILABILITY PRICE SPACE LEFT
July 5, 2024 - July 10, 2024 Guaranteed £925
3 Available
August 1, 2024 - August 6, 2024 Guaranteed £925
4 Available
August 7, 2024 - August 12, 2024 Available £925
5 Available
August 21, 2024 - August 26, 2024 Available £925
Available
September 15, 2024 - September 20, 2024 Limited £925
1 Available

FAQs

What will I carry

You will walk with only a day sack which you will bring with you on the first 2 days of the trek and our team will meet you with your additional luggage at the end of the day. Walking into the wild camp you will bring in addition your night kit, sleeping bag and possibly mat (wwe will brief you). From Subera wild camp you should carry no more than 8kg and your remaining baggage will be taken over to Spain by our team to meet you on the final night. Our camp team brings in your food for the evening and next days breakfast. They then take out your sleeping mat and for small groups of up to 8 people you will just continue to Spain with your night kit, next days lunch and your sheet sleeping bag. For larget groups of more than 8 people we will usually ask you to take your light weight sleeping bag and compression sack with you.

What is the food like?

Day 1 On the first night you will have the chance to sample local cuisine at a local restaurant in Seix or Tarascon Sur Ariege if staying at Chez Arran.

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 Anthony (Aunac).

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 fixed menu dinner provided by the Estagnous refuge and drinks are available from their bar service. Dietary requirements can usually be catered for as long as we know in advance.

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.

How hard is it?

You need to complete +1500m of ascent in a day and should be trained for this. It is neccessary to walk on narrow path and for a short section use in situ wires with your hands due to the exposured nature. Most people find this fun!

You need to walk over boulderfields and be able to cope with an 8-9hr treking day on the hardest day. Please do arrange a whatsapp or zoom and we can go through anything and also offer easier options for thoe who would like something less demanding 🙂

Accommodation

Wild Camping
Facilities are basic, but with incredible views! In the small refuge next to the camping there is a sink with cold running water and you can wash in the stream.
Roomshare Arrangements

Some accommodation will be twin or triple share. Please tell us if you know somebody else on the trip that you would like to share with and we will try our best to accommodate your request. If you don’t know anyone else in the group don’t worry, we always pair you up with someone of the same gender, and a similar age where possible. We do not charge a single supplement if you are a solo traveller in a shared room.

N1 Auberge de Haut Salat, Seix or Chez Arran

Twin, double or tripple room share, single rooms usually available on request.

N2 Aunac or Estbinz – dormatory

Subera Wild Camp

Tonight you just have a sink with cold water and a stream to bath in but our wonderful staff wil be there to help. You can also sleep inside the refuge but it is primative. NB the cows are usually down the valley! Facilities are basic, but with incredible views!

Estagnous refuge – Dormatory accommodation, fixed menu and bar

Old image of the Estagnous refuge

petite-halte-sur-le-chemin-de-la-libertc3a9-dans-la-montagne-couseranaise

Vielha

Here we stay in a 3 or 4* hotel handpicked by us. You will share on a twin or triple basis and single room supplement is usually available. If you would like a swimming pool please request it.

Overall Trip Rating
5.0
- Based on 6 travel reviews
Excellent
6
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0
Average
0
Poor
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Terrible
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  1. Amazing
    By Graham House
    from United Kingdom
    October 6, 2022
    This is an amazing experience. The scenery is spectacular, the sense of history will move you, the 'following the footsteps' will strengthen your resilience and emotional well-being, and, importantly, Anne and her support team will inspire you, educate you, laugh with you, cry with you, as well as care for you If you get the chance, take the chance. Graham
    Date of Experience: September 01, 2022
  2. Incredible
    By Martin Lavelle
    from United Kingdom
    August 17, 2022
    An incredible experience that will stay with me for years to come! Challenging, inspirational and an opportunity to build a strong team spirit with, in our case, a diverse group of people who had never met before. The views are uplifting, the food at the refuge's remarkable and Anne's patient and nurturing guiding was top drawer. If you love the outdoors, enjoy pushing yourself, crave fresh air and just need some head space, then this tour ticks all the boxes.
    Date of Experience: August 17, 2022
  3. Review
    By Sarah Fuhri
    from United Kingdom
    August 15, 2022
    I know that this trek will stay with me for a long time for its beauty, challenge and its historical context. I loved every minute even those where the paths were particularly tricky but thanks to Anne’s brilliant guidance, I felt safe every step of the way. The views from dawn to dusk were magnificent, the terrain was ever-changing and interesting with an abundance of wildlife, the swimming in the mountain lakes rested our aching muscles and was one of my highlights. If you're in two minds - just do it!
    Date of Experience: August 15, 2022
  4. Review by Clare Jones
    By Clare Jones
    from United Kingdom
    July 19, 2022
    A beautiful ,peaceful part of the world opened up to me thanks to Anne’s expert and competent guiding .A wonderful experience altogether and a special mention for the opportunity to swim in clear blue remote mountain lakes surrounded by majestic peaks .
    Date of Experience: July 19, 2022
  5. Fantastic
    By Steve Cliff
    from United Kingdom
    July 19, 2019
    I have no hesitation in recommending the freedom trail with Anne. It was Brilliant. The support team were excellent and everything was very well organised. Thank you. Steve
    Date of Experience: July 19, 2019
  6. Hi Anne and team
    By Julie Wright
    from United Kingdom
    July 30, 2018
    We are finally back from our travels and it seems incredible that this time last week we were just about crossing the border into Spain! I just wanted to say a huge thank you on behalf of all of us to you and all the team for your organisation and encouragement in getting our Motley Crew to complete the Freedom Trail. Thanks particularly to Chris for his patience and support on some of those tricky bits and for maintaining a sense of humour at all times! I think it is fair to say it was more difficult than most of us had expected. Even Camille said it was harder than she had remembered and as we didn't have lots of time to reflect when we actually finished I don't think we really appreciated what an achievement it was to finish particularly given the somewhat challenging weather conditions on Friday and Saturday. Suffice to say it has left us all inspired to do another adventure (well maybe not Kevin!!) but who knows by next year??
    Date of Experience: July 30, 2018

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Classic Chemin de la Liberté
From £925
/ Adult