Wednesday May 11th Alp to Planes

In France!!!

For the last couple of weeks or so it felt like I was never going to get here but here I am. Crossed the border at Puigcerda at 11 which is about 7 kilometres from Alp and then walked onto Planes. I'm now following the GR 36 which, for the next three days, follows the route of the GR 10, the trans Pyrenean walk, a really famous route.

Slight embarrassment with the bottom half of my trousers before leaving Alp. Had left them in the sun on the window sill to dry while I had a kip and of course they blew away. One leg was easy to retrieve but the other had gone down into basement in a space which was enclosed. Had to persuade a reluctant landlady to let me climb out of the restaurant window. It was easy getting out but getting back was a problem. Still don't suppose I will be coming back to Alp in the near future.

Very easy walk to Puigcerda, held off from crossing the border and walked up into town and bought some new walking poles. Bit heavy compared to others but will do the job. Also bought a look alike Swiss army knife which is also a lot heavier than the real thing but I'm now fully equipped again.

Then across the border although to be honest you would be hard pushed to notice. Some redundant buildings all that remains, good riddance to borders I say. Stopped in Bourg Madame, the first town immediately on the French side, and ordered a cafe au lait. My French is already as good as my Spanish.

Remnants of the Spanish/French border crossing

Then I started my walk across France. Markings were great but in any event I'm very confident about my GPS trail. Unlike in Spain however I don't have maps on my GPS (got PDFs of the maps on my IPad) so I can tell from the trail if I going the right way but don't know if I arrived - sounds almost philosophical.

Anyway the walk was excellent. An off-road trail along the south side of a very broad valley gradually climbing all the way. Good views although it became quite stormy as the afternoon wore on. Walked through some lovely little villages, Err, Lo and Eyne and some not so nice ski resorts. Very sad photo memorial on the side of a building to two children who had been taken to Auschwitz in 1942.


Village memorial to the Holocaust

Christine and I have walked around here before although it must be more than 10 years ago. We started at the Llavia, the Spanish enclave in France, did a big loop north before coming back to Mont Louis the huge French fort on the north side of the valley I was walking along today. I remember we had a big argument at the Eyne 2600 ski resort, which in the summer is a very ugly place and must set of lots of rows.

Got to Planes at about 6 after a walkof 30 kilometres and 1300 metres of climb. I'm staying in a Gite d'Etape and I'm not really sure what the designation stands for although it is definitely doesn't mean five star hotel. Had dinner at 7 o'clock which is a bit early for us Spanish types but I guess I'll get used to these north European ways in a while.

Peter Williams, a friend from London who also lives out here, is joining me in the morning and having some walking company will be a nice change. Stop me going mad. Hope the weather holds up because the next few days hold out the prospect of some wonderful walking.


  1. There you are on the secong big step of the long walking trip. From Col de la Perche to Planes I remenber quite well the panorama to the west to the Massif du Carlit and in front Eyne.
    Enjoy the delicious french breakfast. I could not resist entering the pastiseries with my hungry stomach looking at the window shoping covered with the delicious products..........

  2. Great to pick up on your progress, John, now that we are returned from 6 wonderful weeks exploring the GR7 and its offshoots in Andalucia ... and you are about to experience some of our favourite walking of all time if you really are following the GR10 route beyond Planes. Ras de la Caranca is our favourite refuge and, should you stop in Mantet we hope it's chez the wonderfully named Cazenove household where Angeline and Richard will do you proud.

    Fantastic that you have achieved so much in such a short space of time. We have so enjoyed reading your comments on the shared Tarifa to Villanueva de Cauche section and will probably add late comments to those - your summary of the dogs deserves an Oscar ( or Fido at the very least! )

    Ivan and Sue ( who've forgotten how to log in with their links!!!! )

  3. Congratulations John ... great job, so nearly 2,5 months in Spain. :-)

    Enjoy France walking, wish you all the best and safe steps ...


  4. Hi John,
    From what I heard about you losing so much weight over the last few weeks, you had better get yourself in to some of those patisseries on a regular basis.
    Now, on a serious note, how can anyone plan to meet up with you on this gaff? Thought about a couple of days at the beginning of September, but I wonder if this would be practical. I guess it is difficult to say you will be at such and such a place on a given date.

    PS I not sure about the eagle sighting (although love your nature comments generally). I don't think it is generally true that eagles -of any type- hang around in flocks. But I am willing to be proved wrong, of course.
    All the very best for the next stage of the walk.
    Best wishes,

  5. Could send you the schedule. Only thing is that by September I will be on the final week marching through Hungary. Should be getting pretty close to Budapest, could meet up there?

  6. Do not mind Juan and Julie about patisseries, John! French breakfast is almost synonimous with starvation. But if, I mean in the unlikely case that, you find a patisserie before the Swiss border, it is perfectly allowed to buy yourself an eclair and eat it in the nearbye cafe.
    Cheers! Menno