Day 3–Castans to Pradelles

Via the Pic de Nore, 14 km, 590 m of ascent, 330 m of descent. Long but easy, another hot day.

We climbed gently through the woods on a dirt road, with beautiful butterflies and spectacular alpine wildflowers, reaching the Pic at 1 pm, and sat on a ledge for lunch with a large group of other tourists. The Pic is topped by a large tower that looks like a rocket set to launch. It was too hazy to see Carcassonne or the Pyrenees, but we did see Pradelles and the lake. After lunch we hiked around the back of the Pic de Nore, started down in much more open country, a fairly gentle descent, but uneven and painful for Bunion Bill.

We reached an old stone cross, “carrefour importan pour les sentiers Village Perchés”, with trails leading off to la Bastide, Haut Pol, and Pradelles. On the way into Pradelles we passed some old ice houses, deep dug and lined with stone, one with a slender arched roof remnant. The hotel were luxury in comparison to our previous accommodation: bath and toilet in the rooms, swimming pool. The proprietors were a Belgian couple who spoke Flemish with some of the guests.

Dinner was outside under a tree: creamy soup with figs, medallions of pork with lardons and red onions, leeks, potatoes, and creamed broccoli, followed by cheeses. The wine was Chateau Donjon 2004.

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