Many Irish holidaymakers annually descend upon the resort towns along the French catalan coast east of Perpignan. Argeles Sur Mer is one such station which has been given the dubious title of the camping capital of Europe.
Just south of Argeles lie the Alberes mountains which are the most easterly of the Pyrenean ranges and tumble into the sea providing a natural border with Spain, though one which has not always been agreed upon by Catalans and the current political divide dates only from the 17th century.
The Alberes are separated in the west from the higher Pyrenees (most notably Canigou) by the col of Perthus through which the main motorway to Spanish Catalonia runs. The highest point in the Alberes is less than 1300 metres.
Turning off the motorway after Perpignan and heading south east to Argeles two distinct towers can be seen on the skyline of hills leading to eastwards to the sea. These towers (Madeloc & Massane) are both also visible from the shoreline of the picturesque seaside village of Collioure.
This track follows way-marked trails from the Chateau de Valmy vineyard and park just west of Argeles up to the more westerly, higher (c794m) part ruined tower of Massane (La Tour de Massane). On this sunny June day the breeze at the summit only cleared sweat from the brow, the jumper in the backpack was not even required.
The foothills appear to be naturally forested and views are obscured much of the way along the weaving trail. The trails are clearly marked on French OS maps (IGN) and should be followed as a deviation would lead into difficult terrain.
The contrast of the forested Alberes with some of the barren mountainous landscapes of Ireland's west is stark. Forging a new route in the Alberes could be much more torturous and hazardly.
For a holidaymaker with a car, this is an easily accessible track with rewarding views. The length and height gain are probably too much for a family trail. I would welcome another opportunity to explore more of the Alberes in the future. There appear to be a number of well marked trails, and the French seem to have a penchant for elevated fortifications that add further interest to the summits.