The Circuit des Fenestrettes hike will take your breath away

Circuit des Fenestrettes

Hidden in the hinterland of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, you will find one of the most impressive hikes in the Hérault department. In 10 kilometres, the Circuit des Fenestrettes will take you from the bottom of the Verdus Stream to the imposing cliffs of the Cirque de l’Infernet. This circular trail is highly rewarding with breathtaking views over the Val de Gellone. You can even spot the Pic Saint-Loup and the Hérault River in the distance.

End of the world

The Circuit des Fenestrettes hike starts at Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, one of the most beautiful villages in France. As Oldest has his driving licence, he brought us to the big paid parking lot Pré des Pères at the top of the village (‘haut du village’). One bit of advice: even though the parking fee might seem excessive (8 euros for 2.5 to 4 hours, 10 euros for 4 to 18 hours), I suggest you pay it, as the police check the cars regularly! The Circuit des Fenestrettes starts at the aptly called Chemin du Bout du Monde (‘Road at the End of the World’). The signpost even had a scallop shell attached to it, the symbol of the Saint James’s Way or Camino de Santiago. After all, we were in Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, an important stop on the pilgrimage to the Spanish Santiago de Compostella.

Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert

Les Fenestrettes

Right after leaving the village, the rocky circuit unfolded itself at our feet. We had only been on our way for a few minutes, and the view of this natural wonder had already taken our breath away! The first 5 kilometres of the hike started with a climb along the cliffs of Bisonne. With an impressive rockface towering over us on our left and an even more impressive view to our right, we forgot about climbing the path (well, almost…). To make these steep foothills of the Massif Central more accessible, monks of the Abbey of Gellone created several tracks. Like the zig-zagging cobbled path called ‘L’Escaliou’, which they used to guide their flock of sheep to the Plateau de Larzac. This part of the circuit is actually called ‘Les Fenetrettes’. Once we reached the top of the path, the Val de Gellonne stretched far and wide before us.

Circuit des Fenestrettes

Hérault

As always, I had downloaded the trail’s map on my Visorando app to be sure (which you can find here). But this hike is very well signed with yellow marks, which we continued to follow past the first valley onto another one. I was slightly surprised, as I thought we would walk around the Cirque de l’Infernet. Instead, the path brought us to another part of the valley. After a little while, we arrived at the second breathtaking vantage point. And here, we even spotted the pointy summit of the Pic Saint-Loup and part of the River Hérault. It was the perfect spot for our picnic, while the landscape below treated us to a magnificent view. It was overwhelming and made us feel very humble. From this lookout, the path only went downwards to bring us back to ‘the end of the world’ road.

Circuit des Fenestrettes

Wide vistas

Chéri and I both agreed that this was an extraordinary hike, with its wide vistas combined with the rocky cliffs covered with evergreens. One of the last rock formations we saw even reminded us of the Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains in Australia. Or maybe our imagination ran a bit wild… Anyway, after three hours of walking, we thought the family deserved some refreshments in Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert. So, we indulged ourselves at the foot of the beautiful 150-year-old plane tree on the Place de la Liberté in front of the Abbey of Gellone. Not a bad place to conclude our fabulous hike! 

Circuit des Fenestrettes
TO DO - Nature
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