Normally when I go to the lovely village of Roquebrun, I spread my towel on the pebbled beach to have a refreshing dip in the River Orb. As it’s the middle of winter, it is a bit too cold for a swim. So I decided to go for a walk. And I am glad I did, as the hike led me through an amazing landscape of hills and vineyards. Including a fantastic view of Roquebrun and its surroundings.
Heart of the Schist
As I felt like a bit of walking on this beautiful day, I followed the 9.5 kilometres trail of “Le Sentier de découverte au Cœur des Schistes”. Translated this means the “Trail to Discover the Heart of the Schist” because this hike takes you right into the heart of the reputed vineyards of Roquebrun. Starting in the village, I headed for the arched bridge across the Orb River. Leaving Roquebrun behind, I took a right, following the Orb River. The trail is well-marked, look out for the blue painted stripes.
Wine growing area
After about 400 meters on the road, I turned left just after the little bridge. Still following the blue marked trail. I immediately found myself surrounded by vines. You really are in the middle of the wine growing area. This is where the magic happens! Walking up, I bumped into a little wine growers mazet. I took a right, following the “Circuit l’Arboussié” and not the shorter “Variante du Circuit l’Arboussié”. Keep in mind that you should follow the uphill road when walking this trail.
Although the hike doesn’t involve much climbing, you still get high enough to have a beautiful view of Roquebrun. Including Mont Caroux and Les Espinouses in the background. If the weather is clear, you can even see the Pyrenees! I had never seen Roquebrun from this point of view before. As the trail forms a loop, you go left at the farm on top. You will recognise it by the small round tower, standing in the vineyard.
The vineyards of Roquebrun officially obtained the Saint-Chinian AOC status in 1982. Roquebrun benefits from a very mild but rather dry climate. The surrounding vineyard sites, therefore, have acid soils based on schist. This layered and crystalline rock deals with the heat very well. The perfect soil for the different grape varieties of the Saint-Chinian appellation.
After a while, I found myself back on the road again going downhill. To be followed by a left turn to bring me back into the middle of the vineyards. You don’t need to take a mindfulness course here, just do this walk, and you will find yourself surrounded by the most peaceful landscape. After some more walking, I crossed the main road to Roquebrun, the D14. Walking along the river brought me right at the banks of the Orb. With a view of Roquebrun nestled in the foothills.
Although the Cœur des Schistes hike is about 9.5 kilometres, it took me a good 2 hours. Including numerous photo stops. And fantastic views! I cannot wait to do this hike again. It must be even prettier in spring when all the leaves of the grape vines start to grow.