Autumn is my favourite season of the year. Indian summers in Languedoc are just great! Temperature-wise it is a wonderful time for hikes. And when you take the “Chemin de Belloc” hike just outside of Dorres in the Pyrénées-Orientales, you’ll enjoy amazing fall colours as well as fabulous views over the Pyrenees valleys.
Initially, I wanted to try the sulphurous hot springs Dorres is known for. However, I didn’t bring our bathing suits, and it wasn’t the place to go skinny dipping. So Chéri, the kids, and I went on a 2.5 hours hike all the way up to the Belloc chapel. It took us a little longer because of my many Kodak moments… The starting point was just outside of the hot springs, and the first part of the hike brought us through the charming village of Dorres.
Via a beautiful path lined with big rocks, we walked through a fairytale golden forest. The road went up a bit- a lot according to our kids- and brought us to the Col de Juell. Time for a little break and some marvellous views over the Cerdagne. This area still belongs both to France and Spain. The Southern part, known as Baixa Cerdanya, is Spanish, and the Northern part, the Alta Cerdanya, is French. This region of France has the most cloud-free days of the whole country, something we clearly noticed when we were there.
After our stop, we continued on our way by following the yellow trail markers to Bell-Lloc. The scenery changed from fall foliage to the tableland of Cerdagne. With yet another stunning panorama. We could already see the 13th century Chapelle Sainte Marie de Bell-Lloc from far away. Bell-Lloc comes from the Latin “Bellus Loco” which means “beautiful location”.
The chapel sure is situated in a gorgeous spot. Not only can you see the Pyrenees, but on a clear day you can also spot the Canigou, Puigmal and the highest mountain of the Pyrénées-Orientales: Carlit Peak. Truly breathtaking! From the chapel, it is an easy walk down to the village of Dorres. If you are up for it, you can have a dip in the hot springs with a temperature of 37 to 40 degrees Celsius.