With warmer days, why not go for a hike? We tried for you 5 hikes in the surroundings of Montpellier!
Le lac du Salagou
Situated 45 minutes away from Montpellier, near Clermont-l’Hérault, this lake is partly famous in the region because it’s surrounded by red soil.
It’s therefore in this nice decor that this 15kms circular hike sets. You can start from the Salagou dam car park, or from the small village of Vailhes (itinerary indicated above).
By leaving from the dam, the first part of the hike will give you a view on the lake and red rocks.
We’re going down little by little towards the lake, going through the Notre Dame des Clans chapel and Vailhes hamlet, atypical in this environment.
The second part of the itinerary goes along the water point; you can even stop at one of the small beaches to have a swim. I went in winter, so I thought I’d rather take my drone out to make some shots (article on drone spots in Montpellier available here).
The last part to join the dam goes up a little but as the rest of the course is rather easy, you forget about it quite quickly.
To conclude, it’s a nice way to discover this colourful spot, at any time during the day.
You can also just go around the lake, but then you will have to plan a day to do so.
Departure point: Salagou dam, or village of Les Vailhe.
Distance : 15kms loop.
Duration : 4 hours.
Drop : +360 m ; -364 m.
Difficulty : average.
Le pic Saint-Loup
Only 25 minutes away from Montpellier, here we are, lost in the scrubland, far away from the “agitation” of Montpellier.
Go to the well indicated car park, at the exit of the Cazevieille village. There are signs but honestly, you only have to follow the only trail there is: it’s impossible to get lost.
To get up there, it takes about 1 hour: 40 simple minutes and 20 harder minutes where you’ll feel your gluteal muscles!
Once at the top of the 658 meters of the Pic Saint-Loup, you will be facing a breathtaking view on the region and more particularly on the Hortus mountain straight ahead.
Okay it’s that warm up there, but there is a small chapel where you can find shelter in.
It’s a must-do when spending a few days in Montpellier because it’s really accessible and quite easy to do.
Departure point: car park at the exit of Cazevieille village.
Distance : 5,5kms.
Duration : 2h20 return included.
Drop : +321m ; -321m.
Difficulty : average.
Le cirque de Navacelles et Moulins de la Foux
This hike, longer, is about one hour away from Montpellier. We therefore take the car and drive to the Baume Auriol hostel, where we park. Let’s go for a sporty day! Only 5 minutes of walking later, we’re in front of a breathtaking panorama: a view on the Cirque de Navacelles.
It takes a little bit less than an hour to go down.
Once arrived at the nice village of Navacelles, we had our picnic sat by the river of la Vis.
Don’t hesitate to go and have a look to the waterfall.
Then take the waymarked path on the left, heading towards the Moulins de la Foux (mills). The landscape is pretty amazing: stones, high pines, river, aqueduct…
After taking lots of pics of the mills, complete the loop by going back to the village. Now, you have to go up the path you went down by earlier (and it’s not easy, enjoy!)
It’s imperative you take suncream (don’t do this hike under summer’s burning sun) and several litres of water!
Starting point: Baume Auriol hostel’s car park
Duration : 4h50.
Drop : +550m; -547m.
Difficulty : difficult.
Palavas-Les-Flots – Cathédrale de Maguelone
This time, head towards the Mediterranean sea with a departure only 25 minutes away from Montpellier: Palavas-les-Flots. Known at one of the main seaside resorts of the surroundings, this walk allows, from our point of view, to appreciate the main assets without being bothered by all the buildings.
Here we are, parked on the Palavas-les-Flots harbour car park, from where we can see the moored boats. Then, you only have to go along the beaches bordering the city: St Pierre beach, Zenith and Albatros. It’s always a pleasure to walk in the sea air, in the sun, and the feet in the water or sand.
After crossing a little bridge, we’re joining the Prévost beach, which we already talked about in our article concerning our favourite swimming spots in Montpellier; therefore, if the weather allows it, it’s time to have a swim (if you haven’t already!)
After walking almost 5 kms along the water, we’re turning right (as indicated on the route below) to enter in the Maguelone estate (open from 9am to 6pm), where there’s a restaurant next to vines, nice to eat or have a drink but most of all because there is the Maguelone cathedral dominating by its imposing architecture. The inside is to be seen. Be careful though, there might be a lot of mosquitos here as there are a few ponds in the area. Oh, why wouldn’t we go to see one?
To do so, head towards the door of Maguelone, remnant from the old entrance door of the estate.
For this hike, it’s useless to take the pilou bridge (open during the week from 1pm to 5pm and on weekends and holidays from 10am to 5pm), just take the trail on your right.
This last part of the route offers a nice and totally different landscape. We’re actually walking on a soil trail between the Rhône canal, the Prévost pond and Arnel.
Once at the end of it, just close the loop by going to the Palavas harbour.
Bonus: it’s possible to do this itinerary with bikes!
Departure point: Palavas-les-Flots harbour car park, or adjacent streets (not free during the high season).
Distance : 11kms loop.
Duration : 2h30.
Drop : none.
Difficulty : easy.
Here is again a totally different itinerary to the 4 others. After a 30 minutes drive, we are in front of the sign indicating the hikes possibles (on foot or on bike) situated on the tennis car park of Fondespierre where we parked. We choose to go for the “easy one”.
The first part of the route is on a trail surrounded by olive trees, vines and pines; no difficulty so far, we’re taking our time, we’re picking up wild asparagus (mid-February to mid-April) to make an omelet when we get back.
To know where you are, nothing more simple: the itinerary is marked well thanks to yellow lines that you will regularly see on a tree trunks, stones…
We end up seeing a part of the 7 kms long aqueduct.
A bit later, we find ourselves so small at its feet, hard to imagine such a “monster” hiding in the wild!
After taking pictures of it, we continue by walking along this big stone bridge on the right, until we reach the village of Castries.
We’re letting ourselves go from street to street by the aqueduct around which Castries developed, sometimes finding houses stuck under one of its arches. Its height is going down, we’re reaching the end of it.
We’re making a little detour by the church and the castle (in renovation, ask the town hall to get in) and walk around in the little streets.
The way back is disappointing but at least it gets us back quickly to the car (see map). If you’ve got time, rather prefer to take the same way back to return to the car park, it’ll be much nicer.
Starting point: tennis car park of Fondespierre.
Distance : 6kms loop.
Duration : 2h.
Difficulty: very easy.
Here are some options to get you on the move!
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