An option to start the tour of the Canigó Touris to do it from its southern slope, arriving by car to the nucleus of La Llau, closed to Prats de Molló, and approaching on foot to the refuge of Sant Guillem, in a pleasant walk of approximately one hour and a quarter. We will enjoy a tree species botanical garden called the Arboretum.
Located near the refuge of Sant Guillem, the Arboretum of the National Forestry Office (ONF) extends to the south inside 8 hectares area, and is a spectacular forest of exotic species that is located in the former cultivated lands of the Sant Guillem farmhouse. From the neighbourhood of La Llau, you must take the path indicated by a yellow sign, where “Sant Guillem” is written and, after a short time, we will enter the Arboretum.
Around 1950, the State wants to reforest this territory through the Forestry Commission, called “Waters and Forests”, the forest managers of the Alt Vallespir, establishing exotic species for the enjoyment and learning of the inhabitants of the area and visitors. The Arboretum was also created to determine the adaptation to the territory of different species, and study which is the highest altitude (between 1168 and 1256 m), climate (mountains of the Mediterranean) and kind of territory (south side of Canigó mountain) to which suits each one. The first plantations, carried out in 1955, continued until 1994, and bring together a genetic diversity of high heritage interest, through 66 species from different origins and from 4 continents.
The forests group three main types of resin (pine and spruce), but also others such as redwoods, for example, as well as some leaf species (red oak or Virginia tulips). Over time, plantations have evolved differently depending on the species. Pine, spruce, cedar, spruce and sequoia occupy the areas below the refuge, the highest. Among the 40 types of exotic resins, the Arboretum is also composed of species native to the region, originating from Canigó or from the red pines of Forest de la Mata, located in the Capcir (Matemale, Les Angles and Formiguera), and area about 50 km norther than here.
Unfortunately, this remarkable diversity was damaged in January 2009 by the storm Klaus, which affected the entire southwest region of France. In the Alt Vallespir, it caused important damages, which can still be perceived in some forests. Aware of the rich heritage of this botanical garden, the National Forestry Office (ONF) today receives aid from the Grand Site du Canigó brand to recreate its splendour and the enjoyment of its visitors.
We encourage you to visit this beautiful botanical garden while you start, from its southern slope, the Tour of the Canigó Tour! (4 days).
These contents are disclosed on the web www.refugesantguillem.com
Mont Capell (1,194 m) is the most emblematic mountain in the municipality of Sant Llorenç de Cerdans. A modest summit, but that when crowned it becomes a privileged vantage point of the Vallespir and the Empordà, in first term, and from the sea to the high mountains of the Eastern Pyrenees, always with the Mount Canigó, presiding over the panoramic. The town hall of Sant Llorenç de Cerdans and Centre Excursinista Peu Alegre organizes a popular walk once a year.
The path that goes up coincides, almost up, with the path to Coustouges and the interstate border, and is steeped in history. From Maçanet de Cabrenys to Coustouges and Sant Llorenç, this was one of the Retreat ways between the various that were used in the Empordà during February of 1.939, after the Spanish Civil War. A journey that, also between 1940 and 1944 was, for many, a way of runaway and hope: persecuted Jews, resisters threatened with death or deportation, allied pilots killed in French territory, young people going to find free French forces, evaded … For all of them, this was a path to freedom, endangering their lives.
Podem començar l’excursió a l’oficina de turisme de Sant Llorenç, al costat del qual hi ha un túnel que passa per sota les cases. We can start the trek in the tourist office of Sant Llorenç, next to which there is a tunnel that goes under the houses. A series of posters linked to the Republican Retreat place us in the historical context, we must bear in mind that there is an interesting Retreat museum on the office, which we recommend you do not miss. We will start the tour going through the tunnel and, among the many brands of paint there are, we will look at the yellow and red ones (GRP del Vallespir), which we will follow during most of the excursion.