The Freedom Trail…
(Le Chemin de la Liberte.)
The Freedom trail was one of the escape routes used by civilians and allied servicemen during WW2. The route was operational throughout the war due to the bravery and determination of local families and the mountain guides known as passeurs. The Passeurs knew the mountains well, many of them being shepherds, forestry workers, miners or traders who used the many routes in their daily work. They were people who were not unfamiliar with life’s hardships and were prepared to risk their own lives to help hundreds of people escape the Nazi regime in France by fleeing to Spain.
While the route provided a lifeline to many people fleeing the horrors of war, be it oppression, imprisonment or forced labour, it was not a certainty that they would reach their destination. Bad weather, a lack of food, fatigue and poor equipment, often took their toll with many having to abandon their efforts while a few even perished along the way. It must also be remembered that once in Spain, evaders then had to avoid the hostile Spanish border patrols who were sympathetic to the Nazi regime in France. Many evaders were caught, imprisoned in Spain and then used by General Franco to barter with the Germans for food and provisions.
The success of the Freedom trail as an escape route was based on a few key factors that included the sound local knowledge of the passeurs, the challenging mountain terrain, as well as the network of paths and trails that led from secluded hamlets that lay scattered throughout the foothills of the Pyrenees. This network could be accessed quickly and covertly by the passeurs, leading them to the high mountain passes and into Spain. These routes often passed shepherd’s huts, barns and caves, which provided shelter and places where supplies could be stored. Today there is only one official route of the Freedom trail, and as a result, it does not take in much of the original network of paths and trails used by the original passeurs.
Our aim is to provide options to the official Freedom trail, so that today’s adventure explorer can choose a route that stays true to the original Freedom trail, while also suiting their needs. Good food and accommodation are important to us and route choice is key to suit our clients aims. Thus we seek out local providers along the way that offer good service and work hard to make the experience special.
We welcome you to discover and explore the pristine mountain environment we love to share. A place where the mountains deliver the raw challenge of being alongside nature and reminds us of how free we can feel and what it means to be at peace.
Contact us to discuss our 2-5 day walking options for the Freedom trail or let us know what you would like to do in the time you have.
We also offer guided walks to Mont Rouge, Mont Valier and routes in the Biros valley, an area with an impressive mining history where the evidence of man’s industrious efforts on the mountain landscape can still be seen,
Discover, Explore and Share.