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 others escape the Nazi regime in France by fleeing to Spain.
While the route provided a lifeline to many people fleeing the horrors of war, 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 needed to avoid hostile Spanish border patrols who were sympathetic to the Nazi regime in France. Many evaders were caught, imprisoned in Spain and often 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. These included the sound local knowledge of the passeurs, the challenging mountain terrain and its varying weather as well as the network of paths and trails leading from secluded hamlets scattered throughout the foothills of the Pyrenees. This network of paths could be accessed covertly by the passeurs, leading them to the high mountain passes undetected and then into Spain. These routes often passed by shepherd’s huts, barns and caves, which provided shelter and places where supplies could be stored and evaders rested.Today there is only one official route of the Freedom trail. As a result, it does not take in the variety of paths and trails that were originally used by the passeurs.
Our aim is to provide options to the official Freedom trail, so that clients choose a route that stays true to the theme, while also suiting their aims and needs. Our trips are 2-4 day in length and take in some of the routes described in evader’s accounts (Scott Goodall’s guide to the official Freedom trail and the Pat O’Leary line (http://www.ww2escapelines.co.uk/freedom-trails/le-chemin-de-la-liberte-pat-oleary-line/)
We then add in good food, accommodation and local knowledge so that the whole experience is a bit special.
A few kind words from clients…
“…I had the best time in the Pyrenees which was beyond my expectations. Partly this was due to you and Morgane and your professionalism, expertise and friendliness. Everyone felt the same way and looking back at the photos puts the biggest smile on my face…”
“…Your gentle way of guiding and arranging everything made it all feel as if we were with old friends who happened to know the way…”
“…I have heard nothing but great comments from everyone. They loved it, and all have been hugely complementary about your organisation of the walk as well as the bonus of having Morgane as a guide…”
Please feel free to Contact us to discuss our 2-4 day walking options or let us know what you would like to do in the time you have.
We look forward to welcoming you to the Pyrenees mountains. A stunning natural environment that provides us with a raw natural challenge as we journey through them but also a place where one can be at peace.
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