Grand Tour de Catalunya - Section 3. Heaven is very close. From Lleida to La Seu d'Urgell
The Grand Tour de Catalunya is a journey full of travels. This circular route, inspired by the great journeys that the young people of the 17th century bourgeoisie made through Europe, proposes a rediscovery of the territory beyond the main icons of our land, so that you can enjoy its purest essence through the unique landscapes that it gives us, a unique identity and cultural heritage and a gastronomy that will make your taste buds vibrate.
The Grand Tour of Catalonia, which covers more than two thousand kilometers, is not designed to be done in a single run, unless you are one of the lucky few who in our current busy world, and have almost more than a month to be able to do it. For this reason, this route offers you 5 different sections divided into several stages, where each stage is equivalent to one day. In this way, each traveler can organize the route to their liking, travel it at their own pace and at any time of the year.
Planted in this third section in Lleida as a starting point, 5 stages ahead await you to show you the most natural and mountaineering side of the Grand Tour Catalunya along 357 kilometers.
From the Seu Vella de Lleida, which marks the starting gun, you will set out to meet the Pyrenees of Catalonia, before but stopping at Balaguer, Àger and the Montsec mountain range, where you can enjoy one of the best starry skies in our land. Arrived in the heart of the Pyrenees, you will discover a fabulous Romanesque heritage in the Vall de Boí and you will enjoy excursions in places as beautiful as the Aigüestortes National Park and Estany de Sant Maurici. Taking a little leap, the Val d'Aran awaits you so that you can get lost among its charming villages. The most foodies will enjoy in this section of artisan products such as cheese, artisan sausages and traditional mountain recipes such as the Aranese pot. And if what you are looking for are adventures and strong emotions, this section is also ideal for you, specifically, on the Noguera Pallaresa river.
Do you want to know more details and proposals for this section? Well, continue reading below.
You cannot miss:
- Congost de Mont-rebei
- Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park
- Romanesque of the Vall de Boí
- Val d'Aran
- La Seu d'Urgell
STAGE 1: THE STARRY SKY
You will start the first stage of this section in Lleida to climb the path along 107 km until you reach Pobla de Segur. A stage dedicated to the beauty that nature gives us in the form of landscapes and culture.
The day starts in the western lands, so what you have to do, in order to get energy, is a good breakfast with local products in which you can not miss in any way a good bread with tomato with its olive oil of the denomination of origin Protected (PDO) Les Garrigues and pears from Lleida, also with PDO . Afterwards, you will go up to the monumental complex of La Seu Vella , where, in addition to learning about the city's entire Templar past, you will be able to enjoy fantastic views not only of the city, but also of the vast lands that extend to the horizon, a Authentic fruit and vegetable garden that will end up later on your plates and stomachs while you enjoy Lleida's gastronomy. And before continuing to make your way through these cultivation esplanades, make sure to make a stop at Gardeny Castle .
The majestic Congost de Mont-rebei awaits you at the next stop. The vertigo walls, the cliffs and the exuberant colors have made it an icon in Catalonia thanks to the spectacular scenery that you can enjoy both on foot and by kayak, along the Noguera Ribagorçana river. Before, however, it is worth making a stop in Balaguer and strolling through the historic center, along the houses along the river. Ah! And do not forget to enjoy a good coca de recapte to kill the bug during the journey.
Leaving Balaguer behind and heading towards Àger, if you are lovers of hiking and have enough energy, it is worth making a stop around the Camarasa reservoir and taking a short excursion! Believe us that the landscapes are incredible!
Arrived in Àger and the Montsec mountains , you will be able to enjoy another of the great spectacles of nature: the starry night. This area has been accredited as a Starlight destination and reserve thanks to the darkness of its sky at night, which allows a privileged observation of the cosmos. In addition, this area houses the Center for Observation of the Universe, where adults and children learn a little more about the mysteries of the universe.
Finally, after an intense day full of emotions, you will head towardsLa Pobla de Segur to end the stage aboard the historic Train of the Lakes along a route with spectacular panoramic views.
STAGE 2: AIGÜESTORTES AND THE ROMANESQUE OF BOÍ
A day dedicated to nature and culture in two of the most special and unique mountain places of our land, the Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park, the only national park in Catalonia and the Vall de Boí is the one that you wait at this stage, with a route of 62 kilometers.
The memory of the constellations above your heads compensates for the hour of travel between the Pobla de Segur and the Vall de Boí. When you arrive at Senterada you will see the access signs to the Fosca valley, another natural place that deserves a getaway.
The road begins a progressive ascent until it reaches the Col de la Cruz de Perves, with good views of the Pyrenees. Starting from Pont de Suert, the road heads into the mountains, towards the entrance to the Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park . There you can enjoy a spectacular natural environment in each season of the year: more than 200 lakes of glacial origin surrounded by peaks close to 3,000 meters of altitude.
Once you arrive at the place, you will discover a paradise for lovers and amateurs in hiking and mountains , since you will find routes adapted to all levels to be enjoyed by both family and experienced hikers. Keep in mind that to get to the Planell de Aigüestortes, you have the option of taking the park's official 4x4 taxi from Espot and from Boí. After the walk, surely you will have gotten hungry, but luckily, you will be in tiles of forceful and delicious Pyrenean gastronomy: mushrooms, shepherd's cheese or meat on the slab among other delicacies.
To end the day with a golden key, a visit to the churches and hermitages of the Vall de Boí Romanesque complex, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the best option. Discover how these medieval wonders were built and do not miss the mapping of the pantocrator of the main apse and the presbytery of the hermitage of Sant Climent . And if you want to know more more, a visit to the Valle de Boí Romanesque Center is the ideal place to satisfy your craving for culture.
STAGE 3: SINGULARITIES OF THE VALE DE ARAN
An own identity, superstitions and legends, fire festivals that are the patrimony of humanity and artisans who spend hours making ceramics, forging and sausages. This is what awaits you in the Val d'Aran , a territory that speaks its own language and with a most unique architecture, nature and gastronomy thanks to its geographical orientation. This is all that awaits you in this stage that will take you from Taüll to Vielha in 60 kilometers in the form of a circular route that you will do with your vehicle.
Wander through the streets ofVielha , the Aranese capital , to immerse yourself in the local culture and language and visit the beautiful markets and craft fairs. After enjoying a good walk through the town, follow the Garons river to one of the most picturesque places in the area, Era Artiga de Lin, a succession of green meadows, ravines and rivers that form one of the most beautiful valleys and easier access to the Val d'Aran. From here, a short walk will take you to Los Uelhs Deth Joeu, a majestic waterfall that is fed by the waters of the Aneto glacier .
You will discover that these forests are the habitat of large deer and marmots, although as you can imagine, they are difficult to see, so you can always choose to visit the Aranpark, a wildlife park where both the smallest and the largest will surprise with the imposing Iberian wild fauna : brown bones, Iberian lynxes, gray wolves, etc.
STAGE 4: WALKING THROUGH THE COMOLÉRS CIRCUS
The day rises in the Val d'Aran in this penultimate stage that has taken you to the Pyrenean wonders of Catalonia. Today, you will travel 74 kilometers to the end of the stage in Sort.
The first proposal takes you to the town of Arties , where you can visit the high mountain Renaissance architecture and then ride an e-bike to start the route to Salardú, where you will discover the jewels of Aranese Romanesque , such as the church of Sant Andreu. From here, the Grand Tour makes three proposals according to your interests: continue the excursion by mountain bike to continue your immersion through the idiosyncrasy of the valley in the towns of the area: Escunhau, Begergue or Tredoso; Take an excursion through the beautiful natural landscapes or if you prefer a moment of relaxation, you can choose a visit to the Banhs de Tredós , the highest thermal spa in Europe and a privileged location.
In the afternoon, you will take one of the most recognized and best excursions in the Pyrenees, the Colomèrs circus , located in the area of influence of the Aigüestortes and Estany de Sant Maurici National Park. Depending on your level and physical condition, you can consider doing the complete route, a journey that covers seven glacial lakes, or if you do just a simpler excursion to the refuge.
To end a day of so much activity, the best way to regain strength is a good Aranese pot !
STAGE 5: SEED ADVENTURE
This last stage of the section is dedicated to adventurers and cheese lovers.
After two days without having almost touched the car, it will be time to set out again to travel to one of the rafting capitals, Llavorsí , on the Noguera Pallaresa river , which, attention to the fact, in addition to being one of the main whitewater rivers in Europe , it was the first in the Peninsula where the practice of this sport began. So, don't think about it too much, put on your wetsuit and put on your life jacket to feel the adrenaline of this sport.
If, on the other hand, you prefer a more familiar plan, the Grand Tour proposes you then, visit the valleys of Àneu , where you can visit the House of the Brown Bear in the Pyrenees or enter the profession of shepherds.
After so many emotions, it's time to enjoy the gastronomy, specifically, the mountain cheeses, so get ready because your palates will enjoy the beauty. Before but, do not miss the medieval wonders of the town of Gerri de la Sal, cataloged as a Cultural Asset of National Interest .
Finally, arriving at La Seu d'Urgell , the Catalan cheese capital , you will be able to participate in a workshop to make artisan cheeses and taste the only cheese in Catalonia with a protected designation of origin . To end the day, the late-morning sun illuminates Santa María, the fully Romanesque cathedral, just in time for the last visit of the day to its interesting cloister.
Go ahead and do the Grand Tour of Catalonia, enjoy the essence of our land in all its splendor like never before. For more information visit https://grandtour.catalunya.com/en
Text and images Grand Tour de Catalunya.