THE CORBIÈRES WINE-GROWER’S PATH

At FERRALS-LES-CORBIERES

Itineray type : Foot

Theme : Oenological

Season : Autumn

Descriptif détaillé :

To start out on this trail, see the “La Boucle du Lauza”/ “The Lauza loop” hike from Ferrals-les-Corbières to landmark “A”. When you arrive in front of the remains of the ‘La Martine’ sheep barn, turn right between the vineyards alternating with the plots of fallow land now occupied by the garrigue and continue till you reach the D161. Turn right on this departmental road and follow it for about 700 m.
Turn right on the tarred driveway of the Laval estate (landmark “B”).
Then refer to the description of the “La Boucle des Terroirs” / ”The region’s loop” hike (Boutenac) from landmark “B” onward and follow this till you reach landmark “C”.
Once you arrive at landmark “C” (where you leave the D161), you have two possibilities:
-  Turn right and go to Boutenac: follow the markers of the “Boucle des Terroirs”
-  Turn left and return to Ferrals: follow the small road downhill
You’ll walk past a 1935 pumping station. On your right: body of a mill surrounded by a reservoir (pumps) and a technical building, bordered by a small irrigation canal.
The vegetation, characteristic of humid areas, is generated thanks to several small streams running through this site: giant cane and broad-leaved trees, in particular. Take the path to the left after the cypress hedge.
On your way through, be sure to observe the wind-breaking hedges facing the dominant Cers.
Just before reaching a building, turn left between two vineyards. Before going down to the right, possibility to visit a small private country cottage, built in Boutenac sandstone and in the shade of an azarole hawthorn, to which the owner kindly allows access.
After checking you didn’t leave anything behind (leftovers, litter) and closing the door of the cottage behind you, you’ll first turn back and then continue your hike. (At the marker) You’ll walk along the edge of some vineyards before fording the Paillous stream. At the D161, turn left for a couple of metres, then turn right and follow the trail till you reach the ‘La Martine’ farm.
On your way back, you’ll resume the itinerary of the ‘Lauza’ loop.

La boucle du Lauza / The Lauza loop
Distance 5 ¼ km
Difficulty easy
Markers yellow
Time 1 ½ hrs
Altitude difference 97 m
IGN map 2446 Est Ferrals les Corbières
Point of departure in front of the Graffan wine cellar
Latitude of point of departure 43.14945 Longitude 2.72282
The hike
Heading towards the centre of the village, cross the bridge over the Orbieu and, in front of the belfry climb the few steps to the left in the Impasse de l’Horloge to join the centre of the village a little further on. Turn left in the rue des Nobles, take the avenue des Vignerons then the rue de la Pinède (nice wrought iron wayside cross). Both mountain bikers and hikers share this part of the trail.
After the housing development, you’ll get a nice view on the vineyards stretching out on the hillside as well as the Ferrals hills just behind them. You’ll walk uphill on this country road, a dry-stone wall to the right, and terraced plots with pine, almond, olive and cypress trees to boot.
When the road forks (1), continue on the path uphill both itineraries share. To your right you’ll see the basin of La Prade, with vineyards liable to flooding, with its garrigue isle planted right in the middle and with its vestiges of former sheep barns. To your left, the garrigue has taken over the terraced plots of formerly cultivated land, lined with low walls and planted with pine trees. On the top of the hill, you’ll leave the joint path (2) and turn left (north/north-east) on the path lined with almond trees which crosses the Lauza. Several hillocks with garrigue, pine trees, olive trees, holm oaks and walls made of the stones that were removed from the fields make up the landscape, together with the hillside vineyards.
One sheep barn still has its shed roof (for protection against the dominant Cers wind). To the left, a path leads to the superb (3) viewpoint indicator, made of Ferrals stone. The view really is worth the short roundtrip. Soon the Boutenac pine wood with its lookout post will appear in the distance (south-east) before the northward bound descent will allow you to contemplate another view, this time over the Minervois region, the Montagne Noire and its highest point, the Pic de Nore (1211 m) and, closer by, the Lézignan pine wood massif and the village of Conilhac.
After having walked alongside a low wall, you’ll reach the remains of the sheep barn de la Martine (landmark A on the ‘Sentier vigneron des Corbières’ / ‘Corbières wine-grower’s path’).
You’ll start your way back by turning left (4).

In front of the ‘La Martine’ sheep barn: there is a junction path that will allow you to go to Boutenac in about 1h30mins or continue your hike by choosing the Boutenac ‘Region’s Loop’ hike to the right (see itinerary description).

To go back to Ferrals: walk down a rough track to the left (northwest) then uphill again on a small track in a pine wood area (view on the Lézignan plain and on the village at the foot of Mont Alaric). The path is lined with dry-stone walls and surrounded by terraced plots, wild or planted fruit trees (olive, fig, almond, blackberry bush) and vineyards. Once you get to the D161, turn left and walk past the Wine Cooperative back to the village.
Be sure to admire the beautiful washtub in front of the town hall.

WORTH SEEING :
Le Lauza:
The fallow land rehabilitation project (planting quality vines) was started in 2003 when the Wine cooperative of Ferrals-les-Corbières teamed up with the Lauza agricultural landownership organization.
On plots of land provided by the town and some landowners themselves, the clearing works and tillage started back in 1999.
The project was supported by the Ferrals municipality, the Safer, the Cru-Corbières and the Languedoc-Roussillon region.
This cooperative project, set up by 13 wine-growers (10 young ones), has made it possible to transform 23 ha of fallow land into vineyards.
The grape varieties chosen are Grenache and Shiraz (Syrah) but the Carignan variety is also tested. The first quality yields will take up to 8 or 10 years.
Furthermore, the Wine Cooperative has put forward a communication project on the site: signposts pertaining to the different plots, hikes established in collaboration with several partners, the creation of a wine-tasting facility in the town with exhibitions and animations!
In short, a whole range of propositions centred on wine and wine-growing which will show the local wine-growers’ worth at its best.

The “La Prade” site:
This basin, liable to flooding, is planted with vineyards surrounded by hills of garrigue and pine trees which descend right to its edges. It has an island-like hillock in the middle. This site is said to have been a pond or lake in ancient times, the bottom of which would have been drained. This type of basin is pretty commonplace in the Lézignan region and may find its origin in the windy episodes of the Quaternary era. With a bit of imagination, one does indeed not find it all that difficult to see water instead of vineyards here and thus project the image of a lake.

Ferrals / Boutenac junction
Distance 4 km from the La Martine sheepbarn
Altitude difference 52 m
Time 1 ½ hrs
Difficulty easy

When you get to the La Martine sheep barn, turn right (east/southeast) amidst the vineyards interspersed by plots of fallow land here and there where the garrigue has taken over.
To take the Boutenac loop hike yet steer clear of the village, here is where a junction itinerary starts. You can read it below.

Up to the D 161. Turn left and continue for about 250m then take the track to the right (east/southeast) till you get to the rec Paillous ford, the boundary between the villages of Ferrals and Boutenac.
After fording the stream, walk along the edge of the vineyard then turn left on a rough track. Soon afterwards, leave this track to turn right into a vineyard and walk uphill to a cabanot (private cottage built in Boutenac sandstone). You might want to take a short break here to contemplate the surroundings or eat something in the shade of the azarole hawthorn on this spot the landowner allows you to enjoy. Once you’ve shut the door to the cabin after carefully removing your own litter, you’ll first turn back and then continue your hike by following the path which leads to the remains of a small building.

Turn right (south-east). You’ll walk past a 1935 pumping station. On your left: body of a mill surrounded by a reservoir (pumps) and a technical building, bordered by a small irrigation canal.
The vegetation, characteristic of humid areas, is generated thanks to several small streams running through this site: giant cane and broad-leaved trees, in particular.
You now will be leaving the vineyards entering a section composed of plots of fallow land and rocky garrigue, with the cypress trees being the dominant features, all round the narrow path.
On your way through, be sure to observe the wind-breaking hedges facing the dominant Cers.
You’ll then reach the D 161.
Next, you’ll follow the itinerary leading to Boutenac village (read the appropriate description).

Ferrals / Boutenac loop junction

Distance 1,4 km
Altitude difference 15 m
Time about 20 mins
Difficulty easy

When you arrive in front of the remains of the ‘La Martine’ sheep barn, turn right between the vineyards alternating with the plots of fallow land now occupied by the garrigue and continue till you reach the D161. Turn right on this departmental road and follow it for about 700 m. Next, turn right on the tarred pathway leading to the Laval estate and, 250 m after the main house, turn left on a track going uphill (south/south-east) into a garrigue landscape.
Next, read the itinerary of the Boutenac loop hike.

BOUTENAC
La Boucle des Terroirs / The Region’s Loop
Distance 9 km
Altitude difference 232 m
Time 3 hrs
Difficulty medium

Point of departure : the Château of Boutenac
Take the rue de la Fontaine, head towards the church, the fountain and its statue of liberty, then take the rue du Centre (several wine-grower’s houses with façades made of Boutenac sandstone), the rue de la Révolution de 1789 (admire the beauty of the 12th century donjon on your way), the rue de la Forge, then turn left towards the Ancien Chemin de Ferrals and start climbing the pine wood massif.
The itinerary crosses a landscape made up of plots of fallow land with pine trees, lawn covered pastures that date from after the fire. To the south, you’ll notice the section of the massif which was destroyed by a fire in 2001 and to the east, you’ll have a view on the village, with the castle upfront, and behind that, towards the north, the Minervois plain and the Caroux massif (Hérault department). You’ll cross a section planted with holm oaks, cypress trees, Spanish broom, olive trees.
Soon after that, to the north-west, you’ll have a view on the massif of the Lézignan pine wood forest, Conilhac village, the Montagne Noire and the Pic de Nore (1211 m).
After the remains of the sheep barn with the pitched roof (serving as protection against the prevailing wind) you’ll notice on your left, you’ll arrive on the D161. Turn left and follow the D161 for about 1 km until you reach Laval. Turn left (1) and follow the plane-tree lined driveway (south), then 250 m after the house, turn left again (2) to follow the path going uphill (south/south-east) in a garrigue landscape. Make a few stops to admire the view here and there: in the distance to the west, you’ll see the Alaric mountain and just in front of it, to its right, the Lauza plateau with its sheepfold. Right behind that, the village of Conilhac, nestled in the hollow part to the left of the Lézignan pine wood.
Just below the path, there is a small valley with hillside vineyards surrounded by the pine wood. To the north-west, up in the distance, you can distinguish the Montagne Noire and the Minervois region.
From here on, there is a sandstone soil and the vegetation changes likewise: Montpellier cistus, arborescent heather, cypress and pine trees, growing closer and closer together.
At the crossroads, take the path to the left: you’ll find the markers for the mountain-bike trail for a couple of metres.

Roundtrip to the watchtower: you can make a short roundtrip to the observation tower used to keep watch for forest fires. A beautiful and varied panoramic view is on display here. To the east: the Fontfroide massif, the villages of Saint-André-de-Roquelongue and Montséret. To the south: Saint-Victor, the village of Thézan, Mont Tauch in the distance. To the south-west: the Corbières massif and the village of Saint-Laurent-de-la-Cabrerisse. To the west: mont Alaric. And finally to the north: the Montagne Noire.

100 m further, at the next crossroads, a short round trip (250 m) on the uphill path to your right, enables (3) you to go to the watchtower (see itinerary above).

If not, to continue the loop trail, continue the track to the left then 150 m further on, turn left (4) on the ridge path.
To your left: panoramic view on the Alaric, the plain and the massif of the Lézignan pine wood. To your right: Saint-André, Montséret, Saint-Victor.
A limestone soil is present here and the low vegetation, so typical of the garrigue, takes over once again. All of a sudden, right in front of you, the view extends to the Lézignan landscape and, in the background, the Minervois plain, the Serre d’Oupia, the Montagne Noire, the Fontfroide massif and the villages of the Narbonne plain. The ridge path continues, a rocky limestone wall to its left, the ravine to its right.
We then leave the ridge and enter a pine wood massif dotted with some sandstone blocks. Now it’s time to start the descent.
In a bend, a chestnut tree and a dry-sandstone wall can be seen.
Before reaching the D161 again, you’ll notice the vestiges of a stone quarry. Turn right and take the D161 back to Boutenac.
500 m further up the road, leave the D161 (landmark “C” on the ‘Sentier vigneron des Corbières’).
Turn right and continue towards Boutenac.

Return walk to Boutenac:
Take the rocky rough track (east) going uphill to the right. It goes past the remains of a sheep barn with pitched roof (serving as protection against the prevailing Cers wind).
The itinerary crosses a landscape made up of plots of fallow land with pine trees, lawn covered pastures that date from after the fire, then it’s all Spanish broom, olive trees, pine trees and holm oaks.
You’ll then reach a point overlooking the village. View on the Minervois plain, the Montagne Noire and the Caroux massif (north) and closer by (east) Ornaisons, its pine wood forest, the Fontfroide massif. Straight ahead, the village with the château towering over it and, to the south, the part of the pine wood which was destroyed by the 2001 fire which is fully recovering.

Go down into the village, heading east on the Ancien Chemin de Ferrals, the rue de la Forge, the rue de la Révolution de 1789 (admire the remains of the tower, to the left), walk past the reservoir and its Marianne, the church, go down in the rue de la Fontaine, pay attention to the cultural heritage while walking down, go past the wall surrounding the château (on your right) and the brook (on your left). To go to the château, continue straight ahead then turn right when you reach the château’s drive.

Boutenac / Ferrals junction:
Follow the itinerary of the Boutenac loop hike till you reach the D161, then the Ferrals / Boutenac junction itinerary till you reach the La Martine sheep barn and then you’ll continue back to Ferrals village.

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