When I was offered, as summer approached, to carry out a solo roaming on 4 stages of the Chemin des Bonshommes (GR107) in Ariège, it is without thinking that I prepared my backpack and my equipment to discover these landscapes which were still unknown to me.

It is therefore very excited and impatient to start the experience that I leave Toulouse to reach Ax-les-Thermes and more precisely the Chioula Pass to start the first day?

in short

⏰ 4 days of adventure
?️ 3 unforgettable nights
? 70 kilometers
?️ 3000 vertical meters

View of the high peaks of the Orlu reserve © Ariège Pyrénées Tourisme / Jean Despiau

DAY 1: from the Chioula refuge to Orgeix

  • Distance: 11 kilometers
  • Elevation +/-: 800 meters of D+
  • Duration: 4-5h

From the heights of Chioula, the view is breathtaking ! We can observe the high peaks of the Andorran border and the area of ​​Orlu in front of us. Here, we dominate the whole valley and we have a bird's eye view of Ax-les-Thermes as well as the ski resort a little higher.

The descent to Sorgeat is done in a shady and pleasant setting. This then leads us to a very bucolic crossing to the small village of Ascou. After an unmissable short stop at the throne cabin, I switch to the Orlu valley.


With a hot day and not too much wind, a small splash in the Oriège was essential! Fly fishermen are numerous here and after a few refreshing stops, I arrive at my goal for the day: the mountain relay of Orlu !

Photo: fisherman in Orgeix, Orlu valley © Ariège Pyrénées Tourisme / Jean Despiau

DAY 2: from Orgeix to Merens-Les-Vals

  • Distance: 18 kilometers
  • Elevation +/-: 1000m of D+
  • Duration: 6 hour

After a comfortable night, I start this stage in the early morning with the desire to take a little more height by discovering new landscapes. The topography announces a long climb to the Col de Joux and the trend is well respected: 12km connecting the valley of the pass by an endless track... the point of view is deserved among the ariégeois! To my great disappointment, the arrival at the pass will be accompanied by a thick
cloudy layer which will not prevent you from enjoying the 360° view offered by the place in normal times.

I didn't let myself be discouraged and after a good snack prepared with care by the Relai Montagnard, I embarked on the second part of the stage: the descent to Mérens Les Vals.

I take advantage here of having been joined by Ronan, a local friend, to perform this last part. The surroundings of the pass are magnificent: very green and very wild. We meet a few Mérens horses roaming freely in this wild mountain, this breed being characteristic of the area.

Romanesque church of Merens © Ariège Pyrénées Tourisme / Jean Despiau

Passage to the hot springs followed by the remarkable XNUMXth century Romanesque church before joining the accommodation for the evening: the very charming Auberge du Nabre! It's been a tough day and the rest is much appreciated.

DAY 3: from Porta to Cabana dels Esparvers

  • Distance: 16 kilometers
  • Elevation +/-: 1000m / 450m
  • Duration: 5-6 hours of walking

For this new stage, I am joined by Caroline from Tourisme Ariège who will accompany me for the next 2 days. She picks me up in the early morning at the hostel and we drive to Porta.
We made the choice to skip stage 8 going from Mérens to Porta to turn to this cross-border part which is more recommended to us.

From the start, the stage keeps its promises! The landscapes have nothing to do with those of the previous days. Much less wooded but a small valley where pastoralism is everywhere, to the rhythm of the sound of the water which travels along this beautiful valley. We are watched by many curious people, on the lookout for our itinerary and ready to warn of our possible approach.

We arrive at the Portella Blanca which symbolizes the triple Franco/Spanish/Andorran border and we switch towards our base for the evening. We go to the area of ​​the Esparvers cabin to organize the camp.

Triple border © Ariège Pyrénées Tourisme / Jean Despiau

DAY 4: from Cabana dels Esparvers to Viliella

  • Distance: 10km
  • Elevation +/-:
  • Duration: 3-4h

As soon as you poke your nose out of the tent in the early morning, our friends the marmots are there to whistle along!

We break camp to begin our last descent towards the end point of this adventure.. This portion is simple, there is only descent in lush and relaxing fir forests. Many Spaniards are present in this Llosa Valley to bask around the refreshing and charming stream.

It is with lots of beautiful images in my head and on my memory card that I conclude this adventure on the Chemin des Bonshommes. This area that I knew very little, if at all, deserves to be discovered more. I can't wait to come back to these settings that I really liked!

End clap on the GR107 © Ariège Pyrénées Tourisme / Jean Despiau

Jean Despiau


John Despiau

A great lover of adventure and the mountains, I am constantly looking for new discoveries and new challenges! With a special attachment to the Pyrenees, I regularly head for its many trails. Never separated from my camera, I like to immortalize these moments in image. I am looking for stories to tell, always with the desire to express it through original, strong and at the same time simple images. What I try to freeze with my material are moments of life, landscapes, sensations, emotions and encounters.

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