Gorges de la Frau (8)Gorges de la Frau (8)
©Gorges de la Frau (8)|Office de Tourisme des Pyrénées cathares

Gorges de La Frau

Canyon, smugglers and Cathars

A beautiful stroll in the coolness of a natural canyon, that’s what the Gorges de la Frau have to offer! A place of history and passage…

A path through the gorge

It’s between conifers and beech trees, along the course of the Hers vif, which marks the boundary between the departments of Ariège and Aude, that this walk will take you; between two veritable stone walls, in some places towering over 400 metres above you.

The Gorges invite you to take a stroll in a setting where limestone rocks and greenery seem to be one and the same. A cascading rhythm leads you along a well-trodden path beneath the 1925-meter-high Frau mountain.

From the hamlet of Pélail to Comus in the Aude, almost 7.5 kilometers of walking await hikers. It’s the perfect walk for brave hikers who love shade and cool temperatures! The 15-kilometre round trip takes 5 hours, with a peak altitude of 1,166 metres and a vertical drop of almost 600 metres.

Please note: there are no streams or fountains. Don’t forget your water!

Smugglers' den

For a long time, they linked Aude and Ariège. This old Cathar path enabled the bonshommes to reach Comus from Montségur, and from there, nearby Montaillou.

Deeply incised, they were also an ideal hideout for all kinds of trafficking and smuggling with Spain… People used to ride over them on donkeys, leaving no trace, under the noses of the authorities.

Today, they are an ideal place to hide from the heat.

The gorges are located on the Chemin des Bonshommes, a 107 km Cathar trail that runs through the Ariège and its castles.


Road access: from Lavelanet follow Aiguillon, Bélesta then Fougax and Barrinef towards “les Gorges de la Frau”.

Departure point: Pélail picnic area (parking lot)

From Pélail, take the tarmac road for 1km and pass the “Fontaine de L’Esqueille”, continuing along the road to the entrance to the Gorges gorge.
Take the narrower, steeper path: walk 2km700 through the Gorges to the forest road.
Turn left towards Comus to reach the foot of the village (2km900): on the forest road, you’ll pass a boulder topped with a cross, and a little further on the “L’Ourza” path.

Great joys and small pleasures

Try it out