Hiking the Boucle de Montbringues at Brenas

By November 22, 2019NATURE, TO DO
TO DO | NATURE
Lac du Salagou

Nothing beats a walk in an autumnal forest. Every year, I try to make time for a hike in the woods with the family, to enjoy the wonders of the colour-changing leaves. It can be hard to find broad-leaved trees though, as evergreens and scrubland are the most widespread vegetation in the South of France. Then I discovered this hike of the Boucle de Montbringues at Brenas in the Haut-Languedoc. And now we have a way to revel in autumn in its full glory.

Chestnuts

After a long school and work week, our little family needed some fresh air. So, after a bit of research, we drove off to Brenas in the Hérault department. Our goal was to look for chestnuts by walking the trail called the Boucle de Montbringues. After parking our car at the Place de l’Église, we followed the blue signs for the 5.5 kilometre hike. It was only when coming back to the little village that we realised that we had walked the hike the wrong way round! Which explains why we sometimes had trouble finding the signs… So, if you want to walk the circular hike in the proper direction, you should take the first little road to the right after the Mairie, which is the Ancien Chemin de Vernazobres.

Brenas

Wildlife

November also means hunting season in France. And I have never seen so many hunters at the same time! The ancient, but mostly neglected, chestnut trees around Brenas are apparently the perfect food source for all kinds of wildlife. Including wild boars. Slightly worried, we started our hike. Only after asking some of the hunters if it was safe to go for a walk, did we continue on our way. We were also reassured because it was noon and most of the hunters had stopped for a two-hour lunch. This was the exact duration of our hike. And I was glad we did continue, as only a little time after we left Brenas, we found ourselves in the middle of chestnut trees surrounded by golden yellow leaves.

Brenas

Fall Foliage

Although the Cévennes, which are a bit further north, have been the true chestnut country since the year 1000, the area around Brenas didn’t disappoint. The cultivation of chestnuts developed in the 16th century and covered the flanks of the Haut-Languedoc between 300 and 800 meters. One of the hunters mentioned that the chestnut trees belong to a private owner, though. Therefore, we weren’t allowed to bring any chestnuts home. It didn’t matter, as the most beautiful fall foliage surrounded us.

Brenas

Lac du Salagou

Via a little climb, that gave us the first views of the gorgeous Haut-Languedoc landscape, the road slowly descended to the tiny hamlet of Dio-et-Valquières. From here, the path took a sharp turn upwards and we had to climb a little again. Once arriving at the top, we walked over a lush, green meadow, which gave us a breathtaking panorama over the region. We even spotted the Lac du Salagou in the distance! Keep in mind that if you walk the trail in the right direction, you will start with a climb and have this view at the beginning of your hike. Coming back to Brenas, I could clearly see that the gulp of fresh air had cleared all of our minds and boosted our energy.

Brenas

Info

Chestnut trees surround the little village of Brenas in the Haut-Languedoc. By walking the Boucle de Montbringues hike of 5.5 kilometres in about two hours, you will see plenty of them. Keep in mind the hunting season though, if you see signs mentioning ‘chasse’ (hunt), you shouldn’t go. We asked the hunters we saw, and they all confirmed it was safe to walk. This might be because we walked between 12h00 and 14h00: lunchtime.

Parking

There is free parking at the church on Place de l’Église. From here, you have to walk back a little, to take a right after the Mairie following the blue sign.

Office de Tourisme
1 Rue de la République
34600 Bédarieux
+33 (0)4 67 95 08 79

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