The “Passapais”, also known as the “Voie Verte” or the “Piste Verte” or “The Green Way” is the old railway line between Bédarieux and Mazamet. It’s over 75 km of pathway, where no motorized vehicles are allowed.
You can go on foot, bicycle or horseback, and it’s also accessible for people with disabilities.
“Passapais” means ‘cross country’ in Occitan. It crosses the Regional National Park of the Haut Languedoc from one side to the other, following the path traced by the three river valleys of the Thoré, the Jaur and the Orb.
One of the peculiarities of the Regional National Park of the Haut Languedoc, is that it is divided by a watershed line. To the west of this line, the rivers and streams flow down to the Atlantic Ocean, whilst on the eastern side, they flow into the Mediterranean Sea.
When the path crosses the watershed line between Courniou-les-Grottes (Herault) and Labastide-Rouairouz (Tarn), it passes through a tunnel of nearly 800 metres, so it’s probably a good idea to have a torch with you. Generally the tunnels are light, but in case the lights are out – be prepared.
You can pick your section to walk, or you could even plan to walk or cycle the entire route. Make sure you set aside some time to enjoy the panoramas of the Black Mountains, Piedmont, and the Caroux / Espinouse.
There’s plenty to see in the villages as you pass through. The official guide recommends some of these:
– the castle of Maréchal Soult-Berg,
– the textile museum in Labastide-Rouairoux,
– the Devèze cave and the National Museum of caving in Courniou-les-Grottes,
– the Prehistoric Museum in Saint-Pons-de-Thomières,
– the village of Olargues (which has deservedly merited the label ‘one of the most beautiful villages of France’)
– the bridge designed by Eiffel
– the spectacular gorges of Héric and Colombières,
– the viewpoints on the Caroux,
– the Thermes in Lamalou-les-Bains,
– the bell foundry and museum in Hérépian,
– the Maison des Arts in Bédarieux
We also recommend swimming or paddling in the various spots along the way. It can get pretty hot and dusty, so the fresh mountain water is a wonderful feeling on your bare toes.
There are numerous places to stop for refreshments. Specifically, there’s a great bar in Mons La Trivalle just on the side of the path. They serve delicious home-made food. It’s popular though, so don’t expect to turn up at 1:30 in the summer and find a spare table.
Another good place to stop for a while is in Le Poujol. It’s called M.Cyclopede, and is quirky and fun. You’ll find sofas and chairs in the garden, and they make basic sausage and chips. Don’t expect glamour, but it’s a relaxed stopping point, and very dog friendly.
Dogs are allowed on the path, but under control. The different mairies have various different rules, but generally it’s good policy to keep your dog on a lead.
If any readers have any feedback for others planning to explore the path, please let us know and we will publish your comments.
Mazamet Tourism Office: +33 (0)188.8.131.52.07
Labastide-Rouairoux Tourism Office: +33 (0)5.63.98.07.58
Saint-Pons-de-Thomières Tourism Office: +33 (0)4.67.97.06.65
Caroux en Haut-Languedoc Tourism Office: +33 (0)4.67.23.02.21