This part of the route, as well as the next one, continues along the D-115 road. Here, however, it is much busier than on the descent from the Coll d’Ares. The road is narrow, in most places without a hard shoulder, and cars travel along it at high speed. This stretch of the route and the next one are one of the main reasons we advise doing the Pirinexus route in a clockwise direction, as you will feel less anxious or apprehensive about dangers going downhill than when climbing uphill. Therefore, put on a fluorescent vest and enjoy the ride.

The entire route between Prats-de-Mollo and Le Boulou passes alongside the River Tech, and its fauna and flora are protected by the Natura 2000 Network. The first thing that strikes the visitor is the orientation of this valley. It does not run perpendicular to the mountain range, as you might expect, but instead goes in an oblique direction, as if it was in a hurry to reach the sea, looking for the shortest route. This orientation is determined, as in the case of the Vall d’Hostoles (between Amer and Sant Feliu de Pallerols), by a fault, which in this case caused the NE block to sink. These faults form part of a larger complex and, as we mentioned earlier, they are responsible for the creation of the large depressions in the Empordà and Rosselló regions, the volcanic activity in La Garrotxa, and for the earthquakes of 1427 and 1428. Thus, the valley is very straight and the river flows downhill very rapidly, meaning that the resulting erosion at the bottom of its bed is very marked and the sides of the valley are particularly steep. The river therefore flows through a narrow gorge. The road itself has many bends, and literally hangs on the side of the rocky bluffs that flank the valley. Relatively recently, in 1940, the force of the water in this river led to a disaster. After heavy rains and a landslide that caused party of the valley to collapse, there was a devastating flood which affected Arles-sur-Tech and Amélie-les-Bains. A total of 50 people were killed, and some of the bodies were never found. The train line between Prats-de-Mollo and Amélie-les-Bains was destroyed, and has not been restored since.

This is another phenomenon caused by major seismic faults, and is the reason why thermal springs are found in this valley, both in La Preste, near to Prats-de-Mollo, and in Amélie-les-Bains, further east. The faults favour the flow of water underground, where it is warmed by the heat contained in the Earth’s core. 

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