Once we come to the end of this part of the route, around 2.5 km before reaching Arles-sur-Tech, we turn off to the left and head towards Les Gorges de la Fou, the narrowest gorge in the world. It is located only 500 m from our route. The gorge is 1,500 metres long and the walls 200 metres high, so close together that we can touch both sides at once if we stand between them. 

Arles is a town with a long and rich history. The town originally developed around the Abbey of Santa Maria. Later, industrial activity sprung up here with the Catalan textile factory, the weaving mill and the artisan confectionery. We can visit the tourist information centre located at the entrance to the Benedictine Abbey of Santa Maria, one of the oldest in Catalonia (778-780). Worthy of note in the Abbey are the Cloister (which combines stone from Girona and marble from Céret) and the Wheat Cross (a masterpiece produced using the Catalan Forge process), the Chapterhouse and the Church.

Continuing our route on foot, we come across the Art and Crafts Mill, which houses the Catalan Textile Museum. If you are a fan of traditional fare, before you leave you must go to a cake shop and buy a “Rousquilla”, a round biscuit typical of the Vallespir, and of Arles in particular. Other places worthy of note include the building that is known as “Les Indis” because of its Art Nouveau architecture. It now houses the Town Hall. 

Arles-sur-Tech has also been closely linked to the mining industry. The “Vetera” iron mines are located near here, in Cortsaví. Because of this, it is no coincidence that in 1898 the train line already went as far as Arles. From here on, our journey will be linked to this line, since its disused track was used in the building of a greenway, along some parts of which we shall now travel. 

If you are travelling by mountain bike across the section between Prats-de-Mollo and Arles-sur-Tech, you can leave your saddlebags at your accommodation and follow one of the many mountain bike circuits in the Alt Vallespir.

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