This route reproduces the path that thousands of people made on foot in 1939 when they went into exile in France, crossing the Pyrenees, fleeing the advance of Franco's troops. The Route of Exile - Rural tourism pets
The section to be completed is the same as followed by the President of Catalonia Lluís Companys, the President of the Spanish Republic Manuel Azaña and the Basque Lehendakari José Manuel Aguirre.
It begins in the small municipality of La Vajol and ends on the other side of the border, in Les Illes, where the French gendarmerie waited for the exiles to lead them back to the internment camps.
The route begins at the entrance to La Vajol, where there is a parking lot. From there there is a path indicated with a sign that leads to the Monument to Exile.
Some two hundred meters further on we will find an esplanade with the monument on a rock that represents an adult and a child with an amputated leg on the way to exile, inspired by an authentic photograph.
It is one of the few monuments in the entire state dedicated to the people who left the country in the aftermath of the Civil War.
A little further on, already inside the town, we will find a small square where there are different plaques and reminders of the exile and the passage of Presidents Companys and Aguirre through the municipality.
La Vajol is a small town but it is worth a visit. It is worth highlighting the square, the nucleus of the town, and the late Romanesque church of St. Martin with a long stone staircase added to the facade.
If we take the GI-505 road towards Coll de Manrella, we will immediately find the Manrella-Comaulis restaurant which, if we go by car, is a good place to park the vehicle.
One hundred meters further on, on the left hand side, we find a detour with signs that indicate the way to the Coll de Lli, the Cabrera Castle and the Las Salinas Sanctuary.
Following this forest track with a moderate upward slope, we will pass through the Fuente del Cu-cut and, further up, on the right hand side, we will find a small farmhouse.
A few meters further on, when we find a crossroads, we must continue straight in the direction of the French town of Les Illes.
At this point there is a small esplanade with a wire fence that indicates the border with the French state.
There is also a sign that announces a "Gite d'étape" indicating the direction to get to a rural accommodation in Les Illes. At the moment we are at the top of Coll de Lli.
We continue straight on, down a downward slope, of low-moderate difficulty. In autumn the path, which passes through the middle of a chestnut forest, is completely covered with leaves that hinder the passage, so it is advisable to go along the sides of the path.
The last part of the road is private property and, although the passage is allowed, you have to open a fence and follow the path until you reach a second fence.
After this fence, we will be in the nucleus of Les Illes, where the exiles who passed through the Coll de Lli arrived.
The first building that we find is the Trabucaires hostel, an establishment with history where, according to the inhabitants of the area, President Companys stayed and when he left the owner made him an omelette that he could not pay for because he had no money .
In front of the hostel there is a Gite d'étape (rural accommodation). In the town of Les Illes we will also find a monument dedicated to the International Brigades and the Republican army.
To return to La Vajol, the shortest route is to do the road in reverse. You can also go through the Coll de Manrella despite being a longer and confusing journey due to the many forest tracks that cross the road.
If you want to return along this route, when you leave the town you have to take a paved road towards Mas del Batlle, then continue east and you will come to a track that will take you to Coll de Manrella.
Once in the Coll de Manrella, already within Catalonia, we find the pyramidal monument "Temple of Peace" in homage to Lluís Companys.
It was built in this place not because President Companys passed that road but because it was a good location, wider and more accessible than the Coll de Lli where Companys actually passed. The monument is also easily reached from the Vajol, by car it is a few minutes.
MEMORIAL MUSEUM OF EXILE
THE JONQUERA. CARRER MAJOR, 43-47
Museu Memorial de l'Exili A visit to the Exile Memorial Museum (MUME), inaugurated in December 2007, can be a good starting or ending point for this route.
The MUME is located in La Jonquera (Girona), a border town that saw thousands of people fleeing in its streets, leaving the country for fear of Franco's repression.
The permanent exhibition of the museum is dedicated to the republican exile of 1939, its antecedents and its most immediate repercussions and allows us to know the suffering and the experiences lived in exile by these people for forty long years.
The exhibition is divided into 5 areas that contain audiovisual and scenographic resources, explanatory panels and a wide sample of original documents of historical interest. The museum also explains other exile processes of the XNUMXth and XNUMXst centuries that have taken place in the rest of Europe and on other continents
Municipalities of La Vajol (Alt Empordà) and Les Illes (França)
Duration of the route: 2 hours and 30 minutes
N-II to km. 773 or A-7 motorway until exit 2 (La Jonquera), then take the N-II towards Barcelona, then we will find a detour that indicates Agullana and Maçanet de Cabrenys GI-500. Upon reaching Agullana, the road to La Vajol is renamed GI-501.
There is no public transport service to La Vajol. The David y Manel bus company reaches Agullana and Maçanet de Cabrenys with departures from Figueres and La Jonquera. Tel. 972 672 853
By Toni Contijoch, Oriol López and Àngel Reguera
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