Mont Louis, the Smallest Hilltop Town in French Pyrenees

1600 metre high above the sea level, at the heart of the Catalan Pyrenees, the town of Mont Louis was founded in the 17th century. While Our family was waiting for the Yellow Train, we spent some time in this small town. It didn’t look so attractive like other famous French old towns when we entered the town. But soon we discovered many unique characters that other French towns don’t have. It is truly a must-see place if you are around the French Pyrenees or combine the visit to Villefranche-de-Conflent.  The Mont Louis is unique because It is

  • the smallest hilltop town in French Pyrenees.
  • also the highest walled town in France.
  • a UNESCO site.
  • where the first modern solar furnace was built.
  • a main stop of the famous Yellow Train.
The entrance of Mont Louis, Pyrenees, France
The entrance of Mont Louis, Pyrenees, France

The history of Mont Louis

Mont Louis was initially planned by Vauban to host traders, craftsmen, middle-class persons, and a barrack. Its defenses (ramparts, bastions et half-moons) were built in the same time of the Citadel.
In response to the order of King Louis to secure the area after the Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed in 1659, from 1679 to 1681, Vauban built its defense functions such as ramparts and bastions.

Because of Vauban’s fortifications, the ancient stronghold is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. We took a stroll and saw the Porte de France and the ramparts. Then we saw the next site, the military Citadel.

As a military engineer, Vauban has built many fortifications in his life.  Most of them are UNESCO sites. There are two books talking about his skills and architects, how his objects influenced history:

The houses in Mont Louis, Pyrenees, France
The houses in Mont Louis, Pyrenees, France

The Citadel (the National Comnando Training Centre)

the Citadel was the defensive element of Mont-Louis. Since its creation in 1679, Mont-Louis is a place hosting the Army. Behind the secret of its ramparts, the Citadel contains some unique architectural elements, the Forçats well and its immense wheel. Because of this military fortification system,  Mont-Louis is never besieged.

 According to the plans established by Vauban, the Citadel is a square flanked by four bastions. Its ramparts are surrounded by a ditch. In the South, the Porte Royale, topped by a bell tower and a clock, communicates directly with the town. While in the North, it opens an emergency exit towards the road of France.

Free Shipping

Hung on at the top of the ramparts, small towers at the angle allow you o watch in any direction.
Since 1964 it hosts the CNEC Centre National d’Entraînement Commando. The mission of CNEC is to provide the land army with the qualifying training. It also hosts courses for visiting groups and other French forces as well as journalists and top sportspeople. Besides, you can join the guided visits organized by our tourist information center to discover the historical secrets of the place and the architecture of its construction.

Ramparts from Mont Louis, Pyrenees France
Ramparts from Mont Louis, Pyrenees France

The first modern solar furnace

If I have ever seen this furnace, I would never imagine that France is one of the pioneers in developing solar technology and applying it for industrial and manufactured products. Because the Pyrenees has more than 3000 of sunshine hours, it was perfect for the professor Felix Trombe to conduct his solar energy tests. Therefore, he built the world’ first solar furnace with dual reflection in Mont Louis. The total construction of 1420 mirrors provides a thermal power of 50kW. And, one of

This solar furnace was first settled within the Citadel. Later it was sold to Mont Louis and moved to its today’s place. You can learn about solar energy and its effects in everyday life on a guided tour. The tour will also show how the furnace works and demonstrate some experiments, for example how the solar rays can produce temperatures between 2000 to 3000, the melting of the metal. the first commercial products was the whistle of the Yellow Train.

New Collection 728*90

solar furnace in Mont Louis, Pyrenees, France
The first mpodern solar furnace in Mont Louis, Pyrenees, France

Saint-Louis Church

At the time of construction two churches were planned: one at the Citadel, the other in town. The military chapel was built first for the soldiers. In 1721, the construction of the new church in town started. Located in the center of the village, its facade opens to a small square. On each side of the door is a bull eye. Over the centuries, people donated many altarpieces to the church. Later, some elements came from the military church after the French Revolution.

The facade of the Saint-Louis Church in Mont Louis, Pyrenees, France
The facade of the Saint-Louis Church in Mont Louis, Pyrenees, France

Where to stay

Mont Louis is also a base for summer hiking and winter skiing. When it is the peak season, during the ski season or summer holiday season, the hotel prices tend to be very high. My selection of 3-star hotels are:

For all other hotels, please chekc the following platforms.

How to get there

If you come from Barcelona, you can take train, bus or drive a car. for the connection please check this website.
But if you are coming from Perpignion, the easiest way is to drive a car. The driving route is via N116 and then N116. The route is easy to drive as we drove along several times.
Or, you can take the Yellow Train to go there.
1600 metre high above the sea level, at the heart of the Catalan Pyrenees, the town of Mont Louis was founded in the 17th century. #france #europe #montlouis #pyrenees #travel #traveldestinations #travelblogger #visiteurope


  1. To be honest, I have never heard of Mont Louis but it is interesting to know that it is the highest walled town in French Pyrenees. And the yellow train, you say it is famous but I don’t have much knowledge about that either! I love exploring UNESCO world heritage sites and this one would definitely make it to my list, it looks so charming.

  2. I haven’t spent much time in the Pyrenees but this must have been quite a discovered to find a small town with so many accolades! Looks like a great place to unwind, those views in the background are beautiful.

  3. This seems like the kind of town that I would wander around and wonder what it is like to wake up there every day with those views. It seems so sweet and quaint. And I love that it has played such unique roles in history.

  4. I love such peaceful mountain towns and therefore French Pyrenees really looks appealing to me. The houses in Mont Louis, Pyrenees, France are beautiful and very photogenic too. Loved to know that this place was planned to host traders, craftsmen and middle class people as this sounds very historic. The citadel is also interesting and with a beautiful backdrop of nature.

  5. I have always been fascinated by the beauty and history of the Pyrenees! Mon Louis looks like a great place to stay. Saint Louis Church looks like a fun, historical church to explore (we always seek them out when we travel). Saving this for future reference. I hope to travel there soon!

  6. What a beautiful place! The solar furnace surprised me! I live in SoCal with plenty of sunshine but that area of the world never struck me as having anything solar powered. This looks like a great road trip from Barcelona!

  7. What a beautiful mountain town! It’s very cool to learn about the solar furnace and cool that it powered the whistle for the Yellow Train. I love your photo of the solar furnace! I like the medieval look to the town as well, it would be nice to see the citadel too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.