1. FAMILY GETAWAY
This easy-level trail through Harissa forest takes walkers from Jounieh, past monasteries and modern developments, until reaching quiet tree-lined trails. In spring, enjoy the blossoming flowers along the route such as cyclamen, marguerites and anemones, before reaching the great statue of Our Lady of Harissa at the mountain top. The trail was created years ago by villagers, and has more recently been used by scouts and hikers. In the past few years however, it has been renovated as an international pilgrimage trail by the foundation Darb Essama (darbessama.org, Darb Essama,) translating as The Trail to Heaven.
SLEEP Stay overnight at Bethania hostel (09 260060, 03 044110, bethania-harissa. com) at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lebanon.
EAT Stop for a picnic along the route or eat at the Harissa food court (harissaevents. com;) with its wide choice of restaurants, from fast food to Lebanese mezze. Kids will love it.
SEE Once at the sanctuary, discover the
basilica. Its shape is a cross between a cedar tree and a Phoenician ship and the Lourdes Chapel before climbing to the top of the statue of the Virgin Mary for a beautiful view over Jounieh bay. The Darb Essama Foundation offers guide services.