Tentatively out and about with Tony Goodman
Printemps de l’Aspres’s final concert
The final concert for this year’s revised program was an absolute spellbinder. Madamicella, a female vocalist quartet singing traditional Corsican songs, no technology. Held in the cool interior of Trouillas’ thick walled church, the four singers held the audience in their hands as they wove their voices around each other. The songs were in Corsican and French but that was not an issue, the entire performance was about the melodies and the skill of the singers.
We have seen them before, but this time they took their performance to a new level. The slightly truncated performance was around an hour, the time flew by. At the end the audience gave the festival organisers a heartfelt, eye-moistening round of applause in appreciation of the work they put in to organise the concerts.
Prats de Mollo
Seeking somewhere cool and green to celebrate a birthday we headed up to Prats de Mollo La Preste for two nights. A trip we’ve promised ourselves every time we’ve returned from Spain via the Col d’Ares.
Getting there could not be easier. We drove the very scenic and well maintained D115 from Perpignan. Leaving at around 12 noon we wound our way up the Tech valley passing through the very pretty Amélie-les-Bains-Palalda, itself an excellent destination, before arriving at Prats de Mollo just before 2pm. Just in time for a slow lazy lunch. The other option is the 1 euro bus. Perpignan Station to Prat de Mollo, something we have in mind for an autumnal visit.
The town has plenty of accommodation choices. We stayed at the Bellevue Hotel following a recommendation from a good and trusted source. Perched above the market square with private parking and rooms with private terraces overlooking the square. Perfect for some people watching.
Things to do
The town has a delightful alpine feel, its surrounded by tall green hills laced with walking trails. Friday is market day, plenty of interesting local produce available and a few arts and crafts. Dating back more than 400 years the town itself is an interesting mix of ancient fortifications and Catalan style homes. There is a trail to follow through the old part of town’s cobbled streets and alleys. Photo opportunities at every curve. The town is immaculate and at this time of year there are hanging flower baskets everywhere.
Having a booking at hotel’s Bellavista Restaurant we tackled a medium strength climb up to Fort Lagarde to build up our appetites. It was a hard but satisfying climb, we’re not mountaineers so we took our time. We ascended via the covered stairway and returned via the road. Plenty of photo stops both ways. The sense of achievement when we reached the top was exhilarating.
The town has an excellent selection of restaurants. During our two day stay, we lunched at the very excellent Restaurant Ausseil, dining al fresco in the market square. Following our epic climb, we enjoyed a small celebratory glass with the locals at Fafan’s Bar in the old town before sitting down to our planned meal at the Bellavista Restaurant, where chef Denis Visellach creates a daily menu using the best of the best local ingredients. The wine card featured some of the best local producers.
Great value, the meal was a delight. The service was superb, it was not hard to see why it is in the Michelin Red Guide. We opted for the local slow cooked lamb for our mains. Something of a signature dish it was possibly the best lamb we have had in many a year. Loved the town, love our mountains.
Summer party : Saturday 26th June
Come and put faces to names with the P-O Life Coming Out Party. Have a Saturday morning mooch around the stores then drop by and say hello. 12 noon onwards. L’Horloge Café, Place Gambetta, in front of the cathedral. Look for Elaine and her team who will be organising name tags. Kate and Simon will be there.
If coming by car, park at either the Wilson or Pl Republic carpark. Hop off the bus at Castillet and follow the signs for the cathedral.