Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside…
but don’t forget the villages!
Think Argelès, think Saint Cyprien, think Canet… and we immediately think beach and port. A delicious stroll along the prom prom prom (tiddly pom pom pom), long sandy beaches, a wander around the lively ports amidst flapping sails, ‘pieds-dans-l’eau’ bars and restaurants, a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’…
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE VILLAGES?
Each of these modern, purpose built marinas and beachside resorts has its own thriving village, quintessentially Catalan in contrast to the modern beach resorts, with narrow, cobbled streets, shops and restaurants, art galleries, churches, chateaux…
So why not put a village visit on your list next time you head to the beach? Take a stroll, hire a bike or pop into the tourist office and book a guided tour.
Argelès sur Mer
A short drive from the beach, stroll around the narrow streets of this pretty, bustling, village, perfect for people-watching on the trottoir of one of the many cafés and restaurants.
For traditional French cuisine, why not try La Vieille Cave or La Fontaine in the Rue de la Libération, Café Noisette (now closed down apparently) further up opposite the church, The Flowers or La Gamate on the main Route Nationale (also great if you like speciality pizzas). You could also try La Table du Coin over in the port.
Follow the old ramparts, visit the church and its treasures and climb to the top of the 23-metre tower to enjoy the unique view of the Plaine du Roussillon (guided visits only).
Art lovers will enjoy the Galerie Marianne, free municipal art gallery showcasing temporary exhibitions from internationally renowned artists, or visit the Casa de l’Albera to learn all about the history and heritage of the village.
Don’t miss the small Mémorial du camp d’Argelès-sur-Mer on the Ave de la Libération, a stark reminder of darker times in this bright and dynamic resort.
Market Day: Wednesday and Saturday morning – streets and Place de la République
Beach to village: ten minute drive, 30 minute walk with some main roads, or take the Trainbus
This pleasant village with attractive church, 17th Century bell tower and interesting ‘rentables’, has recently started to rock!
The trendy new ‘Pub à la française‘ serves, amongst other things, fresh oyster plâteaux and exciting tapas, with live music, there is a new ‘Crêperie Gourmande’ run by Tom & Nat, and a Brasserie and Sushi Bar to boot!
The very original Collections Museum of Modern Art is based on the private collection of François Desnoyer and includes works by Maillol, Dali, Chagall and Desnoyer himself.
Take a guided walk around the village in July and August or visit the Chapelle Saint-Etienne de Villerase on the outskirts of the village, direction Perpignan – nearly always closed, but a tranquil spot for a picnic nevertheless.
Market Day: Thursday morning – Place de la Mairie
Beach to village: ten minute drive, Cypobus shuttle, litttle tourist train or 40 minute stroll through green and manicured Parc de la Prade with fitness circuit, kiddie’s play area, picnic and BBQ area, lakes and fountains…
Canet en Roussillon
This traditional village with narrow, cobbled streets, boasts an ancient château and remnants of walls built to protect the villagers from marauding pirates.
Some good shops to wander round, the Galerie des Hospices for local art exhibitions, the pretty 14th century Église Saint Jacques with ancient accommodation for pilgrims on their way to Saint-Jacques de Compostelle, the superbly restored 18th century ice well…
Visit the arboretum on the edge of the village, ancient trees, more than 500 plant species, and take your seasonal pick in the orchards.
Lunch or dine at the Vigatane restaurant – as proudly Catalan as they come – serving up Catalan Grillades and other specialities accompanied by Flamenco and Catalan music nights.
Why not take a guided visit of the village including wine tasting, (of course), at the very local Domaine des Hospices?
Market Day: Wednesday morning – Rue de la Bascule / Saturday morning – Place St Jacques
Beach to village: ten minute drive, 40 min walk via the marina but some busy roads.