….a quick glance at the latest local news with Caroline Manson

Violent fire at Saleilles


109 firefighters were mobilised to tackle a violent fire which broke out in vegetation near Saleilles.  After the recent high temperatures, the ground was tinder dry and their work was made harder by the Tramontane gusting at 70kmh.  3 hectares of scrubland was destroyed by the flames, but luckily neighbouring houses, agricultural greenhouses and the Eiffage company remained untouched.  The P-O is still considered ‘high risk’ for fires this week.

Wind turbine project blocked


A project to construct 6 x 150 metre high wind turbines near Passa has been cancelled. The Préfecture had validated the plans but following protests by residents and several local environmental action groups, the Council of State in Toulouse has now overturned this decision, stating that this project would only make a very modest contribution to the national development energy policy in an area that does not suffer from any fragility of electricity supply and already has a large number of wind farms.  Other wind farm projects are planned in Corneilla-la-Rivière and Força Réal.

Tobacco import limits now unrestricted


Since 29th March, there is no longer a limit on the quantity of tobacco you can bring into France from Spain (or any other county in the EU).  This does not necessarily give the green light to professional tobacco ‘smugglers’, as you still have to prove the tobacco is for personal consumption.  Customs officers have been carrying out strict controls since the new law came into effect and have already seized a total of 400 kilos.

Name change for Pyrénéés-Oriéntales

pyrénées orientales

At the end of 2024, the department is launching a public consultation in which residents will have to decide on their desire to change, or not change, the name of the department.  Pyrénées-Mediterranée was first considered, then Pyrénées-Catalanes became the favourite, but now a new name has been added to the list, Pays Catalan.  A group have now launched an online petition to promote this proposal and in a recent survey by France Bleu Roussillon, the inhabitants of the Pyrénées-Oriéntales voted 56% in favour of this name in front of the others.

Shopping Centre risks closure

coffee shop argeles

Just 2 years ago, the Frunshopping Centre was constructed.  Situated in Pollestres, just off the D900 linking Le Boulou and Perpignan, it seemed a great place for shopkeepers and businesses to open.  Unfortunately half of the units remain empty, with many businesses having closed down – and they blame the new RD39 road project which has dragged on for over 8 months and has effectively diverted traffic away – 5,000 cars used to pass each day. The Corner Shop Coffee bar closed a few weeks ago, and before that a beauty salon and a kitchen designer had to close their doors.  The ‘opening soon’ sign for the new Maison Paré shop has been in place for months, and the owner of Le Comptoir Bio says that he will have to close in two months if sales do not improve as his old weekly turnover of 30,000€ has now become his monthly turnover.  Shopkeepers are demanding compensation from the department.

New speed limit in Vinça


From 30th April, the speed limit throughout the town of Vinça will be restricted to 30kmh.  Residents have mainly greeted this news with pleasure, as traffic entering the town via the straight Avenue Géneral de Gaulle often exceeds the current speed limit of 50kmh and causes great danger to cyclists and pedestrians alike.  Perpignan town council is also considering lowering the maximum speed in the entire urban area to 30kmh.

Success for week-long customs control operation


For the past week, around 100 law enforcement officers have been mobilised in the P-O in an operation against illicit tobacco trafficking.  Over 200 kilos of tobacco and cigarettes have been seized, together with 49 kilos of cannabis, 1,575 counterfeit items and 1782 litres of alcohol.  Police carried out checks not only of the usual Spanish and Andorran borders but also of parcels and freight, street points of sale and back-street shops.  As part of this operation, four ‘businesses’ in Catalonia and the Aude have been closed.

Fourteen squatters evicted from building


A building in Perpignan comprising 11 apartments had been taken over by fourteen squatters for almost a year.  They had caused significant disturbances in the neighbourhood and the police had been called out many times.  At long last the police have been able to arrest the squatters, who have no official papers, and the owner of the building has regained possession of his property.

And finally…

Auchan have recently started to offer ‘Mystery Trollies’ for sale – the idea being that you take the risk of purchasing a trolley-load of goods without knowing what is inside.  These Mystery Trollies will be sold between 100€ and 250€ and can contain textiles, decorations, household appliances or high-tech products.  You have absolutely no rights to a refund if the contents are not to your liking, but you are guaranteed to save 60% on the retail price.  I won’t be taking advantage of this offer as I often find ‘Mystery’ items in my trolley when I arrive at the check-out – the ‘Middle of Lidl’ is too tempting…

supermarket trolley

Caroline Manson is an independent Property Consultant – for advice on buying, selling, renting or renovating, don’t hesitate to contact her at


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