Céret-born Martin Fourcade, a 26-year-old non-commissioned officer of the mountain infantry brigade at Chamonix, emerged from the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games as the new star of biathlon, with three medals – two gold and one silver.

After the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, the Catalan territories of the Vallespir, Conflent, Capcir, the valley of Le Carol, and 33 northern villages of the Cerdagne were transferred to France. The disgruntled Spaniards made regular and damaging raids over the new frontier, and the king’s military engineer Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban designed a new fort at the crossroads of the Conflent, Capcir and Cerdagne to defend the border. Named after King Louis X1V, it is said that he chose the position of Mont Louis based on the good health and fine teeth of the inhabitants of nearby villages!

Perpignan is the capital of the Catalan region and the centre of Catalonia culture.The town owes much of its heritage and cultural development to the kings of Majorca, responsible for the transformation of Perpignan into a thriving trading post during the middle ages.

On either side of the winding road, signposts suggest Corsavy, Montferrer, Saint Laurent de Cerdans and Coustouges, pretty villages well worth a visit another time. Today however, we are heading towards the end of the line, the unspoilt fortified medieval town of Prats de Mollo, dominated by Fort Lagarde, designed by Vauban in 1680.

Argelès to Banyuls-sur-Mer is a short but fabulous coastal drive on a crisp autumn day, offering panoramic views over the bay of Collioure, row after row of steep, terraced vines, and a sparkling Mediterranean ever present throughout the drive.

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