by Rosaleen Bond


Considering we purchased a house online in a village we’d never seen to say we got lucky is an understatement.

When we finally got to see our new house in Vernet-Les-Bains we loved the village so much we decided to make the move. Suddenly home was switched to Vernet-Les-Bains and the ‘holiday house’ is now on the west coast of Ireland.

vernet les bains

Vernet-Les-Bains is a calm yet vibrant village with the prefect mix of old and new. You can get lost in the lanes of the old village and wind your way up to the church of St Saturnin that sits on the top of the hill. Nature is on your doorstep and the Canigou sits to the south east.

The first thing we noticed is the nice square in the centre of the village – La Place de la République. In the summer there is a stage and a good calendar of events especially considering we moved in the midst of restrictions. There is also a small market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays selling local produce and gifts.


On the east side of the square there are a number of cafes and restaurants. If I’m honest I’m not sure which ones are open on which days in the winter but you can always get a good lunch in one of them whatever day of the week you go down.

All have outside seating that catch the sun year round. Le Camp de Base has a great selection of tapas and a lovely terrace out the back which is great for kids.

Le 2ème rempart is an Italian restaurant with fab pizzas.

Chez Jean-Louis, owned by Patricia, often feels like the centre of Vernet les Bains! It’s where locals go and it’s full of character. The best way to enjoy it is to sit back and go with the flow.

On the south corner of the square C’est quand le bonheur in the busier seasons offer both lunch and dinner. The food is fabulous and they have a great menu for €25 and brillaint service.

Off the square we love the Indian ‘Le Jardin du Jasmine’ and it’s always nice to be able to chat to Lisa in English.

Bistro Le Cortal on the edge of the old village sits below the church and is rated as one of the top 150 restaurants in all of the P-O region.

There are other places to eat that we haven’t discovered yet but we have only been here 7 months.

Next on our list is the Ecole Hoteliere where ‘the meals tend to be very cheap (as everyone in training) but always good value for money’. (Suse Worman)

If the cafes isn’t doing breakfast we wander to the the bakery to get our fresh goods and bring them back to enjoy them with our coffee. La Mis de Pain on the south side of the square is our favourite, however, the other two bakeries are just as good.

There is an intermache on the edge of the village which is invaluably open on Sunday mornings. In the centre of the village is what I call Les Halles. I don’t know if this is it’s official name but the owner always makes time to explain what things are and, more importantly, how to prepare and eat them. We are discovering lots of new things and our favourite so far is the dragon fruit.


The Espace du bien-être and Les Thermes De Vernet-Les-Bains confused me for a little while until I realised they are located in the same place ! Les Thermes and the Espace has a sauna, hammam, jacuzzi, swimming pool, aquagym, bodybuilding, cardio training and more. There is also an on site restaurant.


With both an indoor and an outdoor pool we can go for a dip all year round. We especially love the Sunday morning kids session in the indoor pool with lots of toys and activities. However, the kids ask me weekly if the outdoor pool is reopen. With a baby pool, separate ‘shallow’ end and a slide and lots of sunshine, we are counting the days until it reopens.

Horse Riding

If you fancy seeing the area on horse back we can highly recommend Ecurie Mas Rabat in Vernet les Bains. They offer lessons and balades á cheval of 1 to 4 hours all year round. Seeing the snow capped Canigou on horseback as you bask in the winter sunshine is something you’ll never forget.


Thirteen walk description cards (with translations in English) are on sale at the tourist office on the west side of the Place de La Republic. Personally I love to take the dog up to the Bellevue in my lunch hour and it gets spectacular views over the village. For a longer walk the Cascade des Anglais is a nice day out with the dog and the kids. We take it at our own pace and have a picnic up at the waterfall where everyone likes to take a ‘refreshing’ dip at the top.

Cascade des Anglais With Chris and Tim, P-O Life walk writers

For a gentle walk from the village, the Winter Garden is a good place to go.

We know we are lucky. This lovely village is now home and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. I’ve yet to meet the bell ringers in St George’s or make it to the English conversation class in Les Club des Amis, get to the ladies tennis session or try my luck at the Casino.

I’m busy immersing myself in village life and trying to converse with the other mums at the school gate. Going to the library, marvelling at the four course meals my kids get served every lunch time and trying to translate the latest information sent home from school.

We are delighted to discover that all year round this village has a lot of offer both the visitors and the residents.


  1. Rosaleen – would like to PM you about something – can you please either send me a friend request or PM me? Many thanks – happy Easter xx

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