PLACES OF INTEREST
A major centre since Roman times – it has much to offer with a gothic cathedral, a reasonable shopping street, the Canal de la Robine, a nice square with outdoor cafes and restaurants, great food market(les Halles), large outdoor Sunday market and the archaeological museum with lots on display from roman times.
This is the last major town in Languedoc before the Spanish border, and the flavour of Perpignan is essentially Catalan, providing an interesting history, brilliant shopping and the cobbled streets leading from the Castillet tower being a happy hunting ground for foodies and fashion lovers alike with a treasure trove of Catalan fabrics and furnishings on rue Grande des Fabriques and upmarket boutiques on rue de l’Ange. Perpignan has a good range of restaurants for dining outside in the summer and on Thursdays in high season often have excellent street entertainers. Visit www.perpignantourisme.com to check this out.
Canal du Midi
The 300 year old canal skirts the sun drenched shires of the Mediterranean before meandering inland through ancient villages toward Bordeaux. A lovely way to spend a few hours is to potter up the canal in a boat - hire is available at various places, a good one for example is at Le Somail.
The African Reserve at Sigean
A 300 hectare park with over 150 species of lions, rhinos, giraffes, elephants and more! Open all year and a good day out for the family.
Massive Spanish fortress, built in the 1500s to defend the old border of Spain. On the way to Perpignan.
Abbaye de fontfroide
Close to Narbonne is the Abbaye de Fontfroide. It was founded in the late eleventh century by Benedictine monks, and was one of the richest Cistercian abbeys of Christendom, a bastion of Catholic orthodoxy against the country called 'Cathar'. Its architecture, diverse and varied, has been beautifully preserved and the abbaye is open to visitors every day of the year. www.fontfroide.com
Lagrasse is a beautiful small town nestled at the confluence of two valleys, and linked to the Benedictine abbey to which it owed its original prosperity by two graceful bridges spanning the river Orbieu. Famed for its Abbey, Medieval houses and streets, book and pottery fairs over the summer months, it’s a lovely place to explore and to stop for coffee and watch the passersby.
You could stop off to view the waterfalls in the river at Ribaute, dammed by the local council to provide a pleasant spot for swimming (at your own risk), fishing and picnicking.
A long drive but a lovely visit is the picturesque village of Collioure with pastel houses and tiny beaches. It is nestled in a small Catalan harbour sheltered by a quiet bay where the Pyrenees meet the Mediterranean Sea. The exceptionally sunny climate and the north wind “Tramontane” makes Collioure a unique place where well-being and Catalan "art de vivre" have their origins. The painter Henri Matisse said “In France there is no sky as blue as the one in Collioure...I just have to close the shutters of my room and I have all the colours of the Mediterranean before me."