Welcome to the Mediterranean’s Côte Vermeille, located in the southern most corner of France, steeped in its own history and culture. It is French yet has strong traditions attached to its Catalan roots. It borders Spain and the Costa Brava offering even further opportunities to explore a different cuisine, language and the Spanish way of life (restaurants always open!).
What unites these two border areas is their shared Catalan heritage. Barcelona (only 2 hours by car) is Catalonia’s first city, Perpignan (only half an hour) its second.
Barcelona has become a much loved holiday destination, greatly improved since the Olympics were based here in 1992. It is also a great day out. Wander down The Ramblers and through the Gothic quarter, marvel at Gaudi’s architecture including his unfinished masterpiece La Sagrada Familia, and if you still have time, head for the waterfront and the award winning beaches of Barceloneta. You can reach this wonderful city by the high speed TGV train link from Paris, which also stops at Perpignan. In Perpignan, you can visit the Palace of the Majorcan Kings, go shopping and lunch in the beautiful old town built on the river Têt, and appreciate the richness of this area’s historical past.
At the heart of French Catalonia are the two river valleys of the Têt and the Tech, dominated by Mont Canigou, the mystical mountain. There are two ancient monasteries at its foot, St. Martin-du-Canigou and St. Michel-de-Cuxa, both well worth visiting. Mont Canigou is sacred to all who live in its shadow and is considered a symbol of Catalan unity. For walkers, you can reach its summit, details of which can be found on our
The coast here is the Côte Vermeille. It offers much variety. Families can enjoy the stretches of gold sandy EEC blue flag beaches at Argelès-sur-Mer with beach attractions and pleasant yacht marina as extra. Play golf at St. Cyprien or spend a day at the Aqualand water park which is here too. Port Vendres is a modern day working fishing port with a selection of bars and restaurants around its perimeter, or, on the other side discover one of our favourite restaurants ‘Le Poisson Rouge’, a hidden gem teetering at the water’s edge. The coast is not complete without a trip to Banyuls where you can hire Dart 14 catamaran dinghies off the beach or taste wine in one of the many houses here, especially the sweet wine that is a speciality of the region.
Inland, the mountains beckon. They provide a paradise for ramblers, cyclists and climbers. Take the Petit Train Jaune for a day out, which reaches as far as some of the ski resorts. Visit the Saturday market at Céret, or pamper yourself at the Spa in Amelie-Les-Bains.
Places accessible for a day trip include Barcelona (2 hours), the medieval fortress town of Carcassonne (90mins), Perpignan (30mins), the picturesque old fishing port at Collioure (20mins), the renowned market town at Ceret (5mins) with its modern art museum, Aqualand at St Cyprien (30mins), wine tasting in Banyuls (30 mins), Figueres and the The Salvador Dali Theatre museum (40mins).
In the summer months the local community put on paella, moules frites and mechoi soirees with discoteque on the open space at the bottom of the village. There is an excellent market in Ceret every Saturday morning throughout the year, and a smaller arts and crafts one on Tuesday evenings during the summer season.