Posted by: Peter Springett | December 29, 2009

Five golden things: beautiful towns and villages nearby

Eus, one of the most beautiful villages in France

Here are five of the most beautiful villages and towns in the vicinity of the villa. We’ve rated them with our high and low points, and a link for more information. (All times by car).

Eus (30 minutes): You’ve seen all those gorgeous Tuscan hillside villages? Course you have. Well here’s a Roussillon town that’s just as beautiful. See if you can find a route that zigs and zags up and down the streets until you find the shaded town square for a glass of refreshing lemonade.

High points: Roaming up and down the streets of this well kept secret until you stumble upon the old church at the top of the maze.

Low points: Beware of coach parties. A quiet evening visit is best.

Top tips: Take your strong shoes AND your shades. Think of it as a small scale hill walking tour.

Castelnou (30 minutes): Our favourite, and not just because it’s the nearest of our recommended visits to the villa. You could spend all day wandering in and out of tiny art galleries. But if painting isn’t your thing, then head to the top of the town for beautiful views up to the Pyrenees and back down to the sea.

High points: The view from the top.

Low points: Beware of sprained ankles on the cobbled streets. Are we recommending sensible shoes again? I think we are.

Top tips: Bring your phrase book for some good old fashioned negotiations over that oil painting of the Canigou mountain that you fancy.

Collioure (45 minutes): Locals get a bit sniffy when the tour guides proclaim Collioure as the St Tropez of Languedoc Roussillon. There may be ageing sixties starlets lurking in the foothills and art boutiques a plenty, but there’s none of the bling associated with its Cote-d’Azur cousin.

High points: A wander along the harbour front and a walk through the back streets and their galleries.

Low points: Expensive coffees in the overpriced cafes on the water front.

Top tip: Get there early to avoid the mid-morning crowds.

Villefranche-de-Conflent (50 minutes): Standing at the meeting point of two river valleys that lead into Pyrenees, Villefranche is a beautiful walled village at the base of an extraordinary fortress that commands both the mountains and the plains that sweep down to the Mediterranean.

High points: Remarkable hippy shops selling colourful pochos, sweaters and knitted hats. Look out for the amazing truffles and mushroom store near the south entrance to the town.

Low points: Not such a great range of cafes and restaurants.

Top tip: Drink a strong coffee and and climb up hundreds of steps through a secret underground passageway to the fortress built by the mighty military architect Vauban.

Mont Louis: Another Vauban fortified town. Easily reached by the Yellow Train that you catch at Villefranche. You’re up in the heights here, so be prepared for a little altitude and thinning air.

High points: The large solar oven that captures the suns rays and dozens of mountains reflected in its mirrors.

Low points: The Yellow Train timetable can sometimes leave you with too much or too little of your time during your stopover waiting for the return journey.

Top tips: Hats and sunscreen. At this height the sun’s rays can be even stronger.

Contact us for more details about this offer and bookings outside of these dates:

pspringett@gmail.com

Tel: 00 49 171 1441 209


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