France has many splendid landscapes, and each visitor has their favourite area but the standout location for me is the department of the Pyrenees-Orientales at the western end of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It is bordered by the Pyrenees, sea, Ariege and Aude. One of the first attractions is the weather with over 300 days of sunshine! However, I must mention a wind does tend to blow from the Sahara in the winter!
Dominant in this department – is the famous Mt Canigou – which dominates the horizon from almost every vantage point. This mountain (2,784.66 m high) has symbolical significance for Catalan people. On its summit there is a cross that is often decorated with the Catalan flag.
There are so many cultural influences in this area – Spanish, French, Catalans, Majorcan, Moors – so this is a multi-cultural society centred on Perpignan. Perpignan is the capital and has many historical monuments. Perpignan is now a modern city with shopping malls, restaurants and cultural events. Just outside Perpignan, on the Côte Vermeille are many sandy beaches and secluded coves: picturesque bays. My favourite is Collioure; Collioure, an idyllic place on a rocky coastline, is situated 26 km (approx. 15 miles) from the Spanish border. The picturesque village is nestled below the Pyrenees. Its small Catalan harbor is sheltered by a quiet bay . Enjoy the restaurants lining the harbour or venture into the village to spy on the artists at work.
Inland there are many pleasant villages lying in the foothills of the Pyrenees; Ceret, Amelie Les Bains, La Sorede, La Roque des Alberes and further inland to the ski resorts including Les Angles and Font Romeu. The Little Yellow Train is recommended for a lazy visit to the Pyrenees with many splendid views!
Property Prices in the Pyrenees-Orientales have dropped since 2008/9. On the coast properties can be more expensive although apartments on the many marinas are much cheaper. Inland villages are much more competitively priced. We like the village properties around Vinca and Limoux. For a full range of property in this department – check out the extensive range on 1st for French property established in 2001. Property prices compare favourably with the neighbouring region of Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur.
There are many other small towns and famous cities within easy reach: Carcassone, Toulouse, Montpellier, and just across the border in Spain: Girona, and Barcelona.