Things to do
Below are some suggestions of what you can do in the area:
- River swimming: Caramany is situated next to a huge lake and swimming possibilities in the immediate area are many. However, I cannot stress enough how wonderful a day out at the rock pools (see adjoining Google map for its location) near the village of Cucugnan is (30-40mins drive). The setting is idyllic, the water clear as crystal and the rock pools and small waterfall a joy to swim in. Unmissable.
- A day at Collioure town: the gem of the regional coastline. A small town full of charm and character, it has good swimming and dining possibilities. The small cobbled streets are very pleasant to stroll around and thankfully there is not too much tacky souvenir stuff around. Of course, Collioure can get busy in the summer. If hordes of people is not your cup of tea, then try nearby Port Vendres instead. Still a working port town, this is where you can also get excellent seafood at the right price.
- Wine-tasting with lunch: if you have not been down to this area before and you like wine, you will be amazed by the quality and how little it costs. Just about every village has a “cave cooperative”, a winery which also doubles up as a shop. And because every village also seems to have a restaurant you can make a whole day or half day out of it. Villages recommended both for their wine and food are Ansignan, Cucugnan, Caramany and Belesta.
- Queribus and Peyrepetuse castles: standing proudly on ridges overlooking the surrounding area, these castles date back to the tragic chapter of the Cathars in medieval times. A break away religion from the Catholic faith known for its tolerance and openness, it grew in large numbers to spread over a large chunk of France. Rome’s decision was to brutally put down the Cathars. Their last stand was at Queribus where all the inhabitants, including women and children were massacred. Of great historical importance and only a 40min drive by car from Maison Caramany.
- Caramany: Ok, it only has a population of 150 and there are no shops, but it is easy to fall in love with this village and its way of life. Pop into the “Mairie” (Mayor’s office) to see if there’s an upcoming fete or petanque (French boules) tournament you can join in with. Pick up a map there which outlines walks in the surrounding hills. Have a drink and game of pool with the villagers at Patrick’s café a few doors up. Buy your baguette and croissants every morning from Madame Aubert who parks up on the village square in her little white van. Enjoy a barbecue on the terrace of Maison Caramany or take a picnic to the belvedere outside the village which offers breathtaking views of the lake below. Finally, take a stroll around the medieval village, even better when lit up at night.
- A day in Perpignan: with its palm trees and Catalan feel, coming into the city does not have to mean stress. Perpignan is small enough to explore on foot. The historical centre, with its narrow streets, is very enjoyable to stroll. You will find plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes here. Go see a film at Rive Gauche, my favourite art cinema which shows a variety of European films with an English speaking production usually on show.
Worth a go:
- The safari park at Sigean: only 30 mins north of Perpignan . You can also do some of the circuit on foot near some of the tamer animals!
- Le train jaune: This translates as the little yellow train and was built in 1902 to link the mountains with the plateau. The train passes through a number of resorts including Font Romeu. The train ride is a great day out for adults and kids all year round.
- A day out in Barcelona: taking about 2 hours to get there by car, you might be tempted…..