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Roussillon

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ROUSSILLON

© Lonely Planet Publications
210

Roussillon
Often called French Catalonia, Roussillon sits on Spain’s doorstep at the eastern end of the
Pyrenees. It is an extreme land, kept in check by the Tramontana, a violent wind that howls
down from the mountains, bone chilling in winter and strong enough to flip over a caravan
and make kite-surfers fly in summer. Local lore says it only stays in three-day periods.
Indeed, there’s endless lore in this impassioned, sun-blazed land that for centuries was
part of Catalonia (officially only the semiautonomous region in northeast Spain now). French
on paper, yes, but its soul remains staunchly Catalan: sangria-fuelled fiestas and flamboyant
corridas (bullfights) are as common as muck in this earthy land where the highest mountain
peak, Canigou (2784m), is religiously revered as king by Catalans on both sides of the border.
Sardanes folk dances and the Catalan language thrive, nowhere more so than in Perpignan,
the region’s only city and capital of the Pyrénées-Orientales département, where university
students can study in Catalan.
Roussillon’s proximity to Spain makes it easy to reach, budget-airline travellers flying into
the Spanish airport of Girona, 95km south, as well as Perpignan, Nîmes and Béziers Agde.
Once you’re in situ, the kaleidoscope of scapes is magnificent: be it uncovering exquisite
Romanesque chapel art in the Tech (Vallespir), Conflent (Têt) and Agly Valleys that spill from the
Pyrenees to the Mediterranean; tasting wine in vineyards propped up by drystone walls along
the picturesque Côte Vermeille; hiking up north to 12th-century fortress ruins in cowboy Cathar
country (p196); communing with nature in the Parc Naturel Régional des Pyrénées Catalanes;
or simply playing bum in the beach resorts east of Perpignan, this region has it all.

HIGHLIGHTS
Cap
Leucate

„ Wake up to birdsong and the call of the wild

in a forest tree house near Prats de Molló
(p228)
„ Walk through chestnut and beech woods to

Romanesque Abbaye St-Martin du Canigou
(p233); lunch afterwards on the lawn in
Casteil (p232)

Font
Romeu

„ Watch mountain villages and mind-blowing

Mont
Louis
Casteil

Vallée du Conflent
Abbaye St-Martin
du Canigou

Côte
Vermeille

Prats de Molló

scenery flash by aboard the canary-yellow
Train Jaune (p232), Vallée du Conflent
„ See the sun make fire and learn about solar

energy in Font Romeu (p234) and Mont Louis (p233)
„ Plummet from Banyuls vines up high down to Collioure to follow Fauvis...
ROUSSILLON
Often called French Catalonia, Roussillon sits on Spain’s doorstep at the eastern end of the
Pyrenees. It is an extreme land, kept in check by the Tramontana, a violent wind that howls
down from the mountains, bone chilling in winter and strong enough to flip over a caravan
and make kite-surfers fly in summer. Local lore says it only stays in three-day periods.
Indeed, there’s endless lore in this impassioned, sun-blazed land that for centuries was
part of Catalonia (officially only the semiautonomous region in northeast Spain now). French
on paper, yes, but its soul remains staunchly Catalan: sangria-fuelled fiestas and flamboyant
corridas (bullfights) are as common as muck in this earthy land where the highest mountain
peak, Canigou (2784m), is religiously revered as king by Catalans on both sides of the border.
Sardanes folk dances and the Catalan language thrive, nowhere more so than in Perpignan,
the region’s only city and capital of the Pyrénées-Orientales département, where university
students can study in Catalan.
Roussillon’s proximity to Spain makes it easy to reach, budget-airline travellers flying into
the Spanish airport of Girona, 95km south, as well as Perpignan, Nîmes and Béziers Agde.
Once you’re in situ, the kaleidoscope of scapes is magnificent: be it uncovering exquisite
Romanesque chapel art in the Tech (Vallespir), Conflent (Têt) and Agly Valleys that spill from the
Pyrenees to the Mediterranean; tasting wine in vineyards propped up by drystone walls along
the picturesque Côte Vermeille; hiking up north to 12th-century fortress ruins in cowboy Cathar
country ( p196 ); communing with nature in the Parc Naturel Régional des Pyrénées Catalanes;
or simply playing bum in the beach resorts east of Perpignan, this region has it all.
Roussillon
HIGHLIGHTS
Wake up to birdsong and the call of the wild
in a forest tree house near Prats de Molló
( p228 )
Walk through chestnut and beech woods to
Romanesque Abbaye St-Martin du Canigou
( p233 ); lunch afterwards on the lawn in
Casteil ( p232 )
Watch mountain villages and mind-blowing
scenery flash by aboard the canary-yellow
Train Jaune ( p232 ), Vallée du Conflent
See the sun make fire and learn about solar
energy in Font Romeu ( p234 ) and Mont Louis ( p233 )
Plummet from Banyuls vines up high down to Collioure to follow Fauvist footsteps along the
Côte Vermeille ( p221 )
Tuck into a polystyrene platter of shellfish in a fisherman’s mas on Cap Leucate ( p220 )
Louis
Mont
Vallée du Conflent
du Canigou
Abbaye St-Martin
Vermeille
Côte
Leucate
Cap
Font
Romeu
Casteil
Prats de Molló
© Lonely Planet Publications
210
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