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Languedoc - anyone been to Ille Sur Tete?

Languedoc - anyone been to Ille Sur Tete?

Old Sep 5th, 2008, 02:10 AM
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Languedoc - anyone been to Ille Sur Tete?

Looking to book for next July and have been offered a good price on a house in Ille Sur Tete. Info. on the web seems limited and I wondered if anyone else had been there and what they made of the village and the surrounding area?Thanks.
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Old Sep 8th, 2008, 10:16 PM
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Ok-I'm ignorant. What city/town is Ile sur Tete near? Or is it a remote island off the coast?
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Old Sep 8th, 2008, 10:34 PM
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Ille-sur-Têt is a good base to explore the area, about 30 km from the beaches and on the road to the mountains.
In Ille itself, a natural site "Les Orgues d'Ille" and good examples of Middle Age church architecture.
In Prades (10 km) abbey of St-Michel de Cuxa. You will not be far from Villefranche de Conflent (fortified town and grottos), Abbey of St Martin du Canigou and the little Yellow train if you want to visit the Cerdagne.
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Old Sep 10th, 2008, 05:49 AM
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Thanks for your replies.
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Old Sep 10th, 2008, 07:28 AM
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We spent 2 weeks near there a few years ago, and we were busy seeing things just about every single day. Lots to do in that region.

FYI, Pvoyageuse is French-Catalonian and lives in Perpignan - about 15 K from Ille Sur Tet. She is very familiar with that region, and helped me tremendiously with planning our trip there.

Here is something I wrote about Roussillon.

Look up Cerdagne* in the Michelin Green guide. It’s a plateau at 5,000 feet – replete with grassy fields & wildflowers (at least in late May) and rimmed by snowy mountains. Follow the driving itineraries in the Guide. We did not find the towns of Bourg Madam or Font Romeu to be that interesting as we drove by, so we didn’t visit. We did visit the Spanish towns of Llivia & Puigcerda, and we wished we hadn’t. Mont Louis* is very interesting. It’s a “Vauban town” – which is to say the entire town was/is within the walls of the Vauban Fort (Vauban was Louis XIV’s military architect – he built many forts throughout France). What was significant about Mont Louis is that it was never under siege, so it remains intact. Pass by & visit the small town of Eyne, and also drive up the Gorges du Segre. Visit Llo*, which is also where we stayed, and I’d strongly recommend that you stay there too at the Hotel l’Atayla. It’s a very restful place, and the décor & setting is excellent. This is an ideal place to stay in this region. The rooms are 90 to 140 E and ½ pension is available. There’s a pool, and balconies in the rooms look out over the village (ours had a lovely view of a ruined chateau tower). The hotel was suggested to me by someone on the internet, who lives in the Rousillon area of France & is familiar with this region. We spent a considerable amount of time relaxing on the balcony. The restaurant was very enjoyable too.

Tuesday

Head east on the N116 down the Tet River to Villefranche de Conflent* (see the GG under “Conflent” for this route, and Villefranche for the town). Villefranche is another of TMBVoF. It has some very interesting ramparts+ encircling the town – don’t miss exploring them. There are some sclocky tourist stores in a few places, but they don’t interfere with your enjoyment of the medieval architecture. There is another Vauban fort* perched high above the town (we didn’t visit the fort).

After visiting Villefranche, head south on the scenic D116 to Vernet les Bains* (GG under Conflent for the route). Vernet is another Bains (bath) town, but a flood many years ago washed out many of the old grand hotels – what’s left is not that exciting. However, there are some very interesting streets with colorful houses up the hill to where an old church stands. We approached Vernet from the “other” side on the D27, which is where the Church is located, so we walked down and then up again along the various streets in this town. If you approach town from the D116 you will walk up to the church and then back down.

Now, check your legs. It’s close to the end of your trip, so they should be in good shape. If they are not, or you don’t have about 3 hours to do this next site, then skip it. Visit the Abbey St Martin du Canigou** (see GG). There is a large 2 page picture of this abbey in the front of my Green Guide on the Introduction page – about page 20. There is a 45 min climb up to this abbey, and portions of the walk are very steep, but they are on switchbacks. It’s a very scenic walk, however. You can be driven up to the abbey (see GG), but we watched them do this & it seemed a little scary to me. There is a lunch closing for the abbey, so don’t do like we did and walk for 45 mins, only to get there just as they closed for lunch. The wait, however, allowed us to catch our breath. After we toured this abbey, we were glad that we walked up because it gave the abbey a greater sense of remoteness – something that adds to the enjoyment of the place.

After visiting (or “passing”) on the abbey, take the D27 from Vernet to Prades, passing the Abbey de St Michel de Cuxa* on the way. We didn’t visit the Abbey, but we took a picture. Head east on the N116, and look for the perched village of Eus on the way – it’s worth about 2 photos from the N116 road (we didn’t visit the town). About 2 K before Ille-sur-Tet, take the D618 south. This drive is described in the GG under Aspres*. Visit the Prieure de Serrabone**, especially if you did not visit the Abbey St Martin. We enjoyed the Prieure quite a bit & it’s easy to access. Continue south on the D618 towards Amelie les Bains, visiting the small Trinite church in Prunet el Belpuig along the way (it won’t take you more than 5 mins).

At Amelie les Bains, head to your hotel. We stayed in a Gite close to Ceret for 2 weeks in June ’04, so we don’t have any experiences with hotels, except that we know the area a little & can point you to towns/areas that you would enjoying staying in. I would recommend staying in one of two places – in Ceret if you want to be close to the mountains, or in Collioure if you want to be close to the beach & Mediterranean. Both towns are very nice – Collioure is the most popular, because beaches are usually a more popular destination. In Ceret, I would not recommend the Terrasse au Soleil, unless you want to be a little remote. The setting is pretty, and the views from many spots (not from the restaurant, however), are quite nice. It has a pool, and rooms are 217 to 265. I would perhaps choose to stay in the town of Ceret at Les Feuillants, which is a restaurant with rooms. It’s smack in the middle of town in a large plane tree covered area & great for exploring the small town.

If you are staying in Collioure and the weather is nice, one of the outdoor restaurants would be a fun spot for a “tourist oriented” dinner where you can watch the crowds, the beach, and the Med. We dined at the Michelin 1 star Neptune* restaurant, which has nice views of the town. Perhaps the most interesting place we dined was at the simple Hostalet de Vives in the town of Vives just north of Ceret. There are signs on the D115 directing you to this restaurant which is on the second floor of an old stone building in the hamlet. We dined twice at Al Fanal et Hotel El Llagut in Banyuls (reserve ahead).

Wednesday

We stayed in this area for 2 weeks, and never ran out of things to do. I’ll describe 3 separate driving & sightseeing itineraries, which you can follow or combine anyway you like. Roussillon is a very scenic area – at the foot of the Pyrenees and next to the Mediterranean. However, there are a few sections that are not as scenic as the remainder of this region. Look at the #344 map. The rectangle east of the A9, north of the D618, and south of the D627 from the A9 #40 exit to Leucate is an area that gets some sprawl from Perpignan, and along the coast there are a lot of mass vacation developments that are not real pretty (there’s even a nudist resort). The beach is very nice white sand, but the hundreds of vacation homes, campgrounds, and high-rises, are not what I enjoy experiencing. Perpignan is certainly worth visiting, however. Also, Amelie les Bains on the Tech river is not worth a visit (I was pre-warned of this by my internet friend & confirmed by us when we drove through Amelie many times).

Mount Canigou*** can be seen from almost anywhere in this region – at least it seems that way. You won’t have any trouble spotting it.

Route #1 – the Tech river area.
Find le Perthus on the map – it’s on the France/Spain border. In fact, one side of the street is in Spain & the other in France. The Spain side has a lot of discount shops, but the “scene” is horrible – I would not waste any valuable vacation time trying to save a few Euros on cigarettes, wine, trinkets, etc. Look up “Boulou” in the GG and take drive #2. As you approach le Perthus, there is a parking lot on your left just before you hit the traffic & pedestrian snarled main section of the town. Turn left just past the parking lot & take this drive #2 east as far as you can. It’s marked as the D71. We drove it twice – in the morning & again in the evening (the morning sights were better because of the position of the sun). If it’s a clear day, there are spectacular views on this drive. It is also a popular place for picnics. Return to le Perthus, and then to Ceret on the N9 and D618. Visit Ceret*. There is a famous Musee d’Art modern**, but since we’re not modern art fans, we didn’t visit it. The town, however, is worth a stroll around. There are some nice plane trees in town, with some outdoor cafes. Saturday is market day. Ceret is the center of the cherry growing region, and you’ll see dozens of stands selling cherries in late May/early June.

Look up “Vallespir*” in the Green Guide, and take the D115 west along the Tech River. Just past Arles, you’ll see signs for the Gorges de la Fou** (in the GG under “Arles sur Tech”). Park the car in the lot & walk along a metal grate suspended above this gorge. The gorge is only about 3 ft wide in spots – it’s an easy & interesting exploration. Return to your car & head east on the D115 for about 1 K & then turn left (north) on the D43 at Arles. This route is described as “Round tour west of Arles” under “Arles” in the GG. The first part goes through some forests, but later there are nice views. When the D43 hits Corsavy, take the D43 north (departing from the itinerary in the GG). After about 8 K or so, turn the car around & retrace your route – there are some very nice views from this road. When you get back to Corsavy, turn right on the D44 and continue on the GG route to le Tech. This will join the D115 west (very pretty in this section) to Prats de Mollo* (see GG). Park the car & explore Prats – follow the walk described in the GG.

After visiting Prats, continue west on the D115 to the Col d’Ares. At the Col, turn the car around & retrace your route east towards Arles – this is a pretty drive. About 4 K before reaching Arles, take the D3 south towards Coustouges (see GG under Arles). Continue past the town of Coustouges into Spain on the D3 which becomes the GI503 in Spain. My internet friend who lives in Roussillon suggested this drive – it’s quite pretty. Continue on the GI503 until it hits the GI504 & take this north to the #2 entrance on the A7 freeway, where you will return to France. Don’t take the N9 into France unless you like lots of stop & go traffic at Le Perthus.

Thursday

Route #2 – cute village, scenic gorges, wonderful countryside, and Cathars castles.
This is an ambitious itinerary, so get an early start. If you’re staying in Collioure, drive toward Ceret on the D114, D618, and then D115. Take the D615 north of Ceret towards Thuir. Use the map & get on the D48 west to Castelneu+. Explore Castelnou (GG under Perpignan). One of my guidebooks described it as “St Paul de Vence without the tourists”. It’s a cute town. After a visit, take the D48 west and then the D2 to Ille-sur-Tet. Continue past Ille-sur-Tet on the D2 and when it crosses over the N116, you will approach les Orgues+. There is a picture of les Orgues in my Michelin Guide under Perpignan. You may have to take the D21 a bit towards Belesta to get some good views. Turn around on the D21 and then take the D2 back to Ille and get on the N116 heading west (you will have to go through Ille a little to do this – follow the signs to Prades). Continue west to Prades, taking a picture of Eus if you have not done so yet. Take the loop north around Prades and then take the D619 north. Look up Fenouilledes** in the Green Guide. Follow the described route from Prades to St Paul – it’s quite picturesque. When you intersect the D117 at St Paul, take the D117 west – this road is quite scenic too. At Axat, take the D118 south through the Gorges de St Georges*. When you get as far as the D16 fork near Rouze, turn the car around and retrace your route all the way back to St Paul. At St Paul, take the D7 north through the spectacular Gorges de Galamus** (see GG under Galamus). There is a picture of this gorge in the guide. At times, the road is only 1 car width wide. We were there in mid June & we didn’t encounter another car – I don’t know what happens in July or August when there are more tourists.

At Cubieres, take the D14 towards Chateau de Peyrepertuse***. If you have not already done so, read about the Cathars faith in the Green Guide (or other guidebook) and learn about their religion, life, and fate. Visit this chateau, but be aware that some climbing & walking is necessary. The French don’t like to install escalators or paved walkways to get to their historic sites, so you’ll have to walk along dirt paths, over rocks, & through some low hung trees to get to the chateau. Also, walking around the Chateau is treacherous at times – but worth it. Plan on a 2 hour visit. There is a picture of the Chateau in the Green Guide. After visiting the Chateau, head east on the D14 towards another Cathar’s stronghold – the Chateau de Queribus*. As you leave Peyrepertuse & drive to Queribus, search the crest of the ridge to your right & try to find Peyrepertuse hidden among the rock formations. We did not visit Queribus – Peyrepertuse was enough hiking & climbing for the day. The view of Queribus from the road is spectacular. Take the D19 south towards Maury – this road is very scenic. At Maury (famous for their sweet wine) head east on the D117 & then back to the hotel. It’s difficult to get on the A9 freeway from the D117 – we tried to do so on two occasions & got lost both times.

Friday

Route #3 – Collioure, Banyuls, Costa Brava in Spain, and Perpignan
If you are staying in Collioure**, then you will have explored this town thoroughly by now. They have an OK Sunday market. It’s very difficult to park in Collioure, so we usually like to visit it early in the morning, or later in the day when there are fewer day trippers. If you are starting this drive from somewhere other than Collioure, take the northern most exit to Collioure off the N114 – it’s more scenic. After visiting Collioure head south on the coast road past Port Vendres to Banyuls*. When you get out of Port Vendres, the route to Banyuls becomes very scenic. Banyuls is noted for their sweet wine, and you’ll see lots of vineyards along the way. However, they look like abandoned vineyards & you will wonder how they could possibly get grapes to grow on them – somehow, they do!!. Stop in Banyuls for a visit if you like – we didn’t, so I can’t comment on Banyuls, except that they have a nice restaurant in town – we dined there twice. Continue south on the N114 & into Spain. The coastline is quite spectacular here. Continue to Llanca, where you will run out of map. Take the GI612 and the GI613 to Cadaques**. Park the car & explore this coastal resort town – it’s quite nice. There are lots of café’s, and the town’s buildings are all painted white – quite different than the villages in France. After visiting Cadaques, take the GI614 west to Figueres, where you will get on the Freeway heading north to Perpignan.

Perpignan** has quite a bit of urban sprawl, but the old part of town is well worth exploring. Be patient when you drive into town & find a place to park. We got lost twice. If you are visiting Perpignan in the morning, have a coffee at one of the outside cafes next to le Castillet. If you are here at lunchtime, there are lots of outdoor cafes on Quai Vauban along the river. Quite a few shops attracted my wife’s attention on R Mailly. I enjoyed the musee Hyacinthe-Rigaud. The Palais des Rois de Majorque was worth a visit. Follow the suggested walking plan in the GG – starting at le Castillet however.

Fort de Salses** See “Salses” in the Green Guide. If you can possibly fit this into your schedule, then by all means, do so. Read about it in the guide. There is a guided tour, and the guide spoke English when asked to do so.

Stu Dudley
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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 08:31 AM
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Stu :

You will no doubt be pleased to know that since last spring both Villefranche-de-Conflent and Mont-Louis are in the list of World Heritage sites.
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Old Sep 13th, 2008, 08:51 AM
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AM
When we were in France this year (Haute-Savoie & Franch Comte), we encountered a lot of "info" about Vauban stuff being promoted. We picked up a bumper sticker that says "l'oeuvre de Vauban - candidate au patrimone mondial de l'Unesco". My wife is a big Vauban fan. In the Franche Comte we visited his forts in Belfort & Besancon. Of course, we also visited the two you mentioned above when we were staying in your neighborhood.

Glad he's received the recognition.

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 29th, 2010, 04:03 PM
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I know the area around Vernet les Bains quite well. It is very well served with Casteil and the Abbey St Martin du Canigou** (see GG) further up the valley and Villefranche de Conflent and Fort Liberia further down the valley.

However. Ille sur Tete is someplace I have always driven through. Is there much of merit in or very close to Ille sur Tete? Can anybody recommend a good restaurant for an easter lunch?
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Old Mar 29th, 2010, 11:21 PM
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Ille sur Têt is more central and a better base than Vernet to visit the area. Besides Romanesque churches and what remains of the medieval hospital (Les Hospices d'Ille) it has a natural site "Les Orgues d'Ille. It is not far from Prades (Abbey of Saint Michel de Cuxa) a bit further from the wonderful Abbey of Serrabone (pink marble cloister.

Restaurants in the area - you should absolutely make a reservation for Easter Sunday.
Le Jardin d'Aymeric in Prades
Château de Rieil in Molitg-les-Bains
Hostal de Nogarols in Codalet near Prades
Auberge Saint-Paul in Villefranche-de-Conflent
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Old Mar 30th, 2010, 03:21 AM
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Forgot to add : on Easter Sunday don't miss the "Procession du Ressuscité" in Ille-sur-Têt with a choir of 130 people and 40 musicians. It starts at 8 am Place de la Mairie.

Other processions in Céret on Easter Sunday, Bouleternère at night next Thursday, Collioure and Arles-sur-Tech at night on Good Friday, Perpignan from 3 pm to 6 pm on Good Friday.
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