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Seeking Advise on exploring Franch-spanish border towns for 4 days with car between Provence and Collioure

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Seeking Advise on exploring Franch-spanish border towns for 4 days with car between Provence and Collioure

Old Aug 13th, 2003, 07:56 AM
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Seeking Advise on exploring Franch-spanish border towns for 4 days with car between Provence and Collioure

Author: serenity59
Date: 08/11/2003, 11:00 pm

Message: My husband and I are spending one week in Provence staying at a lovely french country villa and doing short day trips in the areas not too far away. After that we have 4 days to spend with a car and would love to have some help as what the best things to do before ending up close to the French border and then spending two more final days in Barcelona to fly home. Any suggestions and routes would be very appreciated.
Thanks for some help.
Ginny
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 08:08 AM
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The Washington Post Travel section published a neat story this past Spring about some of the coastal towns in the Catalan areas -- www.washingtonpost.com click on the Travel section and look for recent articles about France...They did describe several hotels, restaurants, activities, scenery, and "how to get there" information. I'm thinking it was in March or April as we were getting ready to visit Provence, but knew after reading that piece that trying to go that far towards Spain was too far afield for our 2-week trip. It does look like an area we'd like to visit someday.
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 08:24 AM
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Castelnou is an interesting, fortified perched village not far from Perpigan. It's less well known that the famous walled town (whose name escapes me at this moment!) in the same general vicinity and, when I was there, albeit several years ago, it was not very touristy.
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 08:36 AM
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We were on a cruise many years ago, and included some beautiful sea towns between France and Spain. Some that we loved Sete, Coullioure, Marseilles, and Ibiza and Mallorca(Sp). We weren't driving, so I don't know the route. But absolutely beautiful towns.
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 08:42 AM
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I'm glad to see that you picked up on Colioure from my first "suggestion" (to re-post), and I suppose that you meant to type Barcelona when you typed Collioure in your message header. There are, of course, no SPANISH towns between "Provence" and Collioure, as Collioure is IN France.

And Collioure is probably the greater attraction of the two places I mentioned (Sete is the other one). I have been to Sete, as an overnight stopover, and had a great meal in a classic old "grande dame" hotel there. It has a neat "lots of canals" interesting geography (like Venice, it is "quasi"-sitting out in the bay/lagoon - - just not as far out).

I won't comment further on Collioure as I have not been there, other than to say that it looks attractive on its "official" Office du Tourisme website - - -www.collioure.com - - and others rave that it is as neat in real life as the pictures would suggest.

One Internet point (this seems to have been a theme on my replies to questions earlier today) - - a Yahoo! search on Collioure will direct you to two "official" websites for Collioure, and this is not infrequently found on municipal websites for destinations in Europe. The first is run by the city itself, and is typically devoted in large measure (sometimes entirely) to things that a resident living there would want to know: city services, parks and recreation, etc. the second (and in the case of Collioure the first website points you to the second one), is deovted to tourism matters, and is much more likely to offer other languages. One problem can be that the first page is only in the native language, and it can be a challenge to figure out how to access the tourist information!

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 08:54 AM
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Ok, now I understand.

Figueras, a small charming town north of Barcelona, is the birthplace of Dali and has a wonderful SD museum there.
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 08:56 AM
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Collioure is certainly worth a stop, too. Picturesque little artist town and very Catalan, too. Casa Pairal is good hotel.
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 09:02 AM
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serenity,
The Telegraph travel section also did a recent in-depth report on Roussillon, which you may be able to access by signing up at www.travel.telegraph.co.uk Another article on the Bonjour Paris site, "Roussillon: France's Place in the Sun" at
www.bparis.com which may or may not still be available.

We spent 5 days exploring French Catalonia (Roussillon) last summer and found the area delightful!
We based in Collioure on the Cote Vermeille, the home of the Fauvists, and enjoyed great food (sardines) and wines (roses and sweet wines from Banyuls).
We "discovered" adorable little Ceret with its great Sat. market and wonderful Musée d'Art Moderne (it just celebrated its colorful Spanish style "Feria" in mid-July). We visited the little Pablo Casals museum behind the tourist office in Prades plus the Eglise St. Pierre with its Baroque retable, the spa town of Vernet-les-Bains and just explored the Tet Valley with its abbeys (Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa & Saint-Martin-du-Canigou) and priories (Serrabone) & Cathar sites.

Then we moved west to the Cerdanya Pyrénées to tiny, pastoral Llo to make forays to the Spanish side (Puigcerd&aacute, to visit the Spanish enclave of Llivia within French territory and to take the Disney-esque Petit Train Jaune from Mont-Louis back to the medieval walled town of Villefranche-de-Conflent, a very entertaining ride that brings out the kid in you. We followed the dining/touring advice of Fodor's George Semler who wrote "Mountainous Appetites" for the #46 issue of Saveur plus Passport Books' "Exploring Rural France" driving guide for Languedoc and the terrific Thomas Cook Signpost Languedoc guide.

There was so much to see in this lovely region, we ran out of time and had to skip the cities. It's fantastic!
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 09:05 AM
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I would simply follow the Mediterranean all the way (unless you're traveling in August, when the roads can be clogged). Collioure is definitely a lovely place to stop (very crowded in high season, though), and yes, the Casa Pairal is indeed a great hotel. Also, the Hostellerie des Templiers is a wonderfully quirky place, run by a family with ties to Picasso, Dali, Matisse, Maillot, and other famous artists who donated pictures instead of paying to stay there. The place is filled with amazing art (they were robbed a few years ago, not entirely unexpectedly, but there's still quite a collection). Rooms are small, charming, and inexpensive.
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 09:43 AM
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Rex-
Thank you very much for helping me out here.
I did type Collioure only because this would be our last town in France. Thank you for not mentioning I failed to spell France correctly and put a capital S on Spanish.
Thank you everyone for your wonderful suggestions. Rex, I'm sure I will be hearing from you again.
Merci
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 02:08 PM
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You're welcome, Ginny. And sooner or later, someone may take me to task for saying that there are no "Spanish" towns in France - - since there certainly ARE very real CATALAN towns in France - - thus the look, feel and identity of another country. It's different (as I recall, in my limited time there) from the feeling you get in Barcelona, but there are some very real similarities also.

In Barcelona, you will be aware of two languages in use - - Catalan and Castellano (Spanish). French Catalunya is just about as bilingual, except that the two languages are Catalan and French.
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