1 week excursion programme:
The Catalan Experience
Pyrénées-Roussillon and Andorra
Read as inspiration for your own, individual holiday, or as a self-drive package - or an organised tour (subject to minimum 8 participants)
A week full of new impressions in this scenic corner of the Southern France: We travel in small groups by minibus or by car, which gives flexibility and an opportunity to explore the historic Catalan region off the beaten track, as well as visiting well known attractions. We live in individual houses in Village Catalan, where there is time at leisure to enjoy the superb views from the private terrace. We consider the local cuisine and wines important parts of the Catalan experience, and a varied menu of 3-course evening meals, prepared with care by Sébastien Figue at restaurant Les Temps de Cerises, are included.
Day to day programme
Arrival Perpignan Airport and transfer to Village Catalan, 1 hour. Welcome aperitif and information in the village club house. Dinner and evening in Vernet-les-Bains.
10 AM: Off to a soft start, we visit to the fortified medieval village Villefranche-de-Conflent (known as "mini-Carcassonne") and Vernet-les-Bains. 2 PM, drive to Casteil village and easy walk to the monastery St. Martin de Canigou. Dinner at 8 PM and optional visit to the Casino in Vernet-les-Bains, where, admittedly, the interior style does not match the beautiful Victorian architecture of the building.
10 AM: Full day culture and wine excursion: We drive to the famous Roussillon wine district of Maury to taste the sweet wines of the region. En route there is a chance to visit the Kathar fortress of Queribus and the spectacular Galamus Gorge, before continuing via the scenic area of Quillan to Limoux, known for the first and original champagne. After a few glasses of "Blanquette de Limoux" which dates back to 1240, we drive on to famous Carcassonne where we have a few hours at leisure to visit the fortress or enjoy the atmosphere at one of the many cafés in this fortified village. We return using a more direct route for dinner in Vernet-les-Bains at 9 PM.
10 AM. Half-day excursion to Prades via St. Michel-de-Cuxa abbey. Market day in Prades until 1 PM; when the entire town centre is turned into a market - you will find fresh regional products, perhaps a few bargains, and plenty of Catalan atmosphere. Return to Vernet for lunch and the rest of the day at leisure. Dinner at 8 PM.
10 AM: Full day wine excursion to Thuir, with visit and guided tour of Byrrh, with the world's largest oak vat (1 million litres), and visit to Domaine Sanac, a 6th generation vine producer in St. Genis-des-Fontaines, who has won several gold medals for their fine, yet reasonably priced wines. Both visits naturally offer opportunities for wine tasting. After a picnic lunch we drive to the coast and visit Collioure, one of the pearls of the Mediterranean, made famous by artists such as Matisse, Dali and Picasso, the summer castle of the Kings of Mallorca, anchovies and the sweet Banyuls wine.
The drive back to Vernet takes about an hour . Evening meal at 8 PM.
At leisure. It is market day in Vernet-les-Bains 8 AM to 1 PM. We suggest a stroll in the Casino park or an hour hike to the two waterfalls, depending on your inclination, and perhaps a swim in the pleasant thermal baths just below the village, or just relax and enjoy the views from your own terrace in Village Catalan. For self-drive guests we can provide details about various optional half day excursions. We meet for another excellent evening meal at 8 PM.
High season: 9 AM: The Little Yellow Train from Villefranche to Mont Louis. A scenic trip in an open car, this vintage train climbs from 400 to 1500 metres altitiude. Visit in the fortified village Mont Louis, return to Villefranche, Afternoon visit in the spectacular caves Les Grandes Canalettes (very pleasant atmosphere with classical music and light effects).
Off season optional: 9 AM: Full day excursion to the tax free mini state Andorra. The scenic route to Mont-Louis, a fortified village designed by Vauban, brings us up to 1,500 metres altitude. We visit Font Romeu, now a ski resort, and see the world's largest solar energy project at Odeillo, then climb to Pas de la Casa at 2,400 metres altitude and the Andorran border. The principality of Andorra is just 40 kms across, and after a 3-course lunch at a local restaurant in the countryside we soon enter the small, noisy and somewhat polluted capital Andorra La Vella in sharp contrast to the spectacular nature along this route. There are tax free shopping opportunities here before we head for the Spanish border. On our return journey we drive along the Spanish side of the Pyrénées, via Seo de Urgell and Puigcerda, before crossing into France again at Bourg-Madame. (This trip is not recommended in July and Aurust due to traffic congestion on the border.) Evening meal in Vernet-les-Bains at 9 PM. Le Village Catalan
Morning at leisure. Saturday is another market day in Vernet. Transfer to Perpignan Airport for your return flight (..unless you are staying at Village Catalan for a second week
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"The Catalan Experience" is organised by Association Destination-Pyrenees and available when pre-booked only and subject to minimum 8 participants. Local operators are used where necessary.
It is also available as a self-drive package with meals, without minimum limit.
Or create your own group of 8-16 participants for this excursion package for any period outside main season.
F-66820 Vernet-les-Bains, France
International phone: +33 4 6805 6571
Fax +44 709 208 7367
Email - Website: www.actionsites.com