Discover the Pyrénées-Orientales
Nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees mountains, the Pyrénées-Orientales is a region of magnificent scenery and rich culture, combining Catalan, Spanish and French influences. Located in the southern part of the Occitanie region, this area offers a wide variety of activities, whether for outdoor enthusiasts, art and history lovers, or epicureans in search of regional wines and cuisine. When you visit the Pyrénées Orientales, you’ll discover an unspoilt heritage in an incomparable natural setting, during your stay at our Argelès-sur-Mer campsite in Languedoc-Roussillon!
If you only have one hike to undertake during your stay in the Pyrénées-Orientales, don’t hesitate to opt for theascent of the Canigou. Various starting points are available, allowing you to adjust the length and difficulty of the climb to suit your fitness level and schedule. The most frequently used routes are those that start at the Cortalets and Mariailles refuges.
You can find out more about these routes in our article dedicated to climbing the Canigou. However, we strongly recommend that you set aside some time to hike this mountain, a veritable sacred symbol for the Catalans.
Discover Perpignan and its history
It would be unthinkable to visit the Pyrénées-Orientales without a stopover in Perpignan. Although the downtown area has seen a considerable relocation of businesses in recent years, a new dynamism seems to be taking hold. Take the opportunity to visit Les Halles de Perpignan, a charming covered market selling regional produce, which is particularly inviting in summer.
Numerous bars and restaurants line the Avenue du Général Leclerc, making it an ideal place for a night out. If you are interested in cultural activitiesYou could also consider a visit to the Hyacinthe Rigaud art museum, the famous Castillet, the Palace of the Kings of Majorcato carry out a guided tour of the city on a small train (available only during the summer season), or take in a show at the Théâtre de l’Archipel or a concert in the legendary Le Médiator concert hall.
Swimming in the Banyuls-Cerbère national nature reserve
The Banyuls-Cerbère reserve, France’s first national marine nature reserve, is located on the Mediterranean coast of the Pyrénées-Orientales region. Stretching from Banyuls-sur-Mer to Cerbère, this reserve is one ofthe jewels of the Côte Vermeille. It’s one of our favorite summer swimming spots.
Admittedly, it can get a little crowded, but if you arrive early in the morning, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the reserve. You’ll have the opportunity to observe a multitude of fish, even without going far from shore. With just a mask and snorkel, you’re sure to have a memorable time underwater as you explore the underwater trail.
Explore Collioure, the village of a thousand colors
It would be unthinkable to visit the Pyrénées-Orientales without stopping off at Collioure, often referred to as the village of painters and the cradle of Fauvism. This village, with its emblematic “feet in the water” bell tower, is a unique site in France and a must-see stopover on your trip to the Pyrénées Orientales.
Although not officially classified as one of France’s most beautiful villages, it is nonetheless absolutely magnificent. For a day, you can enjoy the beach, stroll through the picturesque, colorful streets, discover the craft stores, explore the coves and, why not, visit the royal castle.
Visit 4 of France’s most beautiful villages
When visiting the Pyrénées-Orientales, don’t miss the opportunity to explore four of France’s “Most Beautiful Villages”. Villefranche-de-Conflent, one of our favorite destinations, is an ancient merchant town listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And don’t forget to visit soothing Castelnou with its medieval castle, a real gem, and Eus, France’s sunniest village.
Finally, just a 15-minute drive from Villefranche-de-Conflent is Evol, another interesting destination that you can easily combine with your itinerary. And these are just 4 of the most beautiful villages we’ve mentioned, we could go on with Sainte-Marie-la-Mer for example.
Admire the fascinating geology of the Orgues d’Ille-sur-Têt
For your first visit to the Pyrénées-Orientales, don’t miss the impressive geological spectacle offered by the Orgues d’Ille-sur-Têt. Indeed, these spectacular rock formations are a natural wonder not to be missed. This tour, which can be completed in half a day, will delight young and old alike.
You can combine this visit with an afternoon devoted to sporting activities such as accrobranche, kayaking, tubing and more. in Marquixanes, or visit the picturesque village of Eus, known as the sunniest village in France, or stroll along the harbor in Saint-Cyprien.
Taste the Rousquille, one of the region’s emblematic pastries
Rousquilles are undoubtedly one of the best Catalan pastries. For those who don’t know, these are melt-in-the-mouth cookies scented with orange blossom, lemon or aniseed. Each pastry chef adds his own touch, adapting the recipe to suit his tastes, but you can’t miss the Rousquille de Elne.
Hiking the coastal path
The sentier du Littoral is one of the most famous walks in the Pyrénées-Orientales. This easy hike offers you the chance to breathe in the sea air, while passing through picturesque villages and admiring breathtaking panoramas, marked by the contrast between the rock and the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea.
The 35 km route takes you from Argelès-sur-Mer to Cerbère, all the way to the Spanish border. Also known as the “sentier des douaniers” or “smugglers’ trail”, it crosses the charming fishing village of Port-Vendres over 13 kilometers, passing through La Mauresque, the port, the Redoutes, the fabulous Cap Béar with its emblematic lighthouse, and the bay of Paulilles. Along the way, you can enjoy spectacular views of the Côte Vermeille.
Ride the yellow train
Board this tourist train a few kilometers from Canet-en-Roussillon to admire the magnificent scenery of the Pyrénées Orientales. The route takes in magnificent scenery, with breathtaking views of mountains and valleys. This famous yellow train is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and runs from Villefranche-de-Conflent to Font Romeu.
You can hike around Lac des Bouillouses, enjoy a picnic in the sun, stretch your legs in Matemale or explore Pic Carlit. This trip aboard the yellow train and excursion to the heights of Les Bouillouses will give you the chance to discover the Haut-Conflent, Cerdagne and Capcir regions. There’s no shortage of ideas for hikes and walks in the Pyrénées-Orientales regional nature park.
Visit the Saint-Martin-du-Canigó abbey
One of the jewels of the Pyrénées-Orientales heritage is without doubt theSaint-Martin-du-Canigó abbey. Declared a historic monument in 1889, the abbey is a true emblem of Romanesque architecture and a cultural pillar of the region. Surrounded by lush greenery, the abbey stands on a hilltop overlooking the Cady valley.
The tour starts from the village of Casteil, one of the stops on the route to Santiago de Compostela. It takes about half an hour to walk to the abbey. The journey is rewarded by the sight of a large-scale architectural site, admirably preserved. The abbey consists of two basilicas, an upper one and a lower, underground one. As the abbey is still inhabited by a religious community, it’s advisable to check the visiting hours beforehand.
Visit the prehistoric village of Tautavel
In 1971, near the village of Tautavel, researchers unearthed a human skull dating back 450,000 years! An exceptional historical find that has made this small village in the Pyrénées-Orientales region famous.
The winter season offers the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the past with a visit to the Tautavel cave and its prehistory museum. This world-renowned site has yielded some 100 human remains, including a 580,000-year-old milk tooth discovered in 2018.
Recharge your batteries at Les Bouillouses
Treat yourself to an enchanted interlude at Bouillouses, whether with family or friends, for a complete break from everyday life. Classified as a natural site, the Lac des Bouillouses offers a wealth of outdoor activities.
Located in the heart of the Pyrenees mountain range, you can get there by road or by chairlift. A veritable sanctuary of unspoilt nature, the site offers a grandiose spectacle abounding in diverse plant and animal species. It’s the ideal place for a relaxing family get-together, a picnic, or a lakeside fishing trip.
For the more adventurous, a variety of hiking trails are available, and there are even climbing spots to suit all levels! A place that will delight nature lovers and all those who long for an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.