Welcome to Pyrénées-Orientales
If you travel to this area you must be sure that you will find a unique landscape that combines French and Spanish tradition, as it borders the province of Girona in the south.
Its mild climate makes it a perfect destination to enjoy at any time of the year, with the air coming from the Mediterranean Sea. Moreover, the combination of the sea with the highest mountain peaks where you can practice skiing makes this department an ideal place both in winter and in summer.
But in addition to the beauty of the landscapes, you will have the opportunity to get to know the vast cultural heritage through its monuments, and the art that is closely related to this area, having been the destination of artists such as Picasso or Matisse, who found here the necessary inspiration for their works, or Antonio Machado, who ended his days here.
Among the most visited places is Perpignan, its capital, which offers a variety of activities for everyone. Welcome to Pyrénées Orientales!
What to see in Pyrénées-Orientales?
Located in the Occitan region, this department is one of the closest to neighbouring Spain to the south.
It is a department where you can enjoy the Mediterranean atmosphere, bordering the sea in the east thanks to the Gulf of Lion, and the province of Girona. So much so, that this place is also is known in Spain as “The Northern Catalonia”.
Its capital is the city of Perpignan, where you can find plenty of resources to spend a holiday between the sea and the mountains, discovering the heritage, history and culture in any of the spots you step on.
Besides, the presence of the Pyrenees is an attraction for nature lovers, and in winter, for snow sports lovers, finding some of the best quality ski resorts, such as Cerdanya-Puigmal. For those looking for strong emotions, the Carlit peak is waiting for them at almost 3,000 meters of altitude.
What curiosities are there?
An ideal destination for those who want to enjoy nature and culture in equal parts, and where the offer is very rich and varied, making each traveller find their place.
Its proximity to Spain makes it a very popular place for residents of this neighbouring country, especially in the winter season when the ski resorts are full of people eager to sail these snowy seas.
The capital, Perpignan, is a very busy city with the largest population centre, whose main income comes from tourism and agriculture, but there are many other places you have to visit, such as El Rosellón.
There is also nature everywhere, as is the case with the Cerbére-Banyuls Nature Reserve, a marine area with some 650 hectares of pure magic.
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Where can you sleep?
This department has a great number of corners that are worth discovering, and where you will be able to enjoy the tranquillity and magic of its panoramic views, the culture among its streets, and the gastronomy on its tables.
You can start with the city of Perpignan and get to know the capital, which has great Spanish influence since it belonged to the country until 1659, and in this way, get to know two cultures at the same time. In fact, both languages are spoken in this department.
The region of Roussillon has a lot of secrets that you can also discover in the city of Colliure, very linked to art and literature since the painter Henri Matisse lived here, as did the poet Antonio Machado, who died in the city and is buried in its cemetery.
Sleeping in Céret can be an experience full of taste and smell... of cherry, and it is known as the cherry capital of France because it is a main producer of this fruit.
What to do in the area?
A corner designed for all audiences in which nature, culture and fun are present in many of the cities and towns that make up the area.
Are you coming as a family, as a couple, with friends or alone? Then you have plenty of activities in any of these ways to spend your holidays.
If you are travelling with children and you like nature, we recommend you to travel in winter, and enjoy a day of skiing or snowboarding in its ski resorts, Cerdanya Puigmal being the biggest and best known ones of this department.
For those those who are looking for some adrenaline but in the water, a jet ski route through the Saint Cyprien harbour, or visiting the Thuès canyon, can be a perfect plan with friends or to enjoy as a couple.
But without a doubt, to enjoy the French culture with the Spanish one, you have to visit its monuments, starting with the Cathedral of Elna, the castle of Salses, one of the most impressive, and towns like Banyuls.
What typical foods are recommended?
The influence of the Spanish and French cultures give shape to the personality of their menus, in which you will be able to find all kinds of products that mix perfectly to bring you the most delicious platters you can imagine.
If we start with the French part, in its more savoury side, we have to mention, without question of it the Colliure anchovies, a real delight. On the other hand, we could continue the menu, always washed down with a wine from the Costa Bermeja, with a “cargolada” or escargots, a snail-based dish that you will love.
Finally, a dessert elaborated with apricots, or some typical cherries from Céret can be a good closure to this culinary journey, together with a glass of sweet muscatel, another well-known protagonist from the area of Rivesaltes.
If you want to combine the above dishes with Spanish cuisine, then you have to try the “escalivada”, typical of the Catalan area and consisting of roasted Mediterranean vegetables marinated in olive oil.
Where are the festivities?
If you come looking for celebration, tradition and folklore, this place is perfect for you to get to know part of its culture through music, dance and gastronomy.
There are many and very different festivals and traditions celebrated in this department where the dance that almost always accompanies any festivity here is the Sardana, from the side of Catalan influence.
Some of the most important are the Bear Festival, which is held in February, while Easter the best known is the Sanch Procession.
Of course, the famous Christmas nativities and the celebration of the grape harvest in October. Each season of the year has its own celebration, so whenever you travel you will find something to celebrate.