The Pyrenees Orientales is as yet unchartered territory for many who visit southern France, however those who’ve visited once are smitten and those of us who live here consider it to be one of the most scenic, beautiful and cosmopolitan areas of France, renowned for having 360 days of sunshine per year.
Amelie-Les-Bains-Palalda is in the Haut Vallespir. The main valley road leading to the town has the River Tech running beside it. The river runs through the town and if you cross over the bridge to the other side, a winding road leads you up to the medieval village of Palalda, a picturesque place steeped in history. You can walk down to the river from Palalda and back alongside it into Amelie-Le-Bains. There are many places where people choose to sunbath, sit on the rocks or swim in the pools and if you don’t like the idea of this, there is a large municipal swimming pool by the river with 3 pools to suit all ages, open from June to September. The town of Amelie-Les-Bains is well known for its thermal baths and there are a variety of treatments available like mud baths, massage, water massage therapy etc. The local tourist office has details of activities available in the area and daily coach excursions can be taken. The town has plenty of restaurants, shops and bars and its own casino.
Within a 30km radius you will find beaches, lakes, fresh water rock pools, historic sites, thermal springs, vineyards and more. For those who like walking and cycling, there are marked routes to follow. If you venture a little further you can visit the ski resorts where you will find natural hot springs, in the winter it is wonderful to relax in the steaming water and look at the marvellous scenery around. With its close proximity to the Spanish border the Catalan influences both in architecture and culture are strong. Most towns and villages are steeped in history and there is a sense of community spirit and pride amongst the locals, many of whom grow their own vegetables or are artisans making jewellery, pottery and leather goods. There is a thriving café culture where friends meet and street musicians entertain and regular weekly markets where artisans display their goods and fresh fruit and vegetables are sold. I recommend Ceret market (7km from Amelie) which is held every Saturday morning.
During the year, throughout the region there are festivals, parades, sports races, open air musical events, car boot sales, firework displays and so on. For instance, there is a cherry festival held every June to celebrate the harvest, and the famous Bull Run through the town of Ceret held in July, a three day event of music, dancing and celebrations attended by all ages, the object being to try and stop the bull. These are but a few examples, in July and August the activities escalate and the choices are endless. Come and see for yourself.
Written by Jackie Catlin - Owner of Property 99540 in Amelie-Les-Bains-Palalda, France