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Serralongue, Haut-Vallespir, Pyrenees-Orientales, France - Serralongue - "entre ciel et vert"

The small village of Serralongue is situated to the south of Canigou, the legendary Catalan mountain, which dominates the whole of the Pyrenees-Orientales. At a height of 720 metres, here the landscape is greener with horses and cattle in the fields, very different to the Mediterranean coastline, only an hour's drive away. With the stunning views across the Pyrenees and down to the coast it is no wonder that the emphasis is on walking and there are many and varied walks for all standards which begin in the village. Both tennis and horse riding (with day treks into the Pyrenees) can also be enjoyed in the village. In addition, almost every other outdoor pursuit is available within an easy drive - a superb golf course at Domaine de Falgos (3500 feet altitude) is half an hour away; an adventure park at Prats de Mollo (20 minutes); fishing in the local rivers and swimming in the Mediterranean.

The nearby town of Prats de Mollo is dominated by an imposing 17th century fort designed by Vauban. This reflects the colourful history of the Vallespir which only became, finally, French in 1659. A fact which is also evident from the continuing Catalan traditions, not least the language which is still spoken by many in the villages. The traditional dance, the Sardane, is performed in the streets by young and old and bull fighting still takes place at nearby Ceret during the summer.

Serralongue has a medieval church, a museum describing its 3,000 year history using mock-ups of life of the time and the last "conjurador" in the whole of Catalunya! High up and overlooking the village are the Towers of Cabrenc, three towers which are classified historic monuments. These are being restored by a local group and, if you can manage the sometimes tricky walk up to them, there is a picnic area in the shade In June, the local priest performs the ceremony of the "Blessing of the Mules" with the mules and horses ridden by children in local costume. Also in June is the celebration of the "Feu de St Jean" when fire is brought done from Canigou to all the villages to ignite a large bonfire. In August there is the village festival which spreads over 3 days and combines market stalls and petanque matches during the day with disco or traditional dancing at night.

Serralongue also benefits from a lively café/bar which is open all year and provides the hub of the village. Bread can be ordered from here and the local newspaper is on sale. Excellent home cooked food is available in the evenings, as well as snacks at lunchtime, with drinks being served all day. Opposite, there is an epicerie/charcuterie which sells its own produce as well as the usual staples.

Written by Penelope Parkinson - Owner of Property 74369 in Serralongue, France

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