"Our" area, Pyrénées Roussillon, is located in the South of France, on the Mediterranean sea, immediately adjacent to the Spanish border on the "Barcelona side". You can see the exact location on the map below (the red bullseye) and you can click the map for a close up.
Our properties are all within an hours' drive, at most, of the French Catalan city of Perpignan, on the Plain of Roussillon, on the side of the Albères and in the surrounding mountains and valleys.
The contrast and variety of this region offer a perfect solution for everyone. How many times have we heard. "some of us want a quiet holiday but others want a bit of excitement!" Here, you can have the best of both worlds. An hour's drive, another world.
Pyrénées Roussillon has remained a guarded secret for a long, long time. For the most part it is not a busy tourist area and is still a place where you can get away from it all if you want to. Whether you choose a village perched high on the hillside or a busier coastal resort, the French welcome you into their communities in traditional Mediterranean style.
The properties we offer range from ancient stone-walled houses in peaceful high mountain villages to modern villas near to the sparkling Mediterranean sea.
You will find in the following pages many old favourites and, in response to many peoples' requests for us to offer more accommodation nearer to the sea, a selection of villas and apartments, some with pools, in the Albères mountains and down on the coastal plain. We are sure you will find a Country Cousins holiday home which will allow you to relax or climb mountains - just as you please!
The Albères are the mountain chain which forms the eastern end of the Pyrénées separating France from Spain or more locally, the two parts of Catalonia. In this area, ceded to the French at the treaty of the Pyrénées in 1659 it is said that many people only became aware of the fact they were living in France when they received their call-up papers for the army in 1914!
On the lower slopes are our villages of Laroque, St Génis, Sorède, Villelongue dels Monts and Montesquieu. Medieval fortifications at the heart of Laroque and Montesquieu bear witness to the turbulent past of this region, as does the Tour Madeloc, perched high above the coastal towns of Port Vendres and Collioure where the mountains meet the sea. Most of our properties are now to be found in these villages and ....
..... below, on the plain of Roussillon. Watered by the Tech and Têt rivers which flow down from the surrounding mountains, it's fertile, abundant, with a cuisine reflecting mountain plain and sea. It is no wonder that Greeks, Romans, Arabs and later the French and Spanish fought so hard to keep this area. A natural crossroads, visiting the surrounding area could include: to the north, Carcassonne and the Cathar Castles, the high Pyrénées to the west and Barcelona to the south. Blessed with a mild winter and hot summer Mediterranean climate, near to the sandy beaches of the Littoral and the rocky coves of the Côte Vermeille, yet with so much more to offer, we thoroughly recommend this area for your holiday.
Whilst you are here you will sooner or later find the arrière-pays, the mountains and valleys that stretch back from the coast and it's where you´ll discover the real spirit of the area
Three valleys, separated by Mount Canigou, the sacred mountain of the Catalan People and the Fenouilledes.
THE TET - Rising in the mountain behind Font Romeu, the river Têt tumbles down on its relatively short journey to the sea though three distinct landscapes. The youthful torrent carves its exit from the Cerdagne plateau through spectacular gorges and is best viewed from the comfort of the Little Yellow Train. In middle age it usefully waters the peach, nectarine and cherry orchards on the valley floor between Prades and Millas, watched over by Canigou, before crossing the plain of Roussillon, aged and slower, on its way to the sea.
Together the first and second sections, between the Cerdagne plateau and the Roussillon plain, are known as the Conflent
Try Prades, the capital of the Canton, a bustling market town famous for the Pablo Casals music festival. Bathe in hot springs at Fontpedrouse or relax in a 19th century spa at Molitg. Swim and windsurf in the river lake at Vinça. Discover fortified villages at Villefranche and Mont Louis or hilltop abbeys at St Martin and Serrabonne. A superb area for walking, you may wish to cap it all with a climb to the summit of Mount Canigou!
If you do, a truly breathtaking view to the south awaits you. This is the Vallespir ('VA' houses here) which is the valley of the river Tech. High up the valley you will find a land of peace and nature, wooded valleys and tumbling streams. Further down cherry orchards abound and spring arrives here earlier than anywhere else in France. Our just ideal for a relaxing holiday. One of our travellers calls it the valley of good intentions ".... but we just ended up sitting on the terrace, astounded by the views".
If you can be roused, visit Céret, with its modern art museum, its shops, markets and galleries. Follow in the footsteps of Picasso, Braque, Duffy and Chagall, for here they met and lived and worked before the first world war. Try your hand at hang gliding or squeeze into the Gorges de la Fou which is reputed to be the narrowest ravine in the world. Bathe in rock pools or drive down to the sea. Play golf or ..... well, maybe tomorrow.
Fenouillèdes, the land of fennel. High foothills of the Pyrénées, a landscape of crags and forests, lakes, rivers and streams - and small villages surrounded by vineyards, the lower ones producing the ever improving Côtes de Roussillon Villages.
It´s also the land of of the most southerly Cathar castles, and the now world famous mystery of Rennes le Château, its hidden secrets just waiting to be solved and its buried treasure ... Well you'll have difficulty walking round the village without bumping into NO DIGGING signs .... Welcome to DaVinciCodiLandia ... well I mean, just look at this little devil holding up the font in the church, whatever next .. deliciously spooky ....
As little or as much as you want! All houses have terraces, balconies or gardens and you can just sit in the sunshine and enjoy the view, the fresh air, the flora and fauna. A chance to really unwind relax and enjoy your pool.
However the area is ideal for walking, GR (Grande Randonnée) paths are everywhere and are clearly marked both on IGN maps and on the ground. Mountain bikes can be hired and local cycling clubs welcome visitors. Outdoor pursuit centres abound. The national kayak championships are held on the river Aude. Try your hand at this or white water rafting, canoeing, canyoning, pot-holing, climbing, hang-gliding, horse-riding, trekking, water-skiing, sailing, golf, swimming; the list is endless. Fish for trout and carp in mountain streams and lakes, swim in them or just have a picnic on the banks. Details of the above and many other activities can be found in the Country Cousins Information Pack, which is downloadable upon booking.
Every village has its own local festivals and markets. Churches, Romanesque abbeys and (mainly Cathar) castles abound. There are interesting museums and art galleries in and around Perpignan and 40 minutes drive over the border into Spain brings you to Figueras and the Dali museum and roadside pottery stalls which are irresistible.
Visit a spa for the day or join an art course. Drive up into the high Pyrénées and shop in Andorra. Every town in the region has a cave where they are only too happy to let you taste the wine. There are many good restaurants and the area is becoming known for young chefs making a name for themselves. The walled medieval city of Carcassonne is worth a visit. The Water Festival at Sête, and the Pablo Casals Music Festival at Prades in August are not to be missed and village fêtes abound where everything stops for such attractions as the cooking of a giant Paella which feeds up to a thousand hungry people. These fêtes can be fun, but also noisy, so ask us for advice if this may be a problem!
And of course, there's the sea ....
THE CLIMATE: It is hot to very hot from June to mid-September. Snow can fall on the mountains above 1200 metres (4000 ft) from mid-October to May, but on a fine winter's day, it is possible to sit out on the terrace and enjoy real warmth in the sunshine.
SWIMMING AWAY FROM THE SEA: Pools are open from very approximately mid May to mid September. There are many plan d'eau and rock pools for swimming in the Fenouillèdes, Conflent and Vallespir.
THE WINE & FOOD: Supermarkets make shopping easy and have good products. Try the smaller shops for excellent made-on-the-premises foods, and the markets for local cheeses, fruit, vegetables and organic produce. Mountain cuisine can offer substantial dishes, restaurants are usually reasonably priced. Roussillon wines abound, a good Rivesaltes makes a marvellous aperitif, and there is a great local pride in the sparkling wines, Cava and Blanquette and Crémant de Limoux.
Cave - in a house, a cellar, store or utility room, otherwise, a place where wine is stored or bought.
Salle de séjour - A living room in its truest sense combining dining, sitting and kitchen areas.
Mas - A traditional, long southern farmhouse.
Randonnée - walking. There are many superb Grande Randonnée (long distance) paths in the area.
Plan d'eau - Dammed streams make ponds for irrigation or for fire fighting. They are often purpose-built to double as excellent unsupervised swimming pools.
Garrigue - A mountain landscape of bushes, wild flowers and herbs.
Etangs - salt water lakes formed behind sandbanks on the coastal plain. Oysters, flamingos and windsurfers are their inhabitants!
The Country Cousins Information Pack is jam-packed with information about where to go and what to do and see in the area. Each year we discover more and we share it with you, free of charge! The Information Pack is downloadable on booking.
Don't tell anyone, but its gorgeous here in winter too ...
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