Watercolour of the church
by local artist, Leslie Dykes
Sorède (population 2700) is the Albères village closest to the sea at the eastern end of the Pyrenees chain. Apart from the narrow streets in the old centre it is remarkably spread out, most houses hide behind a forest of greenery, and it is hard to imagine that it has such a large population.
Like everything else to do with tourism in these parts, its refreshingly unsophisticated which is definitely not a synonym for boring. The Mayor is imaginative, very dynamic and makes sure there is always something going on in the village to interest "the visitors". These activities are all financed by the small tourist tax you pay when you stay here and are well spent!
From weekly open air screenings of the very latest films in the courtyard of the Salle des Fêtes to "Mushroom weeks" where everyone spends their days tramping the hillside in search of fungi that end up carefully labelled and exhibited on paper plates in the village hall on the Saturday at the end of the week, the deadly ones with the skull and crossbones sticker always drawing the biggest crowds... there always seems something to do here.
A propos of mushrooms did you know that the French are obsessed by collecting them and of course, eating them? Have you ever gone along a country lane and seen a car parked in the middle of nowhere and wondered what on earth it was doing there? Well the occupants are most likely to be deep in the adjoining forest collecting Ceps from a spot whose whereabouts is a closely guarded family secret, has been for generations and apocryphally (I hope!) is said to have been the motive for a little mild assasination to keep it that way.
In theory you are meant to take wild mushrooms to your local Pharmacie for verification before you eat them, in practice few bother, with the result that over 50 people a year die from ingesting poisonous mushrooms in France .... Dangerous pleasures ....
Sorède also claims to have the last whip factory left in the world, a wild claim that may or may not be true ... You can do a guided tour round it and buy some on the way out, it's run by the French equivalent of Remploy (in the UK) and is more than reasonably fascinating. The raw materials are still gathered in the forest above the village, highly flexible branches of a tree called Micocoulier.
There is also a railway museum called les Olivettes run by a delightfully eccentric individual called Monsieur Georgy Borsnak which includes a very short ride on a miniature steam train around his back garden ..
There are fabulous walks up into the hills behind the village, try following the signs to the hermitage of Notre Dame.
Horse riding can be found just outside the village on the old road to Argelès.
There is a tennis club, you can hire courts by the hour.
There is an excellent restaurant called the Salamandre run by Belgian incomers.
Teenagers are well catered for with music several times a week in the Place de la Republique but if they are really restless for the bright lights there is Argelès, 9 km away, the myriad of discotheques are open till late and (phew) there are reliable taxis running back all night.
There are several other bars and bar/restaurants in the village, click here for feedback on this subject from one of our customers.
The Cote d'Azur this is not, there isn't a cocktail bar in sight, there are however friendly people who don't seem phased at all by all the holiday makers and still welcome you into their lives and activities with a genuine sense of rural latin hospitality.
There's breathtaking countryside, every sport you can imagine both on land and sea, good food, good wine, good weather, good beaches and if that's what you are looking for, a lot of peace and quiet.
If I've forgotten anything you can find it at the excellent tourist office near to the Mairie. A pretty village with more than you can imagine to offer.
Above, two delightful videos about local artist, Leslie Dykes
(by ALEXANDRE CHARRET-DYKES)
(or use your browser's BACK button to return to house description)