My previous post in this series was Cathar Strongholds.
There are four more villages in this Languedoc-Roussillon region of France that we particularly enjoyed.
Collioure, with its castle, mediaeval streets, and beautiful setting on the Mediterranean, has attracted artists and poets – in the early 1900′s it was a centre for fauvism and such artists as Picasso and Matisse.
The Château Royal de Collioure has a mixed history as a castle, fortress and more recently, a prison during WWII – photo credit to my brother-in-law.
Because of its close proximity to Amelie-les-Bains the two towns have almost merged and are often referred to, in tourist literature at least, as Amelie-les-Bains-Palalda. Only about a half hour drive from our St-Andre apartment, it is nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Sulphur springs at Amelie-les-Bains attracted those seeking ‘the cure’ – there are still two establishments, one of which preserves remains of Roman baths. And Palalda is said to be a good example of a Catalan town – we enjoyed it for its narrow, steep and winding streets.
The site of this church in Palalda was consecrated in 993
Then, Ceret and the Pont du Diable – Devil’s Bridge
Built between 1321 and 1341 and partly modified in the 18th C, the bridge spans the river Tech in a single arch span of 150 feet and the apex is 74 feet above ground.
I ask you, HOW did they build this 700 years ago?
Legend says that the locals wanted a bridge across the river and asked the devil to build it for them. He agreed on the condition that he would claim the first soul to cross it. The bridge built, the locals sent a dog across first for the devil to claim. But still for many years no person would cross, just in case. This legend is common to many devil’s bridges in Europe. Ceret also has an art museum with several Picasso’s in the collection, and an annual bull running festival.
The last village is a particular favourite – because it’s discovery was serendipitous, because we partook of a delightful meal in the quiet square, and because we imbided in the owner’s private store of sangria which he graciously offered after initially saying he didn’t have any left. Other than a table of Brits we were the only ones in the square that mid-afternoon, sitting under the umbrellas and soaking up the ambiance. This was St-Marsal.
I leave you with a couple of my early watercolours -