French Villages

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.

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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.

Pont du Diable courtesy Wikimedia commons

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 –

30 thoughts on “French Villages

  1. Love the water colors and the photos. How interesting about the Devils Bridge. All I can think when I see the photos and their age is, they just don’t build like that any more, and more’s the pity. It’s mind boggling to know that they have been standing there, a testament to the history that has gone on around them for forever. In Beauly Scotland we toured a church with cemetery where there was an elm tree in the corner at the entrance. The tour guide said it was 800 years old. Being a skeptic I asked how they knew and he said they found maps dating back 800 years in which the tree was marked on the map. All I could think was, if that tree could talk…


    1. I know, the old buildings and structures, and the trees .. the history and the stories they are privy to. Similar tree story – near the Pont de Gard in southern France there is an olive tree with this marker: “I was born in 908 AD in Spain and was planted by the Pont du Gard in 1988 – 1080 years later.”


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