Where is the Pyrenees Orientales department located in France?
Located at the gates of Spain, between sea and mountains, the Pyrenees-Orientales department in Occitania is home to vast natural spaces and enjoys a privileged climate. The 66 is bounded to the south by Spain, to the north by the Aude, to the east by the Mediterranean and to the west by the Pyrenees, Andorra and Ariège. Its prefecture Perpignan, a Catalan city, houses the palace of the Kings of Majorca. It is in the Pyrenees-Orientales that the Côte Vermeille and its magnificent sailors are found, which attract diving enthusiasts, the Pic du Canigou and the seaside resorts of Argelès-sur-Mer and Saint-Cyprien.
Which city to visit in the Pyrenees Orientales?
Have you just booked your 5 star campsite Grand Sud with a swimming pool by the sea in the Pyrénées-Orientales? Between your nautical activities and your hikes in the Pyrenees, take the time to visit the most beautiful cities of the 66:
City of art and history, Perpigna has more than 30 historic monuments. Its main places of interest include the Palace of the Kings of Majorca, the Sea Lodge, the Convent of the Minims, the Convent of the Poor Clares and the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
Built between the Têt and the Canet pond, Canet-en-Roussillon is a town of 12,000 inhabitants which becomes very lively during sunny days, especially around the port and the seaside town (Canet-Plage). The city has two castles classified as historic monuments (Vicomtal and de l’Esparrou) and a beautiful seaside promenade of over 3 kilometers.
A walk on the Saint-Ange port to observe the sailboats is a great classic when you visit Le Barcarès. This village located 22 km from Perpignan is connected with Canet-Plage by the Vélittorale cycle path.
South of the Pyrénées-Orientales, on the Vermeille Coast, stands the Château de Collioure. It is one of the most beautiful monuments visible on the Occitan coast. The village is located on the coastal path between Argelès and Cerbère.
Welcome to one of the largest resorts in the Gulf of Lion. With its numerous accommodations, its facilities and its large fine sandy beaches, Leucate brings together all the ingredients for a comfortable stay by the Mediterranean. The pond of Leucate, navigable and suitable for the practice of nautical sports, is a good alternative to the sea.
What are the must-see places of interest in the Pyrenees Orientales?
Palace of the Kings of Majorca
This palace-fortress was built at the beginning of the 14th century in the heart of the citadel of Perpignan. It offers very beautiful views of the Roussillon plain, the Catalan city and the Canigou massif.
In clear weather, from its summit, you can see Barcelona. At the height of its 2,794 meters, the Canigou peak is one of the most beautiful Pyrenean peaks. Like its massif, it belongs to the network of Grands Sites de France. A visit to the abbey and a hike on one of the many marked trails are to be included in your day’s program.
How about exploring the Pyrenees by train? The Cerdagne line is a railway line that links Villefranche-Vernet-les-Bains to Latour-de-Carol via the Font-Romeu ski resort. During the crossing, you will cross two viaducts classified as historic monuments which span the Têt.
About 30 minutes by car north-west of Perpignan, the Galamus gorges point to an astonishing canyon carved out of karst cliffs. Deep and narrow, they are surrounded by vegetation. A place to note absolutely in your logbook in the Pyrénées-Orientales if you want to get away from it all and get some fresh air for a few hours.
Royal Castle of Collioure
Built over 7 centuries, the royal castle of Collioure proudly overlooks the Mediterranean. Citadel of the Templars, the kings of Majorca, the Habsburgs and the Bourbons, the castle now belongs to the Departmental Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales and is open to the public.
What activity to practice in the Pyrenees Orientales?
Kitesurfing and windsurfing
The Catalan coast is dotted with nautical centers offering kitesurfing and windsurfing lessons and courses, notably in Torreilles, Leucate and Saint-Cyprien.
A stone’s throw from the campsite in Torreilles, you can do your ULM baptism. Depending on the option chosen, you will fly over the coast between Canet-Plage and Port-Barcarès, the Côte Vermeille or the Pic du Canigou.
The Outdoor Nature Park in Marquixanes offers several tree climbing courses accessible from 3 years old.
Rafting, canyoning, hydrospeed
Several providers offer these white water sports around the Canigou massif (Outdoor Nature, Angles Aventure, Inextremis Aventura, Oxygen’Aventure), as well as in Argelès (Canyoning Park).
Relaxation at the spa
Allow yourself a few hours of relaxation in the thermal center of Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste or Mont-Louis, in the Llo baths in the Falgos area in Saint-Laurent-de-Cerdans.
Discover the sliding sensations aboard an aquatic motorbike in Saint-Cyprien or in the most beautiful seaside resorts!
Baptisms and courses possible in Saint-Cyprien, Cerbère, and other famous cities in the area!
Train of Pays Cathare
An original activity to do with the family from Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet.
Prehistoric Museum of Tautavel
One of the most beautiful cultural sites in the Pyrénées-Orientales.
Where to go for a walk in the Pyrenees Orientales?
Llagonne national forest
A beautiful ride with a slight drop adapted to children and beginners on the Haut Confluent territory.
- Distance: 9.15 km
- Duration: 3 hours
- Level: Easy
- Departure: Llagonne
Gorges of Saint-Jaume and fortress of Fenouillet
This circuit allows you to observe several strongholds that dominate the Agly and Boulzane valleys.
- Distance: 8.8 km
- Duration: 3h10
- Average level
- Start: Caudiès-de-Fenouillèdes
Pass of the Gascons
This hike starts from the Vermeille Coast and takes you to the Col de Gascons, less than 400 m above sea level. Sufficient height to admire the coast and work out before going back down for a refreshing swim in the Mediterranean.
- Distance: 8.4 km
- Duration: 3h30
- Level: Easy
- Departure: Banyuls-sur-Mer
Occasional walkers, refrain. This hike with more than 1,100 m of elevation gain is reserved for athletes. From the heights, the panorama is at the height of the efforts made: Canigou massif, Roussillon plain, Catalan coast…
- Distance: 18.5 km
- Duration: 8h40
- Elevation: 1,170 m
- Level: Difficult
- Departure: Laroque-des-Albères
A very beautiful little-used loop that allows you to discover a face of the Pyrenees in peace.
- Distance: 15.5 km
- Duration: 6h40
- Elevation: 770 m
- Level: Difficult
- Departure: Formiguères (ski resort parking)
What are the gastronomic specialties of the Pyrenees Orientales?
After your swimming lengths in the heated pool of the Grand Sud campsite in Torreilles, your baptism of water skiing or diving in Saint-Cyprien and your hikes in the Pyrenees, you will want to sit down to share a good meal for two, in family or friends. What if you get carried away by local cuisine? Focus on 5 culinary specialties from the Pyrénées-Orientales:
This Occitan dish consisting of meat and vegetables is prepared like a hotpot. It contains pork, blood sausage and rind in pieces. It is very popular in winter, but also in spring or autumn after a sporty day.
Boles of Picolat
On your plate, delicious minced meatballs will be bathed in olive oil, white beans and tomatoes, all seasoned with garlic and parsley.
This Catalan specialty has as its main ingredient the snail, accompanied by an aioli sauce and sausages.
One of the culinary legacies of this fishing village is the Collioure anchoade. To consume alone or with bread as a starter or as an aperitif.
Make way for the best-known dessert outside Catalonia. In France, it is more commonly known as crème brûlée. It’s the same thing, a delicious thick cream flavored with cinnamon, lemon or orange.
Where to sleep in the Pyrenees Orientales?
Are you looking for an accommodation solution in the Pyrénées-Orientales? The hotel offer is vast. It is mainly concentrated on the coast and in the major ski resorts of the Pyrenees. You will find several studios and apartments T2 to T4 on the Catalan coast with sea views, and in the Canigou massif (in particular on the Airbnb website). The rental of mountain chalets with fireplace at the foot of the slopes is also very popular in winter. On sunny days, camping is the cheapest and most complete accommodation solution. Le Marisol campsite in Torreilles offers fully-equipped mobile home rentals at low prices by the sea, in a wooded park with aquatic area and free sports facilities.