Saturday, October 13, 2012

Always the right time to visit Perpignan

It was another lovely, sunny day, perfect for a road trip to Perpignan. We travelled across country to La Jonquera on the Spanish French border. It was the first time since the summer fires that we had made this journey. As we approached Capmany there was evidence of more and more fire damage with whole areas of trees scorched right next to vines that hadn't been touched. It is always sad to see scorched olive trees.  As we neared La Jonquera the area became more and more stark with everything  burned except for adjacent buildings and villages. Just on the outskirts of Jonquera is a large brothel. The vegetation all around this building was burnt but the brothel itself was saved. The hillside in front of the Bellaguarda fort was decimated. This was where the fire started with a wayward cigarette butt.

We arrived in Perpignan in time for lunch outdoors, tomato veloute soup with basil and the lightest piece of feta. The main course was rack of lamb on a bed of fava beans....not really my favourite. Why did I order it? For me the best part of the meal was seeing fellow diner James Hook, Welsh and Perpignan rugby player. There are always lots of rugby types in Perpignan.

Most of the shops in Perpignan are open all day or if they close it is only for an hour or so at lunchtime. We headed off exploring the lanes lined with lovely boutiques. We did lots of browsing, not even being enticed by the many sales. In every store we were greeted with a friendly, "Bonjour." We prefer shopping here to Barcelona since it is only an hour away and the stores have a much nicer selection of items as well as being quieter.

Perpignan is a lovely city to walk around. There are many historical buildings such as Le Castillet  built in the 1300s as part of the town gate, which subsequently became a prison and now houses an art gallery. The well landscaped Basse river runs through the center of the town. One side is lined with high end shops and lots of restaurants with seats overlooking the river.

Eventually it was time to return to the car but not before having an espresso with a delicious apple filled pastry, the lightest pastry you could imagine - Yummy!

Once in Spain we stopped at the agro co-op in Gariguella to pick up some locally made oil, and vegetables. Two donkeys were outside, one harnessed to a cart. The owners had driven the cart down to the bar, while they had a drink. They live by the tortoise sanctuary and the lady has several donkeys. We are looking forward to visiting next time we are in the neighbourhood.

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