THE ROUSSILLON PLAIN, is set between the Albères Mountains and Fenouillèdes, boasting the richness of the land. The vast extent of its vineyards, market gardening and fruit orchards, bathed in sunlight form a wonderful mosaic of colours. Travelling through the villages and towns, interesting bell-towers appear on the horizon.
Cabestany - Visite culturelle à la rencontre du Mystérieux Maître
The relatively wealthy Roman garrison of Cabestany was first mentioned in writing under the name of ”Cabestagnium” in 927 and probably referred to the head of a lake. The Romanesque church Notre Dame Des Anges, referred to in writing in 1089, has been modified many times, including the addition of two Gothic chapels around the unique nave. The most renowned piece remains the white marble typanum carved by the Master of Cabestany and discovered during renovation works in the 20th century. Cabestany is a pleasant town noted for its Saint Camille pathway and several other popular ramblers’ paths. The town also has the Jean Ferrat Cultural Centre, including a library and a cinema, as well as the Germanor sports complex.
Le Centre de Sculpture Romane
This 12th century, anonymous, itinerant sculptor was discovered when his typanum was found over the entrance to the Saint Marie church. The so-called Master of Cabestany’s style is easily recognisable on account of his particular Romanesque style. The Centre is devoted entirely to his works, found as far afield as Navarre (in Spain) and Toscany (in Italy). Replicas of his work enable visitors to touch and fully appreciate the care taken with each detail of every sculpture. A truly interactive visit, which can be followed by a visit to the workshop and then viewing a film retracing the artistic career of the Master.
Elne - Site de visites culturelles d’intérêt majeur
An oppidum, or ancient fortified Roman town, visited by Hannibal in 218BC, Illiberis changed its name in the 4th century to Castrum Helenæ. By 571AD this prosperous city had become an important religious site when the bishopric was installed here. Regent archaeological digs have uncovered the remains of an ancient cathedral, probably built between the 6th and the 9th centuries. It was subsequently replaced by the present building in the 11th century. Some vestiges of fortifications (the Balaguer and Bernat d’Oms Gateways) confirm the clashes between the French and the Spanish because of the city’s dominant position. Later, the Realm of Majorca turned to Perpignan as its capital, to the detriment of Illiberis. In the 20th century, numerous artists such as Matisse, Derain, Terrus and Maillol based themselves in the town, which is now considered to be one of the major historical and cultural sites in the Pyrenees-Roussillon.
LOOK AT Maillol’s statue called Pomona.
La Cathédrale & Le Cloitre
The construction of this exceptional example of Romanesque art – dedicated to Saint Julie and Saint Eulalia – began in the 11th century replacing a former building (traces of which have only recently been discovered). The 42m long nave is 16m high and flanked by 6 Gothic chapels built between the 13th and the 15th centuries; it is considered to be a major piece of religious architecture. The cloister is an exceptional work of art, its sculptures tracing the development of art from the Romanesque to the Gothic. Nowadays the cloister houses the History Museum and the Archaeological Museum.
La Maternité Suisse
Elisabeth Eindenbenz, having joined the Swiss Aid for Children, converted this manor house into a maternity home and helped to bring hundreds of babies into this world from many different communities and nationalities. A standing exhibition entitled “A Cradle of Humanity at the Heart of Inhumanity” is dedicated to her brave actions during World War II.
Le Musée Terrus
Since 1994, the museum dedicated to Étienne Terrus (1857-1922) has presented the works of this watercolour painter from Elne, together with that of some of his friends. Two additional floors house temporary exhibitions of contemporary art.
Villeneuve-de-la-Raho - Séjours détente aux portes de Perpignan
The man-made lake here just a few kilometres outside Perpignan opened in 1977. It was actually created to provide water for agriculture and for fire-fighting. The lake has become an important relaxing rendezvous for many residents and tourists. In summer restaurants open along the beach while all year round there is a health track, a campsite and a sailing school. A number of sporting events take place here throughout the year. This 280 hectares (690 acres) site is divided into three unequal parts. The large lake is used for fishing, rowing, kayaking, and Catalane rowing boat – people also enjoy walking, cycling, around it. The small lake and its beach are very much appreciated by bathers in the summer and by the fishermen from October to April. The ecological reserve is the smallest lake, complete with a secluded hide for bird watchers.
Referred to in writing for the first time in the 9th century, the village was originally situated at the base of the hill. It was owned in turn by the Counts of Roussillon, the Knights Templar and the Fontfroide Abbey. After the implantation of agriculture during the 20th century, the village saw its population increase sharply after the creation of the lake in 1977.
LOOK AT the 16th-17th century village church with its furnishings and inscription “Liberté Égalité Fraternité” inscribed on the façade.
La Chapelle Saint-Julien et Sainte-Baselisse
Just a short distance from the centre of the village, this remarkable chapel dates from at least the 12th century and was designed in the Roussillon Romanesque style. It was abandoned following the building of the new church but has been carefully renovated recently, preserving the architecture and the incredible acoustics – which can be appreciated during concerts.
Toulouges - Lieu d’intérêt historique en Catalogne
The “ Trêve de Dieu” (God’s Truce) – also known as the Council of Toulouges – was a council organised in Toulouges on 16th May 1027 to advance the cause of peace. The Catholic Church tried to impose periods of truce, especially on Sundays, on the French Feudal leaders of the time. The Synod in 1065 also included periods governing religious feast days. These councils are very much part of the town’s history, and Toulouges still has two two plaques on its church walls. The 11th century church, dedicated to Saint Mary, has retained a Romanesque doorway in white marble with quite remarkable sculptures. It is a quiet town, spared many of the conflicts that affected the local area. Toulouges demonstrated its republican spirit when, soon after the French Revolution, a Neoclassic-styled belfry was built just opposite the church. The popular Clairfont Park – covering 5 hectares or 12 acres – has been attractively landscaped with two small lakes and over 100 different types of Mediterranean trees. At the centre of the park is a manor house built in the 1930s, now the Town Hall. Being near Perpignan, Toulouges is a dynamic town and has a welldeveloped cultural scene, especially active since 2005 when the El Mil.lenari cultural centre was opened as a performing arts venue.
Millas - Tourisme culturel à la rencontre d’un riche passé
The 15th century Saint Eulalia church has fortunately retained its bell-tower and its Southern Romanesquestyled Gateway. There are chapels, a Gothic tribune and an imposing Pre-Baroque reredos. The tribune featuring 58 faces is a beautifully sculptured work of art.
VISIT The Museum of Ancient Arts and the Bombes Park.
LOOK AT the 15th century Villefranche gateway and the oil mill (1920).
Ille-sur-Têt - Sites culturels, historiques et naturels des Pyrénées-Orientales
A village fortified by three successive ramparts, Ille Sur Têt can still boast the Alexis Tower (still in fine condition) and 1.2 km of city walls. At the heart of the 13th century Hospici – a rare French medieval wellpreserved hospital – the Centre of Sacred Art exhibits Romanesque and Baroque works of art... murals, reredos, altar sculptures. The development of the various artistic movements can be seen in the architecture of the religious buildings : Romanesque art for the Rodona church and Gothic for the Saint Etienne church (1665- 1774), that also has a Baroque façade and bell-tower.
LOOK AT the collection of paintings from the 17th century Guerra workshop, exhibited in the 18th century Carmes church.
DISCOVER the Orgues d’Ille (“fairy” chimneys), a magnificent geological formation sculpted over time.
04 68 54 37 42
Dans son sanctuaire de délices artisanaux et catalans, Eric Caseilles privilégie les produits locaux et de saison aussi pour ses fruits et légumes :
- son fabuleux et unique Quatuor de Fraises où 4 variétés succulentes sont associées pour une explosion de saveurs fruitées
- idéal pour vos salades estivales, l’authentique Oignon Rouge de Toulouges est apprécié pour sa chair croquante et sa douceur fruitée