Sunday, May 16, 2010

Argeles Away

I can understand why excessive blustery wind can drive people mad. Just 4 days in a mobile home with the Tramontane blowing a gale is enough for me. Not that I've gone mad, mind.

We're back from our Argeles-sur-Mer experience. The camp-site, which will be full in the summer, was pretty empty. Unsurprisingly there were no tents, just the odd caravan. Most people had gone for renting a mobile home, complete with heating.

I would hate to be there in the summer - 50,000 people, camp-sites all full, cars everywhere, everything chock-a-block. As it was, the traffic crawled through the centre of the village. We cycled there to look at the shops and buy sarnies to eat on the beach. 

Despite the howling gale, we also went up to see the Fort St Elme above Port Vendres. It was quite a challenge actually finding it. The Guide du Routard says it's signposted from the centre of Port Vendres. Well, it ain't. You have follow directions for a 'Parking Panoramique' and from there it's signposted. The narrow road up is the one the little train takes and it must be tricky meeting it because there are not many places to pass. Luckily for us, it was already at the top and would take a nice long time to get down again. Time for us to visit the fort, anyway.

It didn't take long as it was closed because of the wind. We could walk round it but not go inside. Apparently the wind swirls into the dungeon to such an extent it drives you quite mad. I wonder if the soldiers used it as an alternative torture technique.

From there we followed another tortuous route towards Fort Béar. We couldn't reach the fort by car and it was too windy to walk so we admired it from a distance and watched a lifeboat tow an imperilled yacht across a choppy sea to the safety of Port Vendre's harbour.

It was fun in the mobile home for the 4 days, but the lack of space to change and tidy things away did start to get to me. Two weeks would be difficult. Two weeks on a full camp-site would be hell.

To escape the chore of cooking, we ate at two excellent restaurants: las Papallonas on the port where they do homemade chicken nuggets for the kid menu, and excellent adult food; not at all like the moules frites/pizza restos which surround it. The other, in Le Racou, is Menja y Caille which has gambas roses, something of a rarity these days, and are exquisite. It has a fabulous menu of Catalan dishes which are served in a casual ambiance that belies the excellence of the food.

As we drove home, there was snow on the Canigou, gleaming brightly in the sunshine, the wind buffeting us and the many others on their way home after a super long weekend away.


  1. I just finished a novel set in French Catalonia. Should appeal to you particularly since the scene moves to London 2/3 through.

    "Rat" by Fernanda Eberstadt

    I wrote a review for Amazon, actually.

  2. Thanks for the tip, expat.


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