Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Weekends Away: les PBV of the Pyrenées Orientales - Eus

Part One - Castelnou

We left Castelnou to check into our hotel in Thuir, the Hotel Cortie**. We had booked it directly the previous day rather than go through because the owner had a ruse for by-passing the booking sites. He put that check-in was not before 6pm, and check-out at 10am. Finding this very inconvenient, people ring him up to make sure, whereupon he tells them the real times and asks them to book directly thus saving him a booking fee. Clever.

When we arrived, the restaurant was being cleaned, and frankly it didn't smell that good. My DB wanted to leave straight away, but I warned him that we would be unlikely to find anywhere else, it being Valentine's weekend. All the hotels in the region were booked, those that were open.

We asked to see our room, didn't like it (too small and not nicely decorated), so asked to see another which was fine and didn't smell. The hotel is located in the centre of Thuir on a tiny street, so there's no parking but you can park on the main square of the town nearby. It's a bright yellow building with royal blue trim, so difficult to miss, and is a certified 'hotel de charme'. Our charming room was located over the terrace which was fine except that you could hear every word being spoken down there. It must be pretty noisy in the summer with people eating outside until late.
Hotel Cortes bedroom
After a quick snooze, we decided to visit another local PBV - Eus. The Pyrenées Orientales is spoilt for Plus Beaux Villages, and they are handily located in a small area so are easy to visit in a short space of time, if you so wish, or until you get PBV-fatigue.
PBV Eus - probably looks better on a sunny day in Spring
It wasn't as charming as Castelnou, but it was still delightful to walk around. I was surprised to see that the mimosa was out in full bloom to cast a little brightness on a gloomy day.

Mimosa in February
The town is in a classic defensive position and was used to repel the French in the sixteenth century, and the Spanish in the eighteenth. 
Dinky street in Eus with lovely view even on a cloudy day
The old citadelle was replaced with an imposing church dedicated to Saint-Vincent.

Saint-Vincent Church, Eus
The place was as quiet as the grave, only a few other hardy visitors were braving the chilly weather of late afternoon.

One house caught our eye. It was decorated on the outside with bits of pottery embedded into the lime (?) finish. It gave the house a distinct air of measles.
House with measles, Eus
We returned to our hotel and had a rest before dinner. When we turned up to eat in the restaurant every table had a rose in plastic for the lady, and we were told that there was a unique menu for Valentine's day, 35Eur. My DB had not expected there to be no choice, and he was rather put out. There was some grumbling, and muttering, and discussion as to whether we'd be able to get anything more reasonable somewhere else, and, I'm happy to say that eventually we decided to stay.

So we got the kir aperitif, and ordered a bottle of red Château de Castelnou (because they make wine at the castle too). The starter was a carpaccio of scallops and prawns which was delicious. Individually, they didn't taste as good as they did together. There was a real symbiosis between the flavours. I then had a confit de canard, and finished up with a dessert that I can't remember for the moment. The wine was good too. My DB perked up in direct proportion to the emptying of the wine bottle, and we ended up having a very nice Valentine's evening.


  1. I guess not every PBV can be totally stunning, but it still looks very attractive to me and the views are breathtaking.

    1. Yes, it had a definite charm. I love the look of the stone houses, and its location with those views was just amazing.


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