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Discover the Delights of Pyrenees Orientales

Overflowing with lush orchards, olive groves, vineyards, and picturesque stonewall villages set against the backdrop of the majestic Canigó mountain, the Pyrenees-Orientales region in southern France captivates visitors with its vibrant natural beauty.

Here are some highlights to savor in one of the sunniest spots in mainland Europe, nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees mountains.

Indulge in Wine Tasting

Blessed with 320 days of sunshine annually, this region is a patchwork of vineyards, a paradise for wine enthusiasts, offering an array of reds, whites, rosés, and the local fortified sweet wines known as vins doux naturels.

One notable vineyard is Mas Llossanes, meaning ‘Holy Ground,’ an 11-hectare estate owned by the couple Dominique and Solenn Genot. With a focus on biodynamic farming, they produce about 30,000 bottles per year using native grape varieties, including rare ones like chasan and chenanson. The vineyard stands at an altitude of 700 meters, making it one of the highest vineyards in France.

The Genots, who have gained viticulture experience internationally, emphasize hand-harvesting and eschew chemical products. Their wines, predominantly reds but also whites and rosé, are described as well-structured, powerful, and high in tannins, reflecting the region’s exceptional terroir.

At Mas Llossanes, you can sample various wines, such as La Haut, a Carignan-based wine with a fruity touch, Dotrera, a blend of Grenache, Carignan, Syrah, and Chenanson aged in oak barrels, and Pure Chasan, a vibrant white with citrus and honey notes.

The Richness of Olive Oil

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Olive oil, once revered for its medicinal and culinary properties, has become a culinary staple in Pyrenees-Orientales, with a growing number of olive groves dotting the landscape.

One standout producer is Huile Des Orgues, operated by Noël Fabre and family, known for reviving indigenous olive cultivars like Olivière and crafting a variety of flavored oils with truffles, fruits, and herbs. Their award-winning oils are favored by chefs and are available for tasting at their location.

Relax and Unwind

For a tranquil retreat, take a leisurely stroll through the hills near Eus village or visit the Abbey of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa. Alternatively, pamper yourself at ‘Espace Feel Good’ for a range of wellness treatments and workshops, or unwind at the Baths of Saint-Thomas, known for their hot sulfur springs and therapeutic amenities.

Experience Catalan Culture

Immerse yourself in Catalan traditions by enjoying a performance by cultural associations like Els Dansaires Catalans de Thuir, known for their vibrant dances and music performances showcasing the region’s rich heritage.

These are just a few gems in this enchanting corner of southern France, with the Conflent Canigou tourism office being a valuable resource for exploring more activities and attractions in the region.

Image Source: JustLuxe

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