Our 10 Days in Côte Vermeille and the Pyrenees Itinerary took us to some of the best places in the south of France, hidden Spanish town, and the mountain country, Andorra. We have discovered an area with rich culture and a changing landscape, from the colourful fishing villages on the Mediterranean coast to the high peaks of the Pyrenees.
Pyrenees is a mountain range between Spain and France. Reaching a height of 3,404 metres, it extends for about 491 km from the Cantabrian Mountains to the Côte Vermeille coast at the Mediterranean.
The Côte Vermeille is in the French Department of Pyrénées-Orientales, near the Spanish border, and stretches from Argelès-sur-Mer to the border village of Cerbère, including Collioure, Port-Vendres and Banyuls-sur-Mer.
Where did we stay
Our apartment, Résidence Odalys Le Lotus Blanc, is directly next to the beach of Le Barcarès. Most rooms have balcony with sea view. The apartment hotels has its restaurant on the ground floor and an outdoor swimming pool. Parking is for free.
Our suite has two rooms, one living room, a kitchen, a bathroom, a large balcony, and air-conditioning. Because the apartment rent is weekly, guests always arrive and leave on Saturdays.
Côte Vermeille and the Pyrenees Itinerary
This location, where the Mediterranean meets the Pyrenees, has fantastic scenery. Our Côte Vermeille and the Pyrenees Itinerary contains places from the three countries, France, Spain, and Andorra. We stayed in Le Barcares, the coastal area a little north of the Côte Vermeille coast. Since it is more than 1000 km from Germany to the hotel Résidence Odalys Le Lotus Blanc in Le Barcarès, France, we stopped at several charming places along the way.
Here is the overview of our Côte Vermeille and the Pyrenees Itinerary coast:
- 1st Day: Frankfurt to Lyon
- 2ed Day: Ochre Trail, Roussillon, and arrival at Le Barcarès
- 3rd Day: Le Barcarès
- 4th Day: Villefranche de Confluent, Mont-Louis La Cabanasse, Yellow Train Ride
- 5th Day: Collioure
- 6th Day: Carcassonne
- 7th Day: Llivia and Andorra
- 8th Day: Banyuls sur Mer, Port Vendre
- 9th Day: Le Barcarès, Gordes, Besançon
- 10th Day: Besancon to Frankfurt
The distance between Frankfurt and Lyon is about 700 km. It was a pure driving day. Because of the heavy traffic on the road, we arrived quite late and could not do any sightseeing.
1st Day: Frankfurt to Lyon
The first day was a pure driving day. Including two breaks, it took us nearly 10 hours to arrive in Lyon. Our hotel was not far from the major highway. Lyon is a city with many hotels.
2ed Day: Ochre Trail, Roussillon, and Le Barcarès
From Lyon to Roussillon, it took us three hours. Left very early on that day, we arrived at the Ochre Trail near Roussillon early in the morning. Then, we hiked the Ochre Trail and had a late lunch in Roussillon.
The village of Roussillon is small. We just stayed there for a short while and headed to our holiday destination, Résidence Odalys Le Lotus Blanc in Le Barcarès.
3rd Day: Le Barcarès
Le Barcarès has several kilometres of flat sandy beach. The beach is never crowded! This strip of land was unsettled until the 17th century. Later, it becomes a fishing village. In the 1960s, real estate developers developed the area and turned the coastal area into a renowned seaside resort.
Our apartment building is directly next to the beach. After two days of long driving, we relaxed on the beach for a day. Depend on the daily schedule, on the other days, we either went swimming in the morning or the early evening for two hours.
4th Day: Villefranche de Confluent, Mont-Louis La Cabanasse, Yellow Train Ride
The Yellow Train in French Pyrenees is a local commuter train running through the French Pyrenees’s national park from Villefranche-de-Conflent to Latour-de-Carol/Enveitg at the Spanish border. It runs on a 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) gauge railway.
We took the ride between the two main stops, Mont-Louis La Cabanasse and Villefranche de Confluent. Both places have UNESCO sites.
Villefranche-de-Conflent is also known as one of the most beautiful villages and most visited places in France. And at the heart of the Catalan Pyrenees, Mont-Louis-La-Cabanasse is the smallest hilltop town in French Pyrenees.
5th Day: Collioure
Collioure is only a few kilometres north of the Spanish border. Located on the Mediterranean coast of southern France, this small village is around a small port with narrow maze-like cobblestone streets. We strolled along the beachfront and tasted delicious cuisine.
6th Day: Carcassonne
Carcassonne has two parts, the new town on the left bank of the Aude and the medieval old town on the right. From far away, we could see the castle perched high on the hill. It looks like the one from a fairy tale.
The Medieval City has 52 towers, many wells that supplied the City, 3 km long ramparts, and other sites.
We entered the old town via the Narbonnaise gate. During the entire Pyrenees trip, this was the only place that we saw so many tourists and crowds. It was impossible to walk through at several spots. The old part of Carcassonne is on the UNESCO list and is the second most visited place in France.
7th Day: Andorra la Vella and Llivia
The mountain country Andorra can only be accessed via road. We left early enough to be in the capital of this country, Andorra la Verra. Andorra uses both Spanish and French postal systems. We mainly explored the historic centre.
About 1223 meters above sea level, Llivia is away from Spain, separated by a 2 km corridor, and is an enclave in France and has one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe. It connects to Puigcerdá, the nearest Spanish town by the N-154.
8th Day: Port Vendres and Banyuls sur Mer
Port Vendres is a typical Catalan fishing port with a famous fish market. Another famous monument is the Obelisk with four reliefs.
Banyuls sur Mer is not only a beach resort with a natural bay but also the hometown of the French sculptor Aristide Maillol. Artworks from Aristide Maillol are everywhere in the town, such as ‘the young lady reclining’ near the port.
Then, we stopped at winemaker Domaine Tambour to buy the local wines. Due to the limited production, we could only get the best wines locally.
9th Day: Gordes, Besancon
Having discovered mountain villages and beach towns, the charming holiday area and pleasant atmosphere leave countless things to do. We could easily stretch it out for two weeks of stay.
The first stop on the way to Germany was Gordes. The hilltop village of Gordes looks scenic in the distance. It faces Luberon and offers magnificent views of the surrounding countryside. And, its labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets and white stone houses are unique in the area.
It was late in the evening when we arrived in Besancon, near the border with Switzerland.
10th Day: Besançon to Frankfurt
On the last day of our Côte Vermeille and the Pyrenees Itinerary, we planned to visit the sprawling citadel Besançon perched on a hill. But we had to join a guided tour to see the place. Since we did not have the time for that, we left without sightseeing.
Besançon is also home to 3 museums. Its Cathedral has a unique 70-dial astronomical clock that indicates sunrise and sunset, eclipses, and tides in French ports. It is quite clear that we would see the city of Besançon again.
How to get there
The nearest airport to Côte Vermeille in France is Perpignan-Rivesaltes airport. From the airport, you can take either a taxi or the no. 7 bus to the centre of Perpignan, where you will find trains and buses at the SNCF station.
The other two airports are those of Girona and Barcelona, both in Spain.
You can rent a car at all three airports and drive to your final destination.