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Rivesaltes's distinct character

The town of Rivesaltes lies just north of Perpignan in the far south of France, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves in the foothills of the Fenouilledes Mountains. And being located firmly in Catalan territory, Rivesaltes has a very distinct character which combines Spanish elements with French characteristics.

Catalan to the core

The inhabitants consider themselves French first, certainly, but next they feel themselves to be Catalan, and it is clear from the moment you set foot in Rivesaltes that this is an important distinction. The yellow and red Catalan flag flies from many houses and offices, and the Catalan donkey symbol adorns the rear windows of many of the cars. The Catalan people are proud of their heritage, and the language is still spoken in parts of the town today.

Modern town

Despite the importance of its ancient heritage, however, Rivesaltes is, in essence, quite a modern town in outlook. Busy and bustling, with many newer buildings in Mediterranean colours, there is a modern buzz to life in Rivesaltes which is not unlike a less frenetic version of its larger neighbour, Perpignan.

About town

Rivesaltes has a lively shopping centre, and most things can be purchased here, although if you really want a slice of big city life you should head for nearby Perpignan. Everyday life is well catered for here in town, however, and Rivesaltes has no shortage of good restaurants to enjoy. Try the seafood, as Rivesaltes is not far from the coast and the Catalan cuisine suggests some superb sizzling prawn dishes, amongst others!

Local colour

For a real slice of local colour, try being in town on August 3rd, when the town centre is closed to traffic for the day, and a huge model of a dragon is paraded through the streets before being ceremonially "killed" on the banks of the River Agly. This represents the legend of the Babau, the monster which is said to have terrorised the town of Rivesaltes during the Middle Ages… this is payback!

Vineyards and olive groves

If you take a look at the landscapes which surround Rivesaltes you will be left in no doubt as to what makes the town tick: almost as far as the eye can see the land is laid out to vineyards and olive groves. This very Mediterranean terrain is remarkably fertile, and the wines of Rivesaltes are particularly successful and well known. It is virtually impossible to visit the area without being offered a glass of the sweet wine of "Muscat", which bears the name of Rivesaltes on the label.

Adventures R Us!

If there were a natural theme park known as "Adventures R Us" it would probably be situated here, near Rivesaltes. This is because Rivesaltes lies in the foothills of the Fenouilledes, the mountains which sport the most spectacular gorges and canyons of the area. These afford excellent opportunities for adventure sports such as white water rafting, canyoning, caving, hydro speed (where you brave the rapids with nothing but a small, pointed float for support!) and rock climbing.

How to get there

The best way to get to Rivesaltes is probably to take a Ryanair, bmibaby or flybe flight to Perpignan airport. And although slightly further away, you could also fly to Carcassonne (Ryanair) or Girona. Train travel is also possible, with Perpignan station having a daily high speed train service to Paris. If travelling by road you will find the town not far from the A9 motorway.

Property prices and availability in and around Rivesaltes

Property in this area is usually fairly expensive as it is close to the Mediterranean Sea, and that always adds a premium! However, Rivesaltes does sometimes offer property bargains, and it is important to act quickly on these when they come along. There is an excellent rental potential for property in or near to the town, as there is a good holiday market to tap into.

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Rivesaltes AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Rivesaltes?

Rivesaltes is found in the Catalan region of southern France, in the north-east of the Pyrénées-Orientales department, close to this department's borders with both Aude and Spain.

Rivesaltes Property Map


Languedoc-Roussillon Guide

Languedoc-Roussillon Property Map


Pyrénées-Orientales Guide

  Pyrénées-Orientales Map

Population: 7,940

Access: By air: The nearest airport is that of Perpignan, but it is also feasible to fly to Carcassonne or to Girona. By rail: You can travel by TGV to Nîmes, Montpellier or Toulouse, catching a connecting local train to Perpignan.

Economy: The economy revolves almost totally around wine production, particularly the production of sweet aperitif/dessert wines. There are also some olive groves producing oil.

Interesting fact: The name "Rivesaltes" means "high river banks" in Catalan. Catalan is the language of the region of south-western France and north-eastern Spain in which Rivesaltes sits.

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