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The Paradise of the Pyrénées

The town of Vernet-les-Bains, in the Catalan south of France, is such a beautiful place with so many natural advantages that it is known as "The Paradise of the Pyrénées". It is an old Roman spa town, and the thermal waters are said to be a cure for rheumatic ailments, as well as generally beneficial to health.

Beautiful Catalan town

Vernet-les-Bains is a beautiful town, with colourful houses lining the steeply rising narrow streets. The town lies close to the borders of both Spain and Andorra, and as well as the wonderful shopping and sightseeing opportunities this affords, there is also an intriguing additional cultural influence, as the area is staunchly Catalan.

Under Catalan skies

On your first visit to this region you cannot fail to notice that there is something distinctively different about the culture. Here you are in France, certainly, but you are also in Catalonia, and everything conspires to make this a fact you will not forget. The skies are a deep azure blue (almost all of the time!) and the region is blessed with an unusually high sunshine record. Catalan colours abound, with yellow and red flags in evidence, and car stickers proudly displaying the Catalan Donkey, the symbol of the area, in their rear windows.

Wining and dining…

The region is famous for its gastronomy, and is also a major wine producing centre. Vernet-les-Bains is a good place to sample Catalan cuisine, as there are some excellent restaurants here, and the food is of a high standard. Expect to find a menu including such delights as duck served with cherries, chicken with spiced figs, prawns sizzled with garlic and chillies and the defining dessert of this region, Crema Catalana. Wash it all down with a local Roussillon Villages wine, and enjoy an experience guaranteed to delight!

Amenities on offer

The village offers most amenities, with shops, a supermarket, a doctors and banking facilities, but if you wish to shop in a larger place the department's principal city of Perpignan is not far away.

What to do in Vernet-les-Bains

Although only a relatively small town (though bear in mind numbers swell to some 8,000 in summer), Vernet-les-Bains offers a great choice of things to do and see. There is a casino and a nightclub, for those who enjoy late night entertainment and have some euros to burn, and for those who take pleasure in the glories of nature there is an important Arboretum, which has no less than 1,500 species of tree to be seen. Historians will enjoy visiting the Abbaye de Saint Martin de Canigou, which is a very beautiful eleventh century abbey, and there is also a geological museum with an exceptional collection of rocks, minerals, fossils and crystals.

A great choice of sports

Vernet-les-Bains offers a great choice of sports, as its geographical location allows easy access to both the Mediterranean Sea, and also to the mountains of the eastern Pyrénées. Thus there is plenty to do in both winter and summer, with golf, swimming, fishing, horse-riding, walking, skiing, snowboarding, kayaking and canyoning all possible… if you are brave enough!

How to get there

To reach Vernet-les-Bains from the UK, you can take a direct flight to Perpignan airport with Ryanair, bmibaby or flybe. There are other airports not too far away too, and these include Carcassonne (Ryanair) and Toulouse (bmibaby, British Airways, easyJet, flybe and bmi). Train travel is also possible, as there is a connecting train from Perpignan to Villefranche le Conflent, which is only a short distance form Vernet-les-Bains. Travelling by road you need to take the autoroute A9 south, exiting onto the N116 in the direction of Andorra. The exit marked Villefranche de Conflent is the exit you require.

Property prices and availability in and around Vernet-les-Bains

Property in the Roussillon area of the south of France tends to be quite expensive, as the area has so many natural benefits that have made it popular with second home seekers, and this keeps prices high. It does, however, still compare favourably with the Côte d'Azur, and with much of Provence, so don't dismiss it as prohibitively expensive. There are many different types of property available here, with new build villas sitting alongside colourful old town houses, and there is still an occasional chance to buy a beautiful wine domain house in the vineyards!

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Vernet-les-Bains AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Vernet-les-Bains?

Vernet-les-Bains is found in the far south of France in the eastern Pyrénées, slightly to the south of the centre of Pyrénées-Orientales department, near the borders of Andorra and Spain.

Vernet-les-Bains Property Map


Languedoc-Roussillon Guide

Languedoc-Roussillon Property Map


Pyrénées-Orientales Guide

  Pyrénées-Orientales Map

Population: 1,500

Access: By air: Fly to Perpignan with a choice of carriers. By rail: Take a train to Perpignan, then a connecting train to Villefranche le Conflent. By road: From the A9 motorway take the N116 towards Andorra, leaving at the Villefranche le Conflent exit.

Economy: The economy is based mainly on thermal tourism.

Interesting fact: The town is so lovely it is nicknamed "The paradise of the Pyrénées".

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