A of the most southerly Languedoc-Roussillon valleys
The Tech and Tet Valleys, both located in the Pyrenees-Orientales and named after the rivers running through them, are two of the southernmost valleys in France. Both are popular areas with buyers looking to relocate in this beautiful area of France as well as those looking for second homes, but how to choose where to focus your search?
Here is a comparison of the two valleys to help:
|Tech Valley||Tet Valley|
|Main town||Ceret is an exceptionally pretty town with a charming and quintessentially French square, and cobbled streets in the centre. Fanning out from this in the shade of enormous plane trees are streets with a mix of one-off shops, cafés and restaurants. The town is a bit of a tourist hot spot, attracting not only British visitors but also German, Dutch, Belgian and Scandinavians. The town has a wonderful Saturday market with everything from fruit and veg and local cheeses to sewing accoutrements.||Prades is more of a Catalan working town than Céret. While attractive, it is not as picture-postcard pretty, some might say not as twee. Certainly you’ll hear fewer English voices and far more French and Catalans in the market which takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays. It’s big attraction is that it is halfway between the Mediterranean Coast and the Pyreneen ski resorts, with both accessible within an hour.|
|Airports||Ceret is nearer to all the nearest airports, distances and driving times as follows:
Perpignan 39 km/34 mins
Gerona 92km/1 hour 6 mins
Carcassonne 150 km/1 hour 37 mins
Toulouse 245 km /2 hours 16 mins
|Although slightly further away, there are plenty of airports within easy reach:
Perpignan 51km/47 mins
Gerona 146km/1 hour 46 mins
Carcassonne 167 km/1 hour 45 mins
Toulouse 261 km/2hours 34 mins
|Access||The single lane carriageway which runs west from Le Boulou and passes through St Jean, Ceret, Amelie and Arles sur Tech is in good condition. Once west of Arles sur Tech it winds its way to Prats de Mollo – not ideal for those who suffer from car sickness, and you certainly don’t want to get stuck behind a tractor.||Access along this valley is much better with a dual carriageway from Perpignan to Bouleternere which narrows to one lane each way thereafter and passes through Marquixanes and skirts the edge of Vinca. A bigger and better road bypassing the villages and making access to the ski resorts quicker is in the pipeline.|
|Tech Valley||Tet Valley|
|Local Events||Ceret de Toros – this is a riotous festival which takes place over the Bastille Day weekend, turning the usually sedate town of Ceret into a seething mass of merrymakers hell bent on partying hard until the early hours. The streets are lined with makeshift bars and there is live music. It’s pretty easy to ignore the bullfighting although this is the raison d’être of the festival with bullfights and a rather horrific running of the bulls in which the local hotshot young males pit themselves somewhat unfairly against young bulls whose horns have been rendered harmless.
Other events to look out for are the Fete des Cerises, also in Ceret, the Fete de l’Ours in Prats de Mollo and the Fete Medieval in Arles sur Tech.
|Pablo Casals Festival – rather more genteel, this highly respected chamber music festival takes place every summer in the gorgeous abbey at Saint-Michel de Cuixa and other churches in and around Prades. Named after a famous cellist, the festival attracts world class musicians performing recitals from the big guns such as Bach, Mozart and Brahms. Also worth a look are the Fete des Geants and the truffle festival, both in Villefranche de Conflent, and Vernet les Bain’s Canigou Race.|
|Culture||Museum of Modern Art – for a small town, Ceret’s museum boasts some pretty impressive names with exhibits from a wide range of artists including Picasso and Dalí, who both spent time in the town. Picasso is said to have produced more than 300 works here during stays between 1911 and 1913.||Prades has its own museum dedicated to Pablo Casals. In the summer free music evenings are held at the Serrabone Priory. Prades is also located on the pilgrim route – the “Camino de Santiago”.|
|Tech Valley||Tet Valley|
|Lakes||Swimmers and fishermen, as well as golfers, will be attracted to Saint Jean Pla de Corts, where there are two neighbouring lakes with a gorgeous mountain backdrop, one for fishing and one for swimming where you can also hire pedaloes. The restaurant is good for alfresco meals in the summer and there is entertainment for the children too with an adventure playground, zip line and trampolines. td>||In the Tet Valley, the lake at Vinca offers similar facilities. The backdrop is possibly not quite as stunning but there are watersports on offer (sailing and windsurfing), a lifeguard in July and August, a snack bar and free parking. 5 minutes away in Marquixanes, there is an outdoor pursuits centre, offering white water rafting, canyonning and ‘hydrospeed’.|
|Beaches||The closest beach to this valley is directly east at Argeles sur Mer. These are the last sandy beaches of this stretch of Mediterranean coast before you reach Spain. The wide, sandy beach is lined by a promenade and low level construction, which to my eyes makes it more attractive than the resorts further north.||Canet Plage is about 15 minutes drive east of Perpignan via a dual carriageway. The beach is wide and long with fine sand. It’s great for children with summer beach bars and entertainments along the sea front including a carousel very popular with my 3 year old. This is not the prettiest of resorts with some rather ugly seventies style apartment blocks marring the sea front. A few of the traditional Canetoise houses survive amongst them, offering a taste of what the resort might have looked like in times gone by.|
|Skiing||The nearest in terms of distance is actually the little known resort of Vallter 2000 close to the village of Setcases in Spain. The easternmost resort in Catalonia is popular with Barcelona’s snow fans, although not big with just 8 lifts. It’s 83km from Ceret. Font Romeu and Les Angles are also easily accessible, although it’s quicker to go via Perpignan and Prades than to go over the mountains.||The resorts of Font Romeu and Les Angles are lively and popular with both weekend and longer stay crowds. Both are under an hour’s drive away from Prades with skiing for all levels. For serious skiiers, the Les Neiges Catalanes Pass is valid at these and neighbouring resorts Err Puigmal, Eyne, Formigueres, Pyrenées 2000, St Pierre del Forcats and Porte Puymorens. For families, I particularly recommend the small resort of La Quillane – a great introduction to the sport for even the tiniest of skiers with a great nursery slope and very family-friendly restaurant.|
|Golf||Would-be Woods’s can hone their skills at the challenging 18-hole course at Falgos in the village of Saint Laurent de Cerdans. My husband lost 13 balls during his first round here due to the precipitous nature of the terrain either side of the fairways (or so he claimed!). A new course is planned between Saint Jean Pla de Corts and Maureillas. With work supposedly starting this year, this large development will have 27 holes as well as a housing development with apartments and villas for sale and two large hotels. The 27 hole course at St Cyprien, by the coast, is 35 minutes from Ceret.||The Tet Valley is less attractive to the serious golfer. There is an existing 9 hole course at Font Romeu which is a par 34 at an altitude of 2,348m. I have heard rumours about a course to be developed near Prades but have not found any official word on this. This was previously a 9 hole course and word has it that another 9 holes are to be added along with a hotel. The 27 hole course at St Cyprien, by the coast, is 54 minutes from Prades.|
|Tech Valley||Tet Valley|
|Architecture||In general, the Pyrenees-Orientales is rich in Romanesque architecture (a style which emerged in the 10th century). The best example of this in the Tech valley is the abbey at Arles sur Tech.||More Romanesque architecture at the stunning Serrabone Priory, the abbey at St Martin de Canigou and the working 10th century abbey at St Michel de Cuixa. Villefranche de Conflent is a well preserved medieval walled village which is currently being considered for Unesco status.|
|Plus Beaux Villages||There are pretty towns here but none officially recognised as being among the ‘Plus beaux villages de la France’. The association judges villages on size, protected sites and monuments and “architectural, urban and environmental quality”.||It’s 5-0 to the Tet Valley for this one with the villages of Eus, Castelnou, Mosset. Villefranche de Conflent and Evol all being officially recognised.|
|Spa Towns||We’re talking health spas here where individuals take the waters, as prescribed by a doctor. Amelie les Bains is a thriving spa town which has recently taken steps to modernise its rather fusty image. Reminiscent of an alpine town, and with the River Tech running through it, the spa ensures that it remains busy most of the year.||The pretty town of Vernet les Bains sits at the foot of the mighty Mount Canigou in a truly stunning location. The spa treats respiratory and rheumatic conditions and was fêted by none other than Rudyard Kipling who wrote a short story called Why Snow Falls at Vernet which playfully makes fun of the English obsession with talking about the weather. The spa is open from March to November.|
|Property||The hotspot here is Ceret, where prices and demand are high, and this has had an effect on neighbouring villages such as Maureillas and St Jean Pla de Corts. More affordable are the towns and villages further inland. There are bargains to be had in Amelie les Bains with a wealth of apartments on offer with rental potential from spa visitors as well as holidaymakers.||Prices in general in this valley tend to be slightly lower so if your budget is tight, you may be better looking here. There is a wealth of pretty villages to choose from and the surrounding countryside is stunning. If you’re looking for a larger town, Thuir and Ille sur Tet are good-sized market towns with thriving local communities.|
This article was provided by Louise Sayers from Med and Mountain – a professional, family-run company offering property for sale and relocation services in the Pyrenees-Orientales. Please contact us for more information on property in the Tech and Tet Valleys, and to find out more about our free search service.
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