Southern France’s Pyrènèes-Orientales department is home to one of the most beautiful French villages- Castelnou. The village from medieval times has managed to steer clear of modernity and retains its old-world beauty and charm. Dominated by a castle, Castelnou is a fortified village consisting of picturesque little streets and narrow alleyways dotted by stone houses, towers, and ramparts, surrounded by stunning natural beauty. If you plan a vacation south of France, visit this village for a breathtaking experience.
How To Get There
The easiest and most convenient way for tourists to reach Castelnou is to fly to the Perpignan airport from Paris, then car rental to the village. The journey takes around two hours. Alternatively, you can take a train to Perpignan from Paris Gare De Lyon, followed by a taxi hire to reach Castelnou.
History & Culture
Castelnou dates back to the 10th century when the iconic castle was built. The village was abandoned between the 17th and 19th centuries, and in time, only its ruins remained. However, significant therapeutic efforts in the 20th century, which concentrated on bringing back the castle to its former glory, resulted in the village being redeveloped. Culturally, the village has much in common with other rural areas of southern France. The locals living in the region are incredibly simple and hospitable.
Top Things To Do
- Explore the Castelnou castle: The Castelnou castle is one of the most historical places to see in France. The hilltop castle was built in the 10th century. Renovation and restoration have resulted in the court being modernized. Its pentagon shape and thick ramparts are pretty fascinating to gaze at.
- Visit the Santa Maria del Mercadal Church: The 12th-century Romanesque church has undergone numerous renovations. The additions to the original monument include the bell tower and the sacristy. Inside the church, you can behold numerous Romanesque paintings and Baroque-style furniture. Santa Maria del Mercadal Church is a must-visit in Castelnou, France.
Activities To Try
- Participate in the patron festivals: Castelnou’s patron festivals, in February and August, make the village come to life.
- Enjoy classical music: The church hosts the Mercadeles in July and August. Numerous concerts are organized – ideal for listening to the region’s classical music.
Eat And Drink
Castelnou doesn’t have any elaborate restaurants or bars. Tourists must travel nearby places such as Tressere and Thuir to enjoy meals and drinks.
Being a small village with barely any modern elements, there are no hotels or Bed and breakfast options in Castelnou. However, you will find some in nearby places like Montauriol and Thuir.
Best Time To Visit
The ideal time to visit Castelnou is from May – October when the weather is pleasant. The winter months in the village are cold.
Due to the village’s narrow streets and alleys, exploring it on foot is possible.