More interesting than the average holiday home, our house is a tall, 300 year old bel étage style town house slotted into the bend of a quiet side street. No two walls are at right angles, so modernising the interior was a challenge. What we haven’t done is change the character of the house. What we have done is provide modern facilities, make it really comfortable and give you a great base for your holiday.
Over the last few years we have substantially upgraded the property, refurbishing the Kitchen, Dining Room, Sitting Room and Main bedroom/suite. Most recently, we have restored the stucco ceilings on the bel étage.
We have finished converting what, 200 years ago, was the original kitchen into a lovely dayroom/bedroom looking on to the private courtyard. It retains original features, like the pink marble sink, and large chimney breast. It has a new en-suite WC. We've also put in a brand-new family bathroom with bath and shower. We've opened up the hall so there is space for luggage, bikes, walking equipment and everything else that struggles to find a home on holiday.
We have had some big parties of friends and family here - the house takes 10 easily (12 if you are good friends), but we have also been really comfy as a couple too. The bedrooms provide flexible sleeping accommodation with 7 beds (plus 1 pull-out bed and 2 sofa-beds). There are three modern en-suite shower rooms; a new, downstairs dayroom/bedroom looking onto the private courtyard with WC, and an additional separate bathroom with WC. There is a large first floor dining room and sitting rooms as well as a private courtyard and a large, south-facing terrace.
The Area: Prades is a pretty French market town of about 4000 people. The big and colourful market is on Tuesday mornings. The Romanesque church has the largest baroque Reredos in France. There are cafes, brasseries and restaurants as well as a good range of shops all around the town square. There are events and festivals throughout the year.
From Carcassonne to the Vermillion coast the Rousillion is packed with interest. Notable vineyards include Limoux, Rivesaltes and Banyuls.
Catalonia has been part of the Kingdom of Majorca, Aragon, France and Spain. Its history is visible in the fortified towns, coastal watchtowers and castles throughout the area. Prades is a centre of French Catalan heritage and culture. Spanish cellist Pablo Casals fled to Prades during the Spanish civil war, stayed and established the festival that now bears his name. The Catalan summer school takes over the town for two weeks in August, and there is dancing in the square every night. Local food is influenced too.
Things to do: There is so much to do in the region that all we can do is give you a taste. There are impressive hills, lakes and rivers around Prades with a wide variety sports and activities. In winter the nearest ski resorts are just 45km away.
Canet Plage is 30 minutes drive from the house. It has long, sandy Mediterranean beaches, restaurants and lively nightlife. You can get to Canet by public transport.
There is a variety of other beaches and coastal resorts close by including Sainte-Marie-Plage, Saint-Cyprien-Plage, Port Barcares, Argeles-sur-Mer and the pretty fishing town of Colluire.
The Petit Train Jaune, the most scenic SNCF service, climbs 1200m up the Tet valley from the walled town of Villefranche via some spectacular viaducts.
There are pretty towns and villages, castles, abbeys and lots of museums in the Conflent. Prades has an excellent, English speaking tourist office to help you plan your trips. Many of our guests keep coming back because there is so much to do and see.
Eating Out: As you would expect, good restaurants are plentiful and you will be hard pressed to eat badly. The set menus are good value and a way to sample local specialties. Try Escalivade-roast vegetable salad, Bourride-delicious fish soup, anything with anchovies, Paella, Boules de Picolat-Catalonian meatballs, and Crepes Forestiere-wild mushroom pancakes. The ice-cream liegeois are excellent and Creme Catalane is the local dessert.
The local wine, best ordered by the pichet, is excellent and cheap. The vin rose goes well with virtually everything. Other drinks popular with the locals are Banyuls and Rivesaltes as aperitifs and dessert wines, Kir, Sangria, and demi-peche lager with peach syrup.