Switzerland, with its many lakes and spectacular mountain panorama, not only has a lot to offer in terms of scenery. Its geographical location in Central Europe is the ideal starting point for travelers and explorers.
We take you on a journey back to a time when many things still seemed so self-evident to us, travelling freely being one of them.
Destionation: France. Or more precisely the region Pyréneés-Oriantales, wine-growing region and culinary underdog on the Spanish border. Our journey begins in Zurich, home of AMANA Beachwear. We hit the road via the city of Bern, on towards Lausanne and then Lyon, continuously making our way down south. We are dying to get there, because the thought of balmy summer evenings by the ocean, cool white wine and French cuisine gets us very excited. To save time we decide to skip major breaks and make our way through a few minor traffic jams further and further towards the coast. Exhausted but happy, after what feels like an eternity, the time has finally come: “You have reached your destination”.
At first glance, the campsite Le Roussillon in St. Cyprien doesn’t look very spectacular, and in fact it’s not. If you are looking for animation and highlife, you are probably better off at the neighbouring Camping le Soleil in Argèles-sur-Mer – five-star glamping*. Also nice, but different. This time we feel like staying on the quiet camp site in St. Cyprien, a small sleepy village 20 minutes by car south of Perpignan, the cultural center of the region. The beach can be reached by bike in 15 minutes, the nearest winery Domaine Saint Thomas in a little more than half an hour. Here you can fill your own glass bottle with wine directly from the huge wine tanks – fresh, delicious and an absolute bargain.
The region is characterised by its Catalan influence. Every village has its own weekly market, the restaurants and small bars offer culinary highlights of French and Catalan cuisine, each with their very own charm. One of our favorites for example, is the Menja Aqui, a small tapas bar on Racou beach, less than five minutes away from the harbour in Argèles-sur-Mer. At lunchtime, this place is usually packed and it can be a real challenge to get a table. Those who succeed are rewarded with delicious tapas and cool rosé.
The diversity of the region has something to offer for every taste. If you want to broaden your horizons culturally, Perpignan with its museums and history is the place to be. For those who prefer to spend sunny and hot days in a bikini on the beach, the region’s long sandy beaches offer a perfect place to relax and a dreamlike backdrop. But if you’d rather get to know the country and its people, hop in and join us on our road trip along the coast towards Spain.
It’s hot. Air conditioning? None existing. My grandfather’s old Opel Corsa has seen better days, but one thing has remained: He is still a faithful companion. The external navigation device is comparable to my performance in the classroom – always trying. What sounds like an absolute nightmare to most people, is like pure road trip romance for me. The first climbs and slopes are mastered, the radio blares “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. I’m definitely not sure of the lyrics, but that doesn’t dampen my singing ability or the mood. The road winds past vineyards and picturesque villages by the ocean, one more beautiful than the other. The traffic slow, almost trotting. Just the right pace for sightseeing and a talentless driver like myself. We would love to stop everywhere, eat ice cream, drink wine, stroll around.
We stop in Banyuls-sur-Mer. With about 4000 inhabitants, this small fishing village has obviously lost none of its original charm. Of course, numerous tourists increase the frequency, but the atmosphere is more than relaxed, and we run the risk of getting stuck, the local rosé tastes amazing…We continue along the picturesque coast and reach our destination after a while. In the meantime, we have crossed the Spanish border and arrive in the village of Cadaqués, a pure idyll.
Almost hidden away, the sleepy village lies down by the ocean and immediately captivates every one of its visitors. Children play in the bay and at the harbour, the elderly meet in the restaurants and bars for dinner or an aperitif. You can literally feel the joie de vivre of the locals, who don’t seem to mind the tourists and go about their daily lives with a serenity that is enviable. Impressed by the scenery, we decide to spend the night in Cadaqués. It will be one of those longed-for summer nights that one may remember for a long time.
The next day we return to St. Cyprien, a day by the beach is just what we need. We could go on with more experiences and recommendations around the Pyréneés-Oriantales region, but sometimes less is more. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the most exciting thing about travelling is often the unknown. So, in the end, we are left with just one last recommendation: Get in your car, hit the road, discover.
*glamping, short for glamorous camping