Argelès Sur Mer local area and attractions
20 Feb 2020 14:08 by Amy Watts
Argelès-sur-Mer is a summer paradise on the southern coast of France, approaching the border with Spain. It is famous for Argelès extensive European blue flag sandy beach, the long sweeping bay that looks out onto the Pyrenees and its seafront promenade.
Argelès town is located 2 km inland from Argelès beach and well worth a visit. A Catalan-style town which is home to 14th century Notre-Dame del Prat Church and a pretty old town boasting an interesting history. Argeles-sur-Mer is a major Mediterranean resort, it has excellent tourist facilities, a big harbour area and some excellent restaurants and shops.
There are some wonderful places to visit in and around Argelès Sur Mer. We have gathered together a few suggestions that we think are worth the visit.
Wildlife and nature
Parc de Valmy
Set at the foot of the Albères Mountains Parc de Valmy is a botanical sanctuary built in the 19th century surrounding the Château Valmy. The Château Valmy is privately owned, but the gardens are open for everyone to enjoy. There are designated nature trails where you can discover unique Mediterranean wildlife and flora and from the vantage point, there are beautiful views over the town, beach, and the whole coastline. If you are up for a more vigorous workout, you can follow the marked path from the high walls of the Château up to the Tower of Massane. The 13th century watchtower is testament to Argelès’ long history. The 6 hectare park is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the beachfront offering reprieve from the summer heat with dedicated picnic areas, a children's playground and waterfalls.
Réserve Naturelle Nationale du Mas-Larrieu
Situated to the north of Argelès beach, Mas Larrieu Natural Reserve is home to grey herons, common black-headed gulls, European bee-eaters and gulls. A wild nature reserve interspersed with scattered woods and reed beds bordering the branches of the Tech River.
Local towns and coastline
Côte Vermeille is the coastline stretching from Argelès-sur-Mer to the border village of Cerbère. The towns of Collioure, Port-Vendres and Banyuls-sur-Mer are nested along a 20 km stretch of beaches, small bays, creeks and coves.
Côte Vermeille is famous for having inspired artists, the likes of Picasso, Matisse, and Derain included, and it is not difficult to see why. Walking along the beautiful Pyrenees-Orientales coast, one passes through verdant forest reserves, vineyards serving the sweetest wine, and quaint fishing ports unsullied by time. Where the craggy shore meets the sea, coves and cliffs offering a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean sea and the surrounding towns.
A full hike along Côte Vermeille can take up to 2 days. From Argelès-sur-Mer however, you can opt for a more manageable 1.5-hour walk to the little town of Collioure. With a waterfront medieval castle, a pink church topped by a lighthouse bell tower, and stone-paved roads linking the main thoroughfares, stepping into Collioure feels just as if you have fallen back in time.
An idyllic little town set into the rocky coastline, nestling in an unspoilt protected environment. Overlooked by the castle ‘Castrum Caucoliber’ this charming little cove offers all manner of quirky boutiques shops, restaurants, cafes and a couple of fantastic little beaches. There are often performances in the town square and long boat races out in the bay. Collioure is a 10 minutes’drive from Argelès.
Banyuls sur Mer
Carrying on past Collioure, along the Route du Vin, you soon end up at the home of the famous fortified wine ‘Banyuls’. The calm horseshoe bay has many cafes and restaurant along the seafront as well as some lovely little back streets and the local church. The real treasure is the abundance of wine caves all offering numerous different variations of Banyuls and wine for you to taste.
This fortified city is a World Heritage Site and houses some truly wonderful architecture with the finest remains of medieval fortifications in Europe. At the beginning of its history, Carcassonne was a Gaulish settlement, then in the 3rd century, the Romans transformed it into a fortified town. There is now an assortment of shops and eateries and regular markets within the walled area of the city. The city is an hour and a half via the motorways or you can choose to head through the mountains and soak up the magnificent views of the Pyrenees.
When you need a break from the sun and sand, venture into the market in the old town to soak up some of the village atmospheres. The market on Place de la République happens all year round, every Wednesday and Sunday. Beneath the rows of colourful buildings, you are likely to find equally colourful characters selling locally grown and caught produce. From wine to cheese, honey to charcuterie, you can almost start a party there and then!
In the summer, the calendar expands to include several more markets. Night markets between the months of July and September are especially popular for visitors looking for handmade crafts, such as jewellery, art deco objects, and household wares.
Theme parks and water activity parks
Luna Park is Argelès-sur-Mer’s largest amusement centre with more than 40 attractions to choose from. Open from 8.30 pm Luna park offers a carnival atmosphere and an array of dizzying rides, game stands and is a great fun evening for the whole family. Get a spectacular view of the port from the ferris wheel, drink up the tantalizing mix of sweet and savoury smells wafting from every corner, and win yourself a fluffy souvenir from the tricky ring toss. A dazzling display of fireworks rounds off the perfect evening out by the beach.
TSJ Wake Park
Located between Perpignan and the Spanish border (approximately 20 minutes from Argeles-sur-Mer), this park offers water ski, monoski, wakeboard, wakeskate and kneeboard activities. The course has 5 towers joined by 600m of cable, creating 30km of fun. A smaller course has 100m of cable, perfect for beginners.
In this same nature reserve, there are kayaks and pedalos for hire, a water park with blow up inflatables, and a high ropes course.
Aquatic Park Aqualand
Aquatic Park waterpark is in Saint Cyprien; the next town north of Argelès. It is part of the largest waterpark chain in Europe and houses 15 attractions and three different levels, all dedicated to water recreation. Slides, wave pools, whirlpools, rafting, an aquatic bobsleigh, ultra-fast descents, and Europe’s first ‘musical slide’ make for an adrenaline-packed day out.
Canyoning Park (Argeles Adventure, Argeles-sur-Mer)
This unique water park in Argeles-sur-Mer enables you to enjoy all the thrills of a natural canyon in a secure and controlled artificial environment. Your qualified instructor will guide you through the canyon for an adventure you will never forget. There are 14 pools to go through in total including jumps from 3 to 9 metres, rock slides, abseils under waterfalls, rope ladders and the grand finale of a 100m zip line into the final pool. This one of a kind canyoning park allows you to experience so much more than you would normally in uncontrolled conditions and without the inherent risk. Not available to children under 10 years of age.
Drop-In Water Jump Park (Argeles Adventure, Argeles-sur-Mer)
Dominate gravity in 2020 by catapulting yourself on the highest Drop-In Park located just a few dozen meters from the beach. Climb up to 16 metres high to take a flight on some of the biggest tracks ever made in Europe!
High Ropes (Argeles Adventure, Argeles-sur-Mer)
This high wire forest adventure park is open to children from the age of 2. You can enjoy 120 sections of bridges, swings, zip lines and Tarzan jumps, from 2 metres to 12 metres (approx. 6 feet to 40 feet) off the ground. Surrounded by lush forest there is a restaurant area, or an outside picnic area if you would prefer to bring your own lunch.
These are just a few of our recommended attractions and there are many more to discover. Some form part of our programme and others are options for you and your family should you want to opt-out from the activities from time to time or even extend your stay in the region after your holiday with us.