A fairy-tale village, officially one the most beautiful in France. Castelnou is located in the Aspres, foothills of the Pyrenees, with majestic Canigou lowering in the background. Large parts of this village feel as though time has stood still as the ancient streets and houses are still miraculously intact, even after hundreds of years.

The village is grouped around the chateau, an important fortification that was fought over by the kings of Majorca and Aragon and over a long period, it changed hands more than once. Sadly, a fire in 1981 ravaged the chateau but it has since been restored to its former glory.

Like many pretty and popular viilages, Castelnou has a resident population of artists and artisans, many of whom have a shop or a workshop open for viewing. We especially liked Fanny Gatau's lampshade shop, 'Création d'Abat-Jours', where she takes old linen and hand-embroiders it in delicate pastel tones into shades of all shapes and sizes.

The kids will love Le Burriquito where you can hire out donkeys to ride by the hour or the day. Who can resist these curious, intelligent, long-eared friends?

Castelnou is within easy reach from Perpignan via Thuir.

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