By Marcia Frost
Among the wine regions of France, Roussillon is often overlooked. It shouldn’t be as its unique location between the Pyrenees Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea offers breathtaking views and memorable wines throughout the area. It is also easy to get to from many European cities.
Things to Do
A stop at Olivier Bajard’s in Perpignan is a must. In addition to a selection of the most delectable pastries and chocolates you’ve ever seen, you can also learn about how Bajard does it all. Various classes are available at his International Pastry School, where you can learn how to make these goodies as well as how to pair them with wine.
Banyuls Sur Mer is a beautiful seaside town where you’ll want to soak in the sun, something which shines here all year round. Visit the aquarium and the aquatic museum before heading to nearby Collioure. In Collioure you can walk along the Mediterranean Sea or through the cobblestone streets.
If you have some time, stop by the Anchovy Factory, where they process (and sell) these fish caught in abundance at this shipping port.
If you are interested in shopping, Perpignan will fill your need as it offers everything from department stores to boutiques.
Wineries to Visit
Whether it’s white, red or rose, sweet or dry, muscat is the grape you’ll see in the majority of the wine from Roussillon. Vineyards are found in and around mountains, and near the sea as these hardy grapes grow in many types of soil.
The combination of mountains and vineyards in Banyuls des Apres provides incredible views. Here you will find Chateau Montana, which offers a wide selection of wines, and it also has a museum that shows the history of wines in this region.
Mas Amiel in Maury has a long heritage, but that hasn’t stopped it from taking a modern approach to winemaking. While at Domaine Piquemal, Pierre Piquemal continues the tradition his grandfather started, making unusual wines for the region, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Les Vignerons Catalans, the first cooperative in Pyrenees-Orientales, is a good place to visit for easy drinking whites, and Domaine La Casenove in Trouillas as a collection that includes the full-bodied Les Clares, a blend of grenache blanc and roussane.
Croix Milhas in Riversaltes is worth a trip, if only for their Muscat de Riversaltes, one of the very best, but If you are looking for the rare and unusual, you’ll certainly find it at Domaine Puig Parahy, where some of their aged muscat dates back to the 19th century.
Places to Eat & Stay
Hotel Mercure in Perpignan is in a central location for the entire region and within walking distance of shopping and restaurants.
In Perpignan, don’t miss Le Grain de Folie, where they have a way with fresh vegetables to produce delicious dishes. Also, Le Tire Bouchon is a casual atmosphere that offers the ultimate in family cooking, with a Catalan influence.
For the ultimate meal in Perpignan, you must go to Le Clos des Lys for the tasting menu and be sure to leave plenty of room for dessert, their specialty.
Within your visit to Roussillon, leave some time for Domaine de Nidoleres. This family run property is a good option for accommodation, food and wine.
The restaurant at Domaine Cazes in Riversaltes has a menu that changes constantly to utilize the best in local food. It was also the first bio-dynamic vineyard in France and you will definitely enjoy pairing their wines with your lunch.
In Collioure, Le Neptune is the place for lunch for great food with a view of the sights and the sea. Be sure to ask for a window seat so you can see it all.
You can fly to Perpignan in Roussillon directly from Orly airport in Paris, as well as other major points in Europe. Since the location is at the foot of the Pyernees Mountains, you might also consider taking Rail Europe to or from Barcelona. It’s a scenic ride that only takes about an hour and a half, and there is a newly renovated train station within Perpignan.