"I came here in search of nothing more than a little sunshine. But I found Canigou, whom I discovered to be a magician among mountains, and I submitted myself to his power… I watch him with wonder and delight. Nothing that he could do or give birth to would now surprise me, whether I met Don Quixote himself riding in from the Spanish side, or all the chivalry of ancient France watering their horses at his streams, or saw (which each twilight seems quite possible) gnomes and kobbolds swarming out of the mines and tunnels of his flanks.“
Nestling on the slopes of the majestic Canigou, Vernet-les-Bains has been a popular tourist destination since the nineteenth century. The good climate, clean air, year round sunshine, breathtaking countryside and traditional picturesque architecture combine to make it the perfect holiday destination for those who enjoy the great outdoors. In winter, snow is possible but mostly falls higher up on the surrounding mountains. Days are generally milder and lighter than in the UK, though the temperature can tumble at night. In summer, it can be hot with temperatures above 30C. The trick if you find it a bit too warm is to relax in the afternoon and enjoy the balmy evenings.
Vernet became the first “Village *Arboretum” in France with over 2,000 identified and listed trees throughout the town.
The town is famous for its Thermal Spa,. Specialising in the treatment of rheumatic and bronco-pulmonary conditions, the Spas of Vernet-les-Bains offer an ideal space for well-being and relaxation, as well as general spa therapies.
The Hotel du Portugal and Casino are beautiful reminders of the towns famed Belle Époque era. Take a step further back in time with a wander around the old town with its traditional stone build houses and picturesque cobbled streets overlooked by the castle tower and the Church of St Saturnin.
There are a number of bars and restaurants throughout the town, while the main square plays host to a market (Thursday and Saturday), and various events through the tourist season.
The town has tennis courts, childrens play areas, and a swimming pool. There are three campsites and numerous gîtes. For those wishing to explore the area on horseback the local equestrain centre Ecurie Mas Rabat offer walks, treks and lessons for all ages and abilities.
There are lots of marked walks and cycling routes for all abilities in and around the town. Electric bike hire is available. It's possible to walk all the way to the top of the Canigou, but it's a challenge which should not be underestimated, involving over 7000 ft of ascent. It's under snow for about half the year, placing it off limits for those without the expertside and equipment. In summer, be prepared to start early to avoid the heat, and carry lots of water. Maps and routes can be downloaded free of charge from the Tourist Office website : www.tourism-canigo.com
Have Fun !