On the way to our next overnight stop we made a short detour to Castelnou a small village southwest of Perpignan. It is another of the Beaux Village of France but in all honesty, while it was pretty there is nothing there but a castle and even the artisan shops were closed. Whether that was because it had turned cold AGAIN or whether because it is close to the Spanish boarder and they take siestas until late afternoon I don´t know but after 15 minutes and a visit to the loo we set off for Le Boulou.
We had no idea what to expect from the town, as all we did was look at the map and say that would be a good resting place. As it turned out it was a very friendly town. Our hotel was in a one-way street but there was a car park directly opposite. After a bit of confusion entering our car registration and not getting a ticket an old man approached us. It is at times like this we are reminded how poor our French is. We suddenly realised that he was telling us to ignore the machine it was not working had not worked for the past 12 months and despite the graphic signs, we would not be towed away. When we spoke to the owner of our hotel, he also confirmed this was the case and we hadn´t just been taken as mugs by the village idiot. Our room was incredibly cheap and although basic, it was clean, the bed comfortable and the water hot even if the loo and hand basin were behind a partial glass wall and the shower was next door.
We strolled around town, admired the sculptures and the trompe l’oeil on several houses, then had dinner in the typical French restaurant next door to the hotel .
The following morning was Thursday and Thursday in Le Boulou means market day. This set up directly below our bedroom window, fortunately the setting up didn´t start until 9.00am we were wide awake and watching as the stallholders brought out their produce. As with most towns in France the weekly market is brimming with fresh local produce and bursting with colour. With so much lovely fruit and veg around, it made my stomach rumble just looking at it – how could we resist another picnic lunch. So laden with fresh cheese, olives, tomatoes and peaches for pudding we set of for the Côte Vermeille near the border with Spain.