At the end of June myself and Jamie packed our bags and headed off to the South of France for one week. Now going to France wouldn’t have usually been on our holiday list however as it was Jamie’s 30th birthday he decided that he wanted to do something adventurous and fun. We found a man-made canyoning park in the coastal town of Argeles Sur Mer and after watching videos we knew we had to visit and plan our holiday around this activity.
Argeles Sur Mer and its surrounding areas are predominately aimed at families and campers, especially French holiday makers. There is a complete variety of activities and things to do and see there and as it is only a couple of hours away from the Spanish border you can drive over and take a trip of Madrid or Barcelona.
We chose to swap the hotel for a chalet at a campsite and decided to have a little roadtrip from the airport (Toulouse) to Port Barcares in which are campsite was located. The journey only took two hours and it was strange for Jamie having to drive on the opposite side of the road! Unfortunately I couldn’t hire the car as I’m only 23 and you needed to be 25 or over. To the perfectly honest I was actually quite pleased I didn’t have to drive because I’m sure I would of been a nervous wreck!
Our campsite had a pool and a bar area and was connected to its partnering campsite next door. We actually preferred the pool next door so we swam and sunbathed next door. The weather itself for the week wasn’t great, we did have a 30 degree forecast the day before we left but upon our arrival the stormy weather started and it seemed to hang around for the rest of the week. There were hours of blazing hot sunshine but again it was rather unpredictable.
The beach in Argeles Sur Mer is lovely and really sandy. We managed to have a little dip in the cool sea on a few of the days during our stay and while we were in the town we chose to have dinner at a lovely seafood restaurant called Les Planches. We both had a seafood platter with rice and vegetables and it was really delicious!
Halfway through our week we decided to head to the Canyoning park and have an exciting few hours. Canyoning involves jumping off rocks and sliding down mountain streams into pools of water. There is also an abseiling element involved as well. The great thing about the Argeles Adventure Park is that it is all man-made, so the chances of you hurting yourself when jumping in is very slim, plus the water is heated! Unfortunately we couldn’t take any pictures of us having a good time but I do recommend going canyoning if you haven’t been before! The highest we got to jump off was 8 meters and our highest abseil down a waterfall was 12 meters both pretty high! You are kitted out with helmets and wet-suits though as well.
Waking up early while on vacation is something that I love to do because I love making the most of a day. Jamie and I would often make breakfast or visit the smoothie bars to give us a boost early in the mornings! The Argeles beachfront town had lots of little shops, bars , cafes and plenty of stands where you could get ice cream or a crepe! I must say the crepes were fantastic.
The end of the week quickly approached and we really wanted to drive to the city of Perpignan and see some history and architecture but not before making another watersports stop at the Drop-In park. Filled with huge slides and big pools again this was a case of getting kitted up and sliding in! The staff allowed you to try back flips, front flips and somersaults.
After having plenty of excitement I kept my camera at the ready and we were both ready to explore Perpignan. Perpignan is the capital of the Pyrenees-Orientales in southern France. It has beautiful castles, a gorgeous cathedral and plenty of quirky and unique architecture.
One thing I did notice is that the parks and public spaces in Perpignan are so beautiful and well kept. The small backstreets were beautiful and it was a cross between being in Paris and Spain.
While walking around I told Jamie I wanted to find some more narrow backstreets, we went into the tourist office to ask if there was any other areas in the city we hadn’t really explored yet, they recommend that we head down to the ‘Gypsy Quarter’. Now in recent years this area of the city has had a lot of conflict between the residents and the travellers that have taken over the empty buildings. Riots have broken out in recent years resulting in violence and even death. The tourist guide assured us that if we were to venture into the area it wouldn’t be dangerous as the “gypsies are sleeping now, they don’t come out until later on in the afternoon”. Jamie and I were both more than happy to head over get a few pictures and then return back to the main square.
The streets were quiet, colourful and definitely unusual. There were a few people leaning out of their balconies and watching Jamie and I walk through the streets snapping pictures. We found some cute stray dogs and saw some unique street art. All was well until the one incident that shook us, well me especially, up a little.
While figuring out which direction to walk in, Jamie saw a car speeding up the road. I quickly stepped up onto the pavement out of the way but before I knew it the car mounted the kerb and was headed straight towards me. I stood still and looked at Jamie as he grabbed my arm and I felt the car bonnet on the back on my legs. Now I must add the car didn’t actually hit me, however, it was a shock to feel my dress being pressed against my calves, and I didn’t want to turn around as I knew that I would be looking straight at the car that had just decided to stop behind me. Our jaws dropped and the car reversed off the kerb and turned left, it began to follow us down the street. Occupied by two males and two children, they wound down the window and were shouting in French and then in Spanish “hola senorita”. I noticed the stench of alcohol pouring out the windows and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the children in the back. The men looked dirty and drunk. It annoyed me knowing that they had purposely tried to scare me by nearly running me over, not only endangering the life of myself but those of the small kids in the back. The men were fully aware of what they were doing but I guess you could say maybe they thought “what were those tourists doing here in our area.”
The whole situation was unnerving so Jamie and I quickly left the Gypsy quarter while being chased by a barking dog, and we didn’t look back. The place held so much history but it did leave me wondering what it looked like at night.
It amazed me really seeing the comparison between the main square and the Gypsy quarter. It was almost like an illusion seeing the boutique shops and high-end restaurants knowing that only two streets away and hidden was a completely different world.
We ended our trip on a high going out for a Thai meal and spending our last day at the beach. It was a lovely trip and I’m so glad Jamie got to enjoy his birthday, the South of France was a great experience and the Canyoning was definitely a highlight. We are headed off to Italy in September so I will be writing all about our trip when we get back!
Have you ever been to the South of France? Leave a comment below!