Subject: Re: Re: Trip report: French Pyrénées II
One thing to mention with all small cities as well as villages in France: Mar ket Day In Provence, this is a must if only to see the colorful bolts of fabric and the flowers, flowers, flowers - but in all towns, this is a wonderful event. Crafts people sell their wares, flower stalls are everywhere - in autumn as well as winter and spring, the breads, sausages, cakes are displayed fantastically and are wonderful. Most of the people are friendly and will give you tastes of anything you wish! We even saw a man stirring cheese in a huge caldron this trip!!! You will find all kinds of honey, jams, meats, poultry etc. Also, if the city is larger, there will be clothing.

On to the Pyrénées: (we spent another two days in the Prades region, hiking and going southeast a bit when the weather started raining to see the museum in Céret (a small city southwest... a bit - from Perpignan) The museum is a small modern gem with a great many Picasso ceramics - particularly with bullfight scenes. We headed further east because of the weather and stayed at the Domaine du Mas Bazan (see the post from last week w/ tel and information - wonderful spot near the seaside town of Collioure - where the impressionists spent summers painting and the town has erected Polaroid-like copies of their paintings positioned where they stood to paint their masterpieces!)

We then spent 6 days in Spain hiking and staying in small villages in the mountains - truly wonderful, fun and very beautiful but not deluxe - Certainly adequate and very romantic, but not for everyone.

Returning to France, we returned to a section that we had passed through twice before (both times in the rain), but we had wanted to return to hike. The town is called Aulus-les-Bains in the Couserans - a small village where in the summer, people come to take the baths and the cure - This is NOT a major thermal center, but it IS a major hiking area. It was the highlight of this trip thus far. We stayed in a hotel called: Oussailles - tel: 05 61 96 03 68. This tiny hotel (7 rms) is very clean, with wonderful bathrooms, completely equipped and terrific, hearty food. Gaël and her husband Jean-François are lovely people. They were so very helpful to us, calling the gendarmes to see if certain cols were passable by car and introducing us to a wonderful mountain guide who tirelessly helped us plan hikes in the mountains - carefully as there was still much snow - and with the steep sides of the mts., the clear, very warm (74 -79°) weather, the risk of avalanches was high. All of the people whom we met were wonderful and the town was perfect! All of the little villages in this area are wonderful - some have great cafés (like Seix) and one in Trein d'Ustou which had a fun, romantic restaurant located in a Logis (we didn't stay there) called L'Auberge des Ormeaux - tel: 05 61 96 53 22 (restaurant had a fireplace, too)

Any of you who are hikers and want additional information, I'd be glad to supply it. This is a terrific hiking spot as getting to the trailheads takes under 1/2 hr usually.

(will continue on another page) Susie - Newton MA