St-Paul-de-Fenouillet is the capital of the former comarca of Fenolheda (Fenouillèdes) that derived ists name from all the fennel growing wild all around there. It is located 45 km west of Perpignan and the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in the valley of the Agly river at an altitude of 262 metres.
Its countryside is dominated by rocky peaks with garrigue made up from shrubs and many herbs that extrude their perfumes in the heat of summer. Below, on rolling hills and the flat river plain, millions of old vines cover the vineyards.
Here, you are truly at the steps of Aude’s Cathar country, with remains of their castle towering high on the Corbières peaks. When entering the village – pardon, officially, it’s a town of 1,888 inhabitants – you’ll notice its bilingual signs.
In Fenolheda, they all depict the name in French and Occitan; in Rosselò/Roussillon all in Catalan. Often stated wrongly, St-Paul is not a Catalan place, but an Occitan settlement, with Estagel being the border town between the two historic provinces.
The sense of these historic and cultural ties is still very strong in the region, and on clear days, you’ll see the Pyrénées peak of the holy Catalan mountain Canigou watching over the valley.
The climate is moderate and quite dry, with rains occurring mostly in spring and late autumn. In summer, temperatures reach 30° – 35° Celsius (86 – 95° Fahrenheit). Winters are mild, with -4° Celsius (24.8° Fahrenheit) at the lowest. The two dominant winds are Tramontane (or Cers), a cold, dry wind from the North, and Le Marin, a southerly breeze often bringing along some rain.
Within the close vicinity, you will find dozens of wineries to visit, offering tastings at their cellar door and other visitor experience. In the summer months, the train rouge wine train runs the length of the valley, allowing you to sample their wines without having to worry about your driving license. French police is pretty strict about the 0.5 g/l alcohol limit, and fines are severe.
A vast network of short or long walks makes the valley a great spot for hiking, mountain biking or leisurely walks, with spectacular views, and heritage preserved in nature. Winding roads will take you to gorgeous place like the Ermitage in the Galamus canyon or to the Clue de la Fou with its famous Roman bridge.
And when you’re resting there, savour some some the delicious biscuits made by traditional bakeries in the village: the croquant aux amandes de Saint-Paul, hard almond biscuits enjoyed as apéritif with some local wine !Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet is twinned with Ennis in Ireland and Calogne in Spain.
The tower of the chapter house has always been the landmark of St-Paul-de-Fenouillet, and is one the Fenouillèdes most remarkable buildings. Today hidden behind more modern building, you will need to visit Le Chapître to truly appreciate it – the entrance is a tiny door right next to the tourist information.
Its roots date back to 906, when the convent of Joucou belonged to the Benedictine monks. Following many noble endowments, the 16th century saw the installation of an organ, the addition of plaster decorations, the construction of the dome and other major works being carried out.
After the revolution changed into flats, stable and hay loft, the municipality realised its history value as late as 1983 century, bought the property, and opened it up to the public along with a museum also well worth a visit.
• 26, boulevard de l’Agly
The Chapître today houses the town’s local museum – don’t mis out on its unique collection featuring also pictures of former thermal spa complex that once attracted even Russian guests to Saint-Paul. Today home to Patric Marquet, it is being reinvented as a piece of art and centre of dialogue. To more infos, please click here.
Église Saint-Pierre et Saint Paul
In 1313, construction of the St- Peter’s Parish Church started, which was linked to the Chapître in 1410. In 1452, a fire destroyed most of the church. Reconstruction on the preserved ground walls started in 1661, then replacing the initial gothic style by baroque architecture. Last renovations took place in 1973.
The most typical feature of the fortified stone church is it open bell tower, with two bells hanging in an iron cage. The first one, 90 cm high and wide, was cast in 1548, the smaller one – 60 cm high and 63 cm wide – in 1779.
• Place Chanoine Grassaud
A very popular destination for motor bikers, cyclists, canyoning and hiking are the Gorges de Galamus that connect Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet in Pyrénees-Orientales with Cubières-sur-Cinobles in the Département Aude. From its southern entrance, you’ll be able to enjoy wonderful views of the holy Catalan mountain, Pic du Canigou (2.784 m). Well hidden in the canyon’s cliff, the first settlers of the region resided in natural limestone caves.
In the middle ages, hermits living their faith in the footsteps of St Anthony the Great, Patriarch of Cenobites, started to live in the caves that are surrounded by a shrubby vegetation of Durmast oak, juniper and flowering cyclamen. In the 15th century, the Friars Minor of St Francis of Assisi set up the cave-chapel of the hermitage.
For many years, the relics of relics of the Holy Cross, Saint Victoire and father Palau y Quer, beatified in 1988, have been kept. On Easter Monday and Whit Monday, the hermitage is a popular point for pilgrims and day trippers. Be careful when cycling or driving along the narrow and winding country road D7 that leads to the parking lot gazebo. From there, either take the foot path that leads the way through Mediterranean „garrigue“or walk down the steps to reach the site.
• The Hermitage is open from Easter to mid-November from 12:00 to 18:30; T. 04 68 59 24 45.
South of St-Paul-de-Fenouillet, the Clue de la Fou cuts through the mountain chain of Lesquerde. There, a Roman bridge has been spanning a small river since antiquity, and a wonderful legend is linked to its waters and its potholes created by erosion. According to legend, fairies came to wash there clothes in these cavities.
From 1906 to 1914, a thermal spa operated in the area. Even though its gone today, you may still been enjoying the virtues of the mineral water packed with sulphide and calcium. All year round, be it winter or summer, it flows out of its source at 24° C (75.2° Fahrenheit).
Entertainment, Fun & Leisure
• rue Arago, T. 04 68 51 34 71, public library, open Monday, Wednesday morning, Thursday
Foyer Rural, Avenue Georges Pezières, T. 04 68 08 22 16; local cinema showcasing Hollywood blockbusters and successful French films, screenings at 17:00 and 20:30, programme: www.allocine.fr
• Avenue Georges Pézières, and next to the train station
Heated public outdoor swimming pool
• Piscine Municipale, Rue du Docteur Louis Brun, T. 04 68 59 00 43, June – September 14:00 – 19:00
Stade Municipal, Rue du Docteur Louis Brun, T. 04 68 59 00 26, perfect for soccer and rugby
• 102, avenue Jean Moulin, T. 08 20 36 10 06
• 13, avenue Georges Pezières, T. 08 92 25 08. Both: Monday – Friday 8.10 – 12.00, 13.30 – 17.00
Boulangerie de la Mairie,
• 19, rue Arago, T. 04 68 59 02 40;
Artisan Boulanger Patissier
• 29, rue du Théâtre. T. 04 68 59 02 27
Boucherie Pellessier: Vanessa und Bertrand set up new premises at the eastern entrance to the town in 2017, where they sell poultry, lamb, beef and rabbit right from the breeder
• 2, Avenue Jean Moulin, T. 04 68 66 64 17
• 5, place de la République, T. 04 68 59 19 75
• 14, place Saint-Pierre
Christine Ruffat, mainly based in Estagel, travels twice a week to Saint-Paul to cut and style the locals in her old-style salon at the Place de la République. A second hairdresser can be found along the D117 in the centre of town.
open-air market in front of the Foyer Rural, Wednesday and Saturday, 6:00 – 13:00
Newsagent (Maison de la Presse)
ll you need to survive – from stamps and postcards to press publications, books, food, and gifts.
• 2/4 rue Arage cnr Place de la République, T. 04 68 59 03 90.
• 3,5 Avenue Jean Moulin, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:00 – 12:00, 14:00 – 16:00, Wednesday 9:00 – 11.00, 14:00 – 16:00, Saturday 9:15 – 11:30
• Lot La Plaine, T. 04 68 59 26 00, D 177 direction Foix, right hand side, also has fuel pumps. September to June Monday to Thursday 9:00 – 12:30, 15:00 – 19:00, Friday and Saturday 9:00 – 19:00, July/August Monday to Saturday 9:00 – 19:00
Noël Pous, Av. Georges Pézières, T. 04 68 59 01 89, mobile 06 10 36 02 97
Ambulance: T. 15 (SAMU)
Fire: T. 18
Police: T. 17 (Police and Gendarmerie)
GARAGE CITROËN: M. Rachid Lazizi, Av. du Général de Gaulle, T. 04 68 59 02 24
GARAGE DE LA GARRIGUE: M. Didier Cantié, Av. Jean Moulin, T. 04 68 80 01 67, firstname.lastname@example.org
GARAGE PÉGASE: Cyril Le Cann, 18, av. du Général de Gaulle, T. 04 68 59 06 32
Avenue Georges Pézières, T. 04 11 63 00 10, email@example.com; opening hours: 8:00 –12:00 / 14:00 – 18:00. In 2012, a Health Centre (Maison de Santé de Saint-Paul) opened in Saint-Paul, complementing the services of the town’s local doctors. Its 18 medical staff include three general practitioners, two dentists, two psychologists, speech therapist, diet consultant, and 17 nurses.
Winemakers (tasting and selling at the cave)
Dry or Sweet?
St-Paul-de-Fenouillet lies right in the heart of a wonderful wine region. Basically, you’ll have to decide whether to sip on a Vin Doux Naturel AOC tonight, or on a Vin Sec AOC.
Vins Doux Naturel AOC (naturally sweet wines)
• Rivesaltes Muscat de Rivesaltes
• Banyuls & Banyuls Grand Cru
Vin Sec AOC
• Maury Vins Sec AOC
• Côtes du Roussillon
• Côtes du Roussillon Villages
In our neighbouring village Maury (take D 117 to Perpignan), the Maison du Terroir offers a wide selection of great wines from the Agly valley along with other local produce.
Cellars of St-Paul-de-Fenouillet
Some 20 winemakers invite you to taste and buy their wine at their cave in our small town (to me, it’s more like a village…) – with many more to explore in the vicinity and further afield.
• Cave des Vignerons des Côtes d’Agly, 17, avenue Jean Moulin, T. 04 68 59 02 39, www.agly.fr
• Cave Majoral, D117- Route de Maury, T. 04 68 59 00 12, http://vin.majoral.free.fr
• Domaine Andreu, 39, avenue Général de Gaulle, T. 04 68 59 24 04
• Domaine Arcadie, 18 avenue Jean Moulin,T. 04 68 29 46 45, www.vinarcadie.com
• Domaine Arguti, 14 avenue du 16 Août 44, T. 04 68 28 57 68
• Domaine Chaluleau-Pons, 8, rue de l’Aude – chemin de Bayra, T. 04 68 59 20 31, eco vineyard
• Domaine des Enfants, 8, bis boulevard Pierre Bascou, T. 09 62 32 35 58, www.domaine-des-enfants.com
• Domaine d’Esperet, route de Caudiès, T. 04 68 59 18 85, www.domainedesperet.com
• Domaine de Pierre Claire, 18, Boulevard de l’Agly, mobile: 06 88 20 30 53
• Domaine des Fou, Rue de la Fou, T. 04 68 59 22 63
• Domaine de Venus, 13 avenue Jean Moulin, T. 04 68 59 18 81, www.domainedevenus.com
• Domaine Grier, 18 avenue Jean Moulin, T. 07 60 60 66 22, http://www.domainegrier.com
• Domaine Jorel, 28, rue Arago, T. 04 68 59 19 31 (eco vineyard), http://domainejorel.fr
• Domaine La Pleiade, Hameau de la Roque, T. 04 68 59 27 58, http://domaine.la.pleiade.free.fr
• Domaine Mas Mudiglilza, 20, rue de Lesquerde, T. 04 68 35 01 99, www.masmudigliza.fr. The reds vinified by Dimitri Glipa are my favourites!
• Domaine Montagne, 2, résidence la Plaine, T. 04 68 59 14 59
• Domaine Mournet, 18, boulevard de l’Agly, mobile 06 84 55 10 10
• Domaine Sabarda, Rue de la Fou, mobile: 06 19 99 16 52
• Domaine Salvat, 8, avenue Jean Moulin, T. 04 68 59 20 00
• Finca Narraza, 6, place de la République, T. 04 34 10 13 57, www.fincanarraza.info
• Mas Karolina, 29, boulevard d’Agly, mobile 06 20 78 05 77, www.chateau-marac.com
• Mas Peyre, 1, place de la République, T. 04 68 59 29 45, www.maspeyre.com
• Vignoble Gadois, 15, rue du Pech, T. 04 68 38 64 89
In May, La Dionysiade en Agly-Verdouble has been celebrated in our valley for more than 20 years – don’t miss it!
A very pleasant walk through the allotment gardens starts very close to our home. It leads you through a patchwork of gardens watered by the Agly river, and offers ever-changing views of the Pyrenees mountains.
12 marked walks are listed in the guide „Drôles de Randonnées en Fenouillèdes“. Red and yellow is the signage of the 107 km long Tour du Fenouillèdes trail, red and white of the long-distance trail GR 36 that connect the English Channel with the Mediterranean Sea. Walking maps are available at the Office de Tourisme and the newsagent. Best are the IGN maps.
Another local walk leads you to the area’s mining heritage – explore old machines, tools, and mine shafts along the chemin de la mine!
Office de Tourisme
6, bd de l’Agly, F – 66220 Saint-Paul-de-Fenouillet, T. 04 68 59 07 57 , firstname.lastname@example.org, www.st-paul66.com; July/Aug Monday to Saturday 10:00 – 12:00 / 14:00 – 18:00 , October – March Tuesday to Saturday 10:00 – 12:00 / 14:00 – 18:00
These official websites also provide information on my village and its surrounds
Communauté de Communes Agly-Fenouillèdes
www.cc-aglyfenouilledes.fr. Free App for Android and iPhone: Agly Fun Tour