Thursday, November 5, 2009

Volunteers for the Christmas Fair

As you already know, this year’s Christmas Fair will take place on Sunday 29th November from 11am until 5pm at the Salle Polyvalente in Saint Jean Pla de Corts.

The Christmas Fair committee has been busy working to organise this year’s event which looks like being a huge success again. This is your chance to contribute and help out both FAB PO and Cancer Support France. We really need help with the following – please be generous as it’s for a good cause.

1. VIDE GRENIER - the stand needs your unwanted books, CDs, DVDs, Jewellery, ornaments, vases etc. Please donate good quality items but NO shoes, clothing or furniture this year.

2. CAKE STAND – this was a huge success last year and the cakes sold out early. This year we need even more cakes so please get baking and bring your donations to the salle polyvalente in Saint Jean Pla de Corts in the morning on the day of the fair.

3. TOMBOLA PRIZES – we are asking all members to please donate a prize for the tombola. We would welcome any unwanted gifts you have around the house as long as they are in good condition and unopened e.g. CDs, DVDs, glassware, homewares, wine etc. If you have a business such as a gîte or restaurant you could donate a free stay or meal, artists could donate an artwork etc etc. The value is not that important we need a large amount of prizes of varying worth to make the tombola a real success.

4. FAB PO STAND – there will be a stand for members to promote their businesses and products on the day. Please could all members who wish to use the stand provide A5 brochures or print outs to be displayed.

5. VOLUNTEERS – all the above stands need volunteers to help man the stalls on the day. If you can spare an hour or two on the 29th November, please contact Louise Sayers at or on 06 20 03 54 46.

For vide grenier and tombola donations, please deliver these to any of the following drop off points:

o Rachel Treloar at Domaine Treloar in Trouillas
o Louise Sayers at Med and Mountain’s offices in 1 rue Saint Francois de Paule in Perpignan (phone ahead as the office is not always open – 06 20 03 54 46)
o Penny Statham at Les Hirondelles Holiday Gîtes in Fuilla (again phone ahead – 04 68 05 63 08
o On the 28th November ONLY between 2pm and 5pm at the Salle Polyvalente in St Jean Pla de Corts

Thursday, October 29, 2009

FAB PO Christmas market is back!

The FAB-PO Marché de Noël is back!!!

FAB-PO (, an international non-profit making business network based in the Pyrénées-Orientales, is pleased to announce the return of its phenomenally successful Christmas Market.  This year’s market will take place on Sunday 29th November from 11am until 5pm  at the Salle Polyvalente in Saint Jean Pla de Corts – make sure you put the date in your diary now!

It promises to be a fun day out for all the family with Father Christmas making an appearance, pottery and facepainting for the kids, wine tasting and French language workshops, carol singing, a tombola with fantastic prizes, stalls selling local produce, cards and Christmassy delights and much much more.  Cyberia Café will be serving delicious sandwiches, soft drinks and snacks, and there will be a bar run by local winemakers, so come along and make a day of it.

It’s all for a good cause too as 25% of the profits from the day will be going to Cancer Support France ( , which provides English speaking support to cancer sufferers in France.

We hope to see you there!

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's Christmas Fair time!

Christmas is fast approaching and as you know, this year FAB PO are hoping to repeat the phenomenal success of last year’s Christmas Fair. We hope to be able to confirm the venue to you next week. The Fair will take place on either Sunday 22nd or Sunday 29th November in the afternoon.

We are currently compiling a list of stallholders and are offering precedence to members of FAB PO. The fair was well publicised last year on local radio and in the local press (including Anglo Info and L’Indépendent) and attracted over 2000 visitors, with a great mix of French and other nationalities.

If you are an artist who would like to exhibit your work, or you have a product or service that you would like to promote by taking a stand at this unique event, please contact Louise Sayers at to register your interest.

There will be a nominal fee of around 30 euros for each stall, the amount will be confirmed once a definitive venue is found.

It goes without saying that we hope to be able to count on your support to promote and attend the fair.

Best wishes
The FAB PO Christmas Fair Committee

Friday, September 25, 2009

An open invitation to an exhibition in Ceret

FAB PO member and internationally acclaimed textile artist, Gem Melville is hosting an exhibition in Ceret from 25 September to 10 October.
She invites you all to the opening night tonight at 18h00 :

Helle Frosterod and Gem Melville are having a joint exhibition of sculpture and hand painted textiles.

You are invited to attend our vernisage at ESPACE Pierre MAU in Céret which is at the Sant Roch ART centre at 18h00.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

FAB PO in French Property News

FAB PO secretary, Louise Sayers of Med and Mountain, as well as running her property and translating business and looking after two small kids, also contributes to a number of magazines in France - FAB PO gets a mention in this interesting article about ex pats in France in French Property News : go to page 82 to read all about it here

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wine Harvest and Spa Tour

FAB PO members , The French Tour Co and Frogbus are organising a fantastic 3 day trip to the Pyrenees Orientales around the atmospheric wine harvest festival which takes place on the 17th October in the Catalan capital of Perpignan.

From Thursday 15th October to Sunday 18th October.

Catch some late summer sun, Pamper yourself in a luxurious spa hotel, relax and unwind at the Perpignan wine festival and enjoy an unforgettable gourmet wine tour. The French Tour Co and have teamed up to put together a weekend package filled with fun, sun, wine, cuisine and culture.


3 nights at the top quality spa hotel Résidence Cela Alenya, 3 breakfasts and 1 evening meal, full day wine tour to top winemakers in the Perpignan area with 4 course lunch, discover Perpignan at the Nouveau Roussillon Wine Festival and visit the beautiful fishing village of Collioure which is ranked in the Top 7 most beautiful towns in France.
Full use of all luxurious spa facilities at the hotel during your stay.

Fly to Girona - Transfer to/from Girona airport (1 hour) and all other bus transfers included. Flights are currently 0€ from Dublin to Girona on these dates with Ryanair.

Click here for the full itinerary and booking details. Numbers are limited so hurry and reserve your place now!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FAB PO in the Irish Times

In March of 2009, FAB PO invited a couple of journalists from Ireland to the PO to show off our fantastic adopted new home.

Gemma Tipton ran a great article on the Irish Times this Saturday 22 August - you can read it here

Well done to all involved

Monday, July 6, 2009

FAB PO conquers Canigou!

As Dora would say:

We did it
We did it
We did it
lo hicimos!

With our qualified and experienced guide, FAB PO member, Christian , we made it to the top of the Canigou, the sacred mountain of the Catalans here in the Pyrenees Orientales.

The peak , which can be seen from nearly every point in the Roussillon plain, dominates the landscape and holds a special place in the hearts of the locals. After living here for nearly 8 years, I felt it was time to get to know this stunning mountain more intimately and off we set, all 18 of us, bright and early on Friday morning 3 July to put our legs to the test.

Our guide, Christian, was fantastic ; cool, calm and collected, he guided us at our own pace to the summit, unobtrusively keeping an watchful eye on us all.

On this trip, we took 4x4 vehicles to "base camp" at Chalet de Cortalets and then started walking from there. It took approx 2 hours to reach the 'pic' from here where we enjoyed a well deserved lunch with amazing views. At the summit, there is a cross , where people have left their flags and momentos - we made our own mark and left the Munster flag flying there. Apparently, the USAP team had been up to the summit the week previous with the Bouclier de Brennus ( the Champion de france rugby trophy!)
It was a great achievement for everyone to make it to the top and we look forward to doing it again , maybe taking a different route the next time.
Most people were dreading the descent, but , guided by Christian , we all made it without a hitch.
An ice cool beer was the perfect finalé to a perfect days walking.

Bravo tout le monde!

Contact for tours and nearby accommodation for climbing the Canigou

Monday, June 22, 2009

Focus on Christian Piquemal

Christian is a professional English speaking local guide. His
walking tours provide a large and varied display of destinations in
French and Spanish Catalonia. The programmes are flexible and
adapted to all levels and interests.
Find more information on

Samples of his one day tours are as follows :

Walk one :

1000 Years of harmony between Man & Nature
1 full day - 4 to 5 h walk

One of the least known areas in Catalonia, Alta Garrotxa is a wonderful sanctuary for nature and historical heritage. It provides dramatic scenery from karstic gorges to rolling hills and emerald green rivers. Ancient footpaths lead to Romanesque churches, medieval bridges and isolated farmhouses.

2 programmes are available:
* GORGES of SANT ANIOL - The itinerary follows a deep valley at the foot of limestone cliffs with successive crossings of the river. It finally reaches the idyllic setting of the 11th century hermitage of Sant Aniol. To go back, the easy way goes the same way. Hikers may fancy going back on a vertiginous path over the cliffs.
* From OIX to BEGET - Both villages were (and still are) favourite stop-over for travellers throughout centuries. Footpaths are ideally designed, offering panoramas over the legendary peak of Bassegoda and the Costabona mountain range. The renowned village of Beget is classified as “National Monument of Catalunya”.

People opting for a 2-day trip can stay for the night either in Oix or Beget where first class b&bs and good food are available.

Walk two:

Balcony over the Tet Valley
1 full day - 6 h walk with no hurry

This is one of the most appealing walks in Conflent. The quiet atmosphere, wild environment and variety of landscapes turn this trail into an unforgettable experience.

Meeting point at the train station in OLETTE to embark on the legendary “Petit Train Jaune” for a unique 50 mn trip on the highest railway line in France.
From La Cabanasse, the group walks to the fortified of MONT-LOUIS, Vauban’s architectural 17th century masterpiece.
Walkers then step on the GR10 before diverting on the ancient Roman “Via Confluentana” overlooking the suspension bridge “Pont Gisclard”. The guide takes the opportunity to tell the story of the railway line, an incredible achievement of the early 20th century.
A steep path leads to the village of SAUTO and its medieval church where walkers reach the famous “Route Vauban”.
At the altitude of 1900 m, a large plateau covered with meadows and forests of pine trees provides spectacular panoramas over the mountain range from Canigou to Puigmal.
After lunchtime, a mule’s path leads straight down to the remote hamlet of LLAR and the beautiful stone-built houses of CANAVEILLES.
The easy going last hour offers more views over small villages in the valley and a final drop down to the river Tet and Olette for well deserved refreshments.

A welcoming b&b is available in Olette for those aiming to complete Vauban’s Route with a second day across the Nature Reserve of Jujols to VILLEFRANCHE de CONFLENT.

Christian is also organising a weeks walking in Mallorca in Spring 2010. More details can be found on his website :

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Artist Gem Melville open day

FAB PO member, Gem Melville is hosting an open day at her atelier in Reynés on 28th June 2009 from 3pm to 7pm.
Gem specialises in textile hand painted workshops and gives courses for individuals and groups in a range of art activities: painting; drawing; mosaic and sculpture.
She also does commissions for exclusive wedding table linen and general textiles for interiors:commercial/domestic

Her “Open day” will be at her atelier on Sunday 28th June from 3 pm to 7pm.
Her “Atelier” is situated in a lovely wild garden bordered by the Reynés river, along a small winding road called Route de las Quintanes, en route to “Can Art”, first turn-off left before the Reynés bridge en route to Restaurant “Can Fouste” (coming from Céret towards Amelie les Bains)
They are the second house on the left….no numbers along this chemin.
Her guest artists are Helle Frosrerod (Norwegian Graphic Designer) who will show her sculptures and drawings; and Chantal de Lanoye Bourdeau. (Flemish painter from Brussels)
Gem will be exhibiting her hand painted textiles, paintings, and drawings.

There will be paintings and art work available to buy from €5 to €50

They will be selling waffles and their homemade “Sambuca Vital” elderberry cordial.
Wine and a fruit punch will be available on the house.

That’s 28 June from 3pm to 7pm – an open invitation to you all

Her contact details are :
tel 0033 (4) 6887 2595
cell: 0033 0646887760
address: Route de las Quintanes. 66400 Reynés.

Next FAB PO meeting

Our next FAB PO meeting is on tomorrow, 17 June at Domaine Treloar. It will be a great opportunity to taste Domaine Treloars wine as well as meet members of the business community in the Pyrenees Orientales.

Contact me if you are interested in joining and coming along

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Well done USAP!

Don't ask how or why , but the precious Bouclier de Brennus ( the winners trophy for the French league) ended up in my back garden yesterday evening!
After doing the rounds of Perpignan, it has been engraved at last : 2009, U.S.A.Perpignan and the whole town is in a frenzy of delight!
It's a great boost for Perpignan, the city and USAP the club. The Perpignanaise are really not interested in any other sport, it's a rugby mania town where rugby is a classless sport, a bit like Limerick in Munster, where I am from.
And! more exciting news : Munster and Perpignan have been drawn in the same group for the Heineken Cup next year. This means a home and away match for Perpignan and Munster. We are already been plagued for tickets!!
Don't forget to contact FAB-PO ( ) for all your travelling needs - accommodation, tours, travelling advice, restaurants etc.
We are all bilingual and can make your stay in the Peprignan area a brilliant one.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Focus on Blyth Spirit

Michelle and Simon Blyth moved to the FAB PO over 11 years ago when they became the owners of a decrepid, no bathroomed village house in Eus. They were half way through renovating the house when Michelle became pregnant – they figured – what the heck! Simon had been working as a self employed Graphic Designer for the past 6 years, Michelle was a Sales Manager for Yellow Pages. With 12 months maternity leave to look forward to, they had nothing to lose – sell up, move out and if things didn’t work out at least they’d have had fun for 12 months and Michelle could simply go back to her old job. That was 10 years ago - I think they may have filled her position by now!

They managed to keep hold of most of their UK based clients – the combination of cheap Ryan Air flights and the internet meant that it really didn’t matter where they were based. Clients also rather liked discussing their new brochures and web sites with a glass of wine over looking Canigou rather than in a converted pig sty in Bedfordshire!

Then along came daughter number two and a move to a bigger house - renovating a gorgeous 4 storey Mas in Joch. Half way though the renovations Simon, suffered a serious Kite Surfing accident and was to spend the following 18 months in and out of various Hospitals and re-education. Despite regaining the use of his leg, an unfinished Mas with spiral stair case (with office on the 4th floor) was somewhat impractical. Move number three : buy a plot of land and build a single storey house - Everything was going swimmingly as they stayed in a little chalet while their house was being built. It was then the unimaginable happened. 4 weeks after celebrating her 7th Birthday, Victoria (their eldest daughter) was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

When Victoria was not in hospital she was unable to live in the chalet – a friend lent them her house for the rest of the time it took to build their house. The builders worked weekends and holidays to try and get the house finished, friends came to help with the tiling, painting and decorating. For the first couple of months Victoria stayed in an isolated room in the “hyperprotegé” department at Montpellier hospital, Michelle lived in a room in a house opposite the hospital for parents of children with cancer. Simon juggled taking care of Olivia, project managing the house build, visiting them and running their Graphic Design business. Throughout this period clients remained loyal, even when their service wasn’t always up to scratch. This was crucial to them. The downside of being self employed means that you don’t have the luxury of paid compassionate leave, the last thing they needed was the additional stress of losing clients/income.

Victoria has endured 2 ½ years of chemotherapy, throughout which she has shown unimaginable courage. Thanks to the excellent care, treatment and dedication provided by teams of Doctors and Nurses at both Montpellier and Perpignan Hospitals, Victoria is in remission and has just celebrated her 10th birthday. They say they will never be able to repay the kindness they have been shown or sufficiently express their gratitude to all of the people who have given unwaivering help and support over the past 3 years.

It’s not been your average episode from “A Place in the Sun” Things haven’t exactly turned out as they imagined they would when they loaded up their Volvo with cat, dog and baby 10 years ago, but as this chapter comes to a close (phew!), they are happily settled in their new (if not totally finished) home, Victoria is back in school and taking part in Judo competitions, and they have the time once again to enjoy all the things they moved here for in the first place.

Michelle and Simon run Blyth Spirit, a graphic design company , designing websites, flyers, brochures, logos and much more.
See their website here :

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Allez USAP

Perpignan is awash with red and yellow flags; cars , buses, houses, apartments , even prams are adorn with the USAP colours this week as the city prepares itself for the final on Saturday of the 'top quatorze' - the french rugby league.

It's no mean feat for this small town of Perpignan to make it to the French final, knocking some big names like Stade Francais, Toulouse, Biarritz and others to make it down to the last two.
They meet Clermont Ferrand in Paris this Saturday night and the whole of Perpignan will be holding their breath for those 80 crucial minutes! Despite the rumours that are flying around, Dan Carter will not be playing in the final, although he is heavily involved in the training and coaching side of the preparation.
He's been injured since the 31 Jan and he still has 6 weeks convalesence before he can play again.
USAP really have proved themselves by making it to the final without him.

FAB PO cheer you on guys! Allez USAP!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Barbeque at FAB PO member Domaine Treloar

Award Winning Domaine Treloar hosted a fun barbeque yesterday 24 May in their vineyards in Trouillas.
The day was warm, with a light breeze blowing, perfect for dining al fresco with the kids, dogs and bigger kids ( ie us!)
About 60 people turned out for this relaxing day out which was held in one of the fields adjacent to their vines. After a delicious barbeque, washed down with some fine wines from Domaine Treloar, we settled down to the business at hand : the gum boot throwing competition ( distance), the wine spitting competition ( distance and accuracy!) and the wine tasting competition.
Great fun was had by all and I'm proud to say that a member of The French Tour Co won the wine tasting competition ( ie moi!) so I must be learning something on all these wine tours I do!
Many thanks to Jon and Rachel of Domaine Trelaor for hosting such a FAB event!

Friday, May 22, 2009

VISA Pour L'Image - Perpignan

Cannes may have it's film festival at the moment, but little ole Perpignan holds it's own in September when it hosts Visa pour l'image - the 21st International Festival of Photojournalism.

From 29 August to 13 September, the city will be invaded by cool dude types, taking themselves extremely seriously and looking dangerously skinny as they chain smoke and drink black coffee in the coolest bars in town. Black is always the new black for these guys.

The photographic exhibitions are housed in the most beautiful historical buildings dotted around the city. All are within walking distance and it makes a nice day out, wandering from one exhibition to another. Old churches, convents, castles and even ancient burial grounds provide the backdrop in Perpignan for the world renowned photographers work.

Accommodation is always difficult to find during these two weeks so contact us at for a range of different accommodation options or alternative days out wine tasting, shopping , cathar castle visits etc.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Flowers in FAB PO

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high oer vales and hills
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing red poppies!

The Pyrenees Orientales is awash at the moment with fragrant bright flowers. After a few weeks of rain, the lush meadows and valleys are a delight to see as you drive around the Roussillon plains.
My favourite time of the year here, I beleive it is the best time to visit the FAB PO ; on the shoulder months, when the beaches are uncrowded, the traffic flows freely and the temps haven't reached fever pitch!

Visit for special offers off season

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I'm really new to this blogging game and so, after jumping in at the deep end and posting a few ramblings, I decided to do a bit of research on the subject ( typical me, feet first!)
Anyway, it seems that the average amount of time that Josephine Public spends on a blog is 96 seconds!!!!
So , the idea should be that you capture the attention of your reader with short snappy postings and don't ramble on ad nauseam
So, what's happening in FAB PO at the moment?

Summer has arrived
Perpignan is mayor-less and so is St Cyprien
It's vide grenier season
The cherries are ripe for the picking
Wine festivals next weekend
The frogs are having sex
Great low season offers on

Focus on Mark and Louise Sayers

Every week, we hope to do a "focus on" feature about a FAB PO member. This week, we are seeing what Mark and Louise Sayers of Med and Mountain properties are up to :

Focus on Med and Mountain

Med and Mountain ( is a Perpignan-based company specialising in property sales, property searches, translation and language services.

Set up by husband and wife team Mark and Louise Sayers, the company was established to assist non-French speakers to acquire property for sale in the P-O. Both Mark and Louise have degrees in French and have the invaluable experience of moving to France and setting up a home as well as a limited company within the French system. In May, Med and Mountain celebrates its 5th birthday – not bad going for a small business in France!

Mark heads up the property sales side of the business. With 6 years of experience in French real estate he is an expert on all aspects of buying property in France and is the ideal person to guide you through the sale or purchase of your house in France from initial viewings to the final signing. This comprehensive service won’t cost you a penny more than going to a French estate agent. What’s more, Mark is not your typical agent, being both a consummate professional and an honest guy to boot!

Mark has a large portfolio of properties ( and has access to many more via a network of 22 agents operating throughout the region. If he doesn’t have what you want, he can find it for you!

In 2008, the company expanded into offering language services and Louise heads up this side of the business offering translation, interpreting and administrative assistance. This was a natural spin off from selling property, as clients who bought houses in the region often needed assistance with getting established in France.

Med and Mountain can help with anything from getting your utilities connected and obtaining quotes from professional and trustworthy workmen, to setting up a business. Louise also offers ad hoc PA services for businesses who need administrative help – this is the perfect solution for small companies to avoid the punishing social security charges involved when hiring staff. (

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

BBQ in the Vines

An open invitation to a BBQ in the Vines

FAB PO members , Domaine Treloar are having a BBQ in one of the fields next to their Vineyards on SUNDAY 24th May 2009 kicking off at 12 noon.

Basically it is bring your own (BYO) everything which on the positive side means you can invite your neighbours, friends & family for a great day out and lots of people can meet other people.

Be prepared for a bit of Gumboot throwing and Wine Spitting (distance and accuracy). All in a good days fun and laughter. Hopefully last years gumboot champs can come and try to retain their titles!

Please NOTE:
There are NO toilets in the vineyards but peeing is good for the vines. Be prepared to find a hiding place if nature calls.

Football games are to take place on the dirt track with fields either side leading up to where we are having the BBQ this is so the ball doesn't hit the vines as they are a little fragile at the moment. Please don't park your car in this stretch otherwise it may be part of the game!


From the N9 towards Thuir - drive past Trouillas Village on the main road in the direction of Llupia (past the cellier de Trouillas) - about 1km past the co-op on your left you will see Clos Massotte Winery (a big iron building with purple barrels), opposite the winery is a gravel layby, pull into the layby and turn right (keeping right) and follow the gravel track along to the hillside which is where we will be.

The BBQ will only be cancelled if it is raining or very windy otherwise we will be there. I will email in the morning if this is the case.

Any problems or questions please email Rachel at,
Tel : 0468950229

Monday, May 11, 2009

Climbing Canigou

I've been living here for 7 years now and every day I gaze up at the Canigou and marvel at it's awesome and impressive beauty. I've watched it change colours as the day progresses , I've watched the seasons changing the landscape and I've witnessed the most spectacular sunsets behind this sacred mountain.

The "pic du Canigou ", part of the Pyrenees, stands at 2784,66 metres and dominates the plains of the Roussillon region. On a clear day , one can see all the way to Marseilles and way down the Spanish coast as far as Barcelona
Locals revere the mountain as a sacred place and as you travel through the region, you can always see The Canigou keeping a watchful eye over you.

So, we are very excited to announce our FAB PO Challenge when Christian Piquemal , qualified and experienced walking guide from Enchemin and also a member of FAB PO has offered to lead a FAB PO group to the summit on July 3rd 2009.

We have opted for the easier approach for our first outing as there will be people with varying levels of fitness. It’s a fantastic opportunity to climb to the summit with an experienced guide.

You’ll need a 4x4 vehicle to get to the start of the walk ( we can arrange lifts for those of you who don’t have a 4x4).
It’s a 1 hour drive on dirt track to reach the refuge of Cortalets, the actual start of walk. Count approximately 2 h to the top (not counting breaks), sometimes steep but with no special difficulties; 1 h 40 to go back to Cortalets the same way. An early start is recommended to avoid heat. Bad weather conditions will mean the walk will be postponed to the following Friday 10th July.

Contact Karen on for more details
or call me on 0033 (0)607421668

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tour de France - Perfect accommodation

THE perfect accommodation if you’re coming to Perpignan for the Tour de France, this apartment is two minutes from the Perpignan finish line of the 5th stage.
Fully renovated this year, the property is on the 2nd floor of a characterful building in Perpignan city centre - with a patisserie on the ground floor so you don’t need to go far for your super-fresh bread and croissants in the morning!
It has a large living/dining room open plan to a fully fitted and equipped kitchen, 3 bedrooms (2 doubles and a twin), bathroom, shower room and separate WC. The apartment sleeps 6 very comfortably and the cost for a week in July is 600 euros - that’s just 100 euros per person!!!
AND the owners are offering 10% discount if you mention FAB-PO. Get booking now – contact

Cancer Support France

After the very successful VIN ART day out at Domaine Treloar, where over 400euros was raised for Cancer Support France , we presented Penny Parkinson of Cancer Support France with her cheque.

In the photo is from left to right : Penny, Rachel from Domaine Treloar who hosted the event, Karen from The French Tour Co who donated a wine tour for the raffle and artist Margaret Dibdin , who donated the wonderful painting.

Cancer Support France is a voluntary organisation which was set up to provide assistance and couselling for English speakers in France who need support, whether it be linguistic, emotional or practical.
For more details, check out their website here :

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Football marries Rugby in FAB PO

Eric Cantona's team is playing Marc Lievremont's team in a game of two halves :
The first half is football and the second half is rugby!!!
In aid of charity , this match will be held in Vernet les Bains at 18h on May 1st. Entrance 5euros.
May 2nd will be the revenge match at Argeles sur Mer ( Stade Gaston Pams) at 17h follwed by a concert headlined by local grown CALI. Entrance 10euros.

Fête De La N'importe Quoi

It's festival time in the Pyrenees Orientales and every little town and village gets ready to parteeeee
Of course, being French, most of the festivals are based around food. There's the oyster festival, the cherry festival, the apple festival, the bread festival, the strawberry festival, the artichoke festival, to name but a few.
The festival theme is really just an excuse really for everybody to get together, socialise and share a few anecdotes over a few convivial glasses of wine.
This weekend in Corneilla de la Riviere for example, we will be celebrating "La Fête de Thym" - Yes, you've heard it correctly, the 8th annual Thyme festival promises to be a superbe day out ;
9H Kicks off with an artisan market with local wines, produce, charcuterie, honey, cheeses , oh and of course some thyme
10H A musical "troupe" will take to the streets and entertain the market goers
11H The Giants will march through the town; huge statues in brilliant costume
12H Catalan sardane dancing
1230 Barbeque ( with thyme flavours of course)
14H Human pyramid ( really is an amazing sight)
14H30 More music
15H Albert Bueno concert
17H More sardane dancing
18H Thyme soup for everyone

Contact us to find out what festival is on when you are here and make your trip a memorable one to the FAB PO! A great way to taste real Catalonia, literally!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tour de France is coming to town!

The roads are being widened, the city is being cleaned up, the flowers are being planted ... Stop press! The Tour de France is coming to town!!!

For the 36th time since the tour has been running, Perpignan, cité catalane, will welcome the cyclists to it's refurbished Place Catalogne in Perpignan central for the finish of the 5th stage of the 2009 tour. The finish line is in front of the newly restored 'Dames de France' building , which dates from 1903, the same age as the Tour de France itself!
This 96th Tour de France will be made up of 21 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,500 kilometres.

Mark it in your diaries, July 8th , the Cap D'agde - Perpignan stage , of over 197 kms will take the following course :

Departing Cap D'Agde , the route will enter the FAB PO at Barcares and will skim down the coast, passing Canet, St Cyprien, Argeles sur Mer before heading back up to the main road approaching Perpignan from the South. The cyclists will race 5kms around the centre of Perpignan before coming back to Dali's "centre of the universe".

The city of Perpignan expects to receive over 20,000 tourists for this massive sporting event, not to mention tv crews and media.

Don't forget to book your accommodation early to avoid disappointment. See for accommodation options

Monday, April 27, 2009

Everybody needs somebody to love

FAB PO member Berkeley Wright is playing in this free Blues Brothers concert tonight : 27 April 2008
It is open to everyone, and it is free entrance (but drinks can be bought). It is at Camping La Sirene, Route de Taxo, Argeles-sur-Mer , Monday 27 April at 21.30 - the show lasts about two hours. Berkeley Wright is one of the stars of the show!
For directions & info see
NB: If it rains, the show will be cancelled.
Check with La Sirene Tél. : 04 68 81 04 61 before leaving home
Sounds like fun!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Vintage Car Rally in Perpignan

A Car Lovers Delight
Last Saturday , 18 April, Perpignan hosted it's 29th annual Car Vintage Rally ( La Nuit des Longs Capots) FAB PO went along to see what all the fuss was about and even for us girlie girls, the cars were seriously impressive and the atmosphere one of excitement and anticipation.
The rally brings 70 different types of cars manufactured since the 1950s. Organised by the grand prix association 66, it gives vintage car owners the chance to peacock their prized possessions in a very convivial atmosphere.
The departure point was at 10h30 from in front of the Palais de Congres ( where the main tourist office in Perpignan is located) and from there they are given their map and off they roar. The 2009 route brought them from Perpignan to the fortified town of VilleFranche sur Conflent , then back to Mas Vermeil in Perpignan and around again to Ille sur Tet.
Sundays route was from Perpignan to Chateau de Corneilla and back.
Anyone interested in partaking next year 2010, should contact the organiser :
Another great reason to visit the FAB PO!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Focus on The French Tour Co

Every week, we hope to do a "focus on" feature on one of our FAB PO members. This week , it's Suzanne and Karen O'Reilly from The French Tour Co ( http://www.thefrenchtourco/)

Article from The French Connexion, June 2008

Two sisters start two businesses

Sisters Suzanne and Karen O'Reilly have set up two businesses together in France.
Former French teacher and air hostess Suzanne, 35, got the idea for a property business six years ago. The pair branched out this year to start a second business doing regional tours.

How long have you been in business?
I started in the property business in 2000 when I worked with a real estate agency in Perpignan, learning the ropes for two years. In 2002, I set up business with my sister Karen offering a property-finding service to English speakers. This year we have diversified and our new sister company provides tours and transfers in the Perpignan area.

Why did you choose to do it?
In 2000, I was happily employed by the Amir of Qatar and flying first class on his private jets around the world as one of his flight attendants. While rollerblading on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice one day, I fell and broke my wrist and so had to find another job as I was unable to fly. While recuperating in France, I spotted a niche in the market to help English-speakers purchase property - at the time, there was nobody else doing this in the Perpignan area and the business took off.
For the tours, we had a huge clientelle in the area and they were always asking us about discovering the region. We just recognised another area of business that complimented our own. We were kind of doing that job for free for a lot of people. We can show people places they wouldn’t get to see - little places and views. A lot of people who take the tours fall in love with the area and think about living here so then we can find property for them.

What type of business are you and how much did it cost to set up?
For the property business we were both set up as agent commercial indépendant. The costs were minimal - about €150 to register with the chamber of commerce. The French Tour Co is a registered SARL - my sister and business partner is an accountant so we did not have to employ a professional to help us set it up.

What was your expected income?
The French Tour Co is a completely new business so we have no idea what our turnover will be. We've bought a minibus and have other vehicles on our fleet, including a convertible - this year we will be happy to break even.

What were the hurdles?
The social charges were a huge shock to us, it's only really in year three they begin to kick in, in earnest.

What would you have done differently?
We were overly enthusiastic at the beginning and probably didn't do enough research into the whole social charges/taxation system. I would recommend to everyone if they are getting into business to hire a good local accountant and get sound financial advice before launching into the unknown.

See article here :

Accommodation in Perpignan centre

Special offer!!!!!!

Lovely apartment to rent in Perpignan city centre – 15% off all bookings for April and May.
The apartment is located in a former 17th century convent 2 minutes’ walk from Perpignan’s Place de la République.
Renovated to a high standard, it comfortably sleeps 6 with two double bedrooms plus a twin.
Normal prices: 550 euros/week or 300 euros for 3 night weekend stay.
Special offer prices: 467.50 euros/week or 255 euros for 3 nights.

Please contact Louise Sayers for availability information at and don’t forget to quote FAB-PO.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Things to do on a rainy day in Perpignan

Yes, well, "Il pleut toujours comme une vache qui pisse" ( It's raining like a cow pee-ing!) but that doesn't mean you will be bored if you are visiting the FAB PO.

Here's 10 things to do if it is raining in the PO

1. Take a wine tour with The French Tour Co. Their red beret wine tour will take you to three vineyards and a gourmet three course lunch on a vineyard estate :

2. Do a solar energy workshop. Nigel Howard from MySolarShop gives very interesting workshops. Living in the sunniest part of France, it really is a very interesting half day :

3. Meet Gem Melville, South African textile artist in her studio in Reynes ( near Ceret) and partake in an art workshop :

4. Visit the Cathar Castles

5. Visit Vernet les Bains, a beautiful picturesque spa town about a 40 min drive west of Perpignan. After a visit of the relaxing natural hot spas, enjoy a gorgeous lunch or dinner with your fab hosts, Tiffany and Dave at Bistrot le Cortal :

6. Go Shopping !

7. Go for a french lesson and improve your vocab : learning french makes your stay in France so much more interesting :

8. Visit the museum of modern art in Ceret and soak up the café culture in this quaint town , about a 40 minute drive south of Perpignan

9. Go ski-ing! The ski resorts are just over an hours drive from Perpignan and when it's raining here, it's usually snowing up there!

10. Be very French and stay all day in bed with your lover... with a good bottle of wine of course! We recommend Domaine Treloar :

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Procession of the Sanch

Good Friday,

A traditional procession which has surivived centuries in the Roussillon region, this slow and macabre march through the streets of Perpignan every Good Friday is a step back into medieval history.

The procession, which is a symbol of the passion of Christ, dates back to the mid 15th century , when the penitents would make their way to the gallows, accompanied by their robed executioners. All parties are robed in klu klux klan type outfits in red and black.

We were given a fascinating insight into the procession by local lady Florence Sabra who owns Alfmed ( ) . She brought a group of us to a strategic view point and gave us the background to the sombre march.

Whilst I cannot say that I enjoyed the march, as it is no barrell of laughs, it is certainly something one should witness if you are here in the region .. the slow walk though the city of Perpignan is very well supported by the locals and they all respectfully line the streets to see the penitents on their way.

A sight to behold...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Irish News FAB PO article

Here's the text of the article in the Irish News yesterday - should have hard copy at the next meeting:

Catalan charm in the south of France
By Brian Campbell11/04/09

From Collioure to Canigou and from Perpignan to Prades, the Pyrenees Orientales area of France is an absolutely stunning place to visit.

The region is in the extreme south-east of France and there is an astonishing amount to see and do between the Mediterranean coast and the ski resorts of the Pyrenees.Much of the area's attraction is the promise of both sunny beaches and plentiful skiing, while delicious food and a choice of some of France's finest wines is another major draw.

Much of the Pyrenees Orientales (PO) used to be part of Catalonia and so Catalan culture looms large and the ‘blood and gold' Catalan flag is a common sight.

The Vella Frontera vineyard in Maury boasts the slogan ‘Catalan charisma and French finesse' and this sums up the PO perfectly.

We visited the area in mid-March and the glorious sunshine we enjoyed made it easy to believe that there are on average 300 days of sunshine per year here.The favourable climate is of course ideal for the countless vineyards in the PO and as well as the rows and rows of vines, the pink peach trees are a sight to behold.

Another stunning sight is the sun setting on the breathtaking and majestic Mount Canigou, which at 9130ft dominates the region and remains snow-capped right up until mid-summer.

For our visit we flew into Girona in Spain, just south of the French border.As you venture north into France, the Pyrenees Orientales region can roughly be described as a triangle than runs from Cerbere and Collioure in the south up the coast to Le Barcares and then west to the border with Andorra.

The region's capital is the attractive city of Perpignan.Two of the most popular sites in the city are the Loge de Mer building and Le Palais des Rois de Majorque (The Palace of the Kings of Majorca) – a fortress that dates back to 1276.Perhaps the most photographed landmark is the Castillet, which stands at the point where the old and new towns meet.The building used to be a city gate and is now the symbol of Perpignan.

While Perpignan is in off the coast, no visit to this area is complete without a trip to the jaw-droppingly beautiful port of Collioure.Often referred to as ‘the jewel in the crown of the Pyrenees Orientales', it boasts the Notre Dame des Anges church, the Chateau Royal fort and a host of shops and cafes right by the water.

Other must-see towns and villages of the PO are the picturesque Eus, perched on a hill, and Villefranche de Conflent.

Villefranche is a postcard-perfect medieval fortified town and, as with a city such as Venice, it's so picturesque and unspoiled that it's hard to believe people live here.It dates back to 1092 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with Fort Liberia (built in 1681) perched on the mountain above.

You can also hop on the ‘Petit Train Jaune' (yellow train) for a scenic ascent through the Tet valley.The Train Jaune is an extremely popular tourist attraction and our journey from Villefranche up to Fontpedrouse offered some astonishing views and the snowy peaks of Canigou were again on display.

On one night we stayed in the town of Prades, not far from Villefranche.Our accommodation was at the Maison 225 guesthouse (, owned and run by Sharon and Declan O'Kane – who moved from Belfast to Dublin and then to the much sunnier spot that is the south of France.The elegant townhouse dates back to 1888 and has been stylishly refurbished by Sharon and Declan and it offers great views of Canigou.

On our trip we also enjoyed a fantastic motorbike tour through the mountains, taking in the Roman aqueduct at Ansignan, the breathtaking Gorges de Galamus and – built into a cliffside – the Hermitage of Saint-Antoine.The high and winding road that takes you through the mountains is the stuff of Hollywood films and offers staggering views of the Gorges.The motorbike tours are run by Englishman Roland Thomas of Fenouilledes Motos in Perpignan and they are well worth trying (

After our road trip, we had a fantastic meal at the Auberge du Cellier restaurant in Montner, in the midst of the Cotes du Roussillon vineyards (

We also dined at Le Cortal in the incredibly scenic town of Vernet-les-Bains – a place described by Rudyard Kipling as ‘the paradise of the Pyrenees' – and in La Table, a cavernous and very cool restaurant and bar in Perpignan.La Table ( can be found on what must be one of the most French-sounding streets ever – Rue de la Poissonerie!

One of the things people in the PO are most passionate about is their wine.We sampled the wines of Domaine Treloar ( in Trouillas and Domaine Vella Frontera ( in Maury.Domaine Treloar is owned and run by Englishman Jonathan Hesford and his New Zealand-born wife Rachel Treloar, while Domaine Vella Frontera is run by Welshman Corin Fairchild and his English wife Jayne.Both wineries pride themselves on being independent high-quality operations, with all the grapes hand-picked and the wines hand-crafted and made on-site.Both Treloar and Vella Frontera offer fantastic wines and we took a tour and tasting at Domaine Treloar that comes highly recommended.

The PO is a fantastic place to go hiking, while the promise of great food, fine wines, cafe culture, skiing, beaches, stunning scenery and breathtaking mountains should be enough to tempt anyone.Add to this the fortified towns, markets, castles, cathedrals, churches and the very friendly people and it's hard to resist the Pyrenees Orientales.

All in all, it's truly one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Bon voyage!


• Ryanair flies from Dublin to Barcelona/Girona and to Carcassonne. There are also direct flights to Perpignan on Ryanair from London Stansted.

• For my visit I stayed at Maison 225 in Prades (, at Le Chai Catalan in Ortaffa ( and at the Citea aparthotel in Perpignan (

• Accommodation is also available at Les Hirondelles in Fuilla ( and at Village Catalan in Vernet-les-Bains (

• For custom-made tours and for a great way to see the Pyrenees Orientales for the first time, we recommend checking out The French Tour Co, which is run by Co Limerick sisters Karen and Suzanne O’Reilly. They offer English-speaking wine tours, spa tours, art tours, walking tours, photography tours, coastal tours and more (

• Two museums worth checking out in the area are the Musee d’Arte Moderne at Ceret and the Salvador Dali Museum at Figueres (Spain).

• Another place to visit is the Bains de St Thomas natural hot springs and spa resort set in a stunning location in the mountains (

• Our trip was organised by FAB PO (French Anglo Business in the Pyrenees-Orientales), the English-speaking international business network based in the south of France.

For more info, visit

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's raining, it's pouring.. It's snowing!!!

It doesn't often rain here in the Pyrenees Orientales , but when it does at this time of the year, it generally means that it is snowing in the mountains. How blessed are we? In about an hours drive from the med, we can be clicking on our skis in the Pyrennean ski resorts.

There are 8 ski resorts , all within a short drive from each other, so it is possible to go for a weeks ski-ing and try out a different resort every day.

Font Romeu is the biggest and closest to Perpignan. It is perfect for the beginner skier, with 16 green runs and 9 blues - it has 9 reds and 6 blacks as well for the more experienced! Les Angles has 32 slopes in total and a busy little town you can ski into. Formigueres is my personal fave , a real authentic french village with a friendly local crowd and a great bar! There is also La Llagonne with just three slopes, perfect for first timers or if you are travelling with small children and want to keep an eye on them.

Another hour further along the road and you can ski ( & shop!) in Andorra ... wooo hooooo, now where are my skis??
( Photo is Les Angles web cam today , 2/4/9)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

International Journalist visit

What an exciting week for FAB PO - we were on National French Radio, photographed for the local Perpignan newspaper ( L'Independent) and we also hosted two international journalists on a trip to the FAB Pyrenees Orientales.

Arriving on Tuesday , we collected them from nearby airport Girona ( and drove the short drive to the PO. They stayed in the beautifully restored Chai Catalan ( ) where they were welcomed by Pascale Jacquot for a delicious night cap of Domaine Treloars wine and catalan nibblies.

Wednesday morning, we headed off for Fuilla where the journalists met Penny Stratham from Fuilla in her beautifully restored gites at the foothills of the Pyrenees :
She accompanied them for lunch in the fortified town of Villefranche sur Conflent and then they took the yellow train to Les Bains de St Thomas where they plunged into the hot pools and enjoyed a relaxing hammam.
They shared an apperitif with Erik Gunderson from Village Catalan in Vernet les Bains, after which they were wined and dined with their genial hosts , Tiffany and Dave at Bistrot le Cortal in the picturesque spa town, Vernet les Bains :
With full bellies and tired but happy, they slept like babies in the gorgeous B&B in Prades, owned by Northern Irish couple, Declan and Sharon O'Kane :

Thursday morning, the invited journalists woke up to yet another glorious day in the Pyrenees Orientales with temperatures hitting the mid 20s. A prefect day for a motorcycle tour in the mountains. Roland Thomas of Fenouilledes Motos ( ) with the help of Erik Gunderson chaperoned them through the stunning scenery just north of Perpignan.
They stopped off in L'Auberge de Cellier in Montner where the chef matched his courses to local English wine maker, Corin Fairchilds wine : In typical french fashion, the meal went on for three hours and great fun was had by all.
No rest for the wicked, they were whisked into Perpignan where they met with Florence Sobra of Alfmed and chaperoned to a soirée in Canet. Canet is about 10 kms from Perpignan, a sandy beach with nice bars and restaurants ; we enjoyed a very sociable night in the Mar in Bouddha and watched the sun set behind the mountains.

With still more treats in store and the sun shining down on us, we visited Domaine Treloar on Friday( ) where we took part in a wine tour and indulged in some fine wines with our delicious lunch.
A short hop to Collioure for oysters and champagne and then , reluctantly, we said goodbye to Gemma Tipton ( Irish Times) and Brian campbell ( Irish news)

What a trip!

"Thanks again for hosting us on what was an amazing trip - it really was the best press trip I've been on! Everyone was so lovely and helpful and the itinerary had a bit of everything! It's a fantastic part of the world and I definitely plan to go back." Brian Campbell, Irish News

Friday, March 20, 2009

On the radio, radio, radio

France Inter were interviewing Irish people all week on National French Radio to coincide with Paddys Day. I was up on Monday as president of FAB PO and put on the spot with a few tricky questions .. I'll post the link as soon as I have it myself and you can listen to my jolie accent en français!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Beautiful One Day, Perfect the Next

Borrowing the Queenslands tourism slogan, this sums up the weather here at the moment as we wake up every day to clear blue skies and sunny warm weather.

Temperatures in the mid 20s over the weekend led us to pic nics on the beach and idylic days overlooking 'Le Grand Bleu", watching the yachts swanning around and sipping our cool "l'eau catalan" ( rosé)

Ahhh, as my lovely Uncle Terence would say : it's great to be alive!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cancer Support France

At our last meeting, Penny Parkinson, an English lady living in the Pyrenees Orientales chatted to us about her association : Cancer Support France.
It's a non profit making organisation set up to help people who have cancer or whose loved one has cancer.
Recently set up in the Pyrenees Orientales, they are looking to gain exposure to the English speaking community - if English speakers are unaware of their existence, they cannot do their stalwart work.
They provide a help line and will get back to your call within 24 hours.
Most of the counsellors have had cancer themselves or have nursed others with cancer. All are volunteers and all have had training in counselling.
It costs just 10euros to join and you should contact Penny at <>, - the national website is

Exciting Times!

FAB PO , since it's first meeting on a sweaty June 08 evening in Café des Artistes in Laroque des Alberes, has gone from strength to strength.

Now, with over 100 members, we meet at least once a month, to network, refer business to each other and to plan FAB PO events. Usually a glass of wine or two is involved ( we are in the South of France , after all!!!)

At the moment, we are all pulling together to organise a press trip next week ( 17 to 20 March). We have a group of international journalists visiting the area and are planning on giving them the time of their life.

They will eat in FAB restaurants like Bistrot le Cortal in Vernet les Bains, stay in delux accommodation ( Chai Catalan in Ortaffa and Les Hirondelles in Fuilla) and meet most of the FAB PO team while they are here. Roland Thomas from Fenouilledes Motos is going to take them for a motorcycle ride in the mountains and they will be wined in the award winning Domaine Treloar.

The journalists will tour around with moi ( Karen from the French Tour Co) as we visit the three gorgeous valleys in the region.

Our FAB PO soirée on Thursday 20th March promises to be a great night out in a rooftop bar overlooking the med. There are rumours that Dan Carter might even make an appearance.

Watch this space .......