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!