This is a good choice if you're a French local in search of a cheap vacation, and would also be a fine choice if you have kids. Or, if you must travel near Perpignan but want something reasonably priced right on the Mediterranean, this is also logical. The room was small but adequate, the bed and bathroom were fine, and the hotel staff was absolutely exemplary: professional, helpful, and kind. English-speaking too, which in my case was a necessity.
This whole hotel seemed kind of dark and with tired decor. It was mostly populated with retired tour-bus trippers, although we saw these other guests only at breakfast as this was just the start of off-season. The breakfasts are way overpriced but the rolls were great. The coffee was, hands-down, the worst I have ever had, and since I'm almost 60 and have have practically been taking coffee intravenously for 40 years, this is a serious indictment. Fortunately, if you walk out of the hotel and go to the left across the main road, there is a restaurant on the far corner by the beach that has excellent coffee. Also, almost immediately at the hotel entrance is a tiny bar to the left as you exit that was open intermittently and served absolutely excellent sandwich tapas.
This hotel has a connected and separately-run exercise facility on, I think, the third floor, with a pool and exercise equipment and the whole bit--it was small but very nice.
This town is not too interesting--by the beach just high-rise hotels/apartments, but there's a merry-go-round and touristy beach stuff and even a casino next door. I did walk the entire town, and the best (and priciest) hotel did seem to be the Flamante Roses, but you should be aware that is on the very southern tip of everything and is extremely isolated. This hotel, in contrast, has an extremely good location.
For nearby sites, if you have a rental car and you're on vacation, stay out of Perpignan! Not that interesting either. But if you must drive in, you might do best with a GPS. I got lost so often in that town that it permanently colored my entire opinion of southern France and absolutely not in a good way, although I am extremely proficient with maps and north-south orientation. I had to take my husband in once a day for business to the middle of the old city. Thankfully there were signs and I finally got the route nailed, but if I deviated from it by one turn I immediately became hopelessly lost. The traffic was also almost always terrible--New York City terrible except one-lane. I have never used so many cuss words in my life as when driving there! At the end of our stay we left our hotel an hour and a half earlier than necessary solely to allow for getting lost while returning the rental car downtown and get to the train station (one block from the rental car place), but it was a close call. Yep, we became hopelessly lost after getting to the rental car place, simply by looking for its parking lot.
Now the French countryside is totally different and the highways and signs are great, and it seems like every town has an easily-located tourism office. I recommend driving up to La Barcare, another forgettable little port town except it's cuter and had the world's biggest flea market, and then cutting inland west through St. Hippolyte (love the name) to Salses le Chateau--a tiny and dusty little town where a Roman garrison was stationed when Hannibal landed. Just on the west edge of town is the amazing Forteresse de Salses, which is gigantic. It was built around the time of Columbus, when this portion of France belonged to Spain. Worth at least two hours.
Also, if you travel south down the coast, the next couple of towns down are just ok, but keep going until you get to Collioure. This was the port for Perpignan for centuries, and now it just about the most charming tourist town ever--tiny streets, a harbor with a fort on one side and a church and watchtower on the other, and the most attention to apartment landscaping I have ever seen. Adorable. I believe some Impressionist artists painted here, and it seemed obvious why. Tons of restaurants and great food and ice cream stands. If you go there be sure to take the north coast road in/out of town, and stop at the furthest north small fortress (there are two large parking lots on the sea side of the road, although you will not see the fortress until after a short walk from the upper parking lot), and be sure check out the Nazi bunkers nearby and a medieval wall below. Not hard to see why all of these military fortifications were located here--the view of the Mediterranean is mind-boggling.
So--a mixed bag! This is not the optimal vacation destination, but if you have to be here, a very reasonable choice.
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- Also Known As:
- Mar i Cel Hotel France/Canet-En-Roussillon