In Ceret: the town - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

December 3, 2018

In Ceret: the town

We’re staying at Poppys, a B&B facing one of the gates to the once-walled city.  It is owned and run by Paul and his wife, a pair of ex-pats who emigrated here from England fifteen years ago.  Paul is terrific - a good host, interesting, engaging and informative.  We enjoy an extended conversation over breakfast, listening to him tell us more about a town he obviously loves (my favorite fact: there is bullfighting, and running of the bulls in midsummer; the bulls run right beneath his window), and of their experience moving here and becoming part of the community.  He said it took three years, as though there was some sort of initiation period while the natives were all waiting to see if Paul and his wife were really going to stay.  Then, suddenly, people were talking to them on the streets, inviting them to meals, and sending business their way.  Now, they’re part of the establishment.

We would have a nice view of the Spanish Gate from our apartment if it weren’t for these trees.
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Ah, that’s better. You’d think the city would cut all these annoying trees down and improve the views.
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Before leaving town for the day’s ride we spent some time wandering through Ceret, using the pretext of looking for a market for lunch materials as an excuse to look around while the light is good and we still feel fresh.  This is our second time here, so our visit is a combined reminiscence and rediscovery.  We stayed overnight here on our first visit to Ceret in 2013, on route from Girona to Bilbao.  We immediately were attracted to the place then, and we found it even more appealing this time through.  There are so many aspects to it that add to its exceptionally lovely overall character.  It’s hard to say what attracts us the most here.  Perhaps it’s the clean, narrow streets in the walled old town.

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Or maybe it is the appealingly bright shuttered windows with their grilled balconies, characteristic of many Catalan towns.  They’re nearly all shuttered now for the winter, but they’re even prettier thrown open in the warmer months.

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Or possibly it is the fountains, scattered about in squares through the old town.

The Fountainof the Nine Jets
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The Fountain of the Nine Jets, with bicycle
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Q
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Or maybe it’s just the overall ambience - the artistry, the monuments, the relaxed atmosphere of its citizens going about their lives.  They make it look like a fine place to spend your days.

The war memorial, created by Aristide Maillol
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The portal to Saint Peter’s Church
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The city hall
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Still life by the city hall
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A wall of chocolate
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The French Gate
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Saint Peter’s Church
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For me though, I think the real crowning glory of this already great town is its trees.  Stately, graceful old plane trees tower over its arterials and squares, giving the place a real grandeur.  They’re magnificent.

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Or maybe it’s because the setting is gorgeous, and the place is surrounded by wonderful roads to be biked and trails to be hiked.  Or maybe it’s because we’re feeling nostalgic about leaving France in the morning.  Or maybe it’s just that we’re having the time of our lives at present, and we’re in the mood.  

Whatever the reasons are, we both have strong feelings about this place and fantasize more than usual about living here or staying for an extended period.  On the way home from dinner, we pause in front a real estate office, look at the listings, and find a place we imagine might be just the one.  Not this year, but some year?

Why not?
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Andrea BrownWill there be a guest room? Asking for a pal.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownYup, I think. My French is pretty poor, but that’s my reading of 2 Chambres. Only one WC though, so that’s a concern.
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1 week ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesActually, it looks like 4 bedrooms (or 2 bed, 2 other rooms) and 2 WC, one on each level, plus large living room, kitchen and utility/laundry. Sounds great and not too expensive. We recommend you snap it up.
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1 week ago
Bruce LellmanThat's 1339 square feet. That's plenty of room for us too. We wouldn't be there ALL the time. Buy it. I love the town and the trees. When can we move in?
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1 week ago
Bruce LellmanHave you bought it yet?
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1 week ago
Andrea Brownhttps://www.century21-cerisiers-ceret.com/trouver_logement/detail/1609713951/?came_from=/annonces/achat-appartement/s-0-/st-0-/b-0-/page-3/

Comes with spare electrodes on the bathroom wall tile. And a cat! We call dibs on the bathroom with the heated towel bar!
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1 week ago
Bruce LellmanYou can have the bigger of the two bathrooms. We don't care.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanWell, shoot. I knew it sounded too good to be true. It’s a fixer upper. And there’s an enormous plane tree blocking the view. And it’s on the main square, so there are all these old farts loitering around by the door making you nervous.
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1 week ago
Jen GrumbyHopefully there's another good buy. We're happy to help occupy any extra space, too. Heated towel bar would be nice, but not essential .. Keep us posted!
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonThanks for the flexibility, Jen. You HACs are the best! Well, you and Bruce, really, with his willingness to pass on the biggest bedroom. Sounds like you may need to arm wrestle Andrea over the heated towel bar though.
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1 week ago
Last Orders in France: after a delicious puréed pumpkin soup, we finished off the country with grilled duck with pepper sauce, and salmon.
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Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesOh! How could I have forgotten to note the pièce de résistance?
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1 week ago
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Bernhard BoserHi Scott and Rachel,

Much too rarely do I look at your journal. Perhaps better so, because each time I do I am ready to get on my bicycle and take off. And reading your journal also alleviates any fear that such a life cannot just go on "forever". That place in Ceret tough does look enticing!

Last spring you recommended Crete. Instead we went to the Cevennes, and now to Morocco. In spring it will be Bretagne. The good side is that this leaves Crete still for a future trip!

Enjoy your travels and best wishes for the holidays!
Bernhard
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bernhard BoserThanks for checking in, Bernhard. Ceret is pretty wonderful, alright. Also the Cevennes, of course. I keep penciling them into the itinerary for a return visit, but they keep getting pruned out somehow. One of these years.

Morocco? On bikes? I’d like to hear about your experience. We keep thinking about giving it. Try ourselves.

Cheers,
Scott
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1 week ago
Bernhard BoserHi Scott,

Evidently you make the weather, but also apparently not the roads! The morning looked perfect, with the snow behind the castle and all. Perhaps it’s just France versus Spain. And I always want to go to Spain.

We considered a cycling tour in Morocco, but then found an agency (well not really agency, just folks putting together tours when they feel like it) that created a very customized itinerary to small villages and the desert. None of this is really accessible by bicycle, at least not this season. So we gave up on the wheels and walk. At least part ways Dromedaries will carry the packs. An adventure of a different sort, I expect.

You still do more kilometers than we, but I see you also stay in one place for a few days more often. We enjoy touring much more since there is less packing.

Bonne continuation,
Bernhard
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1 week ago