The Pyrenees are an essential part of Catalonia's soul. We've had several holidays up there and there's always something new to see but here are two top tips:
(i) the little train from Barcelona to Latour-de-Carol snakes through some of the most fantastic mountain scenery this side of Switzerland including some of the most historic villages in Catalonia. And, unlike the more well known Train Jaune, the journey will cost you less than a round of drinks. From Latour-de-Carol you can change onto a French train and head down the other side of the mountains to Toulouse or return to Barcelona after a bite to eat in the station café and a brief stop for some photographs. Buy your ticket to Latour from the automatic ticket machine at Sants Station otherwise you'll have to wait an age in a queue. Then, if travelling on to Toulouse, buy the ticket at Latour - don't attempt to buy a through ticket to Toulouse at Barcelona unless you really want to wrestle with the full horror of Spanish transport bureaucracy for half a day!
(ii) There are a number of spectacular minor roads leading north-west from Figueres up into the Pyrenees. Set your Sat Nav for Coustouges and follow the directions up into the heights of the mountains. Very quickly the tourist-strewn plain is left behind. The drive is amazing and when you reach Coustouges and nearby Sant Laurent de Cerdans you are in authentic Catalunya - check out the ancient Romanesque church in Coustouges. Both villages are actually in modern day France but are very much part of historical Catalunya and Catalan is still spoken. Sant Laurent has a long history of textile production, made possible by the numerous water-mills in the area, and you can pick up some traditional striped Catalan cloth for a song.
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