Host to Pablo Casals festival
www.prades-tourisme.fr. A relaxed, leafy little town at the foot of Canigou, Prades is renowned for its summer Festival Pablo Casals. An exile from the Franco regime, the Catalan cellist spent 23 years living in Prades, and the tourist office houses the one-room Musée Pablo Casals.
On the café-lined main square, the cobbled Eglise de Saint-Michel sports a fine belfry, pink marble detail and behind the altar is an enormous gilded Baroque reredos. The handsome Mairie is also here, and the wonderful Tuesday food market offers a huge range of produce cultivated in the Tech valley.
Before heading for the hills, the Abbaye de Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa (3 km south via the D27) merits a stop. Surrounded by peach and apple orchards, its buildings gather around a crenellated belfry near the river, and the pink marble carvings in the cloister are realized in riveting detail.