Villefranche De Conflent

Villefranche-de-Conflent, little bastide town in deepest Pyrenees-Orientales, is one of les plus beaux villages de France, and looking at the beautiful old houses, some dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, one can see why.

The loveliest houses, like the church of St Jacques, are built from pink marble, which used to be quarried locally.


The town was founded in the 11th century, essentially as a military strongpoint, although it passed rapidly into Spanish hands, only returning to the French again in the 17th century.

The military capabilities of Villefranche were strengthened by the addition of a castle - fort Liberia - above the village, and those with strong legs can still struggle up the "escalier des Mille Marches" today to the fort, from where there is an excellent view of the village and its surrounding countryside.

Home to many colourful fetes and events, each Easter Villefranche holds a festival of Giants, when the village's giant couple - two huge puppets 4 metres high - are promenaded through the narrow streets, joined by other Giants, mostly from Spain.

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