Villelongue-dels-Monts is a typical southern French village. It is located in the Albera Massif (‘Des Albéres’), a promontory of the Pyrenees. The village, with 1,700 inhabitants, has good infrastructure and is within walking distance of the villa. There are two restaurants, a shop called Vival selling fresh vegetables and baked goods as well as food, healthcare and household goods, a bar & café, a town hall, school, post office, the church of Saint-Etienne, a tennis court, boules court, hairdresser, car repair shop, a family doctor, a campsite and children’s playgrounds in the centre. There is a market every Wednesday morning.

The population is a mixture of the old village community plus new arrivals, young French families and holidaymakers, who come mainly from France, the UK, the Benelux countries, Germany and Scandinavia.

As everywhere in the Pyrénées-Orientales region, Catalan is the second official language and visitors will immediately notice the dual-lingual signage. Flags with yellow stripes and the letter ‘C’ stand for ‘Catalunya’ and show the region’s pride in its Catalan roots and its ties with neighbouring Spain. In the village centre, close to the town hall, an old stone building houses a small local museum.

The French name Villelongue dels Monts means ‘Long place in the mountains’ and is a very fitting description of the shape of the municipality. It is a narrow, 10 km-long strip winding its way through the Albera Massif from Montesqieu to Larqoue des Alberes, all the way to the plains of the River Tech. The highest point is the peak of Pic d’Aureille (Catalan: ‘Puig d’Orella’) which is 1,030 metres high. The village centre in the valley is just 35 metres above sea level. In other words, the elevation increases by almost 1,000 metres over a distance of just six kilometres.

Above the village, deeper into the mountains, stands the Priory of Santa Maria del Vilar dating from the 12th century. It is one of France’s most significant historic monuments. It is part of the Orthodox Monastery of the Dormition of the Mother of God (‘Monastère de la Dormition de la Mère de Dieu’), which stands adjacent. The priory was restored by the order many decades ago. It is open to visitors. Tickets cost 5 euros. The priory is approximately 2 km away from the village centre.

Gastronomy in the Village

„Soixante Six – Bodega 66“ s typical of this region with its Catalan influences. As a tapas bar and restaurant with indoor seating and a terrace, it offers a fusion of Catalan and French cuisine. There is live music at weekends. The staff speak English.

Price category: medium. Credit cards accepted. Take-aways possible. The menu is limited but everything is made fresh to order.

Opposite the post office is restaurant L’Axurit with indoor seating, a terrace and bar service as well as a limited yet varied menu: paella, pizzas, fish, meat, burgers.

Price category: medium. Credit cards accepted. Take-aways possible. Everything is made fresh to order.

The Café-Bar in the village is always busy, whether inside at the bar or outside in the winter garden above the sports area. The clientele is a mix of locals and holidaymakers who mingle over beer, wine and pastis.