Visit Elne (Languedoc-Roussillon, France)
Elne is a town situated on the Tech River about four kilometres inland from the Mediterranean coast of Languedoc-Roussillon, and 12 kilometres from Perpignan. It is in a raised position on the narrow strip of lowland that separates the Mediterranean from the foothills of the eastern Pyrenees, with the mountains forming a suitably dramatic backdrop.
It has an interesting and long history that includes Hannibal and his elephants stopping there for a while en-route for Italy in the 3rd century BC, and a terrible siege in 1285 in which the town was burned and the inhabitants massacred (at this time Elne was part of Catalonia, only becoming part of France in 1659 with the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees).
Elne falls into two parts, the Upper Town and the Lower Town. A visit to Elne Cathedral and cloisters in the Upper Town will be the highlight of your visit.
The roman style Cathedral Sainte-Eulalie-et-Sainte-Julie was completed in the 11th century. Work began on rebuilding the cathedral in the 14th century but was never completed, which explains the irregular appearance of the main facade - the tower on the right was built but not the tower on the left, so a much smaller tower was added later instead. The cathedral is notable for the lack of decorative stonework on the outside.
The cloisters were also built over the course of three hundred years, which explains why some parts are more ornamented than others - despite this the closters are very beautiful, with marble arches featuring interesting capital stones surrounding a nicely maintained garden. The cloisters now also contain a Museum of History and a Museum of Archaeology.
Other sites of interest
Still in the Upper Town you can also see the ruins of the Episcopal Palace and the Capucins Convent, while in the Lower Town, believed to be the oldest part of Elne, archaeological excavations have revealed a very early roman-christian necropolis.
You will also come across parts of the original ramparts as you explore Elne, including three of the original gateways through these defensive walls.
Market days are mondays, wednesdays and fridays, and bear witness to Elne's role as an agricultural region, with the vineyards and orchards especially reflected in the local produce available.
A highly regarded impressionist painter and friend of Matisse called Etienne Terrus also came from Elne, and spent much of his career here painting watercolours of local landscapes. If you are not familiar with the artist visit the Museum Terrus to see his works, and works by other contemporary artists. The influence of Terrus on the town has also encouraged other artists, potteries and related arts to open galleries here.
Note: a local Butterfly Farm, set in a tropical garden, is said to be very pleasant but we weren't able to visit
Photos taken within 10 km
Address: Elne, Perpignan, Pyrenees-Orientales, Languedoc-Roussillon, 66200 || GPS: latitude 42.599, longitude 2.9726
Map of Elne & places nearby
Highlights close by
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Elne, France
- Eglise de Saint Michel (Saint-Genis-des-fontaines) - religious monument (8km)
- Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges (Cabestany) - religious monument (9km)
- Perpignan - town of art and history (13km)
- Chapel Saint-Martin de Fenollar (Maureillas-las-Illas) - religious monument (16km)
- Castelnou - most beautiful village (22km)
- Orgued d'Ille-sur-Tet - site of natural beauty (30km)
- Eglise de Trinité d'Aregno (Aregno) - religious monument (30km)
- Chapelle de Casenoves (Ille-sur-tet) - religious monument (30km)
- Prieuré de Serrabone (Boule-d'Amont) - religious monument (32km)
- Eglise de Sainte Marie de Marcevol (Arboussols) - religious monument (39km)
Market days in Elne: Regular market(s) are held in Elne each Wednesday & Friday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Elne (Francais)