Prats de Mollo la Preste
Visit Prats de Mollo la Preste (Languedoc-Roussillon, France)
Prats de Mollo la Preste is an attractive medieval town town in the Pyrenees Orientales department near to the border with Spain. It has a medieval centre, an impressive fort and a spa. It is just 15km from the attractive town of Ceret.
Exploring Prats de Mollo la Preste
Prats de Mollo la Preste is really two towns - there is the medieval town of Prats de Mollo and the spa town of La Preste. The two have been linkded since 1959. When you arrive in Prats de Mollo park in the large square called Le Firal and pick up a leaflet from the tourist office on the square.
Then enter the medieval city through the Porte de France, the main gate and one of five entrances to the city. The Porte d'Espagne on the South side of the town is another of the main gates and if you walk through and on to the narrow bridge outside you can see the arches of the original medieval bridge below.
Ramparts enclose the medieval town and these were built in the 14th century though they were destroyed by an earthquake in 1428, rebuilt and destroyed again. In the 17th century they were rebuilt under the instructions of Vaubans engineers. It is possible to walk on some sections of the ramparts.
Inside the Porte de France you enter the charming narrow streets of the medieval town. Steps lead up from the Place d'Armes to the fortified church originally built in 982 but little of the original remains. Note the whalebone sticking out of one of the walls - an usual offering to the church. There is a rampart walkway next to the church which was built for its protection.
Be sure to enter the little Chapelle des Saintes Juste et Ruffine near the Port de France. This has been very brightly decorated inside by a local artist - Jean Lareuse.
One of the highlights of a visit to Prats de Mollo is its Fort, Fort Lagarde. For me the climb to the fort was of as much interest as the fort itself. Be warned though it is not for the unfit - there is a little bus if your energy is flagging. To walk leave the medieval centre through the Porte de la Fabrique and head for the covered pathway. I had been expecting a rose covered pathway or some such thing but no! It is a narrow, very dark tunnel with holes along its length to let in a small amount of light. It is climbing uphill all the way but at the end it climbs very steeply. So much so that if I had not been wearing sensible shoes with some grip I think I would have been continually sliding backwards. I think children would love it (so long as they are not scared of the dark!). When you get out of this tunnel there is then a steeper subterranean tunnel to enter, however though steeper I found this easier as it is steep steps and not just a steep slope.) All in all a very unusual method of arriving at the fort.
There is a path that winds more gradually up to the fort if you are looking for a less dramatic climb of the hill. My husband waiting at the bottom of the hill for me (blisters) was amused to overhear a group discussing a visit to the fort - see blog.
The oldest part of the fort is a round tower built at the begining of the 14th century. This is now in the middle of the star-shaped donjon of the fort which was begun under the direction of Vauban. Vauban was very keen on this star shaped design and it crops up often in his work. Work on the fort continued up until the 19th century. Whilst visiting the fort, as well as the fabulous views, there are the kitchens, barracks, dungeon and arms room to sea.
La Preste is a spa whose waters are reputedly good for urinary infections and which also has many beauty treatments.
Places to visit nearby
The Reserve naturelle de Prats de Mollo is a nature reserve with a cafe and a picnic area.
Not far away are the Gorges de la Fou. The Gorges de la Fou is the narrowest gorge in the world!. It can be explored by way of a wooden pathway that clings to the edge of the gorge. It has a safety rail and is very safe for children.
There are lots of walks departing from Prats de Mollo and neighbouring villages.
Photos of Prats de Mollo la Preste
Click any picture to start the gallery
Address: Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste, Céret, Pyrenees-Orientales, Languedoc-Roussillon, 66230 || GPS: latitude 42.404722, longitude 2.479722
Map of Prats de Mollo la Preste & places nearby
Highlights close by
Mount Canigou 13km
Gorges de la Fou 14km
Arles sur Tech 14km
See lots more places to visit nearby and a more detailed map at places near Prats de Mollo la Preste.
See Languedoc-Roussillon and Pyrenees-Orientales (the region and department for Prats de Mollo la Preste) for more travel ideas...
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Prats de Mollo la Preste, France
- Massif du Canigou - grand site of france (13km)
- Abbaye Saint Martin du Canigou (Casteil) - religious monument (14km)
- Eglise de Sainte-Marie (Corneilla-de-Conflent) - religious monument (20km)
- Abbaye Saint Michel de Cuixa (Codalet) - religious monument (21km)
- Villefranche-de-Conflent - most beautiful village (23km)
- Villefranche-de-Conflent enceinte / fort (Vauban fortifications) - heritage site (23km)
- Prieuré de Serrabone (Boule-d'Amont) - religious monument (23km)
- Prades - recommended detour (24km)
- Eus - most beautiful village (27km)
- Eglise de Sainte Marie de Marcevol (Arboussols) - religious monument (29km)
The French version of this page is at Prats de Mollo la Preste (Francais)