Prickly things by the sea
If you research Argeles sur Mer on the internet, before you go, you’ll find a place with a varied and turbulent history. Being so close to the Spanish border it has always been seen as fair game as the prize in a good old scrap between the Spanish and the French. That’s why you’ll see many crumbling hill forts and castles clinging to the mountainsides all around this area. Even as late as 1939, Argeles-sur Mer felt the effects of major conflict when a concentration camp was established there to accommodate Spanish refugees from the Spanish Civil war.
However you’ll find none of this varied and turbulent history when you get there these days, because it has all been buried under fifty-eight modern-day concentration camps i.e. holiday campsites.
Likewise you’ll not find any deserted sandy beaches, as displayed on the official Argeles sur Mer tourist website. These too have been smothered but this time under the towels of fifty-eight million holiday makers, from the fifty-eight campsites….indeed you’ve got more chance of finding a vacant piece of sand in Antartica.
On the plus side you are going to be well-served for food, if you like pizza and kebabs. Once upon a time I used to go to France for the food. These days I can probably do just as well by camping out on an English council-estate shopping parade. However Argeles sur Mer is not unique in the culinary degradation of France.
I blame the ubiquitous fast food franchises. They appear to have zealously set themselves upon the evangelical mission to get all our varied nations of the world eating exactly the same sugary food, served in cardboard boxes, underneath their primary-colour plastic logos. Presumably, when all the peoples of the world do finally succumb to eating nothing but their box-based foodstuffs, we can do away completely with chefs, local cuisine and knifes and forks.
Thirty years ago the French wouldn’t have given them house-room, now the fast food franchises are as packed as an Argeles sur Mer beach.
I’m not saying Argeles sur Mer is all bad, but it just doesn’t have the class of a Brittany or Normandy. It doesn’t do itself any favours in its own marketing either. The motto on the crest of the town translates as ‘gather thistles, expect prickles’ or ‘who rubs there, pricks himself there’….quite where ‘there’ is, isn’t specified. Such a copy-line hardly paints a picture of fun and relaxation, unless ending up with a nasty little rash is seen as a positive outcome to what you got up to on holiday.
At the end of the day (which can’t come quick enough) it is a ‘Med’ resort and if you are used to ‘Med’ resorts then most of what Argeles sur Mer is about will come as no surprise to you i.e. fights over sun-loungers, sun-burn, traffic jams, crap food, crowded beaches, stubbed toes in the swimming pool and replica footy shirts.
On the plus side it is close to Perpignan, where they have a rugby league team…which is why I ended up there.