Villefranche-de-Conflent Travel Guide

  • Note the Catalan flag in the watchtower
    Note the Catalan flag in the watchtower
    by iandsmith
  • One of the corner towers
    One of the corner towers
    by iandsmith
  • A base for the Speleo Club
    A base for the Speleo Club
    by iandsmith

Villefranche-de-Conflent Things to Do

  • Vauban

    If you're interested in history, Vauban is worth some boning up on.This fascinating man changed sides during his career and was a greatly influential engineer during the reign of Louis XIV.Though wounded several times he proved to be a courageous man and very inventive, coming up with a technique known as ricochet fire and inventing the...

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  • Pont Saint Pierre

    I did but see it passing by.....well, actually I did first up but then, when I got off Le Petit Jaune (litte yellow train), I drove over to the village specifically to get a picture of it and then ended up spending a couple of hours in the delightful village.However, without the Pont Saint Peirre, a genuine 13th century bridge, I would never have...

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  • Shopping in Villefranche

    There are lots of arty/crafty shops in the two streets that comprise the village so it's a pleasure to walk up one and down the other, taking time out for a cuppa as we did on the way.You might keep an eye out for the plaques indicating the trade that hang above the doorways, as shown in pic 2.

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  • The portals

    You'll probably enter through the Porte de France, built during Louis XVI's reign, which is to the left of the entrance the counts used to use.

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  • Vauban's work

    The fortifications that were added by Vauban (1633-1707) consist of 12 groups of fortified buildings and sites along the western, northern and eastern borders of France. They were designed by him and were added in 2008 to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.Villefranche is an outstanding example of his handiwork.

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  • Pont St. Pierre

    In the 19th Century, Napoleon III ordered extensive building works, notably the construction of the underground passage "of a thousand steps" which links Villefranche de Conflent to Fort Liberia via 775 steps (starting point by the Pont St Pierre, a Roman bridge).

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  • The confluence

    Founded in 1090 by Guillaume Raymond, Count of Cerdagne, the wonderful setting is at the confluence of the Cady and the Tet with steep cliffs all around. Over the centuries the fortifications were added to until finished by Vauban.Classed as one of the 'Most Beautiful Villages in France', Villefranche is one of the 14 Vauban sites retained for...

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  • Background

    The small town was built in 1090 on the initiative of the Count Guillaume-Raymond de Cerdagne. The ramparts of Villefranche-de-Conflent have kept their original layout and the medieval essence. The ramparts were strengthened and enlarged by Roi d'Aragon in the 13th century to use it as an outlying post. But Vauban gave it its actual aspect in the...

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  • Petit Train Jaune - Little Yellow Train

    The name says it all really. It's a train which is little and yellow. But it goes through some fantastic mountain scenery in the French Pyrenees and because it's such a little train it gets really close to some of the scenery and you can feel it even more if you get on one of the open air carriages which run in the summer. You pass over some...

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  • Fort Liberia

    In addition to strengthening the town walls of Villefranche, Vauban also constructed a detached fort up on Mount Belloc. This was achieved in order both to dominate the town and to deny to any enemy the opportunity to do likewise. This very impressive detached work is called Fort Liberia.To get to fort Liberia one can walk around the mountain or...

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  • the marble

    Throughout Villefranche a lot of pink marble is used. This is the entrance to the St Jaques church. Notice the fine sculpture work.The marble comes from the area.

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  • Saint Jaques church

    Do visit the small but lovely St Jaques church.Behind the pink-marbled façade you will find a very modest looking interior. The beautiful altarpiece is made by the Catalan Master Sunyer. Several pieces in this church date from the 13th and 14th century.

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Villefranche-de-Conflent Local Customs

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    by tompt Written Sep 21, 2003

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    Once upon a time, long ago, when magic and sorcery were around, the witches lived in the caves of Conflent where they spent all winter.

    At the end of winter they cleaned their brushes and left the caves to celebrate the arrival of spring with the villagers of Villefranche. Doing this, they brought the vilagers happiness, cheerfulness and prosperity during all the year.

    It is in the Catalan tradition to give a close relation or a child, a witch as a sign of friendship. One suspends it either in the house, or in the room of the children to move away the bad spirits and to leave place with happiness.

    If you walk around Villefranche you can buy witches on every streetcorner.

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Villefranche-de-Conflent Warnings and Dangers

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    by tompt Written Sep 25, 2003

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    The walls around Villefranche-de-Conflent are ancient. Therefor the stones are not really solid in place. They can easily fall down. So the authorities made up a law which tells you not to walk or stand close to the walls.

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Villefranche-de-Conflent Sports & Outdoors

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    by tompt Written Sep 26, 2003

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    Climb the 734 steps up to Fort Liberia. IF you are fit enough that is. You can also walk your way around the mountain on a fairly easy way, and take the steps down to the city.
    But by all means take the steps once...... it is a great experience, such a long covered stairway.

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Villefranche-de-Conflent Favorites

  • Time frame

    •In 1095 the newly-built town is named VILA FRANCA ('Town of free-trade') by the Count of Cerdanya. The tax privileges bestowed on Villefranche encourage the installation of many different trades: weavers, tanners, drapers, stonemasons, merchants...•In 1277, exclusive market rights are granted for the sale of meat, fish and vegetables on the Place...

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  • History of Villefranche-de-Conflent

    1090 - Villefranche-de-Conflent is founded by Guillaume Raymond, Count of Cerdagne. 1117 - Authority over Villefranche passes to the Counts of Barcelona. 1344 - Villefranche passes to the Kingdom of Aragon. 1463 - Villefranche becomes French for the first time, under Louis XI. 1493 - Guardianship of Villefranche passes to the Kingdom of Castille....

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