A tree-lined avenue leads to La Fauvelle – an impressive building, built as a ceramic factory in 1850 and bought by the present Norwegian owners in 2001. They’ve restored everything stylishly and created a comfortable, relaxed and welcoming place to stay. A vast entrance hall leads to a dining and lounge area with high ceilings, modern art and grand arched windows. Enjoy breakfast here or under the grape vines on the terrace overlooking lawn, palm trees and a large saltwater pool – lots of choices including bacon, omelettes, cheese, croissants, fruit, jams and juices; an enormous antique cupboard serves as a bar. The big ground floor bedrooms all have French windows and views on to the bird-filled garden or patio; find fresh, clean lines with splashes of Catalan colours, polished terracotta floors and mosaic-walled en suites. Walk into lively Thuir for supper (10 minutes); visit local vineyards; take a peek at Spain from Canigou – one of the highest mountains in the Pyrénées. Pretty village Castelnou with its château on the hilltop is festooned with small shops and restaurants and sandy beaches are a 30-minute drive.