Walking Tour Around Old Town Ceret

In front of the “Office du Tourisme”, a statue by Manolo Valdés called “The Catalane” (1923) pays homage to the composer Dëodat de Séverac (1892-1921) in a bronze plaque on the base. A town coat of arms is above the door.

Walk up to the crossroads and veer left into “Rue Michel Aribaud”. At the intersection with “Rue Pierre Rameil”, you will find the Poor Hospital built in the 14th century. The stained glass windows of the “Capelleta” (little chapel) were created in 1985 by Alfred Manessier. Above the door, a crucifix between St Peter and St Paul was built into the facade the 14th century listed building.

Go through the gateway and walk up the steps of the open-air theatre. High on the hills are two important buildings: on the left with the small bell-tower is the 16th century Covent of the Capucins, another listed building. It was there that the terms of Treaty of the Pyrenees were negotiated in 1660. This was the Treaty by which the Roussillon region passed from Spain to France.

In front of you is the “Castellas” and on the right, the mined wall is all that remains of the ancient castle of the lords of Céret dating from the 9th-10th century. The house with the large glass windows belonged to the painter Pierre Umne who founded the Museum of Modem Art here in 1950.

Walk up “Rue Pierre Rameil” into “Place Picasso”. In front of you is another listed building, the Gate of Spain (13th Century) where you will find the Archaeological Museum in the west tower. The arcades were built in the 14th century. Inside “Bar Le Pablo” and “Hotel Les Arcades” you can find an important collection of works by artists who have stayed in Céret.

Walk up “Boulevard Lafayette” where some of the plane trees are more than 200 years old. On the right, a great portal leads into “Métiers d’Art Saint Roch”, a small arts and crafts studio, named after a favorite local saint, Saint Roche In “Boulevard Arago” are facades from the 19th century.

Cross “Rue Pierre Brune”, the old “long street”, which connects the castle to the village, to the “Place de la Liberté”.  It was in “Place de la Liberté” that highwaymen (called the Traboucayres) were executed on June 1846.

The War Memorial, yet another listed building, is a work by Aristide Maillol called “The Ache”.

On the far side of the square, take “Rue des Evades de France” on the left, n° 3 is the large Delcros House where Pablo Picasso stayed during the summers of 1911 (with Fernande Otivier), 1912 and 1913 (with Eva Gouel). It was also home to Georges Braque in 1991 and later to Krémègne.

Go back down the “rue de la Fusterie”, On the left, on the front of n°8, a plaque shows that the building once belonged to the Guild of French Craftsmen, a guild which toured the French regions.

At the end of the street, you will arrive at the “Gate of France” (13th century) which was redesigned in Italian Renaissance style in the 19th century when the adjoining building was added. It is now a listed building.

The first known ceretan bullfight took place in the 16th century in what is now the “Place de la Republique ”.

Take “Ed Joffre” on the left at n°8, in the Museum of Modern Art you will find exceptional collection of 20th century works of art. On both sides of the door are diptychs of glazed lava by Antoni Tapiês.

The next building is the Town Hall which was built as a convent in 1633. In the entrance hall is a bas-relief by Gustave Violet depicting the irrigation channel and the former town clock. In the courtyard is a statue by Francis Aggëry call “The Fingers” and three stone balls left by King Louis XI in 1542 when he ordered the town to pay a heavy fine and destroy its battlements.

Continue right into “Boulevard Jean Jaurès”. The fountain in front of the chevet of the church was made from Romanesque pieces found under the Nine Jets Fountain.

Take the next right into “Place Chaim Soutine” in front of the Hotel Vidal was decorated at the end of the 19th century with palm tress and crosses by Soubirane, the bishop of Neo Cesares in Algeria. The open space under the roof was previously kept for silk worms. The two wrought-iron weathercocks date from the early 18 th century.

Into the “rue Joan Gris” on the right. The fine Romanesque Portal was the house of Consuls, the original 13th century local administration building which is now the rectory.

At the end of the street is the “Place des Neufs Jets”. The Nine Jets Fountain was erected in 1313 during the reign of King Sanche of Mallorca.  It was topped with the Lion of Castille by King Ferdinand II of Aragon —“The Catholic” — in 1493, Husband of Isabelle of Castille.  On the base is the Latin inscription “Verite ceretenses leo factus es gallus” (come and see people of Céret, the lion (of Castille) has become a (French) cockerel) a reference to the Treaty of the Pyrenees under which Céret became part of the kingdom of France. This tells you pretty much all you need to know about the French state and its attitude to these possessions that still treasure their Aragonese past.

Two buildings on either side of the intersection with “Rue des Ichides” housed the Spanish delegates during the Céret Conferences in 1660 when the Treaty of the Pyrenees was concluded.

Take “Rue du Vieux Céret” down to the square and turn right to face the Eglise Saint Pierre, another listed building. This is the largest church with baroque architecture in France. It was built between 1668 and 1778 on the site of a church dating from 814.  The great portal, made of Ceret marble, was constructed in 1398 and is a masterpiece of the Catalan gothic style. Two funerary stones were placed on the facade, one at the end of the 13th century and one at the beginning of the 14th

Take the “rue Anton de Siboune” towards the bell tower. This was built in the 11th century and is one of the oldest in Catalonia. Continue through the alleyway where you will find one of the oldest wells in the town, and a house built of cairós (bricks) and pebbles from the river Tech.

Continue to the end of the alley where you will find yourself back at the town hall.

Source: www.midi-france.info
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