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History and heritage d'Argelès-sur-Mer

History and heritage of Argelès-sur-Mer: from beaches to pages

Argelès-sur-Mer may be famous today for its iodized spots and peaceful atmosphere, but it hides a more tumultuous history. Owned by the Kingdom of Majorca in the Middle Ages, then the scene of tragedy before the Second World War, today the town is proud of its Franco-Catalan identity. During your stay, turn the pages of Argelès-sur-Mer’s history, and learn all about the region’s heritage!

Casa de l'Albera : where history is made

Even yesterday, the first Argelésiens caressed time in the Albères massif. From ancestral know-how to traditional customs, Casa de l’Albera knows everything inside out. Starting with the history of the massif. A permanent exhibition invites you to step back over 40 centuries. Handicrafts, traditions, folklore: Argelès-sur-Mer’s heritage is on show at the Casa!

Feeling restless? Take a guided tour of the village of Argelès-sur-Mer for a breath of fresh air (and heritage)! Book a guided tour of the former royal city at Casa de l’Albera and stroll through its monuments steeped in history. From the Notre-Dame del Prat church to the clay cornices, our enthusiastic guides will be delighted to reveal the secrets of the village.

*At the House

 Tell me about the beach...

Want to swap cairos facades for the Mediterranean? Casa de l’Albera has just the tour for you. From the Bois des Pins to the seafront, “Raconte-moi la plage” takes you on a guided tour of the coastline. From 19th-century villas to refugee camps, the beach plunges you into an eventful past.

Argelès-sur-Mer Camp Memorial : here, memory is honored

In the heart of the village, the Camp Memorial commemorates one of the darkest episodes in the history of Argelès-sur-Mer. Ever heard of the Retirada?
The year was 1939, and General Franco was in the process of coming to power after the coup d’état he had organized in 1936. The Republicans, who had opposed Franco for 3 years, were forced to flee Spain after the fall of their last stronghold, Barcelona, on January 26, 1939: over 450,000 people, soldiers and civilians, including women and children, crossed the border at Le Perthus. The beach at Argelès was hastily designated as a reception area, which in reality became a concentration camp.

From February 1939 to September 1942, the camp was successively populated by Spanish refugees, refugees from the May 40 debacle, Jews, nomads, former international brigadists and other “undesirable foreigners”. In all, more than 160,000 people passed through the camp on the beach.

A true documentary site, the Camp Memorial provides an insight into how the camp functioned. Enjoy a visit between light and shade to learn more about this part of our national history. Interactive scenography, audiovisual testimonies, archival documents… the space offers an emotionally-charged experience.

Did you know?

During the winter of 1939, the Pyrénées-Orientales department had the largest number of camps for foreigners in France. Most of them, especially those along the Spanish border, were temporary. These included Argelès-sur-Mer, Collioure, Saint-Cyprien and Arles-sur-Tech.

History of Argelès-sur-Mer : where it all begins...

The Catalan flag combined with blue, white and red? These are the colors we proudly claim for Argelès-sur-Mer! To better understand what makes this region so special, it’s important to understand its history. In the Middle Ages, the town was tossed back and forth between the kings of Aragon, Majorca and Spain, before finally becoming French. Architecture, gastronomy, language… Today, we are well and truly on Catalan soil. And that’s what makes it so charming!

From the Casa de l’Albera to the Mémorial du Camp, Argelès-sur-Mer has plenty of places to hone your historical skills. Do you already know everything there is to know about the area and its heritage? On the beach or in the heart of the village, it’s time to look at the town through the prism of history. Commemorate the memory of refugees, learn about the origins of Notre-Dame Del Prat and pick up a few words of Catalan… That’s what Argelès-sur-Mer’s heritage is all about!

 The Catalan word box

  • Axurit = resourceful
  • Que fas ? = what are you doing?
  • Apulit! = gently!
  • Benvinguts = welcome
  • Gràcies = thank you
  • Adéu = goodbye
  • Bon profit = good appetite