The yellow train is a tourist institution celebrating its centenary in 2010 and is the highest train ride in France going through the Pyrenees from Villefranche de Conflent to Latour de Carol. You might well ask what does this have to do with being based in Girona for a holiday, well it is less than an hours drive to Perpignan from where you can get an ordinary train and in 45 min arrive in Villefranche where the "Train Jaune" begins.
The whole trip from one end to the other takes over three hours winding through the mountains from 400m altitude to 1,600m with spectacular scenery all the way.
The train itself is special as it is built for sightseeing all year round and taking skiers up to famous ski resorts like Font Romeu and Les Angles. The fun part is choosing a town along the route to get off and explore a bit more on foot. Mont-Louis is one option where you can discover the fortress building skills of Vauban, the foremost military engineer of the 17th century. He worked consolidating France's borders from a defensive perspective and was duly rewarded by his patron, Louis XIV, making him a Marquis.
Villefranche also has an impressive Vauban fort to walk around and these as well as 6 others have been made UNESCO world heritage sights in 2008.
Le Train Jaune is a great excursion for all the family; there is something for everybody from the train ride and scenery to all the different villages, fortresses and ski resorts to explore.
The very best way to see the spectacular scenery of the Costa Brava, without spending hours fighting the crowds at this time of the year, is to do it from the air.
Microlight sightseeing trips are offered in various places but the one I took is based outside l'Estartit (www.ultraligeros.net) and Javier was a perfect pilot and guide. The 15 min flight takes in a remarkable variety of scenery; from the River Ter estuary discharging into the sea; the wide beaches to Pals, and then the rocky coves of Begur, Aiguafreda (great views of the Parador) to the tiny Sa Tuna beach; back to the amazing Isles Medes (underwater national park); Estartit harbour and along to the Castle at Montgri and below the town of Torroella and finally down the river Ter and the vivid green rice fields of Pals back to land at the tiny airstrip.
On a clear day there is no better way to get a feel for the splendour of the coastline and seeing it from a very different perspective, as a seagull would, was a real treat, thank you Javier, I will be back for more!