875km (544 miles) SW of Paris; 34km (21 miles) SE of Perpignan

The attractive town of Céret is known for two things: cherries and Cubism. Located in the Vallespir Valley, its microclimate between the Pyrénées and the Mediterranean has given birth to countless cherry orchards that are somehow sheltered from the tramontane, the brutal wind of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. This unofficial cherry capital of France generally provides the first fruits of the spring. When the Catalan sculptor Manolo Hugué (1872-1945) came to live in Céret in 1910, it wasn't long before his artist friends followed -- initially Picasso and Braque, and then later Matisse, Dufy, and Chagall. The town was also a place of refuge for those fleeing fascist Spain from the 1930s onwards. Today people are drawn here for its pleasantly bustling atmosphere: Cafes line the main boulevard, and the town hums with people and activity. This is a bit of a rarity in southern France, where the populations of many villages have dwindled as people departed for the cities.