The plan: to backtrack from Prades to Cabestany to see the museum of Romanesque sculpture and to Montesquieu les Albers (near Le Boulou) to see Saint Martin de Fenollar which we had missed on our previous tours. We actually hadn’t known about Saint Martin until we’d consulted the Zodiac book about Romanesque art in Roussillon in the priory of Marcevol! Zodiac books are the authority for Romanesque art lovers, but Jim had researched using Internet sites (we didn’t have the relevant Zodiac book)and had somehow missed this gem.
My mission: to figure out how to get to Cabestany. Buses seemed nonexistent or perhaps were local, Cabestany being close enough to Perpignan to be considered a suburb. We’d had a wretched time cycling through Perpignan, so I wanted to find a more rural route. One or two hours of poring over Google maps and Satellite view later, I thought I had a pretty good route and a mental image of what it would look like.
It was easy…until we hit an unexpected autoroute and a lot of car dealerships and box stores, obviously of recent construction. Where the heck were my green fields and gravel roads? It seemed like hours of fruitless searching, including a wild goose chase to the Moulin à Vent a helpful (?) stranger directed us to. We were hot, sweaty and annoyed by the uncharacteristically discourteous drivers, so admitted defeat and headed back to the bus station for lunch and to catch a bus to LeBoulou. At least we knew the way to Montesquieu, along quiet country lanes and designated bike paths.
We rolled up to the church in Montesquieu only to find that it wasn’t called Saint Martin but Saint Saturnin! Our authority, the Zodiac book, had placed the church near Montesquieu, but this wasn’t the place. A local woman said she didn’t think there were frescoes in the church and there wasn’t another church nearby. Finally I consulted our tourist pamphlet guide to places of interest in the area, and discovered that the church was in Maureillas-las-Illas. A quick check of the map told us it was very close to our campground in Le Boulou, and the church was even marked on the map! A half-hour’s backtrack and five-minute ride (past the campground) led us to this 10th century church, the apse of which was covered with 12th century frescoes of the nativity, the 24 elders of the apocalypse, the tetramorph, Christ in majesty and a curiously Eastern-influenced Mary. We stood in awe for half an hour. Unfortunately we weren’t able to take photos, but if you google Saint Martin de Fenollar, some images pop up right away.
And that was our day of futile cycling.