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motorway aires: 14

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motorway aires[1]
Château de Salses, A9

 

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Motorway aires are designed to provide a suitable environment for relaxing, refreshing and recovering during the long, hard journeys. As well as facilities of often dubious nature, picnic tables and seats, a telephone kiosk, there are often optional extras such as a play area or a display related to some local interest or event.

The Chateau de Salses fortress.

château de salses aire

On the eastern, northbound side of the A9 autoroute, there is a deceptively big aire overlooking a large military fort on the coastal plain below. The fort is a 300 metre stroll through the Mediterranean forest that is part of the aire. After the olive and pine tree copse, you will pass the fitness circuit and continue to the wildflower-speckled track that leads to the fort.

Mediterranean wildflowers at Chateau de Salses aire.

To walk around the fort itself is a distance of about one kilometre. Note that there is a wide and deep moat surrounding the fort, with no safety fencing and few warning signs. You are advised to keep well clear, and to make sure that any children do not approach the moat. This is especially important as there is a persistent, blustering and very strong wind here that can unbalance an adult, let alone a child.

On your way towards the fort, try to note landmarks to help you find your way back without getting lost. There are no intermediate sign posts, and if you leave the main path, for instance to walk around the fort, you may take a similar but incorrect path when returning to the motorway aire.

View from the ceramic plan of the Fortresse de Salses to the fort itself.
View from the ceramic plan of the Fortresse de Salses to the fort itself.

 

interesting facts about the Fortresse of Salses and its surrounds

  • Area covered by fort : 115 metres by 90 metres.
  • Outer wall thickness : 10 to 12 metres.
  • The monumental building at Salses is called both Fortresse de Salses and Château de Salses. It was originally a border fort, but was later abandoned, becoming a nature reserve for migrating rare bats. Now the fort has been refurbished and is the local historic building to visit.
  • The nearest village, Salses-le-Château, was renamed in 1986. Its former name was Salses.
  • The large étang between the motorway and the Mediterranean is called Étang of Leucate or of Salses - Étang de Leucate ou de Salses. Pink flamingoes can be seen, as well as other wading birds.
  • Leucate is from the ancient Greek for white, the shallow étang is much lighter, almost white in the sun, compared to the nearby, generally blue Mediterranean Sea.
  • The word Salses comes from the Latin salinas fons - salty water source.


  • The entrance gates to the Fortresse de Salses.
    The entrance gates to the Fortresse de Salses.

  • The Château de Salses was built by King Ferdinand, work starting in 1497 and finishing in 1503. Its purpose was to protect the then frontier between the Kingdom of Aragon (later, Kingdom of Spain) and France. It is a example of the transition between medieval fortified châteaux and modern bastionned fortifications.
    As a national monument, this building is called la forteresse de Salses, Salses fortress. As well as being accessible as a twenty minute walk from the northbound aire, you can also reach it from Sorties 40 and 41, or from the coast using D11 or D83.
  • Opening times : 1 June to 30 September: 09.00 to 19.00/7 pm.
    1 October to 31 May: 10.00 to 12.15 and 14.00 to 17.00/2pm to 7pm.
    (Closed on 1 January, 1 May, 1 November, 11 November, 25 December.)
  • Entrance charge is 6.50€ for adults.
  • Official website (in English)

sketch map locating the Fortesse de Salses aire

Sketch map locating the Fortresse de Salses aire.

The eastern Chateau de Salses aire, near the coast, from which the frontier fortress is accessible, is the first aire after the Perpignan Nord exit (n° 42) when driving north from Spain. It can also be accessed by walking through the tunnel from the southbound side of the A9 motorway (when going towards Perpignan and Spain).

The Château de Salses aire is in Département 66 - Pyrénées-Orientales.

end notes

  1. aire: in this context, an area —
    aire de loisirs: recreation area;
    aire de pique-nique: picnic area;
    aire de repos: rest area;
    aire de services: services , motorway (GB) or freeway (US) service station.















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New translation, the Magna Carta

 

on first arriving in France - driving motorway aires, introduction
travelling by rail to and within France individual aires                                             
A75 autoroute from Clermont-Ferrand to Béziers and its aires Les Pyrénées, A64 Poey de Lascar, A64
A89 autoroute from Bordeaux to Clermont-Ferrand and beyond - aires Pic du Midi, A64
Hastingues, A64
Dunes, A62
Mas d’Agenais, A62
A7 - aires on the busy A7 autoroute from Lyons to Marseille Pech Loubat, A61
Port-Lauragais, A61
Mas d’Agenais, A62
Garonne, A62
A9- aires on the motorway to Spain Ayguesvives, A61
Renneville, A61
Catalan village, A9
Tavel, A9
A62 - aires on the autoroute of two seas three aires on the canal du midi, A61 Lozay, A10
Poitou-Charente, A10
A65 : the autoroute de Gascogne, from Langon to Pau Carcassonne, A61 Les Bréguières, A8
A64 and A61 - aires on the other autoroute of two seas  
A83 motorway in Poitou-Charentes - aires A63: the French Wild West, Bordeaux to the Spanish border - formerly the N10
A837 motorway in Poitou-Charentes - aires A20 - aires on the Occitane autoroute, from Brive to Montauban
A42 and A40 motorways - aires from Lyon to Switzerland and Italy A87 motorway and its aires in Poitou-Charentes

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