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5.- Argeles-sur-Mer, the museum

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The museum Casa de les Alberes contains an excellent collection of tools for all kinds of traditional Catalan trades. Originally a private collection and housed in a building, which contained the village's first water tower, donated by the town council, the collection has since grown organically thanks to donations from local residents.

The museum is small but well-organized with helpful staff. You can learn that cork takes 15 years to the first harvest, which is thrown away and then a further 30 years to the second one, which is usable. Most cork cutters are Spanish perhaps because the cutting season in Spain is longer than in France. Cutting is still carried out by hand as machines damage the trunk leaving scars which are vulnerable to insects and may even lead to the death of the tree. Cork also protects the tree against forest fires.

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