Travel

5 great reasons to visit Collioure, France

Skyline in Collioure, France

I love to travel and explore new places, so living in the south of France gave me the golden opportunity to visit southern cities and explore their riches.

France has so many beautiful cities and villages and while most are adorned with natural marvels and historic sites, Collioure stood out.

Back at my apartment, dreamy tales and colorful descriptions from Patrizia, my Italian friend who worked in Collioure convinced me it was worth a visit, so I decided to visit. At just 30 kilometers away from Perpignan where I lived, i set off to discover Catalan’s city of interest.

Monuments

Right where we got down from the car, I was first greeted by a pleasant sight: A beach. With transparent blue waters from the Mediterranean Sea. it wasn’t just the beach that caught my eyes, it was a castle forcing my eyes to stretch further left, capturing a scene, a picturesque image:

The sea shore in Collioure

The waves of the blue Mediterranean Sea striking loudly against the solid foundation walls of this historic beauty. I knew where my tour would start: Le Chateau Royal!

Boats sailed by slowly, blue waters moved at the direction of the mountain winds.

A peculiarity of the South is the winds, in the absence of cold and rain, we had winds, occasional but strong winds, in all honesty, as a west African I found it aggressive at first, but it grew on me.

Mediterranean Sea

 The port was not so busy as it was spring (way to beat the crazy summer flock of tourists), but I could see empty boats tied to the port while their owners chatted away at nearby restaurants.

Boats by the port in Collioure

My visit in the spring was not planned or deliberate, however after traveling to Collioure in the summer, I can safely advise anyone to visit in spring, early or late summer. This way you’ll not only avoid the site of tourists splattered all over the beach and streets, you’ll also be in very good weather.

Walking left from the castle, I followed my map I had picked up at the tourism office, and quickly found the Eglise Notre-Dame-des-Anges, a historic monument constructed in the 18th century with a religious Gothic architectural style popular in this French region, and graced with a huge tower bell at the top.

 This tower bell was originally designed to indicate the positioning of the port during the day via smoke, and via fire at night. The church now wears a cupola, inspired by a model built in Toscana, Italy.

I retraced my steps back to the beach and found the Museum of Modern Arts for a quick tour, barely a 5 minutes’ walk from the beach. Not much to see here as it’s very small, but you might as well visit while there.

Cafe in Collioure

 A quick dash to “Domaine la Tour Vielle,” a local wine industry, to discover the locally made and famous wines, along with its large vineyards! Coming from Africa where farming and large cultivated land space is popular, I was not interested in walking through large hectares of growing plants (insert vineyards), so I quickly retired, ready to explore the streets… but not before we sat for a glass of wine.

The narrow streets

I inhaled the all too familiar, and now hypnotizing smell of brewing coffee as I walked past coffee shops, I scribbled past small crowds of school students led by a tour guide, turning to smaller pedestrian streets. Here I admired small but beautiful houses with bright colored windows and recently blooming flowers that announce early spring, then I noticed some very interesting details on a street, paintings.

Streets of Collioure

Centuries ago, a painter’s obsession was born in this small village of 13.2km² square, sitting strategically between France and Spain in this commune referred to as Catalan. So if you love a mix of cultures, this should be on your travel bucket list!

Originally a fisherman’s village Collioure has now become a strong cultural and historic landmark in the south of France.

Let me say this: Collioure has a whole lot of natural beauty and monuments to discover, but for me, it’s the human effort that left me captivated, the decorated little streets, the small housings, the brightly colored window frames, and the paintings.

In 1905 precisely, painters and ex-students of Gustave Moreau, Henri Matisse, and André Derain discovered this village, inspired by its beauty, they created paintings; paintings of live colors and of beautiful walls, paintings of the sunrise and sunsets, paintings of tourist boats by the port and of the blue Mediterranean Sea, paintings of petite houses and their flower surroundings, all of which illustrates the allure that this city holds and are real expressions of Collioure.

Fauvism Art

Like photographs done by a painter’s brush, a new form of art was born: Fauvism! Many other painters soon followed suit.

 Centuries later, these paintings are a real attraction for the city as artists of all genres flock here. The city is filled with galleries, and exposition signs pop up at most streets.

Some of the most famous Fauvism arts are well represented at “Le Chemin de fauvism”, located at Quai de l’amiraute. There’s also the “Espace Fauve” located at Avenue Camille pelletan, some paintings are displayed at the places that inspired their artists.

Collioure hosts a lot of festivities and exhibitions in the summer, most of them by the beach, where a mix of locals and tourists scattered all over makes it almost impossible to see the beach restaurants on the other side.

Food

Talking about restaurants and food, Collioure has restaurants and bars at almost every turn, so I stopped at the restaurant.

Fish meal in Collioure

Because I’m here visiting a former fisherman’s village, I tried a fish meal: Anchovy- a locally prepared fish meal served with white wine that happens to be the specialty here.

Other meals on the on the menu include seafood, Paella, and a local Spanish specialty called “la cargolada”(grilled snails). You’ll have options to choose from.

Other places to see

Tour Madeloc: For hiking and cycling

Tomb of Antonio Machado: An ancient tomb, holds history.

Fort Saint Elme: A historic Castle

Casino: Evening games, drinks, and fun

Getting to Collioure:

Collioure has a train station so it’s accessible from every French city that has a train station.

 The closest airport to Collioure is the Perpignan-Riversaltes Airport, located about 40 kilometers from Collioure. Once at the airport,  it’s a 35 minutes car drive, and a 2-hour train ride.

 If you plan to stay for a while, I’ll advise you to come by public transport, and rent a bike while at Collioure, most roads leading to Collioure are often filled with tourists going to Spain or vacationing somewhere in the south!

Accommodation

Like most cities that are tourist attractions, Collioure hotels are pricey in the summer, prices can start from 60 euros to 200 euros depending on room comfort, however, if you book in advance or visit off-season, you’ll get lower pricing. If you’re not so keen on the privacy that comes with hotel rooms, check out Airbnb offers and other camping sites.

For more on hotels and reservations, check

booking.com/collioure/hotels

For more details on Collioure, see the tourism site

Bon Voyage

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