Beautiful Collioure is one of my favourite destinations in the South of France. With the Pyrenees mountains tumbling into the sea, the impressive harbour, the castle, wonderful old church, beach-side restaurants, narrow old streets, bijou boutiques, art trails and three beaches; what more could you ask for in one town? Collioure is easily the most picturesque coastal resort in South France.
Collioure was first settled by the Phoenicians and Greeks as a trading port on the North western edge of the Mediterranean. Since that time it has been occupied by Romans, Barbarians, Arabs, Spaniards (at least 4 times) and finally after the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, the French. The Knights Templars, built Collioure's impressive castle (Chateau-Royal) in the 12th Century and this was later used as a residence for the Kings of Mallorca. Today the castle dominates one half of the harbour. At the other end, the church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges, was constructed in the 17th century and features the sistinctive round bell-tower that so often features in pictures and paintings of Collioure. At the turn of the 20th Century, Collioure underwent another invasion. But this time it was artists - the so-called Fauvist artist group - that featured, Matisse, Derrain, Rennie-McIntosh and Dufy. The final invasion came at the end of the 1930s when Catalan rebels fled Franco's troops at the end of Spain's bitter Civil War. Here in the cemetry is buried Antonio Machado, Catalan's celebrated poet who died in a refugee camp in nearby Argeles-sur-Mer (Picasso's poster "Homage to Antonio Machado" is displayed in Collioure's Musee d'Art Moderne).
Collioure tourist information
You can spend a very pleasant day in Collioure. There are three small beaches in collioure that back right onto the town (see Collioure Beach). The beaches are separated by the Church and the Castle and everything is ringed in by the harbour that is testament to Collioure's maritime history. Collioure still makes a healthy living from its salted anchovies that are exported all over France. Collioure also has a wonderful old town, feturing numerous restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. There is also a wonderful art trail through Collioure (see Collioure Art Trail) where you will find picture frames mounted on stilts through which you can look through and see the scenes painted by Collioure's famous resident artists of the past. We always tend to go to Collioure on a Sunday and take in the market which is always busy.
Eating in Collioure
We always splash out when we go to Collioure and eat in one of the harbour restaurants. They are not that much more expensive than the restaurants in the narrow streets behind, but the views are infintely better. One of these restaurants, "Les Templiers" features paintings donated by Picasso, Matisse and Dufy. It is amazing how little Colioure has changed since the days when these artists whiled away their time here.
Parking in Collioure
I have to say that in the height of Summer parking in Collioure is a bit of a nightmare. We always try and park in the big car park at the back of the castle, but if this is full we then head to the Southern end of town and park on one of the streets up on the hill. It is a bit of a walk down (and then back up again), but the views are excellent.
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