Have you ever seen photos of a particular place in a travel brochure or on TV and thought “I must visit there one day”? That’s how my desire to visit Collioure came about. I’d seen photos and read about the French seaside town in numerous travel magazines and guide books and added it to my bucket list.
During my stay in Olonzac, near Narbonne, in the Languedoc region of France this year, I decided it was time to find out why Collioure was so popular. Although I only had 24 hours to spend in Collioure, it was a very enjoyable visit.
Collioure is in the south west of France about 20 minutes from Perpignan and just 26 kilometres from the French/Spanish border. The old town is built around a small harbour and small beach with the tall, narrow buildings clustered together amongst cobblestoned alley ways.
During the 20th century artists such as Matisse, Chagall and Picasso flocked to the town to paint the beautiful landscapes and capture the colours of the town on canvas but long before then it was a sought after place to live.
The town (and the surrounding region) has changed hands from Spanish to French governance numerous times over the past centuries and it still retains a strong Catalan flavour today.
We had just 24 hours to spend in Collioure and spent our time wandering the alley ways, browsing in the boutiques and galleries, enjoying the pleasant seaside ambience and eating at the excellent restaurants.
A highlight was a ride on Le Petit Train, a mini tourist train that takes visitors for a 45 minute ride through Collioure, up through the surrounding vineyards to Fortress St. Elme for fantastic views down over the town and then back through Pont Vendres, one of the busiest ports in France.
With English commentary provided through headphones, the train ride was a good way to learn more about Collioure and surrounds. These tourist trains can sometimes be a bit too touristy but this one was informative with great scenery.
If you have more time to spend in Collioure there are plenty of historic buildings to visit including the 14th Century Chateau Royale, the Church of Notre Dame Des Anges (which includes an altarpiece covered in gold leaf) and The Mill, one of the oldest mills in Roussillon which is now used as an oil mill.
Wine lovers will also enjoy the chance to taste some of the region’s famous wines. Both Collioure and Banyules sur Mer, which is just up the road, wines are produced here and there are plenty of Caves (cellars) in town where you can sample, and purchase, the local produce.
Other local specialities are anchovies and Catalan fish dishes.
Must Do in Collioure:
Le Petit Train – around €8 per adult. Departures on the hour from 11am to 6pm (10am in July/August). Arrive early to buy your ticket.
Where to Stay in Collioure:
Hotel Les Caranques – We hadn’t pre-booked our accommodation before arriving in Collioure but if you plan on visiting in July or August it is highly recommended that you do so. We chose the Hotel Les Caranques for the views it offers over the sea and the town.
Rooms weren’t large but were modern and clean and included free WiFi and basic toiletries. Free on-site parking is available for guests. All rooms have views over the Mediterranean and the main town of Collioure.
Breakfast (additional cost of €13 per person) included yoghurt, fruit, bread & rolls, cereal, cold meat & cheeses, juice and tea & coffee.
Where to Eat in Collioure:
Restaurant La Plage – what a first impression of Collioure we experienced at La Plage. The friendly waiter recommended the catch of the day, John Dory for two, which he proceeded to de-bone in front of us before serving it. The food was excellent and presented beautifully, the service was great and the view from our outside table was superb. Lunch for two (main course and dessert) cost €75 including wine and coffee.
Need to Know about Collioure:
Collioure is located on the Mediterranean Sea on what is known as the Vermillion (Ruby) Coast, 30 kilometres from Perpignan and 197 kilometres from Barcelona. Access to Collioure is via the A9 motorway.
Visitors without a car can reach Collioure by train or via a shuttle bus from Perpignan airport.
Whilst visiting Collioure, make sure you allow time to explore more of the Occitanie region.
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