There is the South of France, and then there is the South of France – and the Côte Vermeille is just about as far South as you can go before entering Spain. A hidden stretch of coastline nestled between the buzz of Argelès-sur-Mer and the raw beauty and peaks of the Pyrenees. This 35-or-so kilometre long coast is a brilliant patchwork of vermillion coloured rocky coves, azure Mediterranean waters and emerald green vineyards. In the middle of it all hides Collioure, the pearl of the Vermillion Coast.
With just under 3000 inhabitants, this village is both quaint and beautiful and is a must-see for holidaymakers that comes highly recommended, especially for those looking for some authenticity and culture in a wonderful setting. It’s lovely staying in one of the many holiday villas and apartments that are nestled in and around the centre.
Having been occupied by Spanish troops in the 1700s, Collioure has retained a charming Catalan culture that can be noticed everywhere in the village. There is a magical blend of Spain and France that has not gone unnoticed by the great artists that we all know and love today – Picasso was just one of the many artists who took inspiration from Collioure’s Royal Castle, the lighthouse and the breath-taking Mediterranean bay. The art is still very prominent to this day, thanks to the many fantastic galleries that dot the cobble-stoned streets.
Collioure’s shopping culture is absolutely fantastic and for those looking for some originality, you will not be disappointed. The streets are filled with plenty of “artisanale” shops selling handmade jewellery and soap, clothing, accessories, homeware, candles, toys, books, gemstones, mosaic tiles and more, all of which would make welcome additions to your personal collections, or souvenirs for loved ones.
Whilst wandering around the village, you will notice that there are two different parts of the village; one new, one old. The newest area remains very quaint and has a vast array of restaurants, bars and shops for all budgets. The older part of the village is filled with cobble-stoned streets leading to independent shops.
You will be absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to dining, thanks to the countless restaurants that make up the village. From fresh seafood caught the very same day and tapas, to local dishes, pizza parlors and ice cream stands, without forgetting the delicious local wine.
Collioure is the ideal place for a family holiday and is very child-friendly. There are 3 main beaches in Collioure, all equally as beautiful as the next with two being pebble beaches and the third being sand. All three beaches have absolutely stunning views over the village and the Mediterranean, on the passing boats and on the beautiful windmill and fort towering high above in the mountains.
Nearby are various other beaches and towns, such as Perpignan, Argeles sur Mer, Port-Vendres, St Cyprien and Canet en Roussillon which all get fairly busy during the summer months, however, the beaches are very large and sandy and are fantastic for kids. Each of these towns have great markets during the summer, as well as an abundance of activities, restaurants, bars and days out.
If it’s history and architecture that you’re looking for, Collioure is definitely for you. Highlights include the Eglise Notre Dame des Anges, the Chapelle Saint Vincent, the Temple Protestant, the Cloître des Dominicains and the Cellier des Dominicains. Alternatively, you can simply wander the streets and take note of the wonderful Spanish influence left behind from the 1700s.
Markets and Festivals
Collioure is lively year-round, but it really comes into its own in the summer months. There are markets galore two times a week, as well as a night market during high season, which makes a fabulous extension to the local shops. The Saint Vincent is the most popular festival which takes place every year around the 15th August; this festival attracts over two times the population and lasts several days – it is a must-see!
As far as accessibility, Collioure has many car parks dotted in and around the centre, all within easy walking distance to the beach. Alternatively, you can take the train or bus into the centre.
What’s your favorite town in the South of France?