Collioure is all about art and inspiration – gastronomy – pretty harbour
Nestled in a sheltered bay on the Mediterranean coast, Collioure is a charming seaside town at the very south of France, close to the border with Spain.
One of the jewels of the Côte de Vermeille or Vermilion Coast which stretches from Argelès-sur-Mer to Cerbère, Collioure is also a fishing port and the renowned Lateen sailed fishing boats are a joy to see if you are lucky enough to catch them in full sail!
Known as the ‘City of Painters’; artists, poets and writers have always been inspired by this pretty harbour town with its magical light and unique sunsets. Picasso, Matisse and many others have set up their easels here and there’s plenty for the creative eye to enjoy today, with nearly 30 art galleries to be explored.
As with much of the Languedoc Roussillon region, Collioure is renowned for its wine production and has some enviable restaurants. It’s also famous for producing tasty anchovies in various forms, and delicious golden crispy biscuits known as Les croquants.
Things to do in Collioure
There are several beaches around the the Bay, or the Anse de la Baleta, and just outside. Click here for a map to see where they are. My favourite is the St-Vincent/Boramar Beach beside Nôtre-Dame des Anges.
Modern Art Museum and art galleries
The Museum of Modern Art in Collioure is housed in a beautiful villa on the edge of the town and features work by Matisse, Derain, and Maillol. It hosts regular exhibitions and showcases leading contemporary artists. Throughout Collioure, there are around 30 art galleries for the art enthusiasts to mosey around.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Henry Matisse and André Derain arrived in Collioure. They were students of artist Gustav Moreau, the famous professor who inspired the style of painting named Fauves by a critic – French for ‘wild beasts’. This movement used daring bright colours and caused reverberations to ripple through the art world influencing Picasso, amongst others. There are twenty pictures now in place around Collioure, sited at the points of these artists’ original point of inspiration – an exciting wander for art lovers.
The Château Royal (Royal Palace)
The castle sits by at the sea and offers stunning views for miles around. It has an interesting history to explore, as well as an art gallery, small museum and outdoor theatre. There is a small entrance charge. Check opening times if going off season.
Tomb of Antonio Machado
The famous Spanish republican poet fled to Collioure to escape Franco’s dictatorship and died in the town in 1939. He and his mother are buried in the cemetery in Collioure. An international poetry competition still runs in his honour.
Collioure’s Wine Cellar
Tucked away in a 13th century monument is a surprising treat in the form of the cellar of the Dominicans. You can visit the old St Dominic church and the vineyard and winery producing the wonderful AOC Collioure, AOC Banyuls and Banyuls Great Vintage wines. There’s a mini museum, guided tours on selected days in the summer season, and most importantly – tasting sessions are available to be enjoyed.
Notre Dame des Anges
This extraordinary building was built in several stages and it served as a warning tower for the harbour. Its foundations were built in the sea, with the belfry added in the middle ages. A new church was built in the 17th century with the dome completing the evolution in 1818. It’s an interesting and beautiful building and a key landmark in Collioure.
Fort Saint Elme
Set between Collioure and Port-Vendres, Fort Saint Elme is strategically located and commands a breath taking view of the entire Roussillon plain. This was an important fortress throughout France’s turbulent history. It was demilitarised in 1903 and today the fortress is a cultural site dedicated to the middle ages and the renaissance. There is a museum and tours on offer to tourists.
This 13th century tower was built to protect the region from attack. It’s now a television relay station but it’s a wonderful hike if you’re feeling energetic and enjoy spectacular views.
Visit nearby Cerbère and maybe see the Sardana
Cerbère is a charming resort on the Côte Vermeille like Collioure and is the last French town before the border with Spain. Indeed for many years it thrived due to this proximity with its neighbour as many of its day to day needs came by rail from there. These days it is renowned for its famous wine Banyuls-Cerbère and its Catalan culture. Historically is has associations with Sardine fishing using Lateen sailed boats and if you are lucky you might catch the locals performing the Sardana, the national dance of Catalonia.
Our selection of restaurants in Collioure
- Casa Leon
2, Rue Riere,
Phone: +33 4 68 82 10 74
This is an elegant, bustling, authentic restaurant just off the seafront. Seafood is a speciality here and there’s a lovely range of fresh local options to try.
- Le 5eme peche
16 Rue Fraternite,
Phone +33 4 68 98 09 76
This is a highly regarded restaurant serving Japanese-French fusion food with a focus on seafood. Recommended by the Michelin guide, this elegant eatery does not disappoint. It’s small, renowned, and reasonably priced – so best to book.
- Chez Simone
Plage du Boramar,
Port de Collioures,
Phone: +33 4 34 29 93 47
This is a small, friendly tapas bar with a great location in the bustling town and delightful views out over the sea. Reasonable prices, simple food and helpful service.
- Restaurant Le Neptune
Route de Port-Vendres,
66190 Collioure, France
Phone: +33 4 68 82 02 27
Le Neptune is in a magnificent location at the harbour. It’s more of a fine dining style than some of the other options available and the prices reflect that. Watching the sunset from the harbour terrace over dinner is worth every penny.
You will find a wide range of local produce and crafts at the markets on Sundays and Wednesdays. There is also a fish market in the nearby town of Port Vendres which runs every day except Monday.
Driving distances from Collioure to nearby cities
Toulouse 150 miles/242 km
Aix-en-Provence 206 miles/332 km
Barcelona 121 miles/196 km
Girona 60 miles/97.9 km
Carcassonne 93 miles/151 km
Narbonne 62 miles/100 km
Perpignan 18 miles/30 km
Where to get tourist information in Collioure:
Office de Tourisme
Place du 18 juin – BP 2
Phone: +33 4 68 82 15 47
COLLIOURE PROPERTY SCENE
Properties in Collioure are mostly made up of seafront villas or old village houses – often brightly coloured. This is a sought after area so there is low availability of property for sale, and rental potential is high so the prices reflect this. One bedroomed apartments start at around €160,000 and houses in the town start from €300,000 upwards.
For your convenience you can find below a map of Collioure here
All images, except Nôtre Dame des Anges, ©Paul Shawcross
More information on the eastern part of Languedoc, i.e. the Gard and Montpellier, can be found in Paul’s App Provence’s Best the ideal travel guide to Southern France’s sun-drenched traveller’s paradise. It details key DESTINATIONS; outlines several ITINERARIES; and suggests great places to EAT and DRINK. All content (200+ points-of-interest and 400+ pics) is original & independent; no recommendations are ads.