Collioure is famed for being one of the places Picasso chose to live and paint, but when I first learned of this jewel in the Mediterranean my instinct was to run! The words, “it gets pretty busy with tourists” are a red flag to me. I am more likely to be found sauntering, and taking frequent breaks for refreshments. The idea of bustling streets anywhere other than where they should be, like a morning market, has me quaking in my flip flops!
It was not my intention to go to Collioure, but following a challenging three-year-old moment in nearby Argeles Plage, I spontaneously took to the road in search of distraction. My plan to drive to Spain was also thwarted because I knew it was going to be a very hot day, and a temperamental child in the car does not make for ideal driving conditions!
I am lucky. I am able to take my daughter travelling outside of the school holidays; not only does this make it much cheaper, but it also means we miss the swarms of crowds that descend upon tourist areas in the height of summer. I hate to imagine how this pretty little spot in the South of France is during high season. Even in mid September, the narrow streets are busy. The queues for ice cream and coffee are manageable, but it’s early morning and the buses have yet to arrive.
Rather than spill all of the beans in this article, I shall first tell you how to get to Collioure. It’s easy to get to and, despite my reference to the crowds, it really is a little beauty of a place that you will enjoy… of that I’m sure.
This French town can be found on the Mediterranean coast between Perpignan and Spain. It is part of the Catalan region and hides beneath the stunning Pyrenees, sitting snugly in a sheltered bay. We stayed at Siblu’s Mar Estang holiday park, Canet Plage, from where the drive is only around twenty minutes, and when approaching from this direction, it is a pleasure to see the town emerge as you come over the hill.
Directions to Collioure.
If you are coming south, you can take the D914 from the direction of Perpignan using exit 13 signposted to Collioure and Port Vendres. Upon arrival to the outskirts of Collioure, you will go around a roundabout before starting to descend into the town. Very soon, you will see a sign on your right for parking at the top of the hill, and my advice (if you able to walk well) is to park here and walk into the town. This provides the opportunity to walk up to the cliffs where you can take in the view before you head down to the town itself.
From Spain, your choice will depend on whether you are prepared to drive the coastal route (which I thoroughly recommend). This route changes from the N260 (Spain) to the D914 as you cross into France, and it is a stunning drive, if a little twisty. I have to say that after many thousands of miles covered whilst driving in France, this has to be one of my favourite roads. From Barcelona, you would head to Figueres then take the N260 to Llanca before following the road to France. Of course, you will need to get off at exit 13 again to drive into Collioure and follow my previous instructions.
For those who prefer the fast lane, stay on the AP7 or the N11 until you reach Le Boulou, here you will take the D618 towards Argeles sur Mer before joining the D 914 and then following the route described above.
Here is a map of all routes courtesy of google maps.
The Walk into Collioure, France
The walk from the car park is down a steep hill, but I managed it with a three-year-old in 30 degree heat, so provided your legs and lungs are strong, it is possible. There is parking in the town which is limited and more expensive, but if your legs aren’t as good as they once were this would be the sensible option.
As you approach the narrow streets you will be struck by the colours of the architecture and the nature of the traders. There are many artists both resident in shops and exhibiting their paintings on the waterfront… what else would you expect in such a location?
My advice to you is to make sure you wander those streets, walk around the whole of the waterfront not just the obvious hotspots. Lola and I found a back street patisserie with great cakes, and the obligatory ham and cheese baguette was considerably cheaper than the centre of the town. There wasn’t a queue either!
We spent three hours exploring this pretty town, and whilst I was initially reticent to visit I’m pleased we did. ,My next post will bring you more photos and background information about this historic site.
You may be gathering that I am not one to follow the crowd. My life with Lola is all about making the most of the small things and creating memories. If there is a beaten track, I will not be found on it, I will be walking or driving in the opposite direction! This approach allows us to find little treasures that are left of the travel guides, it’s also part of my bigger plan to find the place where we may eventually buy a little home.
You see it’s all part of the journey we are taking – exploring and learning and hopefully inspiring others to do the same.
Thank you for reading, please comment or share below and pop over to the next post in this series Collioure – A Haven For The Creative Mind.