Collioure France. A Haven for the Creative Mind

Collioure France. Beauty and the Beast.

I love history and culture, it is one of the main reasons I enjoy travelling in a car rather than taking a package deal. There are so many places to see, so many stories hidden behind closed doors  and of course beautiful art and architecture to be appreciated too. The history and culture of Collioure is something I wish to immerse myself in. I want to absorb the environment and let it ooze through in my writing and art.

When I think of Collioure I conjure up images of past artists living in relative poverty following their dreams, yet the prominence of artists and galleries on the streets of the town leaves nothing to the imagination.  Away from the madding crowds of summer this is a haven for a creative mind, however it is different  in the hot summer sun being shunted by bad tempered tourists pushing and hurrying when there really is no need. It is indeed a case of beauty and the beast.

Collioure France at it's best, unique outdoor seating

Collioure France, at it’s best, unique outdoor seating

The Beauty of Collioure

Let us take a  moment to appreciate the beauty of Collioure, a small Mediterranean town in the Pyrenees Orientales department of France. As part of the Languedoc Roussillon region this area is said to experience 300 sunny days a year, whilst it gets cooler in the winter months the light that makes the town almost glow is there for a large percentage of the time.

Surrounded by a stunning coastline and steeped in history it would be hard not to appreciate this place. The town used to be two villages separated by the river Douy. This is quite apparent when you walk around the water, it would be easy to follow the crowds and just see the main harbour but if you walk around the corner beneath the walls of the fortress you will find a small beach and access to a less commercialised area. You can sit on the pathway and dangle your feet in the water and let the fish nibble your feet if you so desire but Lola and I opted for a quick swim from the small beach. For your interest,  the old town to the south named Port d’Avall (in French known as Le Faubourg)while the upstream port, Port d’Amunt (in French known as La Ville).

The hills surrounding the town are laid out immaculately with the clean lines of vines, there is an  Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) for the wines produced here and it provides a stunning backdrop to the sandy amber toned buildings which glow against the many blues of the sea. 

It truly is a beautiful place to visit and one which I would love to return to with pen, paper, paints and canvas. I could get lost here.

The Beast

Of course, no place with such history and appeal will be untouched by tourism and it is fair enough, money must be made to survive in a modern world.

The beast for me may not trouble others, it is simply crowds and a fair amount of souvenir shops. That’s what you get in these places and if you are not bothered by this please visit in the summer by all means, but if you want to relax and take in the ambience try spring or autumn. Talk to the locals and wander the back streets, absorb the atmosphere and sample fresh anchovies (rumoured to be the best in the world) together with a glass of local wine.

If you’ve got the time rent a property for a month! If you want to explore the Catalan region it would be a great base, situated close to the main roads and easily accessible to the Pyrenees and Spain you have a culinary and visual delight on your hands! For example one of my favourite towns in the area which I am writing about is Ceret, you can easily sit there sipping a cool drink watching the day go by and the locals go about their business.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that these locals have very high longevity rates despite eating high fat diets, smoking and drinking plenty of wine. The pace of life and importance placed on making the most of time is evident at every corner, it’s probably why I love it here, they are people after my own heart. 

But that aside, if you want to stay somewhere nearby there are plenty of campsites and hotels to satisfy every budget. See my previous post An Introduction To Collioure  for more details of where we stayed and how to find Collioure. I can certainly understand why this region is so attractive to people who are dreaming of moving to France in fact, I am in the same mindset which is of course what Living La Vida Lola is all about. Finding our special place and sharing our adventure with you as we search for it. 

I guess what I wanted to deliver in this post is simple, this place is a marvel. I could not currently afford to live there but I will return in the future, perhaps Lola will be old enough so that I will be able to do as I dream and write or paint while she plays. My goal is to come up with as many landscape painting ideas as I can while exploring out wonderful year. Last year was all a bit of a rush and of course at 3 years old there is no rest for mum!

With that thought in my mind I must leave you while I go to collect my little girl. This is the problem with writing, I get myself into a place of nostalgia and into a flow –  and then life comes along and interrupts me. But once again it is all part of the journey. Does is really matter whether I finish this post today or can it wait until tomorrow? As long as I am taking steps forward I am working towards our goal and to be able to share such great memories of the places we travel is a privilege, one which I hope is also a pleasure to you to read. 

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Thank you for reading, this region has more secrets to share from the past which I will write about next. Watch this space for more about Collioure!


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