Collioure is one of the most beautiful villages in France and sits on the stunning southern coast where the Pyrenees meets the Mediterranean Sea near the Spanish border in Catalan territory. It was the perfect place to spend Bastille Day with the French, which is their independence day and the biggest holiday in France, so yet another good reason that we stayed longer for the World Cup celebrations in Barcelona. Instantly, one understands why Collioure has long been loved by artists like Picasso and Matisse for it's light and beauty.
There are some very touristy, built up areas north of Collioure, but for some odd reason, this very pretty village gets much less , retains it's authentic charm and is visited mostly by the French. We stayed at a campground called Les Criques de Porteils which is just walking distances away and is charming with a private beach, campsites with Mediterranean sea views, hiking, mostly French campers, free wifi and two pools. ( Bad news is it can be very windy, the free wifi often goes out for many hours or days at a time , beach view sites have no shade, pools are pretty but very small and the violent wind broke our awning, although they helped us repair it.) We also found it not really convenient for those without cars or if you have mobility issues like I do, but over all, quite pleasant for a short stay based on the positives and far superior to the other choices we looked at nearby. They even had picnic tables which is a rarity in Europe.
4 photos showing our campsite and our Med view from our site with a tree with personality
We started the day at the market in town which is always a fun part of being in the south of France and enjoyed being serenaded by a talented local live band in French as we browsed all the interesting looking goods under the giant, beautiful Plane trees. I'll write more about that in another post soon, but it set the mood for the day in typical European summer style.
Like in Venice, Italy or most enchanting villages in Europe, just wandering around taking it all in and feasting one's eyes on the many splendors is half the fun. As the day heated up, we decided to enjoy the spectacular beach views from front row seats under shade, so sat down in the prime seats at the Copacabana restaurant at the waters edge for a drink or two and some lunch. We nursed those for several hours as per the European custom, basking in the beautiful views and people watching in a lazy summer contended fashion. Bliss. Luckily, kids don't have the same satisfaction for endless view ambiance, no matter how spectacular, so Mozart sat on the opposite side of the table and when conversation died down, was content to read her book, leaving us adults plenty of time to enjoy the romantic buzz, verdant hills against azure sea and sailboat gazing.
As expected in such a place, it was only an adequate lunch, but the glace citron ( lemon ice cream) for desert was yummy and quite surprisingly, the price for lunch was very reasonable, so worth it to us just for the location, comfy chairs and shade. The menu was only in French and the waiter did not speak English, so perhaps it would have been better had our French been better, but these kind of places are not usually known for quality food. Later, on our way home to our campsite, we stopped at Creperie Bretton, which had the most scrumptious crepes with caramel made from scratch. Yum! Melt in your mouth good and Mozart loved the bus inside and the car that was all part of the restaurant. It was funny that our pretty waitress was from Malaga, half Swedish and half Spanish, she was here to study French. Mozart liked that idea and thought she might like to add French when she got older and I think it will be easier for her now that she is so fluent in Spanish.
When you have a child in tow next to a beautiful beach on a hot day, of course, a family must go for a swim! DaVinci and Mozart had a lot of fun swimming out to one of the rafts which was a bit of a challenge due to the current. Mozart also amused herself by covering up and burying herself in the pebble-y beach and we all got a thrill with the standard cold water shower as we washed off the sea water for more wandering. Mozart is into braids on these hot days so we had to fix those after the swim and make ourselves semi- presentable for more wandering around town and castle. It's hard to get a picture of the three of us and this one is not our favorite as I realized afterward, that we should have taken the picture before swimming. Live and learn.
We listened to another local band play Catalan and French tunes as people got up to do the Sardana a traditional Catalan dance spontaneously as we had seen in Barcelona at Quell park. It was fun to see the French, Catalan and European flag all flying together and we even watched some soldiers in uniform practice boat drills. Many artists have spent time in Colliore, so they have a lovely monument at sites where famous painters have painted which is a nice touch.
A perfect summer day, enjoying the holiday like a European! As our energy faded late in the day, we picked up a few groceries then grabbed a taxi back to our campsite where we enjoyed a delicious dinner and watched the fireworks. I've been wanting to see Collioure for some time and thought about adding it to our Costa Brava tour last year, but it took us five hours to drive here in our motorhome from Barcelona, so too hard to fit in. Have you seen it? Definitely one of those places to add to your list! Delightful, even in high season and not too far to include for those that visit Barcelona, Andorra, South of France or Costa Brava for a holiday.