Collioure is widely acknowledged as the most picturesque seaside village on France’s western Mediterranean coast. It has a superb Mediterranean climate with 320 days of sunshine a year. Collioure is on the Côte Vermeille just 26km from Perpignan and is nestled in the foothills of the eastern Pyrénées, known as the Albères. It is only 20km from Spain and its famous Costa Brava and is also less than two hours drive from the ski fields of the Pyrénées.
Collioure is renowned for its beautiful sheltered harbour with five small sandy beaches surrounded by iconic old monuments dating from the 13th-17th Century. These include L’Eglise Notre-Dame-des-Anges with its distinctive bell tower, the Chateau Royal, two forts, a Dominican Monastery, and a 14th Century windmill.
There are two separate heritage-listed old quarters of the village, the Mouré andthe Faubourg.
The history of Collioure goes back to antiquity. The Phoenicians founded Collioure as a trading port in the 6th Century BC at about the same time the Greeks founded Marseille. It was conquered by the Romans in 120 BC and subsequently by the Visigoths in the 5th Century.
|Collioure has been popular with small numbers of devoted tourists from Britain and elsewhere in Europe since the early 20th Century but it was largely a fishing port until a few decades ago when tourist infrastructure became more developed.
Collioure is part of the largest wine-making region in the world (Languedoc-Roussillon). The area around Collioure has nearly 2000 hectares of vineyards which are mainly located on steep terraced hillsides. There are two main appellations in this area. AOC Collioure has quality dry red, rosé, and white wines which are available for tasting and purchase at the Cellier des Dominicians and several other cellars in the village. AOC Banyuls is famous for its sweet fortified wines which have been made for over 600 years at domaines such as the famous Cellier des Templier in nearby Banyuls-sur-Mer.
Collioure, as with the rest of Roussillon, is fundamentally French in cultural orientation, but it still also maintains a distinct Catalan sub-culture. Catalan is the second language taught after French in the area’s primary schools and traditional Catalan recipes and ingredients still influence the local cuisine. The red and yellow Catalan flag and the Catalonian donkey motif are evident in shops, on houses, cars, and clothing.
Catalan culture is also prominent in local festivals. The most famous Catalan dance, the Sardana, and the music of the accompanying Cobla (a small band of brass, wind and percussion instruments) are performed on the July 14 national holiday and other festivals throughout the year. Catalan folklore is performed on weekends in spring and autumn and a Catalonian bull-fight (where the bull is not killed) is staged in August.
There are still some attractive small fishing boats in the harbour but most of the fishing fleet is now based in neighbouring Port Vendres just 3 km away.