Visit Collioure (Languedoc-Roussillon, France)
Collioure is found on the Languedoc coast, just north of the border with Spain on the 'Vermeille Coast', and was historically a small fishing village.
After time as an an important military centre, Collioure began to attract the artistic community in the early 20th century including such renowned artists as Matisse and Derain, and is now a very popular destination with tourists. Collioure has a lively town centre with some interesting historical monuments to discover and a popular local beach. With the castle and church creating an impressive backdrop, the beach and harbour are among the most scenic in Languedoc-Roussillon.
Collioure is by far the most attractive town on this stretch of the Mediterranean coast and is definitely not to be missed. Walking round the sea-front there are the wonderful sights of the castle and the church of Notre Dame des Anges to admire and as you wander along the Boulevard du Boramar between the two there are lots of lovely seaside bars and restaurants to tempt you. Head uphill into the town itself and the narrow streets are charming. The houses are painted in lovely pastel shades with painted shutters and many are bedecked with trailing bougainvillea and vibrant blue plumbagos.
Out of season the market days are particularly nice days to visit the town. These are on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. In peak season it is very difficult to find a parking space in Collioure on a non-market day and even harder on market days.
For those of you looking for nightlife a little different to the UK scene there is an outdoor disco, L'Indigo, from mid May to mid Sept from 11pm to 4.30am.
Church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges
The Church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges stands on a small peninsula in the sea. The belltower of the church was the town lighthouse in medieval times, with a church then built next to it in the 17th century.
Later, when the harbour was no longer used as a port, the lighthouse was incorporated as the church belltower. The domed cupola (in an Italian style) was added early in the 19th century.
The interior of the church has a huge carved wooden altarpiece covered in gold leaf.
Royal Castle of Collioure
The Royal Castle of Collioure, Le Chateau Royal, dominates the seafront at the southern end of the harbour. The site has had a castle since as early as the 7th century, but the building we see today was constructed in the 13th century, with additions until the 17th century.
Once occupied by the templars, the castle then became a royal household for the Kings of Majorca (Collioure was not yet part of France at this time) before being transformed into an important Spanish border fortress at the end of the 15th century.
In the 17th century the French military engineer Vauban added further substantial fortifications, resulting in the castle that we see today. These extensive works required a substantial increase in space, and much of the original medieval town of Collioure was destroyed in 1671 to make way for the expanded castle.
Le More is the old fishing village whose narrow cobbled streets and pretty pastel-painted houses are a pleasure to explore.
Another way to explore the town is to pick up a leaflet with the 'path of fauvism' which leads you around 20 sites in the village where Henri Matisse and André Derain painted whilst staying in Collioure. At each of these places there is a reproduction of the painting so that you can compare the painting with the scene in the painting.
Matisse and Derain were not the only painters to spend time in Collioure; Picasso, Dufy, Marquet and many others have also painted here and Collioure remains an artists town with around thirty different artists currently living and painting in the town. The Museum of Modern Art (Musée Peské) in Collioure contains many modern and contemporary works including works by Cocteau, Descossy and Pignon. The museum is on the Route de Port Vendres and charges only a small sum for entry.
Fans of Patrick O'Brien's sea-faring novels will be interested to know that he wrote almost all of his books whilst living in Colliour. He lived here from 1949 untill his death in 2000 (apart from a couple of winters in Dublin where he died) and is buried in Collioure.
Fort Miradou, Fort Carré and Fort Rond
Above the town is the Fort Miradou, built in the 15th century, destroyed and rebuilt by Vauban. It is now occupied by the army and not open to the public. Further out of town facing the sea are these two fortresses built in the 18th century - Fort Carré and Fort Rond.
Le Couvent et le Cloitre des Dominicains
On the southern edge of town the monastery was built in the 13th century. In recent years the cloister has had a chequered history. It became the home of a co-operative wine seller but was sold in an illegal art sale to the Atlantic town of Anglet. When this was discovered it was bought back in 1992 and rebuilt in the gardens of the Modern Art Mueum.
Anchovies has been a one of Collioure's key industries for centuries. Because of the importance of anchovies in the local commerce and the local cuisine Collioure has been awarded the 'site remarquable du gout', or' award of culinary excellence'. The anchovies are prepared in lots of different ways and you can sample them in various different shops in Collioure.
After exploring the town return to the seafront to try one of the seafood restaurants along the waterfront in Collioure - their anchovies are especially recommended.
A little history
Collioure has been a trading port since 673 and the village began to develop more fully in the 10th century. Between 1276 and 1344 it was a summer residence for the court of Majorca. Later in the 13th century it was visited by crusaders ranging from the Knights Templars to the Dominicans. Though Collioure spent some time as a Spanish town it was French in the mid 17th century and at this time Vauban added to the defenses of Colliure.
To visit near Collioure
A popular local site is the 13th century Madeloc Tower that stands high (650 metres) on the hill directly behind Collioure, and has lovely views down across the town and coastline. There are several other forts along the headlands around the town that are also of interest, such as Fort Saint Elme to the south and the Massane Tower and Fort Carré towards the north.
The oldest windmill in the region, built in the 14th century and recently fully restored, is the Moulin de la Cortina a little to the south of Collioure. This has been transformed into a mill for making oil.
The Ermitage de Notre Dame de Consolation is a pleasant 4km walk from Collioure. The chapel dates from the 15th century.
Further inland the vineyards and mountains of the region offer innumerable activities and scenic highlights.
Photos of Collioure
Click any picture to start the gallery
Address: Collioure, Côte Vermeille, Céret, Pyrenees-Orientales, Languedoc-Roussillon, 66190 || GPS: latitude 42.526, longitude 3.0813
Map of Collioure & places nearby
Highlights close by
Port Vendres 2km
See lots more places to visit nearby and a more detailed map at places near Collioure.
See Languedoc-Roussillon and Pyrenees-Orientales (the region and department for Collioure) for more travel ideas...
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Collioure, France
- Eglise de Saint Michel (Saint-Genis-des-fontaines) - religious monument (13km)
- Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges (Cabestany) - religious monument (21km)
- Chapel Saint-Martin de Fenollar (Maureillas-las-Illas) - religious monument (21km)
- Perpignan - town of art and history (24km)
- Castelnou - most beautiful village (33km)
- Orgued d'Ille-sur-Tet - site of natural beauty (41km)
- Chapelle de Casenoves (Ille-sur-tet) - religious monument (41km)
- Eglise de Trinité d'Aregno (Aregno) - religious monument (41km)
Market days in Collioure: Regular market(s) are held in Collioure each Wednesday & Sunday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Collioure (Francais)