With its bays opened to the Mediterranean, Collioure has a rich history of visitors dating back to the Phoenicians, Romans and Greeks who left behind a diverse archaeological heritage. It became an important trading port from the 7th century onwards and was further developed under the Kings of Majorca when they built a fortress as a summer residence (le Chateau Royal). Later many crusaders passed through Collioure on their way to the Holy Land. From the 15th to the 17th centuries, because of its strategic geographical position, Collioure was either under Spanish or French rule finally becoming French when the Catalans were freed from Spanish supremacy in 1659. In the process, the fortifications were extended under the supervision of Vauban to give us Collioure as it is today. Anchovy fishing was its main industry at the beginning of last century. Now a picturesque tourist resort, it has managed to preserve the unique feel of a traditional fishing village.
There is much to see and do in the Collioure area
• Beaches: Collioure
has four small beaches, with miles of sandy beaches at nearby Argeles
• Walking: as much or as little as you wish
in the nearby foothills of the Pyrenees and the Alberes hills. Local
walking guide books are available. At least visit the recently restored
windmill on the way to the Forts, or the Tour Madeloc to enjoy splendid
views of French and Spanish Catalonia.
• Wine tours: signposted routes to local
Chateaux producing AOC Collioure and Banyuls wines or simply visit the excellent local wine shops or “caves” including Le Cellier des Templiers in town.
• Art: The guided tour of “les chemins
du fauvisme” looking back on the works of Matisse and Derain
when they resided in Collioure is a must. The Museum of Modern Art
offers seasonal exhibitions of local artists. Whilst in nearby Ceret
the Museum of Modern Art has works by many artists including Picasso,
Dali and Chagall. The Dali museum over the border in Spain in Figueras
is definitely worth a visit and not forgetting the many galleries dotted around the town celebrating the artists of today.
• Festivals: There are many festivals throughout the year promoting local Catalan culture through music, folk dancing (la Sardane) and theatre. The festival of St Vincent mid-August is the highlight of the summer season with fireworks and numerous events around the town.
• History: everywhere! Including the Chateau
Royal of Collioure, and the Castle of the Kings of Majorca in Perpignan…
• Markets: Fresh produce and local crafts
on Sunday and Wednesday in Collioure, Saturday in nearby Ceret and
daily except Monday in Perpignan. “la Criee”, the fish
market is not to be missed in Port Vendres for locally caught fish
and shellfish (open daily).
• Restaurants: Wide variety locally. Some
at gourmet level and listed in “le Bottin Gourmand”
such as the Cote Vermeille in Port Vendres or “ le Neptune”
in Collioure. Enjoy Catalan specialties and the locally fished and prepared anchovies.
Collioure is a town for artists past and present.
In 1905, Matisse arrived at this small Catalan port. Throughout
the summer, Matisse and fellow artist Derain painted in Collioure,
ignoring the artistic rules governing use of colour to capture
the vivid colours of Collioure landscape and sky. This gave birth
to a new style of painting, Fauvisme and other famous artists, Bracque,
Duffy, Marquet and Picasso came to Collioure to paint.
"In paying hommage to this period, the
mayor of Collioure created what is named "Chemin du Fauvisme"
(Road to Fauvisme) : twenty paintings of Matisse and Derain are
displayed along roads in the village; at the exact locations where
the painters executed their works"
Since then and to this day, Collioure has continued to captivate the imagination of artists from all over the world who have enjoyed the exceptional quality of the light and the unique scenery.