Nicknamed the “Pearl of the Vermillion Coast”, Collioure is a charming town that has long attracted painters wanting to capture its enchanting scenes. It’s renowned for its imposing waterfront castle and pink-domed bell tower, as well as its pebbly beaches lapped by the Mediterranean Sea.
Things to do in Collioure
Dominating the port is the massive Château Royal de Collioure, which was originally established by the Knights Templar in the early 13th century. It offers dramatic views across the Ansa de la Baleta and the Plage des Pêcheurs towards the Notre-Dame-des-Anges Church. Once a light station, this 17th-century church is topped by a Tuscan-style dome and houses a richly gilded altar.
Art enthusiasts shouldn’t miss a visit to the Musée d’Art Moderne, which was established by the French painter Jean Peské in the 1930s to showcase artists with a connection to the town. It features an impressive collection of modern and contemporary works, including several paintings by Henri Matisse and coastal canvases by Jean Capdeville and Henri Martin.
From the Musée d’Art Moderne, follow the steep walking trail that leads to the Moulin de la Cortina, a 14th-century windmill offering sweeping views across the Mediterranean coast. You can return through the olive and almond groves that lead to Fort St-Elme, which was built between 1538 and 1552 by Charles V. Take time to explore its former jail, dormitories and weapons room where medieval armoury, cannonballs and crossbows are displayed.
Getting around Collioure
Collioure is around 30 minutes’ drive from Perpignan and two hours from Montpellier-Méditerranée Airport, which has flights throughout Europe and North Africa. Trains connect from the Gare de Collioure to destinations across southern France, while the town centre is compact enough to explore on foot.