Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Collioure and the coast to Spain

Colorful fishing boats line Colliere's harbor
This part of France is called the Cote Vermeile and it extends southward from Argeles-sur-Mer to the Spanish border. The Fauvists, who often painted here, found natural inspiration for their revolutionary use of color. Matisse wrote, "no sky is more blue than that of Collierre".
In the summer there are hordes of beach tourists and the towns are packed, but in late September most of them have gone and we enjoyed the towns with their residents.
Although Argeles, Elne and the other small town 

The massive Chateau bisects the town

The church of Notre-Dame-des-Angeles
have their charms, our favorite was Colliere.
Fishing boats still line the small harbor along with three small beaches, still with sunbathers and swimmers (right in the harbor - the water was crystal clear).
Colliere has a long history. Founded as a trading post by the Phoenicians and ancient Greeks, it was later occupied by the Romans, Visigoths and Arabs. The sixteenth C Fort St. Elne and 17th C Fort Miradou overlook the town. Right on the harbor is the imposing Chateau-Royal which was founded by the Templers in the 12th Century and used as a part time residence by the Kings of Mallorca and Aragon.
Cafes and restaurants line the avenues along the beaches. One of these The Templers was a favorite with Matisse, Derain and the rest of the Fauvists and has some original work hanging on their walls. The town has installed replicas of the paintings hung  where they were done and a map showing you the locations. You can then compare the view and the work.
The road south from here led over rocky hills and steep cliffs down to Spain. In the next town of Port Vendres we stopped to look at the boats in the Marina and noticed a familiar profile. It was a Nauticat 44 "Lady Caroline" owned by the Dawsons out of England. It was the oldest 44 I believe we've seen and in the best shape of any as well. The teak decks looked like new (they probably were) and they had installed a stern cockpit! We had a nice chat.
Neither of us had ever been to Spain so we waited to eat our lunch until we arrived. Naturally it was paella and it was excellent. We each had our own pan and the waiter carefully counted out the shrimp, langostinos, clams, mussels etc. Yum.

Broad quays line the harbor

With flower bed and benches

Although it was the end of September, there were bathers

One of the Fauvist prints, I believe Derain's, on the waterfront

Beautiful Lady Caroline, a Nauticat 44

The coast line down to Spain

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