Photo: Luc Viatour/www.lucnix.be
We’ve always loved the area where the Pyrenees come down to the Mediterranean. Not only do you get the best of both environments but there’s a very special quality to the light – an intensity you get in few other places (especially after the famous north wind known as the tramuntana has blown through). We’ve particularly liked Collioure, a seaside village featured in Walk 3 of our Landscapes Of The Pyrenees. So when we had the chance to buy a studio in Collioure we decided to go for it. It’s an idyllic spot to be based for any kind of holiday because the area has just about anything you could want.
From our studio we’ve been discovering some great hiking. Of course we’ve retraced the walk we feature in the book, which climbs from Collioure to the old hermitage of Notre-Dame-de-Consolation and the 13th century Tour Madeloc before descending to Banyuls-sur-Mer. That was a great day out with fabulous views all along the Côte Vermeille, capped by a visit to the studio where the sculptor Maillol (1861 – 1944) produced many of his works. So far we’ve discovered two more beautiful walks, and no doubt there are others. The first is an easy stroll along the clifftops to Racou, which is about 4km away to the north. At the little Ouille cove we stopped for a swim (bracing in May) and had a second from the wide sandy beach at Racou before returning by the same route. The second is one of the most exhilarating walks we’ve ever done, blue sky above, blue sea below. We started in Port-Vendres (1km south of Collioure) and followed the coastal path out along the promontory to Cap Béar. From there the path traces the south side of the promontory to the superb Paulilles cove, which really is a gem. The bay was never developed because it was the site of a dynamite factory. In 2005 the General Council of the Pyrénées-Orientales demolished nearly 70 buildings, cleaned it all up and turned the bay into a protected area. It’s as special a cove as you’ll ever find in Europe.
Paul and Chrissie are making their studio in Collioure available to Landscapes readers. Their website for it will be going live during June at www.colliourestudio.com