This is a fascinating and little-known area. The three local coastal ports, Collioure, Port-Vendres and Banyuls were used by the Phoenecians, Greeks and Romans. There are also many ancient remains, standing stones and burial sites, as well as hermitages and chapels built in medieval times and even earlier. Historic sailing ships often visit Port Vendres in Summer.
Collioure, in particular, has many links to artists (Matisse, Derain, Picasso) and others like Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Aristide Maillol lived near here. The area still attracts many artists, photographers and writers.
On the coast there are plenty of opportunities for water sports; sailing and motor boating, snorkelling and scuba (there are many good local dive schools.) The water is clear and warm, with an extensive marine reserve, and even an underwater nature trail! Horse riding, bike hire and of course hiking are popular in the hills and the spectacular coastal path
The local sandy beaches are crowded in Summer but we know small coves and creeks where you can still avoid the crowds and enjoy a peaceful swim.
Catalan and Spanish culture dominate the area which was still part of Spain until 1659. You can buy fish fresh from the boats in Port Vendres, visit markets in the villages, and drink local Collioure and Banyuls wines - even take part in the grape harvest. The area was recently featured on UK television when Rick Stein explored the "secret" cafes and chefs of Port Vendres and the surrounding area. Local festivals continue throughout the year, with "sardane" dancing and musical instruments, fireworks and processions. We can let you know what is happening and where to go.
There are more photos in the gallery