While we were staying in Canet-en-Rousillon, we heard from everyone that we simply had to make it to Collioure. Now, when you're an American traveling abroad, it's hard to find out about all the little must-see towns. You hear about the resorts, you visit the major cities, and anything else you're just sort of lucky to stumble upon (like our trip to Norway). This is one of those places.
Collioure is a popular destination for Europeans on holiday because of its rocky beaches, protected in a natural harbor of the Mediterranean. It keeps the winds down and the temperatures hotter. The town, built into hills and cliffs, once housed some of the world's most famous artists--Dali and Matisse, for starters--who loved to paint the brightly colored buildings against the stunning turquoise water.
We hopped a sailboat from Canet-en-Rousillon for a gorgeous two-hour journey into Porte Vendres, where we caught a "touristic train" (basically a bunch of golf carts hooked together) into Collioure, which, to me, felt like all the Mediterranean dreams come true--the outrageous plants growing up the age-old buildings built over narrow cobblestone streets and wide open markets and squares. Also worth mentioning: tons of gelato options, and a cute little toy shop and olive oil store.
There is a lot of Catalan influence, especially in the food. We enjoyed sangria and lunch at Casa Gala. We also toured the Château Royal, which I thought was a great experience for the views and also the accessibility--you could walk through all the rooms and secret tunnels in a way I don't think would ever be permitted in the States.
We liked Collioure so much, we went back the next night for dinner at The Sails of Neptune with our new friends, Kristoff and Elodie, and the town is just as charming at night. Someday, we'd love to return to Collioure to stay longer.