We’ve had a couple of lazy first days in Collioure. The unsettled weather has had something to do with that…sunny, then cloudy, dry, then raining, calm, then windy. Last night some severe thunder and lightning seems to have cleared the sky for the moment. Despite this we have been able to walk around town, meet some local artists, take a few photos, and do some sketching.
Collioure is all about the sea. It sits on a small bay below steep hills. An ancient castle stands atop the tallest hill to the south with a windmill just below it. Several other ancient and modern forts and castles sit atop neighboring mountains and hills. However, the Collioure Royal Castle is the centerpiece of the village and the waterfront. The Romans mentioned their castle here, Castrum Caucoliberi, existing in the 7th century. Built on those Roman foundations in the 13th century by the Knights Templar and added to in the 14th century for the Mallorcan royal family, this castle has seen it all. Collioure was the epicenter of the Spanish and French struggles to control Catalonia. The Spanish controlled by the Spanish Habsburgs until 1642, when French troops took the town and occupied the castle in the name of thee Bourbons. Despite Louis XIV’s additional fortifications the Spanish reclaimed the castle in 1793. However, their residency lasted only one year. Since that time it has remained in French hands. During the Spanish Civil War it house Spanish refugees. During Vichy rule those Spanish refugees were imprisoned and many sent to North Africa. Today the castle is an historic monument.
Today is the second of two market days. It is smaller than the Sunday market. We are off to shop!
Strolling what appears to be the French Riveria, are you far from Monaco? Too bad Cary Grant is not around now to greet you.
We are on the other side of France from Monaco, close to the Spanish border. St. Remy, where we were until last weekend, is the winter home of the Grimaldi family. They own much property there that was given to them several centuries ago by the French king for their loyalty. The family stays in the winter so their children can attend French schools. We didn’t meet them, but I’m told they walk the village streets every day so we may have passed them and not known it.
I also liked the petanque players. I assume that you are seeing Jean-Paul’s postings from Spain, which also are about a small seemingly-perfect town overlooking the sea. I don’t know why the U.S. doesn’t have places like this. Maybe we just haven’t been around long enough. And the original inhabitants built their homes with cedar, not with stone.
Yes, JP and Koko are not far from us, but in a different country. We will see them soon.
As for similar places in the US, I would recommend Bodega Bay in California, towns on the Oregon coast, the Sunshine Coast of BC, Door County Wisconsin, the Bayfield Peninsula in Wisconsin, and several towns along the Maine coast just to name a few areas. They don’t have the history and architecture that European seaside towns do, but are beautiful small towns set along the sea or large inland lakes.
I most enjoyed the pétanque players. The game in itself can be quite boring to non-initiates, but the rendering here is magnificent.
I am learning petanque. Like 421, the rules are relatively simple but the strategy is complex. We should try it!