Catalonia à la française

For an Italian it is not always easy to admit that other cities, countries or villages are breath taking if they are outside of Italy. Collioure in the French département Pyrénées-Orientales along the Côte Vermeille is one of those places. Only a 20 minute drive from the Spanish border, to my opinion this is what makes this region so wonderful. The best from both French and Spanish (Catalonian) culture.

About two weeks ago, when I was driving towards Collioure, from Montpellier onwards I was astonished from the beauty nature has created there…..At your right the hills with the vines enjoying the sunshine wresting on its leafs at that same moment you also notice the amazing view over the Mediterranean sea… And as cherry on top of the cake The blue sky overlooking all this beauty. The more I drove the better it became.

 The hotel we chose was 2 minutes (by car) outside of Collioure, in a little town called Argelès-sur-Mer in hotel Les Mouettes. A nice hotel with pretty spacious rooms, but what makes this hotel even better is the stupendous views:

As you can see on the picture above, just wonderful! Afterwards we also noticed that the group to which this hotel belongs, also had a hotel right in the center of Collioure and according to the comments it gets on booking.com  It is/was also a very nice hotel. The only thing that could be negative is that both hotels don’t have elevators… but personally, it didn’t bother me… as the rooms were nice, the hotel had everything one could want; swimmingpool, Jacuzzi, etc… (all free for use) and all with view over the sea. Plus the hotel staff was also very kind and helpful.

 In the evening after having enjoyed some southern sunshine, we headed towards Collioure city. What actually happens to be the world capital of anchovy (ansjovis), so I was already a bit scared that everything on the menu was anchovy related. Driving towards the city center we enjoyed a nice short drive surrounded by vineyards and overlooking the sea we entered in this picturesque little mediaeval town with 2 sights that immediately catch your eyes are the Collioure Notre-Dame-des-Anges church and the Château Royal (in the summertime there are open air concerts in this castle). Something that also fascinated me about collioure is that in the early 1900’s, it was a center of artistic live as lots of artists made it their meetingplace, artists like Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, etc…. as they were all inspired by this wonderful town.

 When I visit a town or city, the thing I refuse doing, is eat at a so called ‘tourist trap’ restaurant. We could have of course asked at the hotel where to go (as they have the menu carts from most of the good restaurants), but I always see it as a quest to find a nice spot myself, which sometimes can annoy my girlfriend. When looking at some menu’s my fear was already over, although they indeed had some dishes with anchovy, but most dishes were southern French- Catalonian tinted. And so we started our first search for good food.

 To be continued…

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