If you’re starting your property hunt, why not begin at the very south and work your way up! Collioure, on the border with Spain, is a Mediterranean seaside village that has attracted pirates and artists. Could it woo you too?
You are, literally, spoiled for choice when you come to search for a house in France. There are beautiful villages, towns and cities stretching from the Brittany coast to the Côte d’Azur. In summer, of course they are beautiful, but even in the depths of March they are a joy to spend time in, when the travel prices are cheaper and there are fewer tourists around.
I want to focus on just one, this week, because it captures so much of what we love about France. Collioure is simply the loveliest coastal town – rich in history and culture; ideal if you fancy a little break simply wandering along its cobbled streets, sampling the local wine and food by the sea.
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The coastline which runs down from Argeles sur Mer in France through to Roses in Spain is lovely. Collioure lies just beyond Argeles, and only about 15 minutes’ drive from the Spanish border. It has mountains behind and the sea in front, with spectacular rocky coves. There is a lovely walk along the seaside, with the cliffs on one side from where you can see the famous look-out tower which once guarded the coastline against any pirates. The lighthouse is situated just along the breakwater and the church of Notre Dame des Anges stands close to the water.
Collioure was always a very important military town and it wasn’t until 1793 that it became French for good, having been for one year occupied by the Spanish. It’s a wonderful place, beloved by artists such as Matisse, Rennie Mackintosh and others. It is easy to see why, with its vibrant colours, sun-soaked atmosphere and relaxing pace. People tend to linger here, at the pretty waterside restaurants, cafes and little shops; no-one is in a rush.
Getting to Collioure means driving along the Route de Collioure, better known as the Corniche. This scenic road runs between the sea and the rocky coves with their stepped vineyards. It’s a superb place to visit at any time of the year but as spring seems to be in the air now in the south of France there is a real feeling of new beginnings and thus now may be the ideal time of the year to start your property hunt.