The Mediterranean Coastline of France and Spain: Hindsight is 20/20
It was time to pack our bags, leave Perpignan and board the direct (thankfully) TGV from Perpignan to Charles de Gaulle Airport, zooming in around 8:00 p.m. By TGV (High-Speed Train), it’s a comfortable, six-hour train ride that gave plenty of time to reflect on this trip. A fast McDonald’s hamburger in CDG Airport (this made four consecutive nights of sandwiches) and free transfer to the least expensive hotel I could find by the airport, Ibis North for one night before flying home the next day. Ibis was having a “30 Sale” and the hotel came out to $50 when converted into Euros. It couldn’t have possibly gotten any cheaper than this!
Thinking back on the past two weeks, I do have some suggestions along with miscellaneous thoughts. Along the Cote Vermeille that stretches along the coast of the Mediterranean to the Spanish border, I strongly recommend visiting the small town of Collioure –
– Collioure has history. Roman and Greek sailors traveled here. It became a trading port in 673 and was the summer residence of the Mallorcan Court in the 13th century;
– Notre Dame des Anges Church is perched up on foundations built in the sea. The Belfy was originally a warning tower for the harbor; and
– Collioure is still the “City of Painters.” It was easy to see why Picasso, Matisse, Derain and Chagall used picturesque Collioure for inspiration.
The best dinner during the entire trip was La Plage in Banyuls sur Mer, France. Those moules farci (mussels stuffed with garlic and parsley) were super yummy.
Along the Costa Brava, Spain section of the Mediterranean, I strongly recommend visiting the small town of Cadaques –
– Cadaques is incredibly scenic with a plethora of restaurants, shops, walks around the area and the big claim to fame, Salvador Dali’s home/museum in Port Lligat.
These two small towns were absolutely amazing to just walk around and soak in the atmosphere.
– Do not leave these areas without visiting Carcassonne, the largest fort/city in Europe. Reread the previous posts and visit for one day or several. Carcassonne is a don’t miss; and
– The astounding Musee Dali in Figueres to view Salvador Dali’s unimaginable works of art. This is a museum, we had no interest in visiting, completely dedicated to an artist whose art (to us) is weird and difficult to understand. Buy the book available in four languages if you are not a Dali devotee and spent at least most of the day here. Go as early as possible in the morning. The only negative is the museum allows too many visitors into the museum with small passageways and rooms. It gets extremely crowded but don’t miss this. I have a new understanding of Dali’s art and would like to view more of it.
The Cote Vermeille 6 day/5 night walk? Sorry, but I don’t recommend it for two reasons:
– You can pick any of the small towns we stayed in for several days and take day hikes on your own. In this manner, you can avoid the Tramontana wind if it’s “one of those days”; and
– The entire route is very exposed to the sun and wind. Rarely, is there any shade. If the weather was any hotter than mid-70’s F, sunstroke is a definite possibility.
Two last caveats… Be aware that the majority of restaurants, shops and and hotels may be closed in off season. The plus is less visitors, negative is not much to choose from, usually in small towns only. And, watch out for those reservation obligitaire trains.
Otherwise, a wonderful, scenic area with the best small green olives (I’m always thinking of food), drop-dead Mediterranean towns, and historic sights. Adios, Spain…Adieu, France…and back to … my kind of town, Chicago is…