Monday, April 4, 2011

Road trip to Collioure, France!

As I mentioned in my last entry, we were supposed to rent a car last weekend and head up to France to this little seaside town called Collioure.  However, it was pouring rain last Sunday morning and so we decided to reschedule to this Sunday.  In the end, that Sunday was spectacularly gorgeous though I'd like to think it was raining in France so the 20 euro change fee for the car wouldn't make me feel guilty about changing the date.  However, in the end, we made it there just the same, just a week later.  And it was worth the wait.

Collioure is located on the southeastern coast of France about 15 miles over the French border and just under 2 hours north of Barcelona so a very easy drive overall.  And I'd like to know why we haven't been here before because this was a little piece of heaven on earth!  Absolutely gorgeous and picturesque, despite the gray clouds above us (yes the threat of rain once again, but it held off!).

We drove into Collioure along several winding roads to be greeted with astonishing views from well above sea level.  Josh and Ray dropped us off at a nearby playground in what looked to be around the center of town while they looked for parking (apparently a challenge on a busy Sunday).  The kids immediately took to the place running and climbing and swinging along the waterside.  They were rather disappointed when we told them it was time to get lunch. 

Aidan and Liam on the playground with the Château Royal de Collioure in the background.

Aidan and the Château Royal de Collioure

Aidan catching Liam who really shouldn't be going down the slide this way in the first place

Looks like he's ready for a spot of tea!

Cool horseshoe shaped swings!

Initially we headed towards the south part of town where it looked like there were a few restaurants. 

View as we headed towards the south side of the town.
The windmill at the top dates back to the 18th century

View as we walk down the street.  Everything was clean, bright and well maintained.

View of Le Fort Sainte Elme - we did not trek up here!

Liam making a call

Liam stopping for a boat ride...hmmm...won't go to far that way!

View of the village we ended up spending most of the day at - didn't look like much from afar (beautiful though) but up close it was awesome!

Another view - this one includes the Château Royal de Collioure and Notre-Dame-des-Anges Church.
The Notre-Dame used to be part of a lighthouse and was converted to be part of the church.

Cool rock wall that Aidan was running along

View from where we came from - the playground was by the furthest point on the beach.

Not seeing anything that screamed at us, we continued back towards the Notre-Dame-des-Anges Church to what looked from a distance to be some outdoor cafes. We did not expect to see the village that we came upon! What we thought was just one little street along the water was in fact a maze of tiny little streets with shops and restaurants all along them!

After backtracking back towards the playground to go to the other side of the beach area, we had to walk along the wall of the Chateau - along the water's edge.

View of where we had just been

Same view as above but a little further out

Notre-Dame in the backgrond

Collioure is known for many artists, including Dali, Picasso, Matisse and Chagal to name a few.  There are many of these "frames" around town that when you look thru them reproduce the views from famous paintings.

Liam can't quite jump high enough

Becky and Liam looking at the baby ducks

Aidan checking out the map of Collioure.

Liam found a few of these which I can only guess used to house firepits for cooking - he had to climb inside each one and would then request his picture be taken. 

There were a lot of these lounge areas that served drinks and some small food plates.  All of the chairs pointed at the water.  It's too bad it wasn't very warm (maybe mid 50s) or sunny or for that matter, we had kids with us... otherwise I could picture whiling away many hours staring at the water while enjoying a nice cold beverage.

Side view of the castle

Few menus had English translations and our French is even worse than our Spanish!  So we finally stopped at one restaurant, Le Restaurant El Campanar, that not only had English translation but also something on the menu that all 6 of us would like!  Not an easy feat, especially with (me and) the kids around!  However, the restaurant had a 40 minute wait for outdoor seating.  Given it was after 1 at this point, we knew we had to feed these kids so we asked for indoor seating.  We didn't expect to get our own (rather dark) room and we kept joking that this is where they kept the loud and obnoxious Americans when they come to town!  Our waiter spoke great English and the meal was fabulous, as expected!!

Our room had only 2 tables but we had the place to ourselves.  It was actually much darker than the image appeared too!

Cute, cute little Liam!

After lunch, on a full belly, we started to meander around the village.  With picturesque storefronts and cobblestone streets, it's exactly as you would picture old world France to be. 

Cool walkway

An example of the cafes with the small tables and chairs pointed towards the water

One of the many little side streets we meandered down!

Yet another little street

Loved this arch!

Little old men climbing up the street

Both boys purchased marrionettes - which they learned was French for puppets.  And we've had them get tangled several times since in under 24 hours!

Josh doing what he loves to do - checking out real estate.  A villa in Collioure perhaps in our future?  I wish!

Becky and Ray decided to go on a tour of the castle while the kids went on the merry go round they found.  Apparently I wasn't paying close enough attention to Liam because he got off his fire engine and switched to another car while my back was turned.  AND the ride was in motion at the time.  Another parent came up to me and in rather angry French I'm guessing she told me I needed to pay more attention to my child.  I can't say I disagreed with her but she didn't really need to butt into my business either!  

Bocce court next to the merry-go-round

View from by the merry-go-round... I might have been taking this picture when Liam switched vehicles!

Liam in his original ride ;)

After the merry-go-round we headed off to the other side of the church to see what was over there.  The building was so big compared to it's surrounding ones that you had to walk around it to see what was on the other side.  There was more beach plus rocks to climb on and a small church type structure that we climbed up to.  The view, once again, was amazing!

Heading off towards the other side of the church.

View behind us as we walked closer to the church

Little church up on a hill

Aidan loves his doors!

We saw this in the walkway - we decided it means there are sharks in the area... but honestly have no idea what it really means!

View from beach on the other side of the church

Aidan climbing the stairs to the little church on the hill

View of the backside of the church

View of the town/beach area from the hill behind the church

The boys sitting on the little church steps.  I couldn't get this woman to get out of my picture and originally she sat down right next to them. 

View to the left of the church

View of the fort... again :)

Coming back from the small church, Liam insisted on walking along the rock wall

Pretty boats in the harbor

The best part of the day for me at least was the ice cream.  More like traditional ice cream and this place offered hot fudge sundaes.  Very hard to come by in Barcelona or any of Spain for that matter!  And so if you ask me, this was a great end to a great day...

The sun finally came out as we were leaving... figures...

View of the church with blue sky!

View of the fort with blue sky!

The castle with yes, you guessed it, blue sky

The street where our restaurant was

These trees were cool - the branches grew UP instead of sideways from the tree!

One of the main roads thru town

Shot of the street from the other direction

Happy Aidan!

Street and fort

One side of the beach with the sun out!

And finally the castle and church with the blue sky above!  Too bad it couldn't have been like this all day!

It was a great day had by all and this is definitely a town that we will go back to again to explore some more!  The only downside of the day was the expected puking of Liam on the way home... it wouldn't be a roadtrip without some throw up! 


1 comment:

  1. Hi! We are off to Barcelona and France for a trip and I was p,anning a stop in Collioure for lunch, and you clinched it for me. Just wanted to thank you!