This walk along 'La Cote Vermeille' follows the steep coastline where the Pyrenees meet the 'Big Blue', as the Mediterranean is called in these parts. Our route takes you over the frontier from French Catalunya to Spanish Catalonia. It starts in the former fishing village of Collioure, where the colourful Fauve school of painting began and follows waymarked paths between the vineyards of Roussillon and through heavily scented maquis to the seaport of Banyuls, home of the great French sculptor Aristide Maillol and also renowned for its sweet aperitif wine. After crossing the frontier you descend on the Spanish side to the little town of Port-Bou and continue past rocky bays to the more modern resort of Llanca. The walk then climbs inland over a high col and along the mountains to the monastery of San Pere de Rodes, before descending steeply, passing ancient Dolmens to the attractive fishing village of Port de la Selva. You can watch the catch come in, get iced and then marketed. From here the trails become more remote as you head into the recently established Natural Park of Cap de Creus to complete the longest walk of the tour into the beautiful whitewashed old town of Cadaques. Nearby, at Port Lligat, is the former residence of Salvador Dali (now open to the public). On your departure day you may find enough time to visit the Dali museum at Figueres. On your way throughout the tour you will be able to sample the wines of Roussillon, delicious local honeys and, of course, the Catalan cuisine.
This walk (grade 3) is best described as moderate and should present no difficulties for anyone in reasonable condition and accustomed to walking up and down 2500 feet/700 metres or so in a day. Day stages: Of up to 22 km / 13.6 miles, the daily ascents up to 700m/2500 feet make each day a full one. Some of the trails are rocky in places
Flower decked Collioure is a very pretty little town set against the foothills of the Alberes Range. It has a very idyllic setting with sun, sea and sky attracting many tourists each year. The town consists of two little fishing ports separated by the mediaeval castle on a spur. This former fishing port was the birthplace of the Fauve movement of painters in the early 20th century.
Accommodation: For two nights stay in a comfortable 2* hotel, furnished in Catalan style. The hotel overlooks the harbour and citadel of this port which has long attracted artists.
Transfer by road to Gorges de Lavall (240m) and walk back past Tour de Massane (793m) to Collioure.
Walk up from Collioure to Tour Madeloc (656m), then descend to Col des Gascons and follow the GR10 long distance trail among vines down to Banyuls. Banyuls is the southernmost seaside resort in mainland France with 7000 inhabitants and a popular yachting harbour. The resort is very pleasant backed by hillside vineyards and surrounded by tropical plants.
Accommodation: Here we use a 3* family run hotel, by the seashore with a terrace restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean. The “gastronomique” restaurant specialises in seafood.
Walk up from Banyuls to Pic Joan (437m), a summit with a magnificent view of the indented coastline. Optional ascent to the Tour de Querroig/Tour Carroig, a ruined fort on the frontier (670m). Then steep descent on the Spanish side of the frontier to Port-Bou, a small town just on the Spanish side of the border.
Accommodation: Our hotel is practically right on the seafront. Dinner is included in a local restaurant. You may have a second night here if we cannot book you in at Llanca for tomorrow which will be on a bed & breakfast basis.
Walk up to Colle de Frare (202m) for wonderful coastal views then descend to the coast at Colera and then through a chain of pretty bays and headlands to the traditional fishing port of Llanca. This is a small resort development with an attractive old town a mile inland. You must bring sandels, jellies or water shoes today as there is a short section on the trail today where you have to walk in the sea for about 150 metres around a headland. In normal conditions this can be done in walking boots, but when there is wind is strong, the terrace can be a third of a metre under water.
If we are unable to confirm accommodation here tonight, you catch the train back to Port-Bou which takes approx. 10 minutes.
Accommodation: We stay at a small 2* hotel on the front that was one of the first to appear here and has changed through the decades as the historical images show.
A steep climb from sea level to the Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes near the summit of San Salvador peak (670m), descending along the forested Serrat de la Guerra ridge to Port de la Selva a traditional fishing village that has largely escaped development for the mass tourism market.
Accommodation: We stay at a 2* pension, where the friendly proprietors provide lovely meals.
Port de la Selva through rugged maquis landscape to Cap de Creus (easternmost point on the Spanish mainland). From Cap de Creus on paths to Cadaques. You will pass close to Port Lligat (former home of Salvador Dali) on the approach to Cadaques.
Accommodation: Our normal 3* hotel overlooks the sea. The hotel has excellent facilities, including an outdoor swimming-pool, and all the rooms have a balcony. There are good restaurants nearby to sample local cuisine for this evenings meal.
There is limited public transport out of the town, just one or two early morning buses. For those who wish to visit the Dali Museum at Figueras before returning to Collioure or to the airport at Barcelona or Perpignan an early start by bus or taxi is advisable. For those travelling direct to an airport the most convenient train station is also at Figueras.
Per Person, Twin Share