Geo: 42.5245, 3.08232
Over ten years ago we visited the Mediterranean coastal town of Collioure on one of our first trips to France, and Janet wanted to spend time there on this trip. So we reserved a room at Les Relais des Trois Mas, a wonderful little hotel along the cliff overlooking the harbor and waterfront.
We left Toulouse and headed east along the secondary roads, past Carcassonne and Narbonne, where we stopped for coffee. From there we got on the A9 and headed south, past Perpignan, and crossed over the Pyrenees again into Spain. We found our way to Figueres and rode east towards the Mediterranean coast to the little village of Portbou. From there we hugged the coast north, back into France along a spectacular highway, thru a number of coastal villages and resort towns. After 27 km of breathtaking scenery and twisty highway we arrived in Collioure.
After getting settled we sat in the patio dining area and had a light lunch, watching the sun bathers on the small rocky beach just below us, some topless. The weather was fantastic and so were the accommodations.
That evening we had dinner in the hotel restaurant, La Ballette. It was
an amazing, five course meal of French delicacies, most of which we couldn't translate from the menu. The price was just as incredible - expensive is an understatement. But it was a memorable experience, a special treat and Janet considered it to be her birthday dinner celebration.
The next morning we went down to the village square and waterfront areas for market day. Food, produce, clothing and crafts were in abundance. We had a great breakfast and wonderful coffee, then finished our walking tour of all the little alleys and courtyards around the Chateau Royal de Collioure, a massive fortress overlooking the harbor.
We reluctantly packed up our bikes and headed out of town along and coast. It quickly became obvious that the summer tourist traffic was going to make traveling along the coast a slow crawl. We worked our way inland and headed west, working our way past tiny towns and villages to the Gorges de Galamus, a deep, narrow canyon cut by the Agly river through the Aude mountains. The one lane road, cut from the rock in 1892, twists and turns along the canyon wall. Traffic is controlled from both ends, but we had less than a
10 minute queue. The view was awesome, but the sheer drop off made Janet a little uncomfortable.
From there we proceeded along more tiny country roads, finally arriving at the Rennes Le Chateau. The hilltop village and abbey is the source of much folklore concerning the treasure of the Knights Templar. Many books have been written about the 19th century priest Bérenger Saunière and his amazing church, which some believe sits atop the buried treasure of the Templars. The stories have definitely benefited the town from the standpoint of commerce and tourism.
Heading back to home base we passed thru Limoux on the way to A-61 for the quick run back to Toulouse. It was a wonderful two days, and our chance to re-visit a place that held a lot of special meaning for us. This trip gave us lots of new memories.
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