Collioure is an attractive seaside village close to the Spanish border.

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Most of the coast of Languedoc Roussillon is flat, with wide beaches extending to the horizon. However, the border between Spain and France near the Mediterranean aligns with the mountainous line of the Pyrénées, which push into the sea. The lovely result is rocky sea coves.

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We visited Collioure on a warm early-spring day. Friends in Carcassone have told us that in the summer, tourists and vacationers overwhelm the village. Happily, in the spring, while there were school groups and retirees enjoying Collioure, the atmosphere was relaxed and roomy.

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We strolled within the colorful hillside streets.

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Many doorways announced the presence of artists’ studios and shops. But on this out-of-season day, despite the sun and warmth, almost all were closed. However, evidence of artistic details doesn’t hide in winter.

Even from the cozy streets, you catch glimpses of the sea.

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While I was walking along a wooden promenade between a village beach and a rocky inlet, a tall 70-something French man crossed my path. He started talking to me as if we knew each other already. He regretted that the rocky inlet used to be a nice beach. I asked what he meant. He said that in 2014 a great storm sent waves crashing over the walkway, which carried the beach out to sea. He seemed trap in nostalgia. I was impressed by the power of the storm and sea, especially on such a bucolic day. The beach may be gone, but a sea-urchin habitat is alive and well.

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Collioure has been a fishing village since at least the sixth century BCE. The first inhabitants were Celts or Iberian peoples, and they traded with the Greeks of that era. Over the centuries, control and identity of Collioure passed through the Romans, Visigoths, Franks, the kingdoms of Majorca and later Aragon, and the Spanish. Vauban, the noted military architect of Louis XIV, expanded the castle with his signature pointed battlements — which we see today.

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On this early spring day, all that history floats below the surface. We see a tranquil harbor and holiday town.

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While this couple isn’t us, the photo captures perfectly our day in charming Collioure.

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