When you circle the castle walls to enter the blissful bay in Collioure, you’ll see exactly why Henri Matisse was so enamored with it. The Fauvian painter was captivated by the splendor of the royal castle, the technicolor buildings lining the tiny streets and the jovial nature of its people. If there’s one thing this Southern French village isn’t short on, it’s character, and that character bursts forward in every beaming child, every boisterous market vendor and every glass of Vin de Pays d’Oc enjoyed in the magical shore side bars.
While Matisse is the painter most notably associated with this stunning village, other artists have been inspired by its beauty, too. Pablo Picasso, André Derain, Georges Braque, James Dickson Innes, Othon Friesz, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Tsuguharu Fujita have also created works of art influenced by the village’s grand royal castle, its whimsical windmills and its awe-inspiring turquoise bay.
Seeing as it’s played home to so many great artistic minds, it’s easy to see why any creative BUCKiTDREAMER would want to visit this Mediterranean hub of inspiration. If you’ve hit a creative stump and need out of it ASAP, fill your BUCKiTDREAM planner with the following activities and you’ll be creating art that could rival ‘Le Toits de Collioure’ in no time!
Hop on Board the Boat Getting to Collioure is relatively, easy but it’s best done by boat. Roussillon Croisieres operates a boat service from the port of Argeles sur Mer to Collioure four times a day. The trip takes about 45 minutes, but the crew on board will have you laughing so much that you’ll barely feel the time passing.
Be One with the Art in Hotel des Templiers During your visit to Collioure, you’ll want to stay in the beating heart of the town. Hotel des Templiers could not be better situated, as it stands opposite the royal castle and within a two-minute walk to the beach. This hotel is not only excellently located, but its walls are also lined with 2000 original artworks by various artists who have stayed here. In the bustling boat-shaped bar you’ll find hundreds of paintings from floor to ceiling, embellished with photos of satisfied customers Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali cavorting with the locals.
Address: 12 Quai de l’Amirauté, 66190, Collioure, France
Spot the Masterworks on the Streets When traversing the technicolor Colliouran streets, keep an eye out for the steel framed paintings hung on the walls of the village. These twenty paintings are reproductions of Matisse’s and Derain’s most famous works. You can find the frames hung on walls or mounted on stilts in the exact spots where these acclaimed artists would have perched their easels to create their masterpieces.
Bask in the Special Light For BUCKiTDREAMERs creating your own masterworks in Collioure, you’ll be treated to what Matisse described as its ‘special light’. In his own words, the famous Fauvist was in awe of ‘bright Mediterranean colors and above all, by the quality of the light” in Collioure, and noted this as allowing him to create some of his most spectacular work. Derain added to this notion of ‘special light’ by claiming that ‘Collioure has no shadows’. These excellent conditions are likely due to the fact that Collioure has the only east-facing coast of France, allowing the sun to devour every last inch of this dreamy town.
Check Out the Local Talent For such a small village, Collioure is absolutely teeming with art galleries – 30 to be exact. Thanks to its rich artistic history, and the group of artists still creating in the town, these galleries are filled to the brim with some of the best art in the world – particularly if you love the Fauvian style. We recommend you try hit up each gallery at least once while you’re here, but if you’re short on time, make sure to visit the Collioure Museum of Modern Art and the magnificent small galleries that line Rue de la Fraternite.
Be Inspired by your Surroundings If you’re looking for points of inspiration in Collioure to set up your easel, you won’t be looking for long. From the hustle and bustle of the biweekly market, to the postcard perfect bay, everywhere you look in this stunning village you’ll be awestruck with inspiration. The town is impressively welcoming of artists, and anyone seen drawing or painting within its confines will be left in peace and quiet – and even maybe offered a glass of wine for further inspiration!
Get Awestruck by the Majesty of the Royal Castle The most immortalized landscape of the town is no doubt its stunning royal castle. Rising from the Mediterranean with breathtaking grandeur, the castle has been the inspiration behind countless works of art, including ‘Le Toits de Collioure’ by Matisse and ‘Collioure’ by Andre Derain. The backdrop of the sparkling bay against the majesty of the castle also makes for some awesome Instagram shots, should you not feel like whipping out your paintbrush.
Eat Some Famous Anchovies If you get hungry while creating your masterworks, make sure you sample some Collioure anchovies – thought to be the best anchovies in the world. Wash down your anchovies with a glass of merlot from the all-singing, all-dancing owner of Els Taps, a quirky hidden gem of a tapas bar tucked away on a side street of the village.
Address: 10 Rue Berthelot, 66190 Collioure, France
Possibly the best thing about Collioure is that it has remained relatively unknown to most international travelers. While other tourists flock to Cannes, Saint Tropez or other better-known Cote d’Azur hotspots, the intrepid BUCKiTDREAMER knows to go further east, away from the baying crowds.
Coming to Collioure, you can’t help but be in awe of its sheer beauty. Hopefully, like Derain, Matisse and Picasso, you can feel similarly inspired to create your own masterpieces while here. Make sure you share any creations on your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and hashtag #BUCKiTDREAM to inspire fellow creative souls. Then add another stop on your French-inspired bucket list by seeing why Everyone ‘Swipes Right’ for Nice, France