This coastal walk starts in the hamlet of le Racou, passes through colorful Collioure and continues on to Port-Vendres, another seaside village with a more “real” working town feel compared to the heavily touristed Collioure.
Along with the expected beach and shoreline views, the trail passes an old military fort before reaching Collioure with its animated centre ville, crowded Wednesday and Sunday market, historic anchovy shops and pretty port. The perfect place for a relaxing lunch before continuing on to the nearby Port-Vendres. With bus access to the starting point (or return point) this trail can be done as one-way hike.
Parking and Bus
As buses are infrequent depending on time of year and time of day, check the bus schedule (route 400 Cerbère- Perpignan) before heading out. To take the bus to the hike starting point in le Racou, park at the place de l’Obèlisque in Port-Vendres. Note that this is a pay lot with a posted maximum two- hour time limit. In mid-June we observed cars with filthy windshields indicating that they had clearly been in the lot for days. We too took our chances overstaying the posted limit by a good two hours without receiving a ticket.
The bus stop is along D114 which runs next to the lot. Get off the bus at the stop on D81 just after the bus leaves D114 (just after the entrance sign to Argelès sur Mer). Continue walking along the road in the same direction and turn right into the hamlet of le Racou.
If you want to park in le Racou there are lots along the beach as well as at the end of the road at place Avinguda de la Torre d’en Sorra. To return to le Racou by bus at the end of the hike follow the directions above.
A third option would be to park in le Racou, take the bus to Port-Vendres, get off at the place de l’Obelisque and walk the trail back to le Racou. To find the bus stop in le Racou head up the main drag (ocean to your right) to Camping le Bois de Valmarie and turn left towards D81. A short ways past the roundabout you’ll see the bus stop on your right.
The Walk blazed yellow is easy to follow. Starting at the place Avinguda de la Torre d’en Sorra at the end of the road in le Racou it first follows the sentier littoral. From this parking lot take the road to the left until it ends. Then turn right and climb to the coastal trail.
The path runs along the coast to a camp ground and then to the Ouille Beach. Cross the beach and continue following the yellow blazes to a military outlook. From here the trail leads to Fort Miradoux. Cross the parking lot and turn left on route du Place de las Fourques that descends down into Collioure.
Once in Collioure we left the yellow blazes to check out the local market, smallish but popular with a range of specialty items (Wednesday and Sunday mornings). At the roundabout turn right on Avenue du Miradou and continue on a couple of blocks to the market at Place Géneral Leclerc.
Next take a peek into one of the anchovy shops on D114, Route d’Argelès (from the market, walk up rue de la République). Arrive before noon to catch the women neatly laying out the anchovies to dry, upstairs at Maison Roque, 17 route d’Argelès.
While the main fabrication is done at their plant outside of town this small demonstration factory gives you an idea of just how much hand work goes into the processing of these tasty gems. The all question and answer format (no real presentation given) is worth a quick look even if you don’t speak French. A similar demonstration and film can be found a couple of doors down at Les Anchois Desclaux.
Hungry for lunch after staring at mounds of fat anchovies, we headed back to the center of town (back past the market towards the port). Collioure’s colorful centre ville is loaded with lunch opportunities.
We stopped at La Marinade, on a quiet square, Place 18 Juin, one street in from the port. While the service and food were perfectly adequate and the setting tranquil, you can do better in Collioure. Don’s salad was good with chilled precooked seafood.
My Collioure salad with anchovies wasn’t as nice as the version a couple of doors down at El Campana that included two types of anchovies, marinated and salted, as well as roasted red peppers.
The Walk Continues
For views of the beach and town consider one of the restaurants up from the beach along rue de la Démocratie. To get there continue along the port to the other side of the chateau.
To end the walk, pick up the yellow blazes again along the port continuing past the chateau and along the walkway next to the beach. Near the end of the beach find the La Balette restaurant and climb the stairs up to D114. From here you can follow the road back to the Obélique parking lot in Port-Vendres or continue following the yellow blazes that wind through the communities along the coast (no. 4 on the map) and then into Port-Vendres.
About 10 kilometers with 315 meter total ascent.
From Les Pyrénées-Orientales – balade et randonnée à pied, #1 Du Racou à Port-Vendres.
June 20, 2012
For links to all the posts in this series see the French Pyrenees page.