Fishing villages, lighthouses, castles and cliffs
Collioure – Banyuls – Cerbère – Llança – Port de la Selva – Cadaques
Mediterranean coast walking tour follows for the biggest part the coastline of the Costa Brava offering stunning sea views and a typical landscape with rock formations alternated with hills covered with vineyards and woods. Every day you have two choices between a more hilly and coastal route. Both walking routes are panoramic and offer the best of the foothills of the Pyrenees: vineyards, pinewoods, the typical Mediterranean scrub and small medieval fishing villages.
The tour start in France, at Collioure, and after crossing the border you come to the Spanish Costa Brava, the wild coast. Beaches invite you to take refreshing dives and enjoy the sun. You pass typical villages with small harbours, where you can enjoy fish delicacies, a cool beer or taste the excellent local wines. It is also the region of famous artists like Picasso and Dali. Matisse was very impressed by the picturesque harbour of Collioure.
A highlight will be certainly the nature reserve Cap de Creus, a rocky coastline with a flora conditioned by the strong marine influence, a striking area of great biological and geological importance.
The daily program of the 7-day tour
Individual arrival at Collioure, a picturesque old fishing village with a colourful harbour, where the boats of the anchovy fishermen are docked . The village is positioned on the Côte Vermeille (Vermillion coast), where the red rocks of the Pyrenees meet the sea. The 13th century castle is proudly overlooking the village. It was once the summer residence of the kings of Majorca. Very particular is the 17th century church Notre-Dame-des-Anges, which has a former lighthouse as bell tower. Many artist, such as Matisse, Picasso and Dali, where attracted by the light and colours of this charming village, that they tried to catch in there paintings.
Overnight in Collioure with breakfast and dinner
You leave Collioure and a uphill walk bring you to an old windmill. Arrived at the fort of St Elme, a military stronghold built in the 16th century. From here, you will have fantastic panoramic views of the sea and the surrounding landscape.
Now there are two options:
The Coastal Walk : A downhill walk bring you to the small fishing village of Port Vendres. The route follows Cap Bear with it lighthouse. It is a route with many coves and creeks, where you can enjoy a swim. It is a landscape of vineyards and wild flowers, especially in Spring. After Cap d’Ullastreill you come to Banyuls
The Foothills Walk: The route continues uphill till you reach the majestic Madeloc watchtower, dating back to the 13th century. Standing on a rocky outcrop of 660m… you can imagine what great viewpoint it is. The route takes a downhill direction through the thick scrubby evergreen underbrush of so typical of the Mediterranean shores. The landscape changes in vineyards and chestnut orchards until you reach Banyuls-sul-Mer, in the excellent wine area. You should try to drink the wine with the Porró, a glass carafe, which looks t like a watering can. Banyuls is an interesting and historic frontier town, which is also the end of the famous trans-Pyrenean 900 kilometre GR10 from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean.
Overnight in Banyuls breakfast and dinner
Distance: coastal walk 13,9 km /8,6 mi & mountain walk 16,3 km / 10,1
Walking time: 5 hrs or 5 hrs 30
Ascent/descent: +/- 500m or +/- 700m
The Coastal Walk: The route follows the sea and then goes uphill onto Cap Cerbère, which has a lighthouse and a rather flat terrain. The coast is here relatively steep and rocky and it makes part of a marine nature reserve (marked by yellow buoys) stretching almost a mile out into the sea to protect the numerous fish.
The Foothills Walk: From Banyuls, the route goes uphill along small lanes marked with ancient stonewalls It is a comfortable climb first amongst vineyards and through the Mediterranean scrub, always accompanied by spectacular panoramas. You have a good sight of the Pyrenees with Mount Canigou (2784m), which even can have snow in summer. You walk, however, up to the rather more manageable 2,000 feet close to the signal tower, Tour de Querroig, which marks the frontier before enjoying magnificent sea views as you descent to Cerbère.
Overnight in Banyuls with breakfast and dinner
Distance: coastal walk 9,2 km /5,7 mi & mountain walk 12,8 km / 8 mi
Walking time: 3hrs 30 or 5 hrs (variant 4 hrs 15)
Ascent/descent: +/- 500m or +/- 700m (variant + / – 550m).
Today you have different options, so you can choose easily the level you prefer because you can shorten the coastal and mountain route by taking the train (not incl. in the tour price)
The Coastal Walk: This walk starts with a climb. After Port-Bou you will be walking alongside the seashore again. A little after Port-Bou you’ll be walking along the sea and past « calas », with the beautiful platja Garbet and the coves Cap Ras bordered by pine trees. You have a nice view of Cap de Creus. You arrive at Llança
The Foothills Walk: The first stretch is the same as the coastal walk, but then you continue your climb until your reach the top Puig Tiffel From here you have a good panorama of Cap de Creus, Emporda, and the sunny Albères. You descend to Llança always facing the sea. The town of Llança is during the years modified, but the narrow alleys surrounding the church and the Palace-Castle of the Abbot of Sant Pere de Rodes give still an idea of how the town once have been. There are many small coves with unspoiled seawater and nice views of the rocky coastline.
Overnight in Cerbère with breakfast and dinner
Distance: coastal walk 12,5 km / 7,9 mi & mountain walk 21,5 km / 13,4 mi
Walking time: 4 or 7 hrs
Ascent/descent: +/- 350m or +/- 1100m.
The Coastal Walk: Before arriving at the Sarnella lighthouse, the route passes some impressive architect-designed villas. Port de Selva’s pretty village has whitewashed houses and is positioned at the horseshoe bay of El Port de la Selva. For centuries, it is a medieval village that had as its most important economic activity, fishing. Dwell through the tiny alleys of the town and enjoy the lovely port with its golden cliffs.
The Foothills Walk: Today a superb route through the hills, past hidden valleys, and along Pilgrim paths until you reach the beautiful small chapel of St Helena, and the imposing monastery of San Père de Rodes. A former Benedictine monastery built on the slope of the Verdera Mountain. The monastery reached its maximum splendour between the 11th and 12th centuries. From here you have magnificent coastal views over Cap de Creus and the coastal villages with their white houses. It is possible to climb further to the San Salvador castle, from where you can even see the bay of Rosas and the Pyrenees. A nice descent will bring you to Port de la Selva.
Overnight in Port de la Selva with breakfast and dinner
Distance: coastal walk 12 km / 7,5 mi & mountain walk 15,5 km / 9,6 mi
Walking time: 4 or 5 hrs
Ascent/descent: +/- 500m or +/- 700m.
Today the coastal walk is longer than the foothill walk.
The Coastal Walk: It is a great classic route, through the natural park of Cap de Creus. During the walk, you have a good view of this Cape, where the Pyrenees touch the sea. The route is long but there are many coves and beaches to rest. The wild and unspoiled Caps Creus, with its impressive lighthouse, is a peninsula in which we find two nature reserves and three areas of great underwater wealth: Cap Gros, the tip of Cap de Creus, and Cap Norfeu. The rocks that emerge from the water have spectacular shapes, shaped over millions of years by the wind and the sea; popular imagination has attributed names to them such as lion, dragon, camel, and cat. You arrive Cadaqués along a coastal path, lined with stone walls and winding between terraces, with white houses that seem to tumble down into the sea. Cadaques is one of the prettiest towns of the Costa Brava with its tiny alleys and white houses. Salvador Dali lived on the outskirts of Portlligat, where you can still visit his house. On top of the village of Cadaques is the Santa Maria church, where you can admire a chapel painted by Dali.
The Foothills Walk: you climb up leaving the village of Port de la Selva, and cross the wild and unspoiled coastal foothills of Cap de Creus. You pass the particularly beautiful and steep Cala Taballera cove. As you cross the cape, you will see ancient dry stone shelters among the trees and other natural features of this remarkable fantasy landscape. The walk ends with a panoramic descent through olive groves at Cadaques. We can recommend extending the walk by visiting the Cala Nans lighthouse because from here you will have a beautiful panorama of Cadaquès
Overnight in Cadaqués with breakfast and dinner
Distance: coastal walk 20 km / 12,4 mi & mountain walk 13 km / 8,1 mi
Walking time: 7 or 4 hr 15 hrs
Ascent/descent: +/- 670m (variant +/-600m) or +/-450m
After breakfast ends your tour along the French and Spanish Mediterranean coast.
Impressions from a walk along the Mediterranean coast
A tour for good walkers with experience. Every day there is the choice of a more difficult (mountain) or easier walk (coastal). There are significant difference of level between 450-1100m depending on the different routes. The terrain surface can be stony with some steeper parts, so walking shoes with good grip are needed. For those not used to rough terrain the daily walking time can be a little bit longer.
Daily distances between 9,2 km / 5,7 miles and 30 km/ 12,4 mi
Total km: Coastal route 68 km /42,3 miles & Hilly route 79 km / 49 mi
Arrival every day from 01/03 until 31/10/2023 (last available date).
2 or more people (solo traveller on request).
START / FINISH:
Collioure / Cadaqués
Hiking in the French Basque Country
This amazing mountains-to-the-sea itinerary is perfect for independent walkers wishing to enjoy the beauties of the French Basque Country in just one week.