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Arty beach town Collioure

It's the third time my family and I colliourehave stopped in Collioure. It's one of our favourite spots. Just over the Catalonia border into France, it blends both cultures and cuisines.

A pebble beach lines 2 sides of an inlet with castle walls and a church with clock tower/lighthouse peering protectively over them. A small golden face greets you as you pass beneath it to approach the old town, angelically watching over the street artists at work.

Dine on delicious fresh mussels as you look across the bay, stroll under palmtrees and enter the village arches as you drag your eyes from the engaging colours of the bobbing boats and the sunlight flickering across the bay to the cool alleys with tempting restaurants and artist studios.

This time we met the lovely owner of the shop -Soleil Sol- who made us forget this is a tourist town and that we are just visitors, not friends. She told the tale of Les Templiers, the bar full to bursting with paintings. They fill every space on the walls and flow up the stairs to the hotel above. The owner would feed and refresh artists low on funds in exchange for their work - and a wonderful gallery was created in the most natural fashion. Some paintings of great worth were stolen some years back and now adjustments have been made, but the character and charm of the place remains. Stay in the Hotel Les Templiers for rooms looking over the town rooftops or castle, with ensuite bathrooms and a feel of being part of it all.

This time we paused next door at the quirky Creperie Bretonne with its built-in-bus and tasty pancakes.

This time the wind pushed us up the hill to the fort on the hillside, past the old windmill whose sails were rattling precariously, to look down over the perfect scene.

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This time we left overloaded with crafted creations in order to bring a little of that Collioure feeling to our own home.

This time wont be our last time.