Sunday, July 24, 2011

The charm of France

I fell in love.

This summer my holidays took me to south of France. Just next to the Spanish border. I stayed in a lovely rented villa in Cerbere, the first town after the border. Apart from the huge train depot, this little sleepy one square - one street town had not much to offer. The croissants from its one and only boulangerie were wonderful, though.

What captured my heart, was a town three towns up the coast - Collioure.

During 10 days I visited it three times. And loved it more and more. I might go as far as to say that I would like to return to Collioure. I got the pronunciation wrong to start with and my french cousins did not let this chance, to make fun of me calling the town a 'spoon', cuillere, pass easily.

There was something about this town that made it special and I could not quite get it in the beginning. Then I realised, this is a town for artists....and has been a town for artists. I was told, that among others, this was a place frequented by Matisse and Picasso. There is a different vibe to villages and towns that have been popular among artists. Maybe it is in their natural beauty, the beauty that draws the artists there. Or maybe it is the influence that artists have on the place. The way they have chosen to build their homes and decorate and the way the bars and restaurants keep the aura of these people. Whichever way, the town was amazingly beautiful with its castle, beaches, little narrow medieval streets, restaurants, bars, and colours. Colours of the sea, the pebbles, the rocks, the flowers, the people.

It was a lively town, but it seemed to have predominately french tourists. Something that I enjoyed. I suppose that this could also be the reason why the restaurants were serving high quality delicious food - you cannot fool a fellow frenchman. And the shopkeepers, ever if loaded with souvenirs were not breathing down you neck as soon as you entered their shop. Another very enjoyable detail. Apart from the food and the shops and the people, above all, i just wanted to wander the streets and get lost in this town. And continue to do so.

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