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The area

Port-Vendres is one of the few deep water ports in the French Mediterranean, and this has formed its history for thousands of years. It is a major fishing port for this coast, with all sizes of boats from one-man skiffs to cruise liners and large trawlers. As a result the restaurants around the harbour specialise in fresh fish. Several good restaurants round the port offer a delicious three-course menu for about €14. However, if you want to cook your own, several boats sell their catch to the public direct from the quayside - they can't be fresher than this!

For those who don't feel confident enough of their fish recognition skills to risk this sort of direct selling, there is a wonderful covered market - the Criée - selling fresh fish and shellfish in a more "shop like" atmosphere.

MacKintosh In the early 1920's, Port-Vendres was home to the famous Scottish architect and designer, Charles Rennie MacKintosh, who produced a series of watercolours of the town and the surrounding area. He returned to England to die, but requested that his wife scatter his ashes in the harbour here, thus commemorating some of the happiest years of his life.

The vineyards around Port-Vendres produce high quality Collioure or Banyuls AOC wines, as well as more modest Vins de pays.

Independent articles on Port-Vendres can be seen here and here , while the local Tourist Office has produced an English (well, Franglais) version of its own web-site here.

There are small, cove beaches nearby, as well as great sandy beaches stretching around the Mediterranean from Argeles sur Mer, Canet Plage and St Cyprien which also has an Aqualand water amusement park for children.

Collioure is a very attractive French port 3 kilometres north of Port-Vendres - it is very busy in the summer, mainly with French visitors, while just south is the first marine nature reserve in France, which extends for more than 6 kilometres and covers 650 hectares of sea between Banyuls-sur-Mer and Cerbere, just north of the Spanish border. You can see more detail of the reserve, in French, by clicking here.

Tip - you can use Google Translator to translate from French to - not perfect, but readable - English. Click here for the translator tool. The web page addresses corresponding to the French site just mentioned is http://www.cg66.fr/environnement/espaces_naturels/reserve_marine/index.html . Copy the address and paste it into the relevant field in the translation tool, then select French to English translation.
For golfers there is a good course nearby at St. Cyprien and one in a stunning mountain location about an hour's drive away at Domaine de Falgos.

The Spanish town of Figueras is just over 60 kilometres away, and is home to the Salvador Dali museum. Dali's house is at Port Lligat , near Cadaques also about 60 kilometres away from Port-Vendres.

Also for art lovers, the nearby town of Ceret has a well respected modern art museum and connections with Picasso.

There is plenty of walking in the immediate vicinity, with a beautiful coastline and the Alberes mountains rising from the town to the Pyrenees. A good walker's map is the IGN "Carte de randonnée" map number 2549OT, "Banyuls". Port-Vendres is only about 50 kilometres away from the 2800 metre Mont Canigou.

Villefranche de Conflent an old walled town on the road to Andorra has a seventeenth century fort, Fort Liberia, looking down over the town. Villefranche is the starting point for the Little Yellow Train, which provides stunning views as it winds though the Pyrenees to Mont Louis and beyond.

Further north, but still within an hour's drive, are the craggy Corbières, with the seemingly impregnable fortresses of Peyrepertuse and Quéribus. These are both famous for their resistance to the Albigensian Crusaders who descended on the south of France to eradicate the Cathar heresy in the 13th century. For more information on the Albigensian Crusade, click here or here.

Carcassonne, the deservedly famous walled city restored in the nineteenth century to its original mediaeval splendour, is about 2 hours drive to the north, while about 2 hours drive to the south lies the very lively city of Barcelona.

As for winter sports, there are downhill and cross-country skiing pistes at Font Romeu and Pyrenees 2000 , also about 2 hours away by car, this time to the west, with Andorra a couple of hours further on.

The Conseil General of the Pyrenees-Orientales have their own web site (written in French with some Catalan) with lots of information about the department, including web cams of the mountains and the seafront at (Collioure).