Collioure - An Autumn by the Sea - CycleBlaze

November 30, 2018

Collioure

Rachael and I rode today’s stretch of coast in 1996, on our ride from Nice to Barcelona.  It was late September then, and a very windy day that began in Narbonne and ended in Argeles-sur-Mer, just a few miles short of Collioure.  Argeles, with no disrespect intended, isn’t the most exciting place - just the last of a string of resort towns along the long, flat sandy beach.  Our goal for the day was Collioure instead, but it started raining hard as we biked into Argeles and we were happy to come to a hotel with restaurant to take shelter in.  We made it to Collioure the next morning, and I fell in love with it even though we just stopped for a short walk through town.  Ever since, I’ve wanted to come back and stay overnight.

Today’s ride is super-easy - a flat, short cruise along the coast, with a strong but favorable wind blowing in from the northwest.  It’s supposed to rain in the morning but then gradually improve in the afternoon, so we stay around our room until the 11 checkout time before starting out.

With a short, easy ride ahead, we decide to beef up the workout a bit by biking the wrong way out of town, directly into the wind, and into the rain.  With the horizon hidden in the clouds, it’s easy to get confused here because we’re on a slender spit with water on both sides.

Not the most interesting shot, I’m sure you’re thinking. We’re pretty excited though, because after barely a mile we’ve figured out we’re biking in the wrong direction, into a strong headwind. Pretty good feeling, doing a U-turn and coasting back to the starting line.
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Jen GrumbyAny shot that involves switching from headwinds to tailwinds is a good shot, in my opinion.
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1 week ago

Pointing ourselves in the right direction finally, we enjoy a relaxing ride southwest in conditions that steadily improve all day long. We stop a few miles into the ride to weatherize our panniers, which has the desired effect - the rains cease almost immediately, not to return for the rest of the day.

There’s not much more to say about the ride itself that the pictures and video don’t show better.  Flat all day, scenic, a striking sky, and a gradually improving look at That Mountain.  We spend almost the entire day following EV8 again, on one of its better stretches.  We find a fine spot to stop for lunch, Rachael enjoying a dinner salad and I a delicious galette at a place to fall in love with - we’re looking for a good spot to lock our bikes up outside, but we’re instructed to just wheel them inside and lean them against a wall.

We have a fixed time to meet our host for tonight at our apartment in Collioure: precisely 3:30.  We’ve stalled a bit too long along the way though, and have to hustle to arrive on time.  Rachael starts getting anxious about being late and grows impatient with my few photo stops, while I keep reassuring her that we’re fine on the time front.  And I’m right - We easily make it on time, arriving at precisely 3:30, to the minute.

Now this is the ride we expected: ultraflat, downwind. I think our high point for the next twenty-five miles is about forty feet. Note though that we have our pannier covers on, because it started to rain a bit.
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We’re back on EV8 again! I’d never heard of Le Perthus before, but it’s the last stop in France, on a low gap through the Pyrenees. We’ll be there in a few days.
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The rain has stopped, but it’s still solidly overcast above. Ahead though, there’s a harbinger of better things to come.
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I didn’t notice what this sign was at first. I was just looking for a place to lean my ride while I walked out onto the beach.
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We’ve left the coast for a bit, biking up the estuary of the Agly to the first crossing. It’s amazing to see this small whale so far inland up this narrow stream. We’re glad to see he’s swimming back to the sea, but wonder how he managed to turn around. Maybe there’s a round lock ahead?
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Jen GrumbyGreat shot of that fuzzy fella! I wonder if Bill can put a name on this rate sighting?
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1 week ago
Andrea BrownCetacea hirsutum, juvenile.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownI was thinking that myself, of course. Charitable or you to not call me a big dummy for my ignorance.
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1 week ago
Andrea BrownHa ha, I was calling the whale a juvenile, not you. Chris knows we love him.
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1 week ago
Don’t miss your turn! We cross the Agry here, but could easily have kept going upriver as the bikepath continues in that direction too.
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Crossing the Bourdigou, on a pedestrian bridge that looks quite new. This whole stretch of EV8 is excellent and feels quite new, with several crossings like this and a smooth, fresh surface.
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A field of artichokes, and the largest peak in th eastern Pyrenees. If you don’t remember what it is, go back and reread the entry for our ride to Lagrasse. You wanted an excuse to look again at that amazing sunrise anyway.
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The sea and mountain are great, but the real story of the day is the sky. For the next hour it grows more amazing by the mile.
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As I was just saying.
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Our lunch spot, in Canet-Plage. With several choices available, we were lured into this one by the beautiful waitress with a gleaming smile who opened the door and beckoned us to come in. It took a minute to realize she meant for us to wheel our bikes in also. Another reason to come off-off season - they really welcome any customers who happen by.
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West of Canet-Plage, we follow the seaside boardwalks for a few miles through a string of resorts. The sky continues to brighten, and the day is warming up nicely.
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Aah! Sunshine, a big tailwind, palm trees by the beach. A great way to roll out of November.
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Did I mention that this is a nice section of EV8 yet? Even where it follows the highway, we’ve got a lane to ourselves. Amazing that it’s not teeming with bicyclists. Oh, wait - it’s almost December.
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There’s our mysterious mountain again. It’s gradually showing more of its profile. Maybe we’ll see the whole show tomorrow.
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These horses give us an excuse to slip in another look at Canigou. Oops - I spilled its name. Well, you should still go back and look again at that sunrise in Port-la-Nouvelle.
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When we arrive, we look around at a line of shuttered hotels and restaurants, not seeing anything likely to be our destination.  Rachael pulls out the cellphone to look up the arrival instructions, but then our host steps out of a small alley and greets us.

This is one of the best places we’ve stayed on this tour, ranking up with the amazing apartment in Menton a month back.  It’s spacious, well appointed, warm, comfortable, inexpensive - another place roomy enough that we could live here; and it is on the bay front, facing across the water to the castle and lighthouse.  

Best though is the host, who spends probably twenty minutes going over in detail how to use the apartment, operate the coffeemaker and heating controls, and telling us where the very few open restaurants are.  It’s certainly the best introduction we’ve ever received for a night’s lodging.  He also fills us in on why it’s so extremely quiet here and everywhere along the coast.  November and early December are by far the quietest time of the year, with virtually everything closed everywhere.  It’s when the folks in the tourism industry take their own break, before the winter holiday season begins.  He said that in a week or two things will start opening up again.

So, if you’re coming to Collioure, stay here.  It’s listed as Residence Collioure Plage on Booking.

Collioure is a gorgeous spot, which we’ll see more of tomorrow.
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Our apartment is that yellow building with the teal green shutters, just to the right of center.
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We loved our apartment and it’s owners already, but this is really special: an Advent Calendar! It arrived while we were out to dinner, with a note on our door that the first two days are ours.
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Ride stats today: 33 miles, 1,000’

Today's ride: 34 miles (55 km)
Total: 2,983 miles (4,801 km)

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Jen GrumbyLove the colorful brige in the video .. and the song that matches the panniet covers. :0)
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1 week ago
Jacquie GaudetI have fond memories of Collioure from 1992. It was a horrible ride on a busy narrow and shoulderless highway to get there then; we compared it to the (pre-Olympics) highway from Vancouver to Whistler. We camped for three nights (I think) at a campground above a beach just north of the town, connected to the town by a seaside walkway. I remember the campground proprietor proudly showing us her American-style top-loader washer and giving us detailed instructions on how to use it, like we would never have seen such a thing before.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetDo you remember which direction you biked in from? We biked across the border to Port Bou and back today, which was spectacular. I was glad we did it in low season though, because it was busy enough even at this time of year.
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1 week ago
Jacquie GaudetI had to get out my journal! The trip was in September 1992.

We started the day from Port-Bacarès. "In the morning we headed south along flat, reasonably quiet roads. But as we approached the Pyrénées, all roads converged onto the N114. The last 10 km or so into Collioure, along that narrow, windy, and busy highway, were scary. We changed our minds about a day trip to Spain."
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetYou might give this part of France another try someday then. You can bike a long ways on very safe, mostly separated bike lanes. It’s quite different now than it was 20 years ago, and much more bike friendly. All this ends at Collioure though, and there’s only the coast road as you continue west to Spain.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI’m really enjoying these videos too. She’s really gotten better at them over the last year. They make a really nice recap to the day.
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1 week ago