Trek Notes - France

Vermillion Coast

The Vermillion Coast

This walk along 'La Cote Vermeille' follows the steep coastline where the Pyrenees meet the 'Big Blue', as the Mediterranean is called in these parts. Our route takes you over the frontier from French to Spanish Catalonia. It starts in the former fishing village of Collioure, where the colourful Fauve school of painting began and follows waymarked paths between the vineyards of Roussillon and through heavily scented maquis to the seaport of Banyuls, home of the great French sculptor Aristide Maillol and also renowned for its sweet aperitif wine. After crossing the frontier you descend on the Spanish side to the little town of Port-Bou and continue past rocky bays, the monastery of San Pere de Rodes and the recently established Natural Park of Cap de Creus to complete the walk by arriving at Cadaques. Nearby, at Port Lligat, is the former residence of Salvador Dali (now open to the public). On your departure day there is an opportunity to visit the Dali museum at Figueres. On your way you will be able to sample the wines of Roussillon, delicious local honeys, and the Catalan cuisine.

Travel Information

Season: October to mid June. This tour is not available in summer – it is normally far too hot for this walk and getting accommodation can be very difficult at this time of the year.

Level of Difficulty

Fitness: This walk is best described as moderate and should present no difficulties for anyone in reasonable condition and accustomed to walking up and down 2000 feet/600 metres or so in a day.

Day stages: Short in distance, the daily ascents up to 650m/2200 feet make each day a full one.

Waymarks: Variable in quality. Little waymarking in vicinity of towns and villages, but well marked on GRs (GR 10, Gr 11, Gr92).The coastal route on the Spanish side is fairly well used and not hard to follow.

Accommodation & Meals

Accommodation is in small hotels/pensions on a half board basis (evening meal and breakfast) on 4 nights, bed and breakfast only on 3 nights. Picnic lunches on walking days are not included in the tour cost, but picnic materials can readily be bought in local shops or a packed lunch ordered the night before from your accommodation.

Most frequently used hotels are described below but alternatives are used on occasion when room availability is limited.

Nights 1 & 2: Collioure.A comfortable 3* hotel overlooking the harbour and citadel of this port which has long attracted artists. (Bed and Breakfast only).

Night 3: Banyuls-sur-Mer. Here we use two different hotels, both 2* with 'gastronomique' restaurants specialising in seafood. One is a family run hotel by the sea shore with a terrace restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean. Rooms have private facilities and TV. The other hotel is smaller, all with private facilities, direct telephone and satellite TV.Here too there is a shaded terrace overlooking the water. (Dinner included).

Nights 4 & 5: Port-Bou. A small town just on the Spanish side of the border. Dinner is included normally on the first night either at the hotel or in a local restaurant.

Night 6: Port de la Selva.A traditional fishing village that has largely escaped development for the mass tourism market. Here we stay at a 2* pension. Where the friendly proprietors provide excellent meals. (Dinner included).

Night 7: Cadaques. Our hotel overlooks the sea on one side and faces the mountains on the other side. The hotel has excellent facilities, including a pool and a sauna. (Dinner included).


Day 1. Arrive Collioure. This former fishing port was the birthplace of the Fauve movement of painters in the early 20th century. Overnight Collioure.

Day 2. Transfer by road from Collioure to the Gorges de Lavall (240m) and walk back past Tour de Massane (793m) to Collioure. 14km/8 miles.5 hours walking. Overnight Collioure.

Day 3. Collioure to Banyuls. Walk up from Collioure (sea level) to Tour Madeloc (656m), then descend to Col des Gascons and follow the GR10 long distance trail among vines to down Banyuls. 15km/9 miles. 6 hours walking.Overnight Banyuls.

Day 4. Banyuls to Port-Bou. Walk up from Banyuls (sea level) to Pic Joan (437m), a summit with a magnificent view of the indented coastline. Optional ascent to the Tour de Querroig/Tour Carroig, a ruined fort on the frontier (670m). Then steep descent on the Spanish side of the frontier to Port-Bou. 13km/8 miles. 5 hours walking.Overnight Port-Bou.

Day 5. Port-Bou to Llanca. Walk up to Colle de Frare (202m) for wonderful coastal views then descend to the coast at Colera and then through a chain of pretty bays and headlands to the traditional fishing port of Llanca. From here you will need to take the train back to Portbou. We aim to provide train timetables (but you will need to check times locally). The train journey takes 10minutes. 5 hours walking. Overnight Port-Bou.

Day 6. Llanca to Port de la Selva. To start today’s walk you will need to return by train to Llanca, a 10-minute journey. A steep climb from sea level to the Monastery of Sant Pere de Roda near the summit of San Salvador peak (670m), descending along the forested Serrat de la Guerra ridge. 12km/7 miles. Ascent and descent 570m/1900 feet. 5 hours walking. Overnight Port de la Selva.

Day 7. Port de la Selva through rugged maquis landscape to Cap de Creus (easternmost point on the Spanish mainland) and Cadaques. 16.5km/10.5 miles/6 hours to Cap Creus. Height gain/loss 440m. From Cap de Creus 8km/5 miles by road to Cadaques. You will pass close to Port Lligat (former home of Salvador Dali) on the approach to Cadaques. Taxi also possible for this last stretch from Cap de Creus. Overnight Cadaques.

Day 8. Depart from Cadaques. For those who wish to visit the Dali Museum at Figueras before returning to Collioure or to the airport at Barcelona or Perpignan an early start by bus or taxi is advisable. For those travelling by train direct to an airport the most convenient train station is Llanca, reached by taxi from Cadaques.

Extra nights

Second nights at Collioure and Portbou are already included in the tour. An extra night at Cadaques would round the trip off well, with an opportunity to see some more of the landscapes which inspired Dali. Please enquire for rates.

On Self Guided Tours we provide you with . . .

Route notes, walking route maps at 1:50,000 scale, local information

Print   To Top