Monday, October 11, 2004

Day 2 - Nissan-Lez-Enserune

Monday started out a little cloudy and this determined our plan of action - to drive toward Perpignan and then explore the eastern end of the Pyrenees. Autoroute 9 made this a relatively easy target and we were soon in the foothills, thinking of Lance Armstrong as he used these mountains to forge ahead in many of his Tour de France victories. The minor roads are in excellent condition but very windy (and windy at times too!). A sharp shower forced us to consider the coast and we could see it was bathed in sunshine, so by early afternoon we were in the delightful small town of Collioure, an ancient fortified bay with quays and beaches as well as promenades.

The old town is typical Mediterranean, with narrow streets and, no doubt catering to the large numbers of tourists, lots of signs to remind that Matisse "discovered" this backwater and made it famous.

We found a spot on the beach (small pebbles, not much sand) and tested the clear, warm water in the harbor - clean, exhilarating but busy (we are, after all, used to places like Padre Island!) Then, as the clouds rolled in, we reluctantly drove off south for a few kilometers to see if the other towns are as special - they are not but the coast is quite spectacular! Collioure therefore seems to be the gem of the Languedoc-Roussillon coast. But we suspect that this may not be the case in August when it will be inundated with tourists (it was busy enough today).