Collioure Defensive

Here’s a new concept we’re testing at P-O Life: the same article, once in English, once in French. Whatever your native language, you can enjoy the content and test your foreign language skills too!

For the French version, click here.


With its charming tangle of ancient cobbled streets and alleys lined with tumbling bougainvillea and geraniums, brightly painted houses, colourful Catalan Barques moored in a pretty bay, visitors can be forgiven for falling a little in love with Collioure.

Overlooked by a royal castle, surrounded by steep and ancient terraces of sun-baked vineyards sweeping down to the very edge of the town, it rarely fails to work its magic.

But when Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, royal engineer to Louis XIV, visited Collioure in 1669, he suggested that it was not worth improving, even proposing razing it to the ground and starting again!  Famous for installing fortifications throughout France, he certainly had a hand in several of the forts and look out towers that surround Collioure today.

Watch towers


These 14th century signal towers perched high above Collioure on ridges of the Albères used smoke by day and fire by night to signal approaching danger. You can walk to both. Madeloc is accessible by car, but Massane presents more of a walking challenge.




Fort Miradou is now the Centre National d’Entrainement Commando, perfect for sea-training activities, and possibly the most beautiful garrison in France. Look out for commandos practising manoeuvres out in the bay, an entertainment in itself! No visits.



Strategically positioned for defence, with clear views of the sea, the Spanish coast, the Château Royal and the natural harbour of Port Vendres, it is now a privately owned museum with armaments collection, or hire it for weddings and events, an amazing venue with spectacular views and beautiful gardens. Find out more here.


Built to protect Collioure and Port Vendres from invasion by sea, particularly from the British! The fort is currently being renovated by passionate volunteers to become an artistic centre. Find out more here.


These 18th century forts were built together to watch over the town from the north. Nicknamed ‘les Hauteurs de la Justice, public executions used to take place there. Linked by a covered path.


The round fort (Rond) is just one large circular tower and the square fort is surrounded by a deep ditch dug into the rock. with access via a bridge over three arches at the end of which came the drawbridge.



Built between 1883 and 1886, and restored by the commune, this former artillery defence now houses workshops for a wood turner and a knife maker.




The summer Palace of the Kings of Mallorca still stands after centuries of historical sieges, rebuilds and renovations. Ten thousand men including d’Artagnan and the King’s musketeers occupied the hills overlooking the town, eventually forcing the Spanish foes to surrender from thirst, after the destruction of the castle’s well.



Not a defense, but no article about Collioure would be complete without a mention of the iconic bell tower or ‘clocher’, originally a medieval lighthouse, demolished by Vauban in 1693 to strengthen fortifications, leaving Collioure without a church. A new church was completed in 1693, with the pink dome, added in 1810, today a symbol of Collioure, featured on every tourist’s holiday photos.

collioure bell tower

Where to eat

Le Jardin de Collioure
4 route de Port Vendres
Tel: 04 68 95 12 52

La côte de l’os
21 Place Jean Jaurès
Tel: 04 68 05 42 75

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