Collioure, the start of the Footsteps of Dali walk
Walking in the footsteps of Dali in Catalonia
Sally had a wonderful time exploring Catalonia, the region bordering France and Spain. The most famous resident to come from Catalonia is the eccentric artist Salvador Dali, and Sally and her family became immersed in the landscapes and lifestyles that formed his creativity.
Read about her walking holiday in this insightful traveller tale, from the refreshing Catalan coastline to discovering fishing villages far from the tourist trail.
A spectacular coastline walk experiencing French and Spanish cultures
My family of 4 adult children loved all the little coastal towns between Collioure in France and Cadaques. The beautiful warm evenings in many of these coastal towns offered the perfect spot to sit and enjoy a meal or a drink. We enjoyed watching families and visitors promenading, enjoying a Spanish crepe or ice cream while looking out at the sea dotted with colourful boats.
The walking itself offered good variety and it did get pretty hot so we learnt to leave early. The terrain was often rocky and arid but we always arrived at the next town for lunch and a swim. The GPX tracker files we had downloaded on our phones made finding our way relatively easy.
On our first day we chose the mountain route which wasn't especially difficult but very scenic with spectacular stone walls, windmills and very old buildings. There were vineyards, olive trees and cork trees with stunning views of the coast along the way.
For the rest of our trip we chose the coastal route so we could cool off in lovely little coves with crystal clear water, especially around El Port de la Selva. Thongs or 'rock proof' water shoes were essential at these beaches.
On the last day's trek into the stunning port of Cadaques we walked through arid country with many ancient stone caves like igloos and archways which were fascinating. On the way we dropped into Platja de Tavellera where we had the beach to ourselves apart from a couple of boats further out.
Cadaques itself was a stunning, colourful and bigger port with some fun restaurants and shops. We did feel the heat here and after a good lunch our airconditioned hotel beckoned me for a much needed siesta.
One of the highlights was having a late afternoon guided tour of Salvador Dali's house which he had purchased as a collection of old fishermen's dwellings and lived in for 40+ years until his wife died. It was overlooking the most Eastern part of Spain with its own garden and stories.
The museum in Figueres was also truly mind blowing in its scale, range of artwork and creativity especially his own Surreal version of a Sistine style ceiling. Both the house and museum are 'must do' options and we had to be booked in advance.
With the exception of one hotel with no air conditioning and was a very small room we were happy with all the hotels we stayed in. We especially loved the generous breakfasts but mainly preferred choosing our own place for dinner.
The only mistake we experienced at the end was returning to Collioure after the museum as it was in the opposite direction to Barcelona. It would have made more sense to catch a train directly from Figueres.
It is not difficult to see why this coast inspired so many Impressionist and surrealist painters. Overall a wonderful trip and I wish I was back there now.
Thanks to Sally Gough for her fantastic write-up of the Footsteps of Dali self-guided walking trip.
About the Footsteps of Dali Walking Holiday
Follow in the footsteps of the surrealist painter, staying in hotels situated in charming country towns and coastal fishing villages. The journey begins by crossing the foothills of the Albères, the section of the Pyrenees where the mountains gradually give way to the sea.
As you amble along well defined trails, there are magnificent views beyond the rolling hills and terraced vineyards to the sea. Marvel at the stunning Vermillion coast as you arrive by foot in Spain. Discover the coastal villages that inspired many artists over the centuries including the great Salvador Dali.
Catalan hospitality provides a further dimension to the walk as you reach the Mediterranean coast. Each walking day there will be two possible routes (high route or coastal route) offering greater flexibility and a chance to take in the sights, swim in the sea or ascend a high ridge for panoramic views of this stunning pocket along the French / Spanish border.
Have you ever been inspired by an artist, book, or film to explore a destination? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.