Cte Vermeille

Overwhelmingly picturesque and reasonably quiet compared to hot spots elsewhere on the Med, the Vermilion Coast is a gem. Stretching from Collioure to Cerbère on the Spanish border, it lurches perilously around rocky coves and small ports against a backdrop of pea-green vineyards and Pyrenees foothills diving into the sea.

Strolling along its coastal path on a sunny day is uplifting: the chunk from the Cap Béar lighthouse to Paulilles, where women made dynamite in the 19th century, is stunning. For cyclists and motorists there is the coastal corniche (D914) or the nail-biting high road (p223) that careers mercilessly up to the medieval Tour Madeloc (652m), one of many warning towers built in the Catalonian hills in the 13th century. Views - if you dare take your eye off the road - are explosive.

Buses to/from Perpignan (p217) serve the length of the coast, and trains stop in Banyuls-sur-Mer and Cerbère, the changing point for trains to Spain.

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