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Port Vendres - an important port town of the south

Port Vendres is located in the south of France, on the Vermilion Coast of the Catalan Roussillon region. It is not really a large town, but it is an important port town for the south of France, lying as it does so close to the Spanish border, and having a natural deep water harbour that allows some enormous vessels to weigh anchor there. It is a very active fishing port also, with the bringing in of the catch being a spectacle that never fails to draw the crowds.

A very Mediterranean town

Port Vendres is nothing if not typically Mediterranean, with a lively atmosphere and a colourful air. The fishermen's cottages proudly display their brilliant hues in the hot sunshine, and for some unknown reason the wildly clashing shades work to create a powerful beauty here, whereas they would look garish and out of place just a few kilometres inland.

Feverish high season

Unlike many little towns of this region, Port Vendres has an almost feverish intensity about it in high season, perhaps due to the comings and goings of the large ships, or perhaps due to the atmospheric spectacle of the arrival of the catch of the day, or perhaps due to its proximity to its altogether more excitable neighbours, the Catalan Spanish.

Things to enjoy in Port Vendres

Port Vendres has so much going on that you may wonder what to do or see first. Start with the obvious, and head for the harbour where you can sit on the harbour wall or at a café or bar across the road from the harbour and watch the comings and goings, whilst enjoying anything from a simple cup of coffee to a full seafood dinner. Many of the pleasures of Port Vendres come more from watching than from doing... and there is so much to watch. There is a pretty marina here too, with pleasure craft paying highly for the privilege of renting a mooring in this desirable location. This gives an entertaining glimpse of another world for those of us who are not privileged enough to own a yacht!

Port Vendres offers all amenities

The fish market is another must see, with everything from live lobsters to fresh or cooked fish on sale. The atmosphere is frenetic and fun, if a little aromatic! As man cannot live by fish alone, however good and fresh it may be, you will also find plenty of ordinary shops in the town, with a vast array of goods to purchase, especially the superb local wines. Port Vendres has everything you will need, but if it ever does fall short of providing all, the big city of Perpignan is not far away.

Artists attracted to Port Vendres

It isn't all about the sea and the harbour, even if it may seem that way at first. Port Vendres, like its neighbours Collioure and Banyuls, is a town with an exceptional quality of light, stunning scenery and glowing colours, and this is a combination that has long proved irresistible to artists. The town is particularly known for being the chosen home of Scottish designer and artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who loved the place so much he had his ashes scattered there when he died.

Monuments and culture...

There are also some interesting monuments around, with the stunning pink obelisk perhaps the most significant. The culture is proudly Catalan, and not only will you sense the difference in the attitudes, but also hear it in the language. Not everyone speaks Catalan, but you will certainly be aware of it as you move around the town.

Sports fans this way...

If you enjoy outdoor sports then you will certainly not be disappointed in Port Vendres. The clear crystal waters invite scuba divers and snorkellers to explore the colourful riches beneath, while the calm seas are paradise for swimmers and families. Walkers will never tire of the views available from the steep cliffs above the towns of the area, and in the winter time skiers will find that the mountain resorts are accessible too.

Out and about

The glorious thing about Port Vendres is that not only does the town itself offer a million and one things to do and see, but that it is in such a superb location that the multiple worlds of the Roussillon coast, the Pyrenean Mountains, the Spanish Costas, the history and myths of Carcassonne, and the great beautiful city of Barcelona are all within reach. So when you are tired of the sea, the beaches, the harbours, the fresh fish, the excellent Banyuls wines, the colours and the summer buzz of Port Vendres (if such a thing be possible), you can move on and explore another fascinating place.

How to get there

Perpignan is the nearest airport, and has flights from the UK with Ryanair, bmibaby and flybe. Girona and Carcassonne are also near enough to consider, both being served by Ryanair. The TGV runs to Perpignan from Paris, which makes train travel a breeze, and you can even continue on down to the Spanish resort of Figeres or to Barcelona.

Property prices and availability in and around Port Vendres

The property market in this coastal part of Roussillon is buoyant, and seems set to stay that way due to the unflagging popularity of the area. Port Vendres is no exception, and you should expect to pay more for a property here than further inland. It's good news for rentals, though, as holiday makers love Port Vendres and rental incomes are excellent. There are plenty of different properties on the market, with apartments being the most prolific.

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Port Vendres AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Port Vendres?

Port Vendres is situated on the Mediterranean coast in the south of France, down near the Spanish border. It lies in the very south-east of the Pyrénées-Orientales department.

Port Vendres Property Map


Languedoc-Roussillon Guide

Languedoc-Roussillon Property Map


Pyrénées-Orientales Guide

  Pyrénées-Orientales Map

Population: 5,881

Access: By air: Fly to Perpignan, Carcassonne or Girona. By rail: The TGV runs from Paris to Perpignan, and also from Perpignan to Barcelona, which makes getting around really easy!

Economy: The economy is based on the commercial and fishing harbour and the Marina, with wine and tourism also important.

Interesting fact: Port Vendres takes its name (originally Portus Vénéris) from a temple to Venus which once stood above the town.

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