Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Collioure and Fauvism in the PO, Languedoc

Collioure is famous for the artists(who called themselves Fauvists) like Picasso, Matisse, Derain and others. The sculptor Maillol also found inspiration here and his works are prominently displayed.
A 12th century Moorish belltower dominates the site, and Collioure is considered to be a true town of the "Cote Vermeille" due to the vermillion color of the water.

You can follow the "Chemin de Fauvism" a self-guided path that takes you around the town, with reproductions of famous paintings by Matisse and Derain, at the site where they were painted.
Another favorite place is the "Moure", which is the old quarter of town. It contains steep but pretty streets, pastel-tinted homes, small galleries and shops and cafes.




What in the world is Fauvism? I asked myself this
question many times while touring the tiny town of Collioure, a small Mediterranean fishing village. I learned that Collioure was more or less "discovered" by Matisse in the early 1900''s as a wonderful place to paint. The light, the sun, the sky, the color of the water (a true vermeil) drew him and a cast of other artists to this wonderful place. It appears that Fauvism grew out of "Pointillism" and Post-Impressionism (for all of you art history fans) and it is characterized by bold colors and brush strokes.

At any rate, Collioure became kind of a "mecca" for these artists, attracting the likes of Derain, Dali, and Picasso, as well as Maillol (a sculptor), Marquet, Manguin, Vlaminck, Dufy, and others. Fauvism appears to have been a relatively brief movement in art history but had a supreme influence on some of the later Expressionists.
Examples of quaint and colorful fishing boats similar to those Matisse painted are still in the harbor, mainly for tourists and other artists who still flock here. There are lots of touristy artists who have set up canvases along the beach, but the town has some serious art galleries as well.

Collioure's Musee de Art Moderne is located in the Villa Palms on the edge of town on the way to Port Vendres. An ancient medieval castle in the center of town is used for local art exhibits and concerts. You are sure to fall in love with the history, the beauty and the charnm of this town and like me, will want to return.

Quick Tips:

While art history may provide the biggest draw to Collioure, I'm sure the food and the pleasant attitude of the locals contributes to the popularity of this spot. Be sure to try the salted anchovies - an important staple in the cooking of the region. Also sample the local wines (from Banyuls and Collioure) and if you have never tried mussels before - this is the place to do it! They are the best you will get anywhere in the world. Some of the best gelato stands in France will also be found here with more flavors than you can imagine. I tried to work my way through them but only got to sample 6 or 7. They were all delectable.

There is also a Sunday morning, mainly food, market. Follow that by a plateau de fruits de mer on the harbour front, and end up with some culture! Bliss.


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Enjoy a romp around the Aude, Languedoc

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Happy romp!!

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