8.30.2018

AN UNFORGETTABLE SUMMER IN COLLIOURE

Time flies...Summer in the UK is nearly over, temperatures have already started to drop down, jumpers are out and it's time to pack away my cute summer shoes to replace them with some waterproof ones!
It's on cloudy days like today when I wish we could just rewind time and live the best moments of life again. This summer would be on my list for sure, it was definitely one of my favourite summers of all time.

I spent my summer holidays with my boyfriend in the South of France in Collioure, a town I’ve considered as my little paradise for almost 26 years. And ended up coming back to the UK with a fiancé! Collioure already had a special place in my heart, but it has even more now.
Located between the rocky cost and the sea, this little fishing village of Collioure is a Mediterranean jewel; the light there is always amazing and it bounces off the many colourful houses. It's probably for all these reasons that Collioure and the church with a very weird 'phallic' shape main tower have been a sourced of inspiration for a lot of painters such as Picasso, Dufy, Derain, Rennie Macintosh, Maillot and Matisse. Matisse even said that ''No sky in all France is more blue than that of Collioure'' and he was right!
Every year from the 14th to the 18th of August, the habitants of Collioure celebrate the Saint-Vincent festival with music, dancing, processions on land and sea and the traditional fireworks display on the night of 16 August. The Saint-Vincent festival was first celebrated in 1701, when the relics of St. Vincent, the saint patron of Collioure, were returned to the village. This festival became an institution in Collioure. In my early years the festival was a bit more wild with bars and music in almost every street until 4-5am. It has now became a more relaxed, family friendly kind of festival with music at specific places and scenes in the town where bands or DJs are playing until until 1-2am.
              
Le Systeme sans interdit - Dans les yeux d'Emilie de Joe Dassin  

The 16th of August is the main night of the festival, every year it's one of the busiest nights as a lot of people and boats from the surrounding towns come to Collioure to see the fireworks. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful firework displays in the world.
            
            
One of the best spots to enjoy the sunset and the fireworks in Collioure is the restaurant le Neptune. They have a special four course tasting menu on the 16th. This year it was slightly more expensive than last year. It was priced 135€ with a wine pairing for an extra 29€ for three glasses of wine or 35€ extra for four glasses of wine.
We enjoyed last year meal so much that we didn't hesitate to book a table again. The menu and the service was again spot on, and the fireworks were the icing on the cake!

We started our meal with a glass of Champagne to celebrate the great news of our engagement, accompanied by an amuse bouche, a tuna tartar with a confit lemon mousse and soya jelly.
As a starter we both ordered the foie gras terrine served with summer white truffle, figs and a warm homemade brioche. The other option was a lobster and orange tart which looked delicious on our neighbour’s table.
For main, my fiancé opted for the beef fillet served with girolles mushrooms, spinach and a beef jus.
I had a perfectly poached sea bass covered with caviar and served with a spelt risotto and a dill emulsion.
We then shared the platter of cheese and Champagne sorbet which was a kind of pre-dessert, before a service break to watch the fireworks.
After the fireworks we ended the meal on a sweet note with their beautiful and tasty dessert, one was a chocolate entremet with confit and raspberry jelly. The other one was the same as last year, an apple mousse perfumed with calvados. 
If you are visiting Collioure one day, you should definitely have a meal at Le Neptune. They also have a three course lunch menu on a daily basis priced at 29€.
If you are looking for a less formal restaurant, here’s a list of the ones I have been going to for ages or recently opened and highly recommended:
- Casa Leon
- L'Amphitrion
- L'Insolite
- La Voile
- La Bodeguita (ex l'Andalou restaurant)
Bar wise, you cannot come to Collioure and not visit La Voile, it's the place to be, and they serve delicious cocktails. Last year my favourite cocktail was their Americano, packed in flavour but also in alcohol. This year I was obsessed by their St Germain Spritz, a very refreshing version of a classic spritz made with St Germain elderflower liquor instead of Aperol.
I already can't wait to be back in Collioure next year with my future husband!
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