The Douy stream originates in the mountains and flows down into what was Collioure’s original entrance to the first port. The mouth of the stream that lets out to the sea has changed significantly over time. Originally on the side of the Royal Palace, there was a sandy beach. Today, visitors can sit and relax under the olive trees in the shade. Since the stream originally flowed freely to the sea, a stone breakwater was built around the mouth to provide a sheltered dock. Just up from the footbridge, you can still see remnants of the original protective walls that extended from the Royal Palace.
This stream is really the heart of Collioure’s communal life. In the summer it has many purposes and can serve as a car park, market area and event space for cultural and sporting events. It is generally dry during the summer months but in the winter, there is often water flowing down the stone channel through the village and out into the Mediterranean. On occasion, flash floods have taken place as a result of big downpours and locals tell stories of cars being washed out into the bay!
As you move inland, there is a footpath along the side of the stream that many people use for hiking, which eventually connects with a path up to the Hermitage of Consolation (a nice spot with a chapel and restaurant). The walk is pleasant, consisting mainly of terraced vineyards with patches of oak forest. In the upper sections of the stream, water is collected from surface run off and groundwater allowing the stream enough water to flow generously. It is the home to many plants, fish, water snakes and other forms of aquatic life. As it progresses down towards the village, much of the water sinks into the ground and it loses it’s stream altogether, thus allowing it to be utilized for its multi purposes in the summer.
Depending on the time of year you visit Collioure, you may attend an event in the Douy or be overlooking the flowing water. No matter the month, the stream continues to be the heart of Collioure.