Well, it has been two full years now and while we have been back to Collioure several times since 2013 for one to two week stints, we still haven’t spent any significant time during the “real” winter. Most of our forays have been in the spring, summer or fall, and with the area boasting over 300 days of annual sunshine, we have encountered perfect weather every time. We did spend a few days in January 2014 to prepare the apartment for our first rental, but that doesn’t really count because, according to the locals, winter in Collioure is really from the middle of January to the middle of February (by the way, that is when many of the local merchants, shopkeepers and artists take their vacation and close up shop).
In an effort to get a mini winter experience in our chosen future home, we decided that our annual apartment assessment would occur during the first part of February this year (February 2 to February 9), right in the heart of the Mediterranean winter. With that in mind, I took our normal trans Atlantic route flying from Toronto, Canada to Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona was basking in sunshine and 13 degrees celsius when I landed in the late afternoon and picked up a rental car at the airport for the 2 hour and 15 minute drive to Collioure. It is early evening when I finally pull into the Municipal parking lot beside the medieval Royal Castle, about 300 metres from our apartment.
The sun is just beginning to set behind the Pyrenees to the west as I walk along Boulevard du Boramar. What strikes me most is how incredibly quiet and serene it is - on other visits during the mid-peak and peak seasons, this stretch is bustling with activity. The calm Mediterranean is lapping gently at the edge of the empty beach, the seaside cafés have closed for the night and the soft yellow overhead lights along the boardwalk buzz and blink to attention as they begin to wake for their nightly watch.
I am in Collioure for a week and at the end of each day I reflect on how restful and relaxed the village is at this time of year. There are a smattering of tourists ambling about during the weekdays and slightly more on the weekend. The balmy temperatures ranging from 15 to 20 degrees celsius during the day, coupled with bright blue skies and perennial sunshine have exceeded all the expectations I had for this brief offseason interlude.
On my last day in Collioure before the long flight home, I get up early so I can take my morning coffee on Saint Vincent beach and watch the sun rise above the chapel, painting strokes of gold and pink and orange between the shimmering black sea and the deep blue sky. I close my eyes and imagine our future winter sojourns here.