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The Vermillon coast (Côte Vermeille in French) is a palette of colours: the blue of the sea, the white of the summits of the Pyrenees, the green of hills that are wooded or furrowed with vines, turquoise creeks, golden sands… Here the sand gives way to rocks, the massif des Albères plunges into the Mediterranean sea. The beaches nest in the creeks, the ports in the hollow of the bays… [more information for the venue]

Port-Barcarès (and its famous run-aground steamship, the Lydia), Canet-en-Roussillon, Torreilles-Plage, Saint-Cyprien, Argelès-sur-Mer and the unspoilt beach of Le Racou and its camping sites, Collioure, Port-Vendres and its village backing on to a hillside facing the lagoon, Banyuls-sur-mer famous for its wines and its picturesque alleyways. Cerbère and its amazing hotel Rayon Vert. The wild coast, the capes of Béar and Rédéris, unroll the magic carpet of the Roussillon coast as far as Spain.




A village, a beach and a port hidden away in a fold of the Pyrenees, that's what you will find at the foot of Cap Béar. Banyuls-sur-Mer is the last stop before Spain and is surrounded by quays that run alongside the Allées Maillol, where artists have set up their studios. Explore the picturesque little stepped side streets and, when evening comes, with the music of the Sardana as a background, you can enjoy a Banyuls, the wonderful aperitif that takes its name from the wine produced here.

Old farmhouses, Catalan fishing-boats, vines that tumble down towards the sea, silver-leaved olive trees: this is a place where traditions have been preserved intact, a place where time stands still… So, hoist the flag ad drop the anchor in Banyuls, where the motto is “In mare via tua”! (Your road lies upon the sea).

Things to see & do in Banyuls-sur-mer
Cap Rédéris, with its amazing views of sea and mountains - the museum and tomb of Aristide Maillol in the sculptor’s former workshop - aquarium and sea observatory - wine cellars of the famous sweet wine of Banyuls.

More information from the Banyuls-sur-mer Tourism Office - Tel: + 33 (0)4 68 88 31 58 - Website

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The name "Banyuls" is a derivative of the word "bath" (Balnoneum), the city being built near ponds. It seems that later the word has been roughly translated by "Ban" and "Ialos", meaning "peak" and "cultivated clearing".

Origins of the Name of Banyuls-sur-mer
From  400 BC, the Celts and the Greeks occupy the coast. If it is said that the "Col de Banyuls" was crossed in ancient times by Hannibal and his legendary elephants, the first written mention of the city dates from 980, in two terms:  “Balneum” and “Balneola”, derived from the Latin word “Balneolis” (lagoon), which would refer to the “Bassa”, a swamp formed by the mouth of the river “Vallauria”, stretching from the bridge of the “Puig del Mas” into the sea.

In 1074 appears the expression "Bannils de Maritimo", which in 1674 translates into “Marende del Banyuls”, and then finally in the nineteenth century becomes “Banyuls de la Marenda”. In the Middle Ages, the Roussillon region knows a prosperous phase during which the Templars will revolutionise the organisation of the vineyard installed by the Greeks and Phoenicians through the principle of a filtering system, using storm water runoffs (peus de galls), a procedure still used today.


Through the Treaty of the “Pyrenees” the Eastern Pyrenees are attached to the kingdom of France
After having been in possession of the Kingdoms of Aragon and Majorca (twelfth to fourteenth century), then in the hands of the Province of the Kingdom of Castile, it would take until 1659 when Louis XIV and Philippe IV sign the “Treaty of the Pyrenees” that the city of Banyuls, just like all the other Eastern Pyrenees villages, be attached to the Kingdom of France, which divides Catalonia in two: North and South. But this signature is not enough in itself to make the people from Banyuls (Banyulencs) "French", since it will take several centuries before they adopt the language and accept the authority of their new “home” country, which will not be without certain violence.


Banyuls, a "Smugglers Republic"
In 1793, the Spanish troops of General Ricardos, on their way to invade the Roussillon face the fierce resistance of the villagers during the famous Battle of the “Col de Banyuls” (see painting in the city hall and memorial of the dead at "Place Paul Reig"). Was it French patriotism or a reaction of the smugglers whose passage through the city under Spanish influence would have ruined all interests? Opinions are divided. Indeed, smuggling was a specialty in Banyuls: for at least two centuries Banyuls’s fishermen transported - according to the period - salt, tobacco, piaster, sugar, rice, sheets or skins, with an almost total impunity. This is when Louis XIV, powerless towards the uncontrollable and rebellious character of the inhabitants would declare Banyuls de la Marenda a "Smugglers Republic".


The natural heritage
Going from Banyuls to Cerbère by the sea, one can still see the “Cova Fordada” (cave with lots of holes in it), which for over two centuries was a storage place with illicit goods. At that time, the population consisted mainly of fishermen and winemakers. With the arrival of the railway in 1880, Banyuls no longer remains isolated. Gradually, fishing leaves room for growing vines, which today, hand in hand with tourism is the main activity of Banyuls.

In 1882, the zoologist Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers founded the Arago laboratory, which now houses more than 250 representative species of Mediterranean marine life.

Today, the town of Banyuls covers 4200 hectares and counts about 5000 inhabitants (population that triples in summer).

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Founded in 1882, the Oceanographic Observatory, known as the "Arago Laboratory" is an ideal place to study marine biology and oceanography in Occitanie, France. Located on a rocky coast and close to the Spanish border, the area contains an exceptional diversity of biotopes, fauna and flora in marine and terrestrial habitats. The Oceanographic Observatory become a part of the consortium of leading research institutions since 1967 as a laboratory of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and as an internal school of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) in 1985. Recognized for its national mission in the field of ​​the observation, the laboratory soon gained status within the National Institute of University Sciences (INSU) and became the first oceanographic observatory created in Occitanie.


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