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les vacances

September 14, 2009

colleiure.jpgMaybe it's because Stephen Clarke has set his latest novel, Dial M For Merde there, but Collioure, a little fishing village on the Catalan coast was packed to capacity despite it being mid September and hors saison. The parking was more cut-throat than central London, the restaurants packed and the hotels full. I can't even begin to imagine what hell this beauty spot is in August.

The last available hotel room (yes, I did leave booking a room until arrival) cost €120 and boasted lamps with broken lightbulbs, a dodgy bathroom with ox-blood coloured tiling and lemon yellow vanity unit and a brown carpet with an assortment of large and alarming stains. ( I've never understood why people use carpet at all in hotel rooms; tiled floors are surely much cleaner and more hard wearing?)

It made the Etap motel chain seem like the Ritz. Fortunately, we only stayed there one night. My advice, after some on-the-spot research, would be to stay in La Casa Pairal, www.hotel-casa-pairal.com. We couldn't because it was fully booked but it had easily the nicest lobby, courtyard and decor with prices starting at €89 a room.

My other tip would be to avoid the sea front cafe with waiters in striped polo shirts, not far from the Neptune restaurant. When I tried to order deux cafe cremes from the surly Ronaldo look-alike serving, I was brusquely told to wait. When I dared to ask him again - after several similarly neglected customers had given up and walked out - he replied even more rudely that he had already told me to wait.

And when I told him that I found his manner impolite - and that we were in a hurry as we had to move the car by 11.00am - he told me, in the bluntest possible terms, to go back to my own country as he didn't need people like me coming to his and telling him how to behave.

I tried to think of extenuating reasons for his rudeness and decided that a) his girlfriend had run off with his best friend that morning b) he was suffering from an almighty hangover or withdrawal from serious drugs c) after a summer of crossing a busy road to deliver coffees and croissants to tourists in the boiling sun he had simply reached breaking point. Whatever the reason, he was obviously having a bad day so we left him a generous tip.

Hotels and truculent waiters aside, we had a great time in the south. But I'm guessing the best time to go to Collioure is when everyone else has gone home - probably the end of October or even later.

comments (4)

1. Posted by Geoff on September 15, 2009 7:50 AM

I'm not a spelling nazi but it's Collioure!

We've been thinking about going there but not so sure now..
Try the Pays Basque - far more civilised.
I'm afraid I would have left the bad tempered little oik just 1 centime. he might have got the message then.


2. Posted by mimi pompom on September 15, 2009 12:32 PM

Hi Geoff,
thanks for the spelling correction - you're quite right and I've changed it. I would still recommend ColliOure as it's very beautiful and bad tempered oik aside, everyone else was very friendly. I did think about leaving him 1 centime but figured that was what he was expecting and sometimes it's more gratifying to do the opposite. I like to think it made him feel a little guilty rather than encouraging him to be rude to others, but I know what you mean.

Mimi


3. Posted by Paul & Jackie on September 16, 2009 6:32 PM

Hi,You should try Port Vendres next door which is far more calm.We were there Monday night,staying in Hotel St Elme,recommended by our French friends who did warn us that the Proprieter was desagreable but he was fine.Dinner at Pujols,grand assiette fruit de mer royale,was fab.The best restaurant though is La Tramontaine.They have an exceptional chef and the owner and his wife are really nice people.Just read your book which rung many bells for us as we have been here,near Marciac,Gers,for over 6 years having run local bar,restaurant for 4 years.We drove back yesterday afternoon on the wine route to Quillan,Foix,St Gaudens,far preferable to the autoroute and you can stop as often as you like to buy wine from the different vineyards.All the best and keep posting.


4. Posted by lorraine mccoll on September 18, 2009 5:44 PM

I agree the tactic of leaving un grande pourboire - if he was such an awful little oik then it was probably beyond his intelligence to understand your motive but it was certainly very restrained of you not to advise him that as a fully paid up member of the tax paying classes in France you had a right to expect a cup of his cafe creme - I could tell you were smiling as you told the tale !


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