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929km (577 miles) SW of Paris; 27km (17 miles) SE of Perpignan

It's easy to see why the early-20th-century Fauvist painters were attracted to this rocky coastline dotted with vineyards, and to its charming port town of Collioure. The vivid blue-green of the Mediterranean, the clear azure skies, and the deep red sunsets that gave the coast its vermilion name inspired painters such as Matisse and Derain. Today, you can even follow their trail in Collioure's winding streets, where replicas of paintings, such as those depicting Matisse's views of Collioure and Derain's seascapes, are strategically placed right where the artists would have painted them, either on the nearest wall or on iron easels. Even if you're not a fan of art, it is difficult to resist the beauty of this port village. Its sloping, narrow streets, charming semifortified church, antique lighthouse, pretty beaches, and generally agreeable ambience make it an inviting place to visit. It's also a major center for the production of anchovies, which you can buy directly from the fishermen and producers in the port. Its market, on Wednesday and Sunday mornings, is one of the most picturesque in the region.

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