It was the restaurant-lined narrow cobbled streets that set me over the edge. Sipping on sangria while our (usually) fusspot kids devour their cuttlefish, I look around happily with that otherworldly vibe only those on holidays can ever really feel.
 
Few places in France combine culture with a relaxed holiday vibe like Collioure. It sits on the French coast to the east, just 40 minutes from the Spanish border and a half hour drive from Perpignan airport.  But it is far from the chintzy resort towns of the Costa Brava. 

 


 
It boasts five beaches, each more pretty than the next and in the centre of the town sits the Chateau Royal — a vast historical monument with some serious game of throne-esque passages and dungeons that the children loved exploring. 

Everywhere you look there are walled gardens heady with the scent of frangipani as you walk around the port. Barbecued fish, fresh-from-the-reef, waft from the restaurants that almost seem as if they are built into the rocks overlooking the moody blues of the sea.  

 


 
Don't leave without trying the octopus at the restaurant La Balette — it is pricey but worth the walk up from the salty breeze. There are plenty of resorts close by that are really family friendly and worth exploring - even it if is a day trip from one of the nearby campsites.
 
We explored the meandering streets dotted with jewellery shops and galleries as the children sniff out overpriced fidget spinners and I buy yet another cheerful print of the postcard perfection of this town. It is famous for its light which draws a great many artists here. They sit happily on the pebbled beach recreating the pretty scene as if afraid it will disappear in a poof. 

 

 

My unruly bunch sit close by, picking out their favourite shaped stones and writing messages in rainbow colours for the next mini explorer to discover.
 
And as I watch them gently place their pretty stones into the nooks of the rocks, I realise that this town is a haven for dreamers like me and my bunch.

Other families join us on the sun-speckled canopies, ordering pizza and ice-cream, charmed to finally find a town worthy of such off-the-wall wanderers as us.

I'm mum to three little ones aged 7, 5 and 3. My hobbies include overreacting, second-guessing myself and drinking gallons of coffee. I enjoy travelling and showing my family as much of the world as I can between school runs and holding down my job as a freelance writer.

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