You will be familiar with the charity event of trying to squeeze as many people as possible into a Mini. Now imagine that lack of personal space but in a beach setting. What you are visualising is the renowned La Pelosa beach at the north-western tip of Sardinia. A triangle of glowing white sand set below a watchtower and surrounded by water with the clarity and colours of the Caribbean.
It is visual perfection and it is very, very popular. It is also rather small. In high summer you will find that every inch is covered by either a towel or a lounger. If there is not space to lay a towel, sun worshippers simply stand on the sand (looking very stylish as is the Italian way). If there is no space to stand on the sand they stand in the sea. It is a spectacle to behold and you must visit but unless you are planning to get there very early in the morning don’t bother bringing your towel and parasol.
La Pelosa, Stintino, Sardinia
Google map: bit.ly/QbKtHw
I’ll let you into a secret. A hidden corner of one of our closest neighbours where the food is exquisite, the sun shines every day, Catalan and French cultures fuse and the local rose is cheap and inoffensive.
Avoid airport tantrums and restrictive baggage allowances and instead, jump in your car, throw in the children and their paraphernalia then cross the channel and drive south until you reach the Med but don’t turn left and follow the hordes to Nice and Provence but instead head right towards the Pyrenees where, tucked between the Med and the mountains, you will find the Cote Vermeille region basking in the sun, where even in August, you can find space on a beach and a table in a restaurant.
Port Vendres is a deep sea port and marina, crammed with rows of gleaming motor boats and yachts, yet still a working harbour edged by a tangle of nets and ropes. Rows of terracotta topped town houses tumble down its hilly flanks to the palm tree lined streets where a healthy smattering of bars and seafood restaurants host a mixture of primarily French tourists and the odd crusty local sea dog. The morning’s fresh fish and seafood can be purchased from the quayside or sampled al fresco in one of the eateries.
Within an easy drive of the long sandy beaches of Argeles sur Mer or inland Larqoue des Alberes where old houses cluster about a hill topped with a small tower and a meal can be taken on the sun dappled square next to the church from Hotel Le Catalan.
Take a jaunt on the road train to picture perfect neighbour Collioure home to a fine fortress returning via a vertiginous route through the vineyards or travel along the cornice road and over the border into Spain, (you can tell you’re in Spain as the road disintegrates into a pot holed track) and down into Portbou for some tapas and dos cerveza por favor.
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