Nestled at the foot of Albères Mountain, Port-Vendres is a historic fishing town on France’s Côte Vermeille. It’s one of only a few deep-water ports on France’s south-west Mediterranean coast and was the departure point for French troops serving in Algeria during the early 20th century.
Things to do in Port-Vendres
Marking the entrance to Port-Vendres is the Redoute du Fanal, a 17th-century lighthouse built by the Marquis de Vauban. He was also responsible for the Redoute Béar on the other side of the port. Partially destroyed during World War II, it was restored in 1988 and now houses an interpretation centre about the Sidi Ferruch stele and French Algeria.
Just east of Port-Vendres rises the Phare du Cap Béar, a 27-metre-high pyramidal lighthouse constructed from stone. It’s a short drive from Fort Béar, a late-19th-century military building that offers stunning views across the Mediterranean Sea. A network of hiking trails traverses the surrounding cape, with a highlight being the Chemin Côtier Plage de Bernardi.
Perched atop a hill to the west of Port-Vendres is Fort Saint-Elme, which was constructed between 1538 and 1552 by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. It’s protected as a Monument Historique and is open to the public as a museum. You can learn about the life of Charles V and the fortifications of Vauban and get up close to medieval and Renaissance-period armoury.
Getting around Port-Vendres
Port-Vendres is around 30 minutes’ drive from Perpignan and 40 minutes from Perpignan–Rivesaltes Airport, which has flights to destinations across Europe and North Africa. Trains connect from destinations across southern France to the Port-Vendres railway station. The centre of Port-Vendres is compact enough to explore on foot.