How to defend this strategic position…
Port-Vendres has a strategic maritime position nearby historical borders. That’s why military builders focused their attention on the town.
The period around 1659 was a turning point for the town. Because the king Louis the 14th, asked Vauban to turn Port-Vendres into a naval base. Even tough Vauban couldn’t accomplish his work, he left three redoubts that protected the port: the "Fanal" Redoubt , the "Béar" Redoubt and the "Presqu’île" Redoubt. The last one was demolished to enlarge the port in the 1930’s. Today only its clock tower remains. At that time Port-Vendres was the port of Collioure. It became autonomous in 1823.
Between 1870 and 1886, a second defensive system was created at 3.5km, on an arc surrounding the town at 500 m high: the Taillefer batteries, the 500 batteries and the Galline fort were constructed among other fortifications. You can see them from the ridge road or “Routes des crêtes”. During the Second World War, blockhouses were installed to the south and the north of the town. You can still see them on the Cap Béar and on the colline de la Mauresque.
Today, the army still occupies the Fort Béar that overlooks the town and the rocky coast.
A very rich heritage
Make no mistake, in Port-Vendres the main museum is the town itself!
The monuments designed by Vauban take up an important space around the port.
Afterwards, during the reign of Louis the 16th, the Comte de Mailly, Lieutenant General of the Roussillon, resumed the construction of the town and had an obelisk erected in praise of his king. The obelisk, the “Fer à Cheval” Barracks, the Dome and its gardens form a magnificent ensemble in the heart of the town.
The colourest 19th century church, the war memorial made by the Catalan sculptor Aristide Maillol and the different commemorative monuments of the town… are all worth a visit.
In the "Béar" redoubt, there's an exhibition on French Algeria and Sidi Ferruch.
You can also discover a permanent exhibition on Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the buildings of the Jardins du Dôme (The Dome Gardens).
The Touriste Office organize Walks with french or english commentaries during the summer.
Paulilles, a remarkable history
The vast bay of Paulilles is located right up against the Albères foothills (at 3 km from the centre, direction Banyuls-sur-Mer). Here you’ll find three beaches overlooked by rosy rocks (lifeguards are present in July and August), terrace vineyards and an exceptional Mediterranean and exotic vegetation.
The landscape is also punctuated with different buildings and a brick chimney of 35 m high, a telling trace of the history of Paulilles. Indeed, the site used to be a dynamite factory created by Mr Nobel. Five generations of Catalans worked here between 1870 and 1984, creating a real working-class village on the site.
Open to the public, the site is now restored and is a place full of memory, a witness of the industrial history of Paulilles. Strolling around you’ll discover the site house (reception hall and exhibitions), the director’s garden, the big hall, the vigie (panoramic view over the site) and of course the chimney…
More information about… the site of Paulilles, click here.