written by
Cori Sutton



Cadaques, Spain
Spain’s easternmost point, Cadaqués, lies on a rugged portion of the Costa Brava. It was here where the deep blue sea, white washed houses, a church bell tower and the mountains attracted Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso. Dalí spent family holidays here during his youth, and lived much of his later life at nearby Port Lligat. The town’s sedate waterfront and patchwork of steep, narrow streets are a world away from the unrestrained packageholiday resorts along the coast. Casa Salvador Dalí is a short twenty-minute walk from Cadaqués. This maze-like seafront home where Dalí lived and worked for five decades is admission by advanced ticket only, and slots sell out quickly. Es Baluard is a family-run, harbor-side restaurant serving its own take on Mediterranean seafood favorites like fresh-caught hake, spider crab with rice, and ice cream bisque with hot chocolate.

Llafranc, Spain
Less than a two-hour drive from Barcelona, Llafranc offers golden beaches, clear waters, and boats of every type. Llafranc was a Roman city until the 4th century. The Romans had arrived at nearby Empuries and as they favored Llafranc, it became a center of production for pottery and wine. Today, what can be seen includes the leftovers of this Roman past; the remains of what were a winery and its wine press. Excavations in this area have uncovered some of the oldest homes of the Roman civilization. If a new perspective is desired, walk the path from Llafranc up to the cliff top Far de Sant Sebastià lighthouse. Hotel Casamar Restaurant offers seaside views and a menu that includes a delicious mackerel ceviche, langoustines and cuttlefish served over rice, and Iberian pork served with a sea cucumber sauce.

Sete, France
Less than an hour drive from Montpellier, Sète is all but surrounded by oysters, mussels, and turbot. Sète lies on a thin strip of land bounded by the Mediterranean Sea and Thau Lagoon. A network of canals brings the scramble of port and fishing activity right into the town center. The canals both define the town and provide the lifeblood that energizes the place. Eight miles of beach await those seeking a bronzed Mediterranean tan. Every August, Sète honors its patron saint during the Fête de la Saint Louis. The centerpiece of this festival is water jousting on the Canal Royal. This tradition involves two strapping gentleman facing off on platforms attached to crewed rowboats, using lances and wooden shields to knock the other into the water. For a great meal, La Coquerie offers a daily tasting menu that features many unique local ingredients.

Porquerolles, France
Just off the coast between Saint-Tropez and Marseille, Porquerolles offers a crescent shaped, sugar-white sand beach. In 1971, the French government bought most of Porquerolles and granted it national park status and designating it a conservation area during the 1980s. As a result, the island’s landscape resembles the French Riviera of centuries ago: fig, olive, and oak trees thrive, as do lavender, rosemary, and other flora. Local sailing and nautical clubs offer an opportunity to experience Porquerolles and the surrounding area via sailboat. When the time comes to get out of the sun, the 16th-century Fort St. Agathe houses an archeological museum and seasonal exhibitions. Domaine Perzinsky, the local winery, uses traditional, natural and sustainable agricultural methods and offers daily tastings. Located at the La Mas du Langoustier hotel, L’Olivier offers some of the best Mediterranean and Provençal cuisine in the South of France.

Monto Rosso Al Mare
During the summer months, Monterosso al Mare, the largest of the five towns that make up Italy’s famed Cinque Terre, is home to many sun-soaked bodies on Cinque Terre’s largest beach. There are two main beaches, separated by a tunnel that divides the town into two parts. Monterosso is connected to the other towns of Cinque Terre by road, rail, and hiking trail. Plan to spend at least part of a day hiking the coastline between the five towns. Cinque Terre can also be toured via boats available for hire. Vineyards dot the hillsides overlooking Monterosso and provide a respite for those seeking to escape the sun and sea. When the sun is shining, San Martino Gastronomia offers outdoor seating and a daily changing menu that may feature pansotti with walnut sauce, as well as plenty of local wine.

Pisciotta, Italy
On the coast, about 120 miles south of Naples, Pisciotta provides a coastal experience unspoiled by large developments and droves of tourists. The beautiful arches of the 17th century Palazzo Ciaccio give way to an ancient paved path known as La Chiusa, with its fronds arching over the path in places like a green tunnel. A short walk down the coast leads to Marina di Pisciotta and its stone beach. On the dock, fresh caught anchovies are preserved immediately between layers of salt in terracotta jars — or taken fresh to one of the beachside trattorias, such as Angiolina, where they are served with friselle with mozzarella in a garden over looking the sea.

Porto Venere, Italy
Just south of Cinque Terre, situated on the aptly named “Gulf of Poets,” Porto Venere provides the perfect landscape for a number of sports and activities in its protected waters. San Pietro church, which dates back to the 6th century and consecrated officially around the 1100s, stands proud after centuries of occupation — perched on Porto Venere’s promontory. Visually impressive, it was built on an ancient temple dedicated to Venus overlooking the bay below and almost appears seamless with the surrounding craggy rocks. Every August, the town celebrates its local patron saint called Madonna Bianca. During the festival, the entire town is lit up with over 2,000 roman torches. A traditional procession carrying the icon of the Virgin Mary takes place through the flower-decorated streets of the village. To sample the regional flavors, enjoy an unforgettable meal at Portivene Un Mare di Sapori which has something on the menu for everyone.

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