Port Vendres, Things to Do in a Typical Catalan Fishing Port

Port Vendres is a typical Catalan fishing port, situated a few kilometres north of the Spanish border on the Côte Vermeille in southwest France. The village sits on the edge of the small harbour overlooking the boats and the Mediterranean Sea.  It was not on our Pyrenees trip itinerary, but we discover the fishing port on the way to the beach town, Banyuls-sur-Mer. The main point of interests are:

  • The marina of Port Vendres
  • Obelisk with four reliefs
  • Fresh seafood in the fish market
  • Redoubts near Port Vendres
  • Three beaches
Port Vendres, a Typical Catalan Fishing Port 03

The marina of Port Vendres

Known by Greek navigators as Portus Veneris since the 8th B.C, Port Vendres is the only natural port on the Vermeille coast. It is one of the few deep-water ports in this part of the French Mediterranean coast. Nowadays, the port takes freighters, cruise ships, yachts, and fishing boats.

The center part of The town is the colorful port. It is pleasant to walk along the promenade. The clock tower on the Quai de la Douane is part of the Presqu’ile Redoubt (A redoubt is a fortified building) built by Vauban.

The fishing village is not big. The main sites and the usual harbourside cafes & restaurants are within walking distance.

Obelisk with four reliefs

When we approached the fishing village, we could already see the Obelisk in the distance. The construction of the Obelisk took place in the 18th century. It was the will of the Count de Mailly, Lieutenant Général of Roussillon in honor of his king Louis XVI. The Obelisk has four low-reliefs, one of which was to commemorate the USA Independence declared at the Treaty of Versailles that year supported by France.

An information panel describes the first leveling of France carried out by François Arago, a French mathematician, physicist, and astronomer. He set ground zero by measuring the average level of the tides of the Mediterranean.

Obelisk in Port Vendres, France

Fresh seafood in the fish market

The fish market is only a few minutes of walking from the Obelisk. It is also possible to drive there. There are a few parking places in front of the fish market.

The market is inside a very modern rectangular-shaped building. On the ground floor of the market, it sells many species of fresh fish. Live lobsters and langoustines stare out from tanks. On the counter, there were many types of seafood of the day. Seafood-related ingredients, canned seafood, wines, sauces, and other gourmet products occupied the rest of the ground floor.

It is a traditional market for seafood shoppers. We observed that few counter customers left without buying something to take home.

On the second floor, customers can sample a retail selection of seafood, such as Oysters, shellfish. Wines are also available for sampling and to accompany the seafood. The place is a sheer delight.

Redoubts near Port Vendres

Recognized its geographical position and the depth of its natural harbor, French King Louis XIV ordered Vauban, the military architect, to modify the port slightly and turn it into a military base with defense functions. 

 Vauban built the Fanal Redoubt, the Bear Redoubt, and the Presqu’ile Redoubt(A redoubt is a fortified building). The clock tower next to the harbour was part of the Presqu’ile Redoubt. The Bear Redoubt, erected on the hill between Collioure and Port-Vendres, overlooks the town. It is now a museum dedicated to French/Algerian history in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In 1838, France extended and improved the infrastructure at Port-Vendres. Port Vendres has become an important Mediterranean commercial port and connects Africa in 1885 by a sea route. During the Second World War, the German navy also used this fishing port to control the coast and defend the land attacks.

The clock tower in Port Vendres, France

Three beaches

There is no beach directly in the town. The fishing port has beaches about three kilometres away from the center. The three beaches are in the attractive bay of Paulilles, and two of these have lifeguards during the summer holiday seasons.

Travel tips

Book a private tour

There is a tour which explores several places including Port-Vendres. The pickup places include Argelès-sur-mer, Collioure, Port-Vendres, and Banyuls-sur-Mer.

Where to stay

There are more apartments than hotels in the coastal area. Holidaymakers are in favour of renting an apartment with cooking equipment. That is also what we did whenever we made a holiday in France. Some apartments with good location in the fishing village are:

How to get there

There is a train station in this fishing port. It takes only a few minutes from Collioure to the fishing port by train. On this website, you can find detailed information regarding local transportation.


  1. Port Vendres seems like a quaint little town, with its own bit of history and charm. It is a great option for a day trip and from what I read in the post, its totally worth it. I would love to do the Helicopter tour of the port town, the sight would be indeed breathtaking!

  2. A little different – a good mix of heritage and seaside. Love the views that you have shared in your pictures. The helicopter ride is definitely a huge plus – a little thrill with some amazing views.. You definitely added a new intrigue to my bucketlist

  3. I didn’t know Port Vendres before reading your article and it looks such a tranquil place. Little fishing villages always fascinate me, I definitely need to add this to my list now 🙂 Plus, that helicopter ride must be so cool 😀

  4. Port Vendres looks very quaint. I would love to drop in on the fish market – I can imagine the level of activity there. I also love fresh seafood. The clock tower , Obelisk would be nice places to see while there.

  5. Port Vendres looks an interesting place to visit. To be honest I have never heard of it until now. The helicopter sounds a great way to see the town from the air, I am definitely up for that. A visit to the fish market is also a must.

  6. I’ve never heard of this beautiful fishing town in Spain. Catalonia is one of the most stunning regions in Spain, I absolutely love it. It must have been nice seeing Port Vendres from the helicopter. The marina area looks particularly colorful and picturesque.

  7. I’ve never heard of Port Vendres before, but what a lovely fishing port to visit. I’m a huge fish and seafood fan, so I can imagine the catch here is very good. It’s in an interesting location geographically too, being so close to the Spanish border.

  8. I would love to see Port Vendres from the sky so a helicopter tour sounds perfect but I imagine it must be expensive. It’s a port city so I would love to try some of their fresh fish, maybe not visit the fish market but just have it in a restaurant. I did not know about the existence of this town, even though I was in Catalan recently, but then Spain is such a big country, what all can one know and visit in a limited time, right?

    1. True, it is difficult to see all places in one trip. Each village or town in the area is worth for a stop. I had difficulty to choose which one to visit when I spent my 10-day summer holiday there. In fact, I have been there twice and am planning the third time already.

  9. A helicopter ride sounds like a great way to really see the area. Bonus that you get a view of the nearby castle! It would be fun to experience such a large and bustling fish market! The Catalan architecture is gorgeous and very colorful, Port Vendres looks like a very scenic place to visit.

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