Banyuls-sur-Mer (Catalan: Banyuls de la Marenda) is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France. It was first settled by Greeks starting in 400 BCE.

A general view of Banyuls-sur-Mer

Coat of arms
Location of Banyuls-sur-Mer
Coordinates: 42°28′59″N 3°07′41″E
CantonLa Côte Vermeille
IntercommunalityCommunauté de communes des Albères et de la Côte Vermeille
  Mayor (2014-2020) Jean-Michel Solé
42.34 km2 (16.35 sq mi)
  Density110/km2 (300/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
66016 /66650
Elevation0–965 m (0–3,166 ft)
(avg. 6 m or 20 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.



Banyuls-sur-Mer is located in the canton of La Côte Vermeille and in the arrondissement of Céret.

Banyuls-sur-Mer is neighbored by Cerbère, Port-Vendres, Argelès-sur-Mer and Collioure on its French borders, and by Espolla, Rabós, Colera and Portbou on its Spanish borders. The foothills of Pyrenees, the Monts Albères, run into the Mediterranean Sea in Banyuls-sur-Mer, creating a steep cliff line.

Neighbouring communes


Banyuls-sur-Mer was first mentioned in 981 as Balneum or Balneola. In 1074, the town started being called Bannils de Maritimo in order to distinguish it from Banyuls-dels-Aspres, which lies 20 km (12 mi) away. In 1197, the town was mentioned as Banullis de Maredine and in 1674. In Catalan, it has been called Banyuls de la Marenda since the 19th century.

The name Banyuls indicates the presence of a pond. In fact, a pond did exist in Banyuls-sur-Mer until the creek Vallauria was drained in 1872. The term Marenda in Catalan or sur Mer in French merely indicates the proximity to the coast.


Government and politics


Mayor Term start Term end
René Ribère 1977 1983
Jean Rède 1983 1995
Pierre Becque 1995 2001
Roger Rulls 2001 2008
Jean Rède 2008 2014
Jean-Michel Solé 2014

International relations

Banyuls-sur-Mer is twinned with a small town called Settle, which is in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom and also with the town of Kralupy nad Vltavou located in the Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic.


Historical population


  • Banyuls-sur-Mer is at the eastern end of the GR 10 long-distance footpath.[2]
  • Banyuls is a centre for scuba diving. The main dive site of the area is the marine reserve at Cap Rederis. Local dive schools offer excellent facilities.
  • Sea kayaking is also available here.


For nearly two centuries, the smuggling of goods to and from Spain was a major activity in Banyuls-sur-Mer. Depending on the needs of the time, salt, tobacco, silver, sugar, rice, textiles, and leather were smuggled through this city, almost always with impunity. Otherwise the inhabitants lived mainly from fishing and viticulture. Nowadays, tourism stemming from the wine industry plays a significant economic role in the town, notably for delicious and rare red dessert wines. Under the Collioure appellation, the town is also a centre of quality dry reds, rosés and whites, with a number of producers of naturally sweet wines.

George Orwell and his wife Eileen had a holiday in Banyuls-sur-Mer directly after leaving Spain, then in the throes of its civil war, in July 1937. Their holiday was not a success. As he noted, Orwell found the place 'a bore and a disappointment'. It was chilly weather, a persistent wind blew off the sea, the water was dull and choppy....[3]

Sites of interest

Notable people

  • Aristide Maillol (1861-1944), French sculptor and painter, born and died in Banyuls-sur-Mer. Maillol was very much part of the turn of the century art scene, friends with Matisse, Derrain, Picasso, Dali. A sculpture of Dina Vierny, aged 17, his last muse, model, and member of the French Resistance, stands beneath the huge jacaranda tree behind the town hall.[4]
  • Emil Racovita (1868-1947), Romanian polar explorer, former co-director of the Arago laboratory.
  • Jean de La Hire (1878-1956), writer born in Banyuls-sur-Mer.
  • Marc Eyraud (1924-2005), actor, died in Banyuls-sur-Mer.
  • Édouard Chatton (French pronunciation: [edwaʁ ʃatɔ̃]) (11 October 1883 – 23 April 1947, Banyuls-sur-Mer) was a French biologist who first characterized the distinction between the eukaryotic and prokaryotic systems of cellular organization. Chatton coined the terms in his 1925 paper, Pansporella perplex: Reflections on the Biology and Phylogeny of the Protozoa.

See also


  1. "Populations légales 2016". INSEE. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  2. "Banyuls-sur-Mer".
  3. Shelden, Michael (1991). ORWELL : : THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY (First ed.). New York, NY: HarperCollins. p. 277. Retrieved 2014-08-18.
  4. "Banyuls-sur-Mer".
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