Official UK partner to the Paradors, Pousadas, Pestana Hotels & Resorts, Les Collectionneurs (Chateaux), and European Hotels Collection. Keytours International, formerly Keytel International, your agent in the UK.

How to get to the Hotel?

Located 4 km from Begur, 46 km from Girona and 146 km from Barcelona, the Parador is reached from Barcelona along the A-7 motorway, taking the junction to Vidreres, and going through Platja dAro, Palamós and Palafrugell, or from France along the same motorway turning off at Figueras, to reach the coastal road through Vilademat, Verges, Corçá, La Bisbal, Torrent, Pals and Begur. This same road can be reached from Girona to Corçá.

Location

CATALONIA

The Autonomous Community of Catalonia, in the extreme north-east of Spain, is certainly one of the best known regions of the country. Almost everyone knows all about, and a great many people have been to, Barcelona and the Costa Brava, but – while these are deservedly very popular destinations – other parts of this region are equally attractive yet relatively off the beaten track.

Bordered by France and Andorra in the north, Aragón in the west and the Community of Valencia in the south, Catalonia is a land of contrasts. The northern region incorporates almost half of the Pyrenean mountain range running west from the Mediterranean, with remote mountain villages dotting the landscape. Further south and inland the region is flatter and largely agricultural, a land of arable farming and cattle-breeding, while Catalonia’s 500 km of coastline offers its own kind of scenery and attractions including fishing ports, miles of golden sandy beaches and tiny coves reached only from the sea. Given this diversity of topography, Catalonia’s climate ranges from mild and warm in the coastal region to fairly extreme at higher altitudes where snow is frequent in winter.

Catalonia is a region fiercely proud of its identity, of its history and culture and of its language (Catalán) which is spoken everywhere throughout the region. Many towns and villages in Catalonia are now known by their Catalán names which may well be unfamiliar to those used to the old ‘Spanish’ names. The Catalans themselves are friendly and hardworking and if a Catalán gives you his word you can be sure that he means it. They definitely know how to enjoy themselves, and are fanatical (at least, most of them) about two things: eating well, about which more later, and football – when their beloved ‘Barça’ gets the better of arch rival Real Madrid, particularly at home in Europe’s largest football stadium, everyone knows about it.

The principal cities of Catalonia are Barcelona (the regional capital), Girona, Lleida and Tarragona, each of which gives its name to the four provinces into which the region is divided. Barcelona itself needs little introduction: the urban renewal leading up to the spectacularly successful 1992 Olympic Games virtually changed the face of the city, but not its character. The acknowledged front-running Spanish city in business, fashion, architecture, opera, art, street theatre, nightlife... Barcelona is all this, and more, and remains intensely Catalán.

The province of Girona, in the north of the region, includes – among many other attractions, not least the city itself – the most appealing section of the Costa Brava. Much maligned in the past as the original ‘cheap package tour’ destination, the coastline from S’Agaró up to the French border is now, in the opinion of many, the most scenically beautiful stretch of coast in Spain, typified by the glorious views from the Parador in Aiguablava. Inevitably there has been considerable development along the coast over the years, not least because the Costa Brava is a hugely popular area for weekends and holidays for the Catalans themselves, many of whom have holiday homes both on the coast and in the interior of the province.

A lesser known area of Catalonia is the province of Lleida. The attractive city of Lleida, to the west of Catalonia and surrounded by fertile fruit-growing countryside, is well worth a visit for its old quarter on the right bank of the river Segre. But for really dramatic scenery in this province head north to the Pyrenees. A useful route from Lleida to reach the most breathtaking mountain views takes you first to Seu d’Urgell (near the border with Andorra), then east to Sort, then on minor roads through Esterri d’Aneu and the ski resort of Baqueira, and finally to the neighbouring villages of Artíes and Vielha (each with its own Parador) in the heart of the spectacularly beautiful Val d’Arán and surrounded by mountains approaching 3,000 metres. Just awesome!

The southernmost province of Catalonia is Tarragona. Probably best known for its coastline, the Costa Daurada (in Spanish Dorada – the Golden Coast) has mile after mile of uncrowded, flat sandy beaches, very different in character from the Costa Brava further north. Inland the countryside is fertile and in places quite hilly; Spain’s longest river, the Ebro, runs through this province and passes through some exceptionally beautiful countryside near the little town of Flix, an angling centre which in recent years has become known for the giant catfish caught in these waters. The Ebro reaches the Mediterranean near the historic town of Tortosa, a number of whose buildings – including the Parador, the 10th century Castillo de la Zuda – are national monuments.

Tarragona itself was the principal city in Roman Catalonia. It has a considerable artistic and architectural heritage and has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. Among the many examples of the Roman occupation of the city are the Roman wall, the amphitheatre and the ‘Pont del Diable’, a spectacular Roman aqueduct.

And so to the cuisine of Catalonia, referred to earlier. Many, if not most, Spaniards maintain that their own particular region offers the best in Spanish gastronomy, but in Catalonia good eating is definitely considered a priority matter and some of what are considered to be the best restaurants in the world are in this region. With natural resources coming from the sea and the mountains, fish and seafood are always fresh and sausages, meats and vegetables are of the best quality. Catalán dishes can reach the heights of sophistication with elaborate sauces, but three of the most basic favourites – available everywhere – are ‘butifarra amb mongetes’ (Catalán sausage with beans), ‘pa amb tomaquet’ (bread with olive oil and tomatoes, often served with country ham and eaten as a prelude to lunch or dinner) and the popular local dessert ‘crema catalana’, a form of custard covered in caramelised sugar.

Catalonia is one of Spain’s great wine-producing regions, with any number of locally-produced red and white wines available everywhere to suit all tastes. This is also the region responsible for the top quality sparkling wine known as ‘cava’ using the traditional champagne method, and visits may be made to a number of the establishments that produce this wine.

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