Here, we do not cast pearls before swine. So when we tell you that you need to visit the Pearl of Costa Brava, we’re quite serious.
Only 26.4 km2 and 2,820 people, approximately, live here. Well, we mean live here regularly. Because during the season, that number is multiplied by 10. You should be intrigued, this historic Catalonian seaside town has the perfect proportions: part resort, part village, a former outpost of artists, surrounded by vineyards and green mountains, where the Mediterranean meets halfway, with galleries, gourmet cuisine, and terrace-cafes lining the border. It is as dynamic as it sounds, just come and see with us to Cadaqués.
The Pearl of Costa Brava
It only takes an hour and some change from Barcelona, through beautiful scenery, to get to the splendid coastline of Costa Brava, whose colors match effortlessly with the blues of the Mediterranean Sea. Luckily, the beautiful fishing village known as Cadaqués, located within the realm of Catalonia, has managed to evade overdevelopment, maintaining an authentic atmosphere of authenticity that was previously thought to only be reached via time machine. It's a good thing we got here in time … no thanks to Dali. (See below.)
As a playground for the curious and a culture of leisure, idle exploration is encouraged. On top of its cobblestone paths, below clouds of pretty pink wisteria, weave in and out of the typical whitewashed, blue-doored humble homes to uncover surprising delights. But like any good beach town, all roads lead to the water and, in this case, also to a cascading plaza overlooking the harbor as well, where you’ll be able to spy with your naked eye bikinis, flip-flops, shades, and tanned bodies on terraced cafes. On the other hand, you won’t be able to see all this from the jungly heights of the “Wild Coast” (Costa Brava in English), in the nature reserve park of Cap de Creus … unless you came prepared with binoculars. But if you prefer goggles, there are many scuba diving sites on private bays with your name on it.
A place of natural beauty, it attracts those in search of secondary homes, to stay during weekends, in season or offseason. These investors are very, very smart (you should follow in their footsteps), because there are few hotels in the area, aside from the luxurious Hotel Playa Sol and intimate family-run boutique-hotels. So believe us when we say: we respect the mother of pearls.
Culture and cuisine go hand-in-hand
When in Spain, you know that you have no choice: tapas! But when in Cadaqués, it’s strictly Mediterranean: fish, meat, and fresh produce, with the occasional Catalan dish. Aside from the (eternal) hopeful shed of a few pounds, no tabletop under the sun, atop a terrace goes without Estrella decor, the region's best beer, ensuring a great atmosphere. This is fact at the institution beach-bar Chiringuito Maritim (est. 1963); it’s not too fancy, but we didn’t come here for fancy … did we?
The answer is: not entirely. What’s really interesting about the region is its ability to spit out top chefs as easily as shooting fish in a barrel (which is your food by the way). Dinner at the Michelin-starred Compartir, the undisputedly best fine-dining restaurant in Cadaqués, is a requisite before leaving (FYI, make sure to reserve a table on the leafy terrace, it’s gorgeous). The restaurant is led by alumni chefs of elBulli (now closed, but forever a legend), the 3-starred 5-time winner of the “Best Best Restaurant in the World” contest. We’re telling you, that’s not nothing. However, it is expected for a region that christened the birth of “molecular gastronomy” in the hands of Ferran Adria, the Godfather of culinary experiments.
In the same breath, but also another, the vineyards in the area produce exceptional wines from their bold grenache grapes; particularly Moscatel de l’Emporda, a very sweet wine and natural dessert.
The art of Dali and friends
Art history majors need no lesson, they were born knowing that one day they would take a pilgrimage to Cadaqués. But you may have heard of that man, you know the one, mysterious with a set of whiskers? If you guessed Salvador Dali, then collect your prize here; if you guessed the black cat that hangs around your house, you go home empty-handed.
You are in the region of the Dali himself, born and raised down the street in Port Lligat. Cadaqués was essential to his artistic career as a constant source of inspiration, like melting clocks resembling a melting wheel of Camembert symbolizing melting time--but aren’t Catalonians good with time? (See above.) In return, there is a beautiful shrine (OK, museum) in his hometown, memorializing him at the site of his remains.
Dali is not the only great artist to have roamed Cadaqués: let’s not forget Picasso, Miró, Breton, Duchamp, Pitxot, Hamilton, Rey, others and native Eliseu Meifrèn, whose sketches made famous the town’s fisherman. Today, the area hosts many art galleries and continues to be a retreat for the great artists of our time.
Cadaqués, a village that never sleeps?
We saved the most exciting point for last. Cadaqués has a bit of a reputation for its nightlife filled with jet-setters. L’Hostal has seduced the most glamorous personalities. Can you believe that it’s revered as one of, if not the, best jazz club in Europe? But picture it: our leading man, Dali, escorting Mick Jagger in for drinks. Crazy, right?
There’s also the nearby Llafranc (est. 1958), a terrace bar staring directly into the eyes of the bay, with a history of international celebs like Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, and now Rafael Nadal (now that’s a pretty picture). Lastly, you’ll always find a crowd in front of the causal El Casino, for a social drink right on the seafront. However, these days most settle (actually, don’t think of it as settling) for a sublime sunset with a glass of good wine in the ocean breeze, and then to bed.
You look forward to losing yourself in Cadaqués if …
- Catching dinner during your morning swim is a worthy challenge
- You’re interested in the man, the myth, the mustache
- Sun + art + gastronomy = you’d like nothing more and nothing less
Voir cette page en Français