8. Espana por favor! Collioure to Llafranc
Updated: Mar 5
Tuesday September 1st A fairly early start saw us on the coast road heading south. We stopped for fuel… 79p per litre… in Banyuls sur mer, a spa town just before the Spanish border. A food shop in Carrefour and we are off. Roads are twisty and steep, climbing to the rather desolate and abandoned border crossing, redundant in these EU times. Suddenly we are in Spain. Is it our imagination, or are the hillsides more parched? And there are cactus plants too. Everywhere. How can a 2 mile stretch of road result in a change not just of country but also land use etc? Weird! We drive through some coastal villages. The first few are less cared for than those in France, but Port Selva is smarter and busy with tourists. We pressed on and Boris attacked the climb up towards Cap de Creus , where the Pyrénées tumble into the Mediterranean. Then down we plunge towards delightful Cadaques, a charming fishing port and anchovy headquarters!
We had heard that campervans could park just outside town on the carpark, but the charge was 21 euros for 24 hours. One of our main reasons for visiting was to walk to the next cove, Port Lligat, to visit the artist Salvador Dali’s house. On a blog I had read that if we drove to Port Lligat, parking was much cheaper, we could walk back to visit Cadaques, and they might even let us spend the night. So we drove over the hill to find ourself in paradise. A tiny community clustered around a stunning Mediterranean cove. Parking was 3 euros and they were very happy for us to stay the night free! Even better, cafe Dani was an informal cafe bar which served lovely food at very cheap prices! We have found another paradise! Dali’s house was crazy but fascinating.
Altar back. Esglesia de Santa Maria
You could pay 1 euro and the whole thing was suddenly illuminated. While we were there, the timer ran out. No one realised about the possibility of paying. I waited until lots of new people were in, peering at the backdrop in the gloom. Then I popped my euro into the machine. Magically it lit up. Most people jumped and then oooed and aaahed as if a miracle had happened… It was a great moment. If only I had hidden, and said. ‘Let there be light’ in a deep , prophetic voice, before doing it!! Finally some super local icecream fortified us for the walk back (only 20 minutes but a steep hill nonetheless!). Then we took our chairs onto a promontory and sat for an hour reading… or in my case, working through a book designed to help me become more proficient at solving cryptic crosswords. And that was a really perfect day. Wednesday September 2nd. Woke to rain so drove up to the headland at Cap Creus, ignoring a sign saying NO motorhomes! We just did a short walk and a cache. It is a wild landscape. The road down is 30 minutes of twists and turns, but eventually some stunning views right across the plains of Spain, with the Pyrénées running across the horizon into the distance. We were heading for a nature and bird reserve at Parc Natural dels Aiguamolls de l’Empordà This turned out to be an excellent place, with a large visitor centre, and 12kms of tracks with 10 bird hides and an observation tower. The man in reception told us that it was the wrong time of year.. There was no water and so very few birds. We decided to walk anyway and were rewarded with great views of a Kingfisher, 30 stork, and best of all, the wonderfully colourful Roller and Bee – eaters. A super walk. Finally we drove on to a campsite at Montgo near L’Escala. This was a large site but less than half full so we had a large, quiet pitch to ourselves. It was immaculate and had a super swimming pool with great views of the coast. Another hour sat in the sun before cooking dinner in Boris as fast as possible to minimise the time the cooker was on… We do not need heat! Homemade Chicken and vegetable Pilaf fitted the bill. The next morning we were awakened by a massive Thunderstorm happening directly above us. The thunder claps were so loud that poor Boris was shaking! Thursday September 3rd. A much fresher, but overcast morning greeted us. We left and headed South again this time to an area I had visited before and really liked…Llafranc and Calella de Palafrugell. I was really hoping they hadn’t been spoiled in the intervening years. I needn’t have worried. They are both charming and delightful places. We parked free in Llafranr, and walked around the coast path to Callela and back. Gorgeous.
Then an incredibly good value lunch in Can Leon in Llafranc. Starter, Main (paella), bread, wine and dessert…. All for £12 per person! No point cooking! We then drove 1 mile to Camping Moby Dick!! Like many campsites here, it is terraced and in pine trees. Quite empty so we got a pitch with a great view out to sea. Our main reason for stopping was so I could at last wash some clothes. The site advertised a laundry. We reckon on 2 hours to use the washer and tumble drier and we have a nice clean wardrobe again. Only after I had put the clothes into the washer did I realise there was no drier. I guess it is not a necessity in Spanish heat. Except it was now 5pm. The wet clothes were duly strung along strings which were tied to the pine trees along the side of our pitch. Then comes problem 2. Ants. A perennial problem in sites like this…They started walking along the lines like a Tom and Jerry cartoon. I am sorry to say I resorted to using my ant stop spray at the ends of the lines! Needs must. We then went 2km up the road for an evening visit to the beautiful botanic gardens at Cap Roig. Founded in 1927 by a Russian Colonel and his English bride, they are stunning, and with an azure blue Mediterranean backdrop at every turn.
Cap Roig cacti