Wonderful Catalan Places nearby the French Borders
When tourists book their holidays in Catalonia, they usually choose the most known attractions. But the region has more to offer than its beautiful capital or the already popular destinations. Close to the borders of the region, where the Spanish territory meets France, in the Pyrenees area, there are, in fact, a lot of hidden gems. We wanted to show you a few of the most fascinating yet wild spots of Catalonia, that will surely take your breath away. Therefore, we decided to write this article to present you some wonderful Catalan places close to the Catalan-French borders to fall in love with.
One of the northern towns of Costa Brava, Cadaqués is about an hour far from the French borders. It is a picturesque village of whitewashed tiny houses, colorful doors and windows, overlooking the narrow streets of the old town. The streets paving is the characteristic Rastell, made of stones directly taken from the sea. Furthermore, the village is blessed with crystal clear waters and it is protected by the heights of Cap de Creus. This promontory was declared a Natural Park in 1998. Walkable paths surrounded by nature will lead you to the lighthouse that tops the promontory.
Two details make Cadaqués a famous place. Firstly, Salvador Dalí spent part of his life in the village; his own house in Port Lligat is today a museum. Secondly, in Cadaqués you can visit Casa Seriyana, a wonderful example of modernist art. The house, also known as Casa Blaua (Blue House), has three floors and an attic. If you are considering buying a house this is on sale for 22 millions euros only!
Saint Mary Church, one of the main attractions, dominates the village from above. For this reason, it is an amazing viewpoint to take pictures of the lovely bay, filled with boats. The view from the church extends all the way to the lighthouse.
What to see & do:
- Casa Seriyana
- Saint Mary Church
- Cap de Creus and Lighthouse
- Salvador Dalí House
- From the promenade, join an excursion by ferry that will also take you to some hidden sea caves.
How to get there:
- By public transportation: from one of Barcelona train stations take a train to Figueres. Once there, exit the train station and go to the bus station where bus for Cadaqués leave frequently. You can also take a direct bus from Barcelona North Station (close to the Arc de Triomf) to Cadaqués.
- By car: from Barcelona via the AP-7 or the C-32.
Val d’Aran and its wonderful Catalan places
If you are dreaming of immersing yourself in the nature, come discover the Val d’Aran. Surrounded by mountains 2000-3000 m high and untouched land, it represents the truest essence of the Pyrenees. It is a very green and water-rich valley. The Garona river crosses the valley which during the winter is a popular ski area. Just picture it: slate-roofed houses, snow-capped peaks, horses and cows at pasture. A true natural heaven!
Along the valley there are 33 villages. You can reach these wonderful Catalan places by car, or walking the Camin Reiau, a 150 km long path, with 10 stages of 15 km each. Vielha, is the capital of the Val d’Aran. It is located at the foot of the Pyrenean massif of the Maledeta. It overlooks the village with its high peaks, including the Pico de Aneto, the highest mountain of the Pyrenees. You will be able to visit the San Miquèu church and some houses dating back to the 17th century. One of these is the Museum of Vielha. Bagergue is the highest village of the valley (1419 m). Only 30 people live there, and it houses an ethnographic museum. You can also see a lot of free horses all around: they have owners, but they roam freely during the summer.
Ultimately, Salardú is the last Spanish outpost before France. Here you can visit the Sant Andreu Church. It houses some Renaissance paintings and a Romanesque crucifix from the 12th century. Every 3rd of May it is displayed for the village procession.
Parks of the Val d’Aran
In the village of Bossòst you can visit the wildlife park Aran Park. Here, native animals born in captivity or that would no longer be able to live in the wild find rescue. It also has an interactive museum, which would be a fun and learning experience for kids. The village of Les, instead, houses an adventure park: the NaturAran Park. It includes pulleys and circuits on trees, ranging from 50 cm to 11 m high, with different degrees of difficulty. It is thought for those who love adventure and adrenaline.
The Garrotxa region
The Garrotxa is a wild and fascinating area in the Girona province. It is a volcanic region of 700 km² with as much as 40 volcanic cones. Rich fauna inhabits this beautiful natural world. To complete the heavenly scenario, there are plenty of waterfalls and unspoiled nature.
However, when visiting these wonderful Catalan places you can enjoy two different types of landscapes. On one hand, the volcanos with their flows of lava cover the southern part of the region. This area is now protected by the La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park. On the other hand, to the north of the Fluvià river, the landscape switches to abrupt cliffs and narrow gorges that lead to the Alta Garrotxa. The flat Bas, Hostoles and Bianya valleys provide a change from the encircling mountains, but are surrounded by some of the thickest and most extensive forests in Catalonia.
Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park
Located in the middle along the border of Spain and France, this National Park covers today a territory of 156 km² and it is a protected area of the Pyrenees. Actually, the National Park represents the best example of Pyrenean nature. So, if you are a mountain lover you just can’t miss it!
Back in 1918, when it was established the park only included the Ordesa valley. Today four valleys, Añisclo, Escueta, Ordesa and Picuaín, and a summit, Monte Perdido, are part of one of the most fascinating scenarios of the Catalan region. They also create the most diverse ecosystem where meadows, rivers, waterfalls, woods, glaciers, impressive gorges and everlasting snow create a natural paradise. But if all this is still not enough to win you over, then maybe the 380 km of hiking trails will probably do!
Hike in the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park
The most adventurous travellers will be delighted to learn all about this hiking paradise extending through some of the most wonderful Catalan places existing. The 19 different routes differ in length and difficulty.
- Senda de los Cazadores Trail: this trail is moderate and crosses a distance of 18.35 km. The trail also provides great views of wildflowers, during the blooming season.
- Canon de Añisclo Trail: it is a 5.47 km trail out and back that meanders along a river and provides great views of riverine landscapes. The trail takes about 2 hours and its difficulty rate is moderate.
- Faja Racon y Faja de las Flores: is a challenging trail that travels 15.2 km atop cliffs that overlook the valley below. It is rated difficult and not for those with fears of heights!
Now that you have a full list of wonderful Catalan places close to the French borders you should visit, don’t hesitate! Then, take your backpack and book a flight to Spain. And if you need an accommodation in town, just name it, we’ve got you!