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The Roannais to Barcelona by Brian Franklin

From the Roannais in the Rhone-Alpes to Barcelona, one of the great Mediterranean cities, is certainly a longish drive. But a magical one, all the same, particularly with visits and stop-overs on the way, such as medieval Carcassonne, and Salvador Dali’s home town of Figueres, as well as his famous house in Port Lligat by the sea, near Cadaques.

I can truly and seriously recommend this journey. The wonderful and exciting, Barcelona, really needs no great introduction – it is a fantastic place!

It is well-written by persons more adept than myself that there are few places so redolent with history, few so boldly modern, than Barcelona. Animated and inspired, it is a city that sparkles as much at night-time as in the full light of day. It is famous for its main avenue, La Rambla, for its bars, its museums and its enthusiasm for life.

Our family voyage started from our base in the medieval hill village of Perreux, and as my previous blog editorials have explained, we purposely took 2 days to travel to Barcelona, the capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia – stopping off at Carcassonne, Figueres, and Cadaques.

It was a very hot and sunny period during this July when we eventually arrived during
late evening at our well-chosen accommodation – The Hotel Jazz.
Absolutely perfectly placed in the heart of the city, 5 minutes walk from the famous La Rambla, and complete with very convenient under ground car parking, where we were very happy to leave our car untouched and undriven for the next 4 days!

A glassy ultra-modern hotel near the Plaça de Catalunya, offering better than its 3-star rating would suggest..

Absolutely perfectly placed in the heart of the city, 5 minutes walk from the famous La Rambla, and complete with very convenient under ground car parking, where we were very happy to leave our car untouched and undriven for the next 4 days!

Plus a bonus of a rooftop swimming pool, complete with sun deck, lounge bar, and pool-side service – truly remarkable for a 3-star establishment. And we got a junior suite thrown in for our reservation of 4 nights rather than just 3 !

I can thoroughly recommend this place, but expect prices may go up next year for such an amazing quality.

After dropping off our bags we were out on the streets, and after a short wander down La Rambla, we found our first of many Tapas bars. It did not take us long to settle into the lifestyle of this fascinating city..

There is, of course, no shortage of information about Barcelona available on the internet and elsewhere, so you certainly do not need a major run-down on this great city from me.

However, we definitely covered alot of ‘ground’ while we were there for our 4-night stay.

La Rambla, goes without saying really, and is a ’must’ for a wander, so is Port Vell (Barcelona’s marina) and all the restaurants along the quai-side, great for alfresco dining and watching the world go by while you sip chilled beer.

Our 9 year old son definitely appreciated all the big boats on show, along with a visit to L’aquarium Barcelona ( an excellent place for 2 or 3 hours).

We did a lot of walking, and used taxis quite a few times rather than the very crowded tourist buses – it was exceedingly hot and sunny, but very enjoyable with plenty to see .

You are surrounded by art and architecture everywhere – both ancient and modern. Despite its obvious contemporary flavour there is an ‘old empire’ feel about the place which adds to its excitement.
Antoni Gaudi  pervades virtually the whole of the city’s culture, and you cannot miss visiting most of the key places, such as the phenomenal Sagrada Familia (a temple and Cathedral combined).

We also found time to visit the basement area where there is a fascinating detailed history of the architectural and construction over the last 130 years or more.

An incredible place, an amazing ‘work in progress’!

In the Eixample area Casa Milà and Casa Batlló can easily be viewed while you appreciate the upmarket shops and cafes of the Quadrat d’Or (Gold Quarter)

Further afield on a hillside above Barcelona there is the wonderful and magical, Parc Güell. The layout of this park, originally commissioned in 1910 by a rich industrialist, Eusebio Güell, but never finally completed, is loosely based on the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delhi, and Gaudi makes ingenious use of the contours to create arcades and viaducts of natural stone. The most striking features of the park, however, are those covered with ‘trencadis’ – mosaics made up of broken tiles – which are largely the work of the architect Josep Maria Jujol.

There is a huge collection of Gaudi’s work to see, but you need to be selective on a short visit. We had other artists and creators to see, including a visit to the Museu Picasso, and the Fundació Joan Miró.

I will cover these visits, and more, in my next Barcelona blog. Well, you can’t cover such a wondrous place, and such a fantastic family visit, in just one editorial piece !