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E15, AP7, The coastal road SAN FELIÚ DE GUIXOLS - BLANES (between exits 7 Gerona and motorway junction A7 and A19 at Barcelona) /63 km/
This stretch of road, in parts stunningly beautiful, has a few nice seaside resorts where you can stop off and have a bite to eat or spend the night – maybe take a dip in the sea? There are actually virginal beaches here without any buildings on them at all.
The first seaside resort we come to is San Feliú, situated at one side of a bay and surrounded by green hills. In the 10th century this was the site of a Benedictine monastery, around which the town later grew up. From the 10th century only certain features remain, e.g. two towers, and the complex we see today was built in the 13th century. Do take a look at the monastery which is situated by the road to Tossa de Mar before you continue up the mountain where the road climbs and winds alongside steep ravines with the most ravishing panoramic views from specially designated lookout spots. Once you have negotiated an endless succession of hairpin bends, there lies Tossa at your feet down in the bay with its gorgeous, sandy beach and the old 12th century fortress Vila Vella, enthroned on a rock peninsula in the sea.
TOSSA – THE BLUE PARADISE
Tossa has to be the real jewel on this stretch of road, in spite of the annoying fact that parking is allowed on the beach. However, the area inside the fortress and right up close to it is on the whole car-free and it is possible to enjoy a stroll in peace down the narrow lanes between the old houses. The Palace of the Governor is especially interesting, now serving as a museum, and also the church, built in the 14th century. Tossa is known as something of a Babel of the Arts, as many artists, authors and other intellectuals have moved to this beautifully situated town. Marc Chagall, who was painting here in 1933, called Tossa “the blue paradise” and the town has been praised for its special light and exquisite shades of colour.
On the road between Tossa and Lloret de Mar are some splendid, quite unspoilt beaches which might be suitable for a little dip in the sea.
THE HOTEL TOWN LLORET DE MAR
Lloret de Mar has an enormous range of hotels so you stand a good chance of finding somewhere to stay, during high as well as low season. And it is actually a very nice town in its own right. Needless to say, car traffic is allowed on the promenade and there is the customary wall of houses along it but “only” modest, 6-7 story complexes. Sadly, a 25 year old monstrosity rises skyward, but there will be no more of its kind, it is said. Lloret has a horseshoe-shaped playa with two wooded cliffs at either side framing the beach and the town prettily. Out on these points there is no traffic and it is a good place for a morning walk. The evening walk is best taken in amongst the pedestrian streets in the old part of the town, which opens up towards the sea via a number of straight little alleyways leading down to the beach from Carrer de la Vila. During the 19th century Lloret enjoyed a golden age thanks to its flourishing trade with America and was enriched and embellished by Spaniards returning to their homeland. Thus, the San Román church, a memorial of feudal times, rises like a breathtaking jewel in the middle of the town, further embellished with coloured tiles by the returning Spaniards.
The journey continues to Blanes which was built on top of the Roman town of Blanda. Here are some buildings in Gothic style which are worth a visit, e. g. the Santa Maria church. On top of the San Juan mountain lie the ruins of a fortress and a watchtower in Romanesque style, both of them distinctive marks of this town.
From here you could of course cut straight across to “our” motorway, but the “coastal motorway” is a pleasant alternative, a drive in stunning scenery, following the coast with a beautiful seaview. The seaside resorts below the motorway have a railroad track that runs along the beach so be aware: this is likely to ruin your sleep, should you decide to stay the night here.
The dramatic beach between St Feliú and Tossa
The colourful San Román church in Lloret
The towers and pinnacles of Vila Vella
The beach at Lloret de Mar between two guarding fortresses