Blanes: places of interest

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Blanes marks the start of the Costa Brava, the ‘Rugged Coast’ of north-east Spain, which is the premier resort area of the autonomous region of Catalunya (Catalonia). It lies some 40 miles north of Barcelona and 20 miles south of Girona, the provincial capital. Located in a pretty bay that forms a natural harbour it was settled by the Romans, who called it Blanda because of its temperate sub-tropical climate.

The walls of the small castrum built to house the Roman garrison, cab clearly be seen from another Villa Cooper property, the Town House, and a few late medieval structures have survived. Even the parish church was once a fortress. Unlike some resorts, Blanes has a life of its own and is a bustling town all the year round. It is the main fishing port of the region, and quayside auctions are held every afternoon as the boats return to harbour. If you like fish, you’ll love Blanes for this alone. Just out of town is one of Girona’s main fruit and vegetable growing areas and a bustling market is held in the town centre every morning. On Mondays there’s a large market along the sea front, where leather goods, pottery, souvenirs and clothing can be picked up at less than shop prices.

Blanes has a complete range of shops, banks, restaurants. bars and supermarkets, and almost anything visitors want can be found within walking distance of the villa. Villa Cooper is only 400 yards from the relatively uncrowded, sandy, award winning beaches, and not much further from a series of small coves with rocky outcrops, good for scuba-diving and snorkelling. There are two world-class botanical gardens in Blanes, both within easy walking distance of the villa.

One is a major cactus collection; the other has zones with plants from many different regions, particularly of course of Mediterranean flora. Other walks easy to take from the villa are up the hill to the San Juan castle, probably built as a look out for pirates, and the tiny chapel. If you have the energy you can continue towards Lloret along a dramatic pathway cut into the first cliffs of the Costa Brava. There’s no shortage of bars and restaurants of all categories, and the strong pound makes eating out really good value.

Many visitors to Villa Cooper are happy to work on their suntans on the beach or our own terraces; others are more active and like to use the cycles and fishing rods we can provide, or find the villa a perfect base for excursions to Barcelona and Girona, the Port Aventura theme park – there are daily departures by coach from the ‘Costa Brava’, and these trips continue all the year. There is a web site at www.portaventura.es which will provide more information – and Catalunya’s many other attractions. Nature-lovers will adore the varied parks and wildlife sanctuaries, art-lovers the museums (Picasso, Miro, Gaudi, Dali were all local boys), children will beg to be taken to Waterworld, the marine zoo and the go-karting. Tennis courts, swimming pools and bowling are available in Blanes and golf courses, including the outstanding PGA Catalunya, are not far away.

In the season the town hall sponsors frequent evenings of dancing, sea shanties, jazz and folklore programmes for which no charge is usually made, and some of the hotels put on flamenco shows which are open to the public. Blanes is famous for its fireworks competition in mid July, are there’s nowhere better than the terrace of Villa Cooper to watch some of the finest displays you’ll ever see, a glass of Cava in hand.

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