It is said in Puigcerdà that an old lady who was evicted from her home when the lake was made vowed to return to the place where her home had been every year for the rest of her life on the first Sunday of the last 10 days of August. She kept her promise, even after her death, and year after year, the return from the tomb of a bent old woman in a bonnet and a bodice coincides with the Festa del Estany (Festival of the Lake).
It is generally agreed that legends are a blend of myth and fact, and the legend of Cerdanya lake is linked to real events: the end of the Carlist Wars, the demolition of the town’s walls, and the arrival of some of the grand bourgeoisie from Barcelona, who found in the local peace and comfort an ideal place to spend their holidays.
They made such a huge impact on the area that to thank the local service providers and bid farewell to the summer holidaymakers, a group of local intellectuals made the decision to start the tradition of a festival with floats, which since 1886 has been one of the major local celebrations of the year.
Visitors will find a superb landscape in Puigcerdà, with banks of snow in the winter, immaculate green in the spring, golden summers, and autumns that are painted with the gamut of brown and ochre hues. All of this is an invitation to discover the many routes that lead out from the town, whether they be cultural, such as the Sant Marc or Enamorats Rigolisa paths, or to enjoy a panoramic view of La Cerdanya by climbing up to the Santa Maria church belltower.
Meanwhile, in July and August, visitors can choose to take a boat trip around the lake or visit the Cerdà museum to discover the life of rural families in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Other recreational activities include golf, horse riding, cycling and 4x4 routes, archery and balloon trips, while Lanós lake and the Carançà gorges are also within easy reach.
The area’s rich and tasty cuisine is not something to be ignored either. Perhaps the best known local fare is the popular dish known as trinxat, which is a perfect marriage of cabbage and the locally-grown potatoes, accompanied by thick chunks of crispy bacon. Further temptation can be found in the local cold meats, cheeses, honey, wild mushrooms and La Cerdanya-raised beef.
out & about
The horse fair
The Hispanic-Breton Horse Fair will be held in Puigcerdà on November 9 and 10, featuring 1,100 horses in an event considered one of the most important in the Pyrenees. The horse breeding contest has been held since 1981. The growth in tourism has seen a rise in the number of saddle horses on display. Commercial and craft products are also on offer at the fair.