Pals: Pedrò, rice paddies and Empordà

The Empordanet has to be viewed from [the] Pedró [neighbourhood] in Pals and best of all from the watchtower of the house of doctor Pi i Figueres. The contrasts offered from this spot - the sea and the Medes Islands, the eroded mountains of the Montgrí massif, the rich green of the perennial leaves of the cork oaks and the pines on the buttresses of the Gavarres massif and the cultivated planes, with the flora of the final stretch of the Ter River that serves as a frame, and all of it forming a huge living cauldron, creating an arrangement of great beauty.”

We would never question the authority of writer Josep Pla, and even less so after climbing the Hores Tower and enjoying the panoramic views that include the Medes Islands, the mountain ranges of Albera, Montgrí and Canigó, or the broad beaches that until a few decades ago were home to the towering masts of the Radio Liberty station that the US government funded to fight communism.

Pals is a microcosm threatened by property speculation that comprises 25 square kilometres of one of Costa Brava’s most memorable landscapes, a land of plenty made of water, stone, sand and rice paddies, a place where history coexists alongside modernity.

Buzzing with life

Pals is about more than just its old quarter of narrow, winding streets and stone arches, however. Such gems be are to be found there as Sant Jaume church or the fortified stately home of Ca La Pruna, as well as craft shops, art galleries and streets buzzing with life. The visitor can pause in the Major main square, or dine in one of the town’s many restaurants, or follow the rice route to learn about the ages-old process that goes from sowing to harvesting. Meanwhile, the Pals Xiulet train follows an itinerary that begins in the old quarter and takes visitors as far as the 15th-century windmill.

Pals is also about fairs and festivals, and in June celebrations are held for rice planting, August is the time for the cheese and wine fair as well as the night of candles, while in October the rice harvest celebrations begin.

And all of this in a landscape of great natural beauty that includes one of the largest beaches in the Empordà area, the oldest golf course on the Costa Brava, and to the south Gran beach leads to Racó beach and the Punta Espinuda headline in the nearby municipality of Begur.

out & about

Star local product

The rice grown in Pals since the 15th century, which was reintroduced by 19th century businessman, Pere Coll Rigau, is one of the star products in the local gastronomy. The unique climate of the area means the rice is of high quality, making it a popular ingredient in the local cuisine. The local rice is often cooked in dishes with such ingredients as lobster, cod and snails.

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