Josep Pla and the little town of Palafrugell

I don’t know if Palafrugell is a little town or a big village. Subtleties in the English language are beyond my reach.

What I am sure about is that Palafrugell is a very important location in the world of literature, because Josep Pla was born there.

Apart from this undeniable fact, I like Palafrugell very much.

Palafrugell Plaça Nova

Well, I have to admit that it is not the archetypical tourist destination full of Roman ruins, Medieval houses, Romanesque churches, art nouveau façades, fancy tourist traps … Palafrugell has its share of historical monuments and picturesque corners, of course -it is more than 1000 years old- but it is not a properly “monumental” town.

Old Palafrugell

Palafrugell is simply a livable, easy, agreeable, funny and very charming little town (or big village or whatever).

Palafrugell 3

Another issue is the municipality of Palafrugell. It comprises some of the most beautiful stretches of the whole European Mediterranean coast …

Cap Roig

I’ll deal with that beauty (the coast, its beaches and its charming little villages) in future posts; today we are just visiting the little town or big village or whatever of Palafrugell, with the great writer Josep Pla in mind …

Pla's

“The grand old man of Catalan letters and one of Spain’s most prolific writers” (Chicago Tribune) was born in this house of Carrer Nou (“New Street”) of Palafrugell:

Josep Pla house and Foundation

Today, it is home of the Josep Pla Foundation.

Pla Foundation

Its main mission is to promote, motivate and facilitate the reading and the studying of Josep Pla’s literary and journalistic work.

Josep Pla Foundation

When Josep Pla was born, his parents were renting that provisional house while their definitive sweet home was being built not far away, in carrer del Sol (”Sun Street”), which today is 56, Torres i Jonama Street (pic below).

Pla's house

The Pla family moves to their new house in 1904. Josep Pla lived there for a lot of years, and wrote there wonderful books.   Today it is a very good restaurant with an agreeable patio. I’ll come on this in a future post about Pla and the superb local gastronomy …

Pa i Raïm

Very near from Pla’s house you’ll find Sant Antoni Street, also known as the “Narrow Street” (carrer Estret)…

Sant Antoni Street

It is known as “Narrow Street” due to two clear reasons:

  1. It is narrow

The Narrow Street

  1. Josep Pla wrote a novel about that very same street named “El carrer Estret” (“The Narrow Street”)

“The Narrow Street” is another marvelous work by Mr. Pla. Originally written in Catalan, there is a superb translation into Spanish , “La calle Estrecha” (most of Josep Pla’s works were translated into Spanish under his personal supervision). I am aware that some of my digital English-speaking friends are able to read/understand Spanish … Pla is always easy and delightful to read.

In the Narrow Street there is a plaque honoring Mr. Pla and this book.

Josep Pla Narrow Street

In the Narrow Street there is another stupendous restaurant called “La Xicra”, specialized in the Empordanet cuisine (I’ll talk about this any other day) …

La Xicra

Palafrugell was reputed for its cork manufacturing in the 18th and 19th centuries (cork oaks grow very happy in the wonderful forests of l’Empordà).

Cork Palafrugell

The largest cork factory of Palafrugell was owned by an American company named Armstrong, which employed hundreds of villagers … until relatively recent times (1970’s)

Cork Palafrugell

Today, the old cork factories have been transformed into nice museums.

Palafrugell Museum

Josep Pla had his say about those cork factories, of course …

Josep Pla about cork

The Parish of Sant Martí of Palafrugell has its origins in the 11th century. Its current appearance (mostly Gothic) presents styles from different periods …

Sant Martí Palafrugell

One of its chapels was re-designed very recently by the local artist (although born in Sicily, Italy) Tano Pisano …

Tano Pisano

Another work by Tano Pisano is located at the Fish Market entrance …

Fish Market by Tano Pisano

The Fish Market (Mercat del peix) of Palafrugell is little.

Mercat del Peix Palafrugell

Quality is superb. Mediterranean Sea Kingdom.

Mediterranean fish market

The Meat Market is located just in front of the Fish Market. Quality is superb too.

Meat Market of Palafrugell

The Meat Market has its own piece of art at its doorstep: “La Teresina”, sculpted by the local artist (although born in El Paso, Texas, USA) Rodolfo Candelaria.

La Teresina by Candelaria

Candelaria has inspired even a cake in Palafrugell (Candelaria cake advertisement, pic below)

Serra Palafrugell

The open air market of fruits and veggies blooms everywhere around La Teresina …

Fruit Market 1

Of course, this little town or big village or whatever has traditional bakeries, delicatessen and all kinds of food shops …

Baldiri Palafrugell

Palafrugell 16

At the heart of Palafrugell you’ll find the 125+ years Centre Fraternal

Fraternity Center

Josep Pla was a regular visitor of the Centre Fraternal. He called it “the agora of Palafrugell”

Centre Fraternal

It is a cafeteria, theater, library and more … all in one.

Local artists have contributed to the decoration of this old “agora” donating some of their works.

Pal 38

One of those local artists was Modest Cuixart (Barcelona, 1925, Palafrugell 2007)

Modest Cuixart paintings lead us to other scenes. Sometimes they evoke the atmosphere of festivals and magic, they are recognized as a fascination of the mystery” (Granell and Guigon. “Dau al Set”)

Not only the Centre Fraternal of Palafrugell shows paintings by Cuixart. You’ll find Cuixarts at some important museums of modern art (specially in Europe), like the Tate Gallery or the Reina Sofía Museum of Modern Art.

In 2002, the little town of Palafrugell named this square (pic below) after his adoptive son Modest Cuixart:

Cuixart Palafrugell

Just in front of Modest Cuixart Square it is the (almost) brand new Palafrugell Bus Station:

Sarfa Palafrugell

Palafrugell has no airport, no train station … but it has that bus station. The “SARFA” (an emblematic bus company incorporated in Palafrugell in 1921) serves passengers in Costa Brava, linking the region to the cities of Girona and Barcelona.

Josep Pla used to travel by bus from time to time, and he wrote deliciously about those travels in “Bus journey” (published in 1942, “Viaje en autobús”, originally written in Spanish) ..

Palafrugell’s city hall is located at Cervantes Street 16 …

Palafrugell city hall

… just facing Josep Pla Avenue …

Josep Pla Avenue

This is a somehow magic corner for a blogger like me, who is a devoted fan of both writers, Miguel de Cervantes (I blogged about him in my post “Don Quixote and Don Miguel”) and Josep Pla.

In front of the city hall there is a monument to Josep Pla:

Josep Pla Memorial

Yes, I don’t know if Palafrugell is a little town or a big village; what I am sure about is that this post is getting too long, and I haven’t told a word yet about the Tramuntana Wind or Mr. Josep Martinell … I’ll do it soon.

Pla and Palafrugell

Bye!

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About Covetotop

A Mediterranean blogger
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18 Responses to Josep Pla and the little town of Palafrugell

  1. Linda Duffin says:

    Oh, thank you for this post! I love Palafrugell, it’s the nearest big/little town to Aigua Blava, where we have our family apartment. I think it’s the fact that it is still a working town rather than a chichi tourist resort that gives it its appeal – that and the fabulous markets and friendly shops and cafes. I keep meaning to try the restaurant that used to be the Pla home – do you recommend it?

    • Covetotop says:

      I love Palafrugell too! I see you know it very well 😉

      As far as the restaurant is concerned, my answer is yes; I can recommend it to you. Its name is Pa i Raïm (http://www.pairaim.com/en/). In fact, the name “Pa i Raïm” is a short essay written by Josep Pla. It means “bread and grapes”. Obviously, they serve more dishes than just bread and grapes … Superb local food; you won’t be disappointed.

      • Linda Duffin says:

        I wouldn’t say it’s my second home, because I don’t get to spend enough time there, but it comes close. Thank you for the restaurant recommendation, we will be sure to check it out when we’re back in September. Thanks.

      • Linda Duffin says:

        Um – you might want to help the restaurant re-write their English menu. It doesn’t do them justice. 🙂

      • Covetotop says:

        Trust me, it is a very good restaurant. At lunch time, on working days (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) they offer a very good menu, reasonably priced … I’d suggest to choose from this menu. Thank you for your guess, but am afraid that I am not able to translate their imaginative dishes properly 🙂

      • Linda Duffin says:

        Good advice, thanks, will certainly give it a try.

  2. aferreira says:

    Really charming!
    I like that pen (is it in Pla’s Foundation?) and was surprised to know that cork oaks grow so well in Empordà!

    • Covetotop says:

      Yes, the giant pen is in Pla’s Foundation (interior garden). They have the authentic pen too … Cork oaks grow happy, as far as they are sunbathing and looking at the Mediterranean sea … 🙂

  3. bravagirl says:

    Thank you Covetotop for reminding me what a pleasant village or town I live in!

  4. Linda Duffin says:

    PS My husband says you should have mentioned Espada, the hardware shop. Sorry, not exactly high culture, but it’s his favourite! We go there nearly every day when we’re in Spain, supposedly because he’s forgotten to buy that extra packet of nails, but really because he loves the shop so much.

  5. Sarah says:

    Looks like such a lovely, interesting place! Thanks for giving us a taste of it, Covetotop!

  6. You’ve given me a lot to look up and read….and those photographs make me wish we could be in Spain again.

    • Covetotop says:

      Helen, I am sure that you would like Pla very much. Most of his works have been translated into Spanish. And very recently, his masterpiece has been translated into English: The Grey Notebook. Sadly, such a great author is not as famous (by global standards and even by local standards) as he deserves.

      Thank you for your interest!

      • I’m seeing whether my regular book supplier who has free delivery has them…if not, I’ll have to splash out on proper postage or get the next visitor to bring them!

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