Extract from

The Rythme of Penedès on bike or walking

Routes around South West Penedès
Looking for perfect bike country, perhaps a winery visit and a good lunch? The area between Torrelles de Foix and Vilafranca will leave you well toasted on all sides. This classic rolling wine country south west of Vilafranca populated with about 6 wineries and 7 good to excellent restaurants. Just add diamond blue sky and lotsa fresh air.

Head out of the train station or centre of Vilafranca del Penedès, and bear west across the Barcelona - Tarragona road and the old town. Saturday is Farmers Market in Vilafranca and there are a lotta people, Sundays you should cross town passing the Placa del Ajuntament/més casteller, Bar Coral and the Placa Santa Maria with Cathederal, Wine Museum, Library and good watering holes in between. You need to cross the arched Placa Constitució and go for the gap in the hills straight ahead. This leads to Pacs del Penedès,Typewriter Museum/rounded plaza. Turn right for wineries La Xarmada and Loxarel, left for Torres or straight on for Colet and Parés Baltà. Cross the busy Sant Marti road, climb and right at Can Lleo, a large well endowed house. Down hill, left onto tarmac road and cross bridge, at first houses (straight on for La Bleda, winery Rovellats) turn right and rest at top of slope, Between you and the hills are some lovely intertwining tracks and lanes. Sant Marti is straight on along the river. If you follow the hills to the left you will have a beautiful 7 km run along rolling well surfaced quiet road that passes the well cared-for pile of La Torre de Vermet, Cal Mata Casa Rural, winery Roses Vila and ceramic workshop at els Conillers, continue to Castellvi de la Marca, photoshoot view and vegetarian meals at the sleepy Casal (Centre Agricola).

The Rock of Sant Marti Sarroca should creep into view soon and is well worth the climb to the Castle, Romanic Church and views of Penedès. Restaurants on the roca, Cal Agusti, Coucons. In town, Cal Diari, Can Luis, El Rebost, behind Ajuntament and bars, on the way into town Ca la Katy and Masia Aran. The latter is worthy traditional Catalan cuisine at its best.
From the base of Castle continue to Torrelles de Foix, La Fassina, old public washing placa & el Molí bike centre. It’s straight on for nex county, Alt Camp/Conca de Barbera and the old Pilgrim route to the Cistercian Monestaries of Santes Creus and Poblet.

From Old Torrelles cross main road, towards graveyard, La Berna , Cal Via, El Cosconer & winery Massachs, bearing left to Guardiola de Font Rubi, Cavas Ferret, Llopary i Galimany, café and lunch on the terrace of Cal Pau Xich.
Return road to Vilafranca from Cal Pau Xic past wineries Can Suriol, Julia Navines, Vallformosa to Las Cabanyes, medieval church out of town. cross main road and return to crossroads over Pacs, Turn left to get back to Vilafranca. Total approx 35 km.

Cheers and enjoy
Paddy Mannion
[email protected]

Pruning, thinning., trimming, ploughing, picking and pressing. Work in the vineyards never stops and with the exception of harvest at the end of the summer the rhythm remains exceptionally calm. Developed over hundreds of years. I may not be driving a tractor but I absorb that feeling of maximum speed, 35 km/hour on the fast stretches. I feel it and it suits me just fine. I love pointing a Citroen 2CV down an undiscovered lane, enjoy the surroundings and allow my nose to lead me. I like meeting people with individuality and passion, a lot of people involved in wines and cavas are like that. It may be over 800 years since the Christians drove the Moors out of Tarragona but there is still a strong feeling of frontier country about Penedès and the regions south to the Ebro, waiting to be discovered.

Accommodation and eating.
Penedès may have been alive with small posadas and hostals a hundred years ago but as much of Southern Catalunya, tourism is a still fairly new word. and is now being encouraged as a supplement to agriculture. (prices for grapes are at an all time low) Restaurants exist as they always have to cater for workers and big family occasions. The food you will find is pretty much the same hearty stuff everywhere. Vegetarian is one of the recent culinary concepts yet to arrive.

Accommodation can be divided into established big town hotels, small rural bed & breakfasts, farmhouse accommodation and hostals. Information on most is available from the tourist office in Vilafranca or Sant Sadurni but a few new or independent establishments are not listed.
The first group of hotels include the “Carlos III” , “El Domo” and the “Alfa” all in Vilafranca del Penedès. The “Sol i Vi” is an interesting alternative on the road from Vilafranca to Sant Sadurni.
These hotels are dear during the week but have interesting discounts at weekends

The “Associació de Residències de Cases de Pagès de l’Alt Penedès” or Masies Penedès
Produce a information leaflet with most small and large independent farmhouse accommodation, Most offer bed and breakfast, some include swimming pools. www.masiesdelpenedes.com

Prices for all of the above are around the 35/45 euro/night p.p. mark. If you decide to book yourself be prepared to communicate in Spanish or Catalan as the only person in the house is often the grandmother.

On the food front there are quiet a few modern restaurants in Vilafranca, Cal Ton is an excellent standard bearer. La Fabrica is a fusion of Japanese and Catalan. Casa Juana in the square in front of the train station guards the Catalan high ground and requires booking. Outside of Vilafranca the best names are Cal Xim, Sant Pau d’Ordal, 93 899 30 92. El Celler in Aiguavives, 977 26 81 04. Cal Recolons 93 899 10 20 and Masia Aran 93 899 01 50 both in Sant Marti Sarroca. For a more extensive guide purchase the local newspaper of Penedès “El 3 de 8” Gastronomy is on the inside back page.

Alternatively for any information or booking in Penedès contact Paddy at El Molí, He knows where everything is and with some idea of what you want will save you a lot of time at no extra cost

Cheers and enjoy
Paddy Mannion
[email protected]