The starting point for this trip is the street called Carrer Nou in Palafrugell, which is where the house were he was born stands – at number 49-51, a building that is now the headquarters of the Josep Pla Foundation. He sets it in context in this way in his book El quadern gris (‘The Grey Notebook’): “In any case I was born on Carrer Nou, also known as Carrer Progrés: a dismal long street, straight as a candle, running from Carrer de la Caritat to the Palamós railway track.”
Head off Carrer Nou making for Carrer de Torres i Jonama. The family house of the Pla family stands at number 56. From the time he spent living there, he recalled: “The long, bitterly cold winters, colder than the winters now I believe (...) the icy rooms with their new mosaic flooring that felt like walking on a block of ice; slivers of ice dripping from the balconies overlooking the street...”
Carrying on along the way:
Go along to the square Plaça Nova, which was and still is the hub of Palafrugell life. This area of the town is presided over by the Cercle Mercantil and the Centre Fraternal, both being institutions that provided the setting for some of the social gatherings Pla describes in his work.
Then go back to the car and drive off to the GIV-6542 road, which will take you from Palafrugell to Tamariu down by the sea. As Pla wrote in one of his works, “the name Tamariu must come from the tamarisks that grow along the banks of the stream that runs down to the sea through the sands of the beach”.
Go back the way you came out of Tamariu for around 2 kilometres, heading towards Palafrugell again, and then turn left along the GIV-6591 to get to Sant Sebastià lighthouse. Located on a promontory standing 178 metres above sea level, this is an outstanding look-out point. “Sant Sebastià is very pretty when there are people around. When there are none, it is prettier still,” says Pla in one of his works.
Go down from Sant Sebastià southwards towards Llafranc, a little village that Pla celebrated in these words: “Spending the summer at Llafranc was very pleasant and still is, though for other reasons. Perfect bathing, clean, marvellous sand, robust tranquillity, excellent food. A true break.”
Half a kilometre away towards Calella de Palafrugell you will find the beach called Platja del Canadell, of which he tells us that “one of the greatest delights of Canadell is going along after dinner to lie down for an hour or two in the shade of a boat.”
In Calella itself we find the beach Platja del Port Bo, which Pla examined at his leisure from the arches called Voltes de Calella: “From the shadows of the arches, Port Bo beach is seen bathed in a tawny light, immersed in a lethargic calm. The sea’s reverberation is dazzling to the eye.”
Go back to Palafrugell along the dual carriageway GIV-6546, go through the town, and then head towards La Bisbal d’Empordà along the GIV-6591. Around 800 metres after the town and before you get to the junction with the C-31, you will see the country house Mas Pla on your left. The writer spent the last years of his life there, as he recounts: “My life has been the same for many years now, in fact ever since I set up a room and a little library in Mas Pla, in the parish of Llofriu. There in that old house, where everything is in quite a jumble, and where it is cold in winter though pleasant in summer, I live completely on my own.”
Then go onto the C-31 making for La Bisbal d’Empordà
. Around 700 metres along on the left, there is a turn-off to Llofriu
, with a path to the cemetery
on the right. Josep Pla wrote that he wanted to be buried there: “All I ask of you is that I be buried in Llofriu cemetery, which is my parish, with only the family there, without telling anyone, and with the local chaplain to recite the Latin poem Dies irae, dies illa.” Observations and recommendations:
Before, during or after your trip, go back to Josep Pla’s books. You will find references to the spots you will be exploring in his works El quadern gris (‘The Grey Notebook’), El meu país (‘My Country’), Tres guies (‘Three Guides’) and Notes del capvesprol (‘Notes from the Evening Sea Breeze’).