Tossa de Mar

The next stop north from Blanes on the coast road—by way of the mass-market resort of Lloret de Mar—is Tossa de Mar, christened "Blue Paradise" by painter Marc Chagall, who summered here for four decades. Tossa's walled medieval town and pristine beaches are among Catalonia's best.

Set around a blue buckle of a bay, Tossa de Mar is a symphony in two parts: the Vila Vella (Old Town) and the Vila Nova (New Town), the latter a lovely district open to the sea and threaded by 18th-century lanes. The Vila Vella is a knotted warren of steep, narrow, cobblestone streets with many restored buildings, some dating back to the 14th century. It sits on the Cap de Tossa promontory that juts out into the sea, and is girdled by 12th-century walls and towers, which line the water's edge and are a local pride and joy—the only example of a fortified medieval town on the entire Catalan coast.

Ava Gardner filmed the 1951 British drama Pandora and the Flying Dutchman here (a statue dedicated to her stands on a terrace on the medieval walls). Things may have changed since those days, but this beautiful village retains much of the unspoiled magic of its past. The primary beach at Tossa de Mar is the Platja Gran (Big Beach) in front of the town beneath the walls, and just next to it is Mar Menuda (Little Sea), where the small, colorfully painted fishing boats—maybe the same ones that caught your dinner—pull up onto the beach.

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