a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Barcelona visit


I live in the country, not too remote but very quiet.  I reap the benefits of this situation by enjoying a large garden, having my choice of a multitude of walks or cycle rides straight from my door and the sound of silence of the countryside.

Last weekend it was time to appreciate civilisation, to explore by metro, to soak in some culture – to see crowds of people!

Crowds at the Magic Fountain

There were certainly plenty of people;

Entrance of Guell Park

so many people wanting to see the same thing.

The house in Guell Park which Gaudi designed and lived in.

Many of the people, like me, go to Barcelona as they are attracted by Gaudi’s style and architecture.  His distinctive style of Catalan architecture and his love of nature has produced remarkable buildings and influenced the architecture of Barcelona.

Art nouveau leterbox

Designs from nature are used by other architects such as this art nouveau letterbox by Lluís Domènech i Montaner; an example of catalan Modernisme on an originally 15th. century palace, Casa de l’Ardiaca.

Some of the 13 white geese (I did not do a roll count)

Across the road in the cathedral I was surprised to see white geese in their special courtyard.  They are kept in honour of the cathedral’s patron St. Eulalia.  One goose for each year of the virgin martyr’s short life.

Coffee after visiting the Pedera

There are always plenty of refreshments available in Barcelone, the coffee and pastries are excellent.

Lunch and dinner can still be eaten al fresco

A little away from the main tourist sites I enjoyed an excellent three course Catalan meal for 9 euros 50.

Casa Batllo by night

The evenings can be as full as the days.

Casa Terrades

There is so much to see walking in the streets, like these beautiful balconies on the Casa Terrades.

Urban parrot

Green parrots nest in the palm trees, they were the only birds I saw except for pigeons.

Fountain in Ciutadella Park

Walking in Ciutadella Park I noticed there were very few flowers in bloom at this time of year in Barcelona.  I had hoped I might see some different bees and butterflies but I did not see any.  I imagine that Barcelona does not have sufficient water to support the size of the population that it shelters and to water flowers.

I had a marvellous time, I love Barcellona – the architecture, the people, the atmosphere – but I had never realised how we appreciate nature in words and culture but in truth we marginalise it and exclude it.  We profess to love and admire nature.  Artists glorify it in their paintings and sculptures,  but we cannot coexist side by side.  The city, so full of life and bustle from the human point of view, seemed so barren and empty.

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

22 thoughts on “Barcelona visit

  1. Barcelona is my love. Most beautiful place on earth in my opinion. I am so grateful for having the chance to spend time in there, I want to move there at some point in my life. Very lucky citizen you are!!!


  2. What a super post! We enjoyed a visit to Barcelona last Autumn. Despite pouring rain, we explored all the big Gaudi ‘sites’ and we are all firm fans. Casa Batillo was the family favourite. I think your images are superb and I like the way you finish thoughtfully. Superb.


    • I got a new camera for my birthday and I am desperately disappointed with my efforts. My old Panasonic point and shoot is better.
      I have been using mainly the automatic functions as I find changing the digital functions much more time-consuming and awkward than the old dials, plus the ISO was always the same, chosen in advance with your film. I know that is a huge advantage and I will persevere, I just need a grump.:)


  3. Great post. I lived in Spain for six months but never made it to Barca. Definitely one of my must see destinations in the future. Thanks for reminding me about this great place.


    • There is definitely something for everyone. With the Metro it is easy to get around and the Catalans are very kind to the tourists. I had a great conversation with a taxi driver, telling him how much I liked Gaudi’s architecture and Sagrada Familia. He on the other hand preferred the main gothic cathedral. He did not speak English and I do not speak Spanish but we managed never the less! Only in Barcelona.


  4. How lovely the geese in the courtyard are. And the parrot in the palm tree. As you say, a shame that there is not more space for nature in cities – I think it has a calming effect on people.


  5. I have wanted to visit Barcelona again since I heard about the Botanic garden that has Mediterranean climate plants from the different zones that share that climate. Your post has made me want to visit even more. Your last paragraph is sad; many cities in Northern Europe have lots of parks and gardens to allow each city to breath. I must admit that there are fewer in Southern Mediterranean cities. I’m not sure if this is lack of water or more likely the fact that people have actually only just ‘left’ the land and so regard plants as part of some ‘lower’ life; I certainly feel that it is true of Italy. Christina


    • We did not visit the Botanic garden, another thing to add to the ever growing list of things to do next time!
      Your comment on the importance of plants to people is interesting, we all look at the same things but from a different point of view.


  6. Such a beautiful city, you lucky thing enjoying a wonderful visit there! Barcelona is one of my hubby’s dream destinations. I adore the photo of the letter box, simply stunning as are the balconies, the work that has gone in to creating them is just amazing. Thanks for sharing 🙂


  7. Wonderful post and photos of one of my favorite cities. We loved the Barcelona architecture, so distinctive with the Gaudi buildings, sculptures, and of course Cathedral. It’s hard to find nature in a city but we did enjoy the zoo and botanic garden.


  8. Wonderful post! Thanks for taking me along on this tour.


  9. Lovely post – you’ve transported me there!


  10. The contrast could not be greater, as I sit and read your blog as rain lashes down, gutters overflow and the first of the autumn gales sweeps across Norfolk. We were in Barcelona at Easter and your blog tugs gently as it is a reminder of the wonderful city


    • Everyone seems to love Barcelona. We were very lucky with the weather there.
      Today we are getting the first rain for ages in the Charente Maritime and I am so happy I am just watching it from the open door! Everywhere here is so dry. Let it rain, let it rain!


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