Unless you’re coming to Girona on a city break, chances are that you’re not visiting the Costa Brava with shopping as your main priority. Why on earth would anyone want to spend hours of valuable sunshine inside shops when you could be on the beach or enjoying the fabulous scenery? Having said that, if, like me, you enjoy a bit of retail therapy and like to bring a thing or two home from your hols, you needn’t be disappointed.
Ceramics are a very big deal round these parts, particularly in the small hilltop town of La Bisbal, which is famous for its pottery. You’ll also find good outlets in most towns along the coast so if you fancy serving tapas at home in some of those earthenware terracotta dishes that are so typically Spanish, you’ll find plenty of them around here at a fraction of the price you’d pay in the UK. There’s also colourful, hand-painted crockery from soup bowls and plates to condiment sets and decorative wall tiles. I personally love this stuff and the only problem I ever have is working out how to carry it all home and avoid paying hefty fees in excess luggage charges (obviously this needn’t apply if you’re either driving home - or are more moderate in your purchases).
Boutiques and jewellers
As I’ve already said elsewhere, this is also one of the more chi-chi parts of Spain and the shops very much reflect that. Take a wander round Figueres, Castello d’Empúries, Calella de Palafrugell or Llafranc and you’ll stumble upon hip, independent designer boutiques, and impressive, contemporary jewellers. That’s one of the things I love about this area.
Food and drink
The other main item you’ll be tempted to take home is food and drink. The lush Empordá region (the countryside that you’ll be travelling through immediately behind the coast itself) is one of Spain’s foremost up and coming wine regions and already has a growing following internationally. In most towns (and especially Girona), you’ll find some excellent local wines at extremely reasonable prices. Food-wise, the Costa Brava, partly thanks to its closeness to France, has always been known for exceptional patisseries and you’ll find beautifully presented, mouth-watering sweet delights staring out of (often quite smart) shop windows in almost any town you visit.
Most towns also have a weekly market selling fruit and veg as well as clothes and, in some cases, general household goods. These are great if you’ve forgotten to bring a beach towel and are staying somewhere where you need your own (or want a cheap t-shirt or some fake Lacoste), but they’re also great for food.
Girona also has its weekly markets but the city offers a slightly different shopping experience. This is the place to come if you’re desperate to visit a branch of Zara or Mango or find a more extensive shopping selection.
Finally, if you’re not familiar with shopping in Spain, the main thing to point out about the shops here are the opening hours. Like most of Spain, with the exception of large department stores in the major cities, most shops still open Monday to Saturday from about 10am in the morning till 1 or 2pm in the afternoon and then close until 5pm when they re-open until about 8 or 8.30pm. ‘Tancat’ is the Catalan for ‘closed’ (‘obert’ is open), so don’t say I didn’t warn you.