Spend your first afternoon in the Vallès Oriental in Cardedeu. Try not to hang about too much because the town has a lot to offer, starting with a good number of modernista houses, the majority of which were designed by Manuel Joaquim Raspall (1877-1937), this region’s greatest architect. In fact, his style is more accurately described as ‘noucentista’ (dating from the first three decades of the 20th century) as Raspall is part of the generation of architects who followed Gaudí, Puig i Cadafalch and Domènech i Montaner; much of his work features the style that gradually substituted the modernista one developed by these accomplished men. Be sure to see Casa Viader, the summer home of Marc Viader (the man who invented Catalonia’s favourite chocolate drink, Cacaolat), and the Masó and Golferichs houses. As the saying went in the early 1900s – ‘a box at the Liceu opera house and a house in Cardedeu’, indicating the importance of the town as the place where many well-off Barcelona families had a second home.
Make sure you save an hour or so to visit the Tomàs Balvey Museum-Archive. Coming from a long line of chemists, Balvey (1790-1852) was an aficionado of collecting a variety of things. Thanks to this hobby, today the town has a varied and valuable museum, located in what was the residence of one Dr Daurella, just by the town hall. On the third floor of the building, you’ll find an eclectic range of objects: coins, clothing, tools, weapons, dissected animals, sculptures... On the second floor is the undoubted jewel in the crown, the original furniture from the Balvey chemists, dating from 1812, with more than 200 pots from that period. It’s thought that the chemist shop of Cardedeu is, along with the one in the Catalan enclave in France of Llívia, one of the oldest in Europe. The first floor houses the archive, while the ground floor has temporary exhibitions, as well as the local tourist office, and leads out into a long garden, which is full of medicinal plants.
Finally, before leaving Cardedeu, don’t forget to try the traditional 'borregos' biscuit, which are mentioned in documents dating from the late 18th century. These rectangular hard pastries are often eaten after dunking in milk or sweet wine.