If anyone thinks that going around in tight shorts and top doesn't meet with the rules of urban style, then they should give the café of La Fàbrica a wide berth. This place was set up by professional Canadian cyclist Christian Meier and his wife, and has become the mecca for many of the region's serious cyclists. Its secret? Authenticity. With a philosophy based on fair trade and sustainable agriculture, you'll find any number of sweet treats to accompany your cup of coffee (don't worry, all the calories will be burnt up once you're back on your bike). As well as breakfast or having a snack on the terrace, you can watch stages of events such as the Tour de France or try a language exchange with fellow café-goers.
With neo-classical arches providing shelter from the rain, Cafè Royal is a Girona classic situated in Plaça de la Independència, one of the busiest squares in the city. You can head there to get your batteries charged for the day, enjoy a coffee to see you through the afternoon, or chill out in the evening, thanks to its extensive menu of beers, cold drinks such as horchata and flavoured slushed ice ('granissat'), herbal infusions and innovative mixes of fresh juices. When the good weather arrives, the terrace is the place to be, offering a respite from the activity of the urban landscape. And don't miss the monument in the middle of the square, which is dedicated to the defenders of Girona during the sieges of 1808-1809.
Do you remember Juliette Binoche serving cups of steaming hot chocolate in the film 'Chocolate'? Well in Girona, there's a place just like the one she ran, and it's called L'Antiga. It's one of those spots where time seems to have stood still, but in a good way. It has its own charm, and there's no need to fix something that's not broken. With more than 100 years of history behind it, and a down-to-earth aesthetic, summer and winter, inside and out, you'll find groups of pensioners, families and young people sitting down there to enjoy breakfast and afternoon snacks. The warmth of this 'granja' (the Catalan word for a traditional café) with its marble, iron-legged tables comes from the aroma of authentic hot chocolate, whipped cream, 'melindros' (sponge fingers) and 'coca' (Catalan flat cake) that are all beloved of local grandmas. Beating the humidity of the streets that surround Plaça del Vi with one of Girona's best hot chocolates is an essential experience for anyone who visits the Catalan town.
Can you smell it? It's the aroma that comes from the display cases of pastries, cakes, meringues, 'coques' (traditional Catalan flat cakes) and all sorts of bread in the Café Moner on C/Migdia - one of four that the company has in Girona - and that will draw you in, sit you down and see you make your order. The products, which are top quality, will fill all your senses - you won't know whether to choose a croissant, a pretzel, a muffin, a sandwich, a capuccino, a Viennese coffee (espresso with cream), coffee with condensed milk, hot chocolate, hot chocolate with cream, a herbal tea... Tempting, right? What's even more tempting is that everything's made with quality ingredients (they use organic milk) and they also pay special attention to customers with food intolerances (they have soya milk, spelt bread and 'kamut'). Enjoy the peaceful ambience, suitable for all.
Great things come in small packages. And if you weren't sure about the veracity of that phrase, you can check it out at first hand in El Cafè, a tiny bar situated next to Plaça del Vi (in front of Colmado Moriscot and La Moda) that's warm and welcoming in equal parts. Despite its size, they've certainly made the most of the space available. The walls are full of pictures and photographs and the ambience is a family one. You can choose from among around 15 types of herbal infusions and natural teas, or order a quality coffee to get the day off to the right start. It's also an ideal place for a beer or glass of wine, while you should definitely try their sandwiches made from walnut, cereal and olive breads, and the chapatas filled with local cured meats.
'It's the only café with a cathedral in its backyard,' is what they say at L'Arc. And it's true that you won't find any other place with a location and such amazing views as this café, which has been open for more than 50 years. Popular among artists, students and tourists from all over the world, it's a place full of life and splendid decoration, such as the bench made from a beam from the Cathedral. You can also sit on the paved terrace and enjoy looking at Girona's main landmark while drinking a coffee made with fresh organic milk, or, if you fancy something stronger, a snowball, the popular cocktail created in the '60s. And if you're feeling up to it, you could work up an appetite by running up and down the Cathedral's numerous steps, then reward yourself at the end of your exercise at L'Arc with some excellent bread with tomato ('pa amb tomaquet', a speciality Catalan dish), a plate of 'jamón' or cheese, and some patates braves (fried potatoes served with spicy sauce).
There are many kinds of lapses ('lapsus' in Catalan), but this one is a partiuclar kind: a café by day and bar by night that opened in 2002 and will doubtless remain etched on your memory. Its exceptional terrace - on the corner of Plaça de la Independència where the Correus (Post Office) is - is difficult to forget, and any excuse is allowed for enjoying a coffee, beer or soft drink there. At night, it's an ideal place to start the night with a gin and tonic, mixer drink, beer... All accompanied by ambient music during the day and different tunes at night. Forget your routine and enjoy a lapse!
Whoever thinks that sweet treats are only for Sundays should definitely give the Cafeteria Tornés a wide berth. After years of producing daily aromas of deliciousness on C/ de la Creu, this landmark patisserie has opened another space close to the Parc del Migdia where you'll find all the products that have made Tornés so well-known – an incredible range of top-quality cakes, biscuits, chocolates, 'bunyols' (deep-fried doughnuts), 'panellets' (small almond-based cakes made for Tots Sants on November 1) and home-made small pastries ('rebosteria'). Get ready to open the treasure chest, and let your eyes feast on the multiple sweet and savoury options for breakfast and afternoon snacks. Add to the list a selection of the best coffees, teas, fresh juices, milkshakes and hot chocolate, and... it's farewell diet!
Café and book. Beer and concert. Glass of wine and poetry recital. Choose whichever combination you like, you'll find it at the Llibreria Cafè Context and much more besides. Since it opened, this venue has established a place for itself not only in the old 'Barri Xino' of the city but also in the diaries of many locals, who go there for a top-quality cultural space with gastronomy, presentations, exhibitions, poetry, small concerts and many other activities. It has a well-chosen selection of wines, beers and liquors, and you can also try plates of cured meats ('embotits') and cheeses, 'pinxos' (tapas served on slices of bread) and salads, among other options. The warm ambience and friendly welcome is all part of the service, as is the magnificent terrace that gives onto the Plaça del Pou Rodó. It's unmissable!
Take a look in the window and feel your mouth start to salivate. Don't worry, that's normal. The variety of pastries (both sweet and savoury), 'coques' (traditional Catalan flat cakes), sandwiches and quiches that are on show at El Pessic café generally tends to provoke this reaction, but the antidote is clear: go in, devour, and don't leave even a single crumb behind. Whether you go for breakfast or an afternoon snack, accompany your food with juice, tea or coffee, and you'll leave with your stomach more than satisfied. For an added bonus, sit at one of the outdoor tables – from this spot in Plaça Catalunya you'll be able to see a key view of the Old Town: a section of the Pedra bridge and a pinch ('pessic' in Catalan) of the houses that back onto the river Onyar.