Colmado Moriscot has the most emblematic shop window in the city and, as a result, one of the most photographed. It's a small shop in the modernista style that was created in 1860, then taken over by the family of the current owners more than 50 years ago. Even though the first (and, admittedly, the second) thing that comes to our minds when we think of this traditional grocers ('colmado' means 'grocery shop' in Catalan) are the liquors, you'll find 1,001 interesting things there for all tastes and budgets: from wine to spices, regional products, artisan beers, cured meats from the Empordà area and much more. The Colmado is one of the most beautiful shops in Girona. An establishment that will instantly transport you back to the 19th century.
Remember Juliette Binoche serving cups of steaming hot chocolate in the film 'Chocolat'? 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. With more than 100 years of history behind it, L'Antiga has a certain charm and down-to-earth aesthetic, and there's no need to fix something that's not broken. In 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.
The growing number of beards around that need taking care of has seen a re-emergence of traditional barber's shops, those places that smell of wood and masculinity which started to close down after shaved footballers began to establish themselves as global benchmarks for male beauty. In this particular barber's, opened in 2015 as an extension of a hairdresser's with more than 30 years of experience, and with a design that in itself deserves a visit, they celebrate the death of the metrosexual, the arrival of normcore, and the existence of men who've learnt to take care of themselves without losing all sense and who like to enjoy some time for themselves. Rituals such as shaving with a cut-throat razor and hot towel, and getting the perfect beard for three days, are available with advanced booking.
The name doesn't lie: this is an authentic 'maison' of design and production, and all the pieces are sewn by Marina herself. In this small, welcoming shop in the centre of Girona, you'll only find very limited edition clothes, all extremely feminine and personal and which make seasonal trends their own, as designed by Marina and her daughter Patricia. The price of these almost-unique dresses, which can be adapted to the shape and preferences of each client, rarely go above €150. If you need yet more reasons to go to this amazing atelier, you should know that all the materials used are Catalan or Italian: mother and daughter travel each year to Prato, the temple of Tuscan textiles where hundreds of small family businesses fight tooth and nail against globalisation with pride in what they make themselves, to buy the best they can find.
Art and gastronomy go hand-in-hand at La Penyora. It's a project from Lluís Llamas, who, for many years, has been hosting exhibitions in his restaurant–art gallery. 'We're bohemians,' he says. True, and they attract bohemians – La Penyora is a restaurant regularly frequented by artists. The walls, full of drawings and paintings, are proof of that. In the kitchen, fresh ingredients – Lluís goes to the market each day – are used to prepare a range of dishes with a Catalan base but featuring French and south-east Asian influences. So you might be able to sample tuna tataki with macerated seaweed or a typical Catalan dish such as tripe with chickpeas.
Le Bistrot is a Girona classic that has managed to keep its iconic status since it opened back in the late '70s. The restaurant, which is located on the stairs leading up to the Barri Vell campus of Girona University, is infused with a French ambience that will remind you of authentic Parisian brasseries. It was one of the first places to introduce crêpes to the city, and they still make a range of different pancakes, some of which have a local touch, such as the one of 'brandada de bacallà' (cod brandade). The rustic pizzas ('pizzas de pagès') are the other house speciality. They're made using a slice of 'pa de pagès' (a traditional round Catalan loaf), toasted on one side and au gratin on the other, and given a variety of original toppings.
In Plaça de l'Assumpció, in the neighbourhood of Sant Narcís, this fishmonger's still retains the charm of traditional establishments, thanks to the friendliness and approachability of its staff, as well as the blue and white tiles and the marble counter where the preparation of fish that they do each day is like a gift from God.
Do you love mosaic floors, wooden furniture marked by history, bar counters made of marble and modernista lamps? At 1900, they do too. It's a welcoming, discreet café that passes by almost unseen on those days when there's a lot of shoppers on C/Santa Clara. But if you head inside, you'll be captivated by the aesthetics, the warmth and the peace of its cobbled walls as well, obviously, by the range of coffees and teas (take a look at its specialities), hot chocolates, fresh juices, milkshakes and waffles, to name just a small part of what they serve. The WiFi is free, so you can get out your mobile, and share this latest find with your followers.
If you live on planet Earth, it's probably not necessary to mention that Girona is where you'll find a place considered, more than once, the best restaurant in the world: El Celler de Can Roca. The owners, the three Roca brothers, are totally committed to the city as well as being some of its most famous sons, and the fact that El Celler is not within the reach of all budgets gave them the idea to create somewhere that everybody, or almost, could at least try some of their desserts. They wanted to rescue the concept of the ice cream cart but rules are rules, and in the end they opened a workshop on C/ Santa Clara, which makes clients feel like Charlie in the chocolate factory. They serve six flavours that change with the seasons – recent concoctions of lavender and coconut, and a mix of green vegetables, were a big hit.
Enter La Terra and you'll instantly feel like getting out your Moleskine notebook and drawing sketches, writing poetry or jotting down some chords of that song you've been composing. Stories bloom in bars like this one on C/Ballesteries, a place full of creativity and charm. Sit down on the cushions by the windowsill and look at the houses that back on to the river Onyar. If the day's not great, take your time, enjoy a tea, a fresh juice (check out their juice of the day, you might be surprised by a new combination), a craft beer or a home-made hamburger. Even if it's just to walk on the mosaic floor and check out the decor, it's definitely worth spending some time there.