Cafe Marly at the Louvre in Paris

Cafe Marly at the Louvre in Paris
Relax with a glass of wine at Cafe Marly overlooking the pyramid entrance to the Louvre.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Arcos de la Frontera: Your Introduction to Spain's White Villages

Your introduction to the white villages (pueblos blancos) of Andalusia begins with Arcos de la Frontera, 17 miles (28 km) east of Jerez (off of A-4 via route A-382), where whitewashed houses stand on a limestone ridge above the Guadalete River valley. The newer town is located on the lower slopes of the ridge.

If you park in the car park at the bottom of the hill, you can take the Paseo de los Boliches up for great views of the valley. You can also drive into town and attempt to park at the main square Plaza del Cabildo. It’s usually a losing proposition to try to find parking, especially in high season (€1 per hour, get a ticket from the machine), and the streets are narrow and quite steep. In other words, don’t try it.

The Old Town is a maze of cobblestone streets leading up to the castle (Castillo Ducal). Calle Maldonado is lined with 18th-century palaces with windows covered with wrought-iron (called rejas).

The Plaza del Cabildo is the center of town and the starting point for your visit. The mirador (viewpoint) offers spectacular views of the countryside. The Parador (state-run hotel) is here and a great place for a break or lunch. Also here is the city hall with a tourist-information center (open Mon-Sat 10am-2pm and 3:30pm-7:30pm, Sun 10am-2pm). Pop into Santa MarĂ­a. Built on the sight of a mosque, this church is a mixture of many styles (Renaissance carved-wood altar, Gothic, Baroque and Rococo). The church is home to the “uncorrupted” remains of St. Felix, a third-century martyr (if you like that sort of macabre stuff). Head east down Calle Escribanos. You’ll pass (on your right) the Convento de las Mercedarias where the hard-working nuns sell boxes of pine-nut cookies called magdalenas for €5 in the lobby. Just push the buzzer.

Next to the convent you’ll find the market (closed Sunday and Monday) located in an unfinished church.

If you continue down Calle Boticas you’ll ultimately reach the church of San Pedro, perched on the edge of the cliff.

Just past the church of San Pedro is the Galeria de Arte where you can purchase pottery, paintings and local products.
This excerpt is taken from Open Road's Best of Spain.

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