Set in a lush valley of orange groves between the mountains and the sea, Soller is popular with day trippers who arrive on the vintage train from Palma and seem to do little but sit outside the cafes in Placa Constitucid soaking up the atmosphere and the sun. With several tapas bars, a fine selection of pastry-shops, local ice-cream and freshly squeezed orange juice, there is little temptation to move on.
Soller lies a couple of miles inland from its port, Port de Soller. There is a vintage tram that runs from the town to the port for those who don’t have a car. Soller hosts many fairs and festivals throughout the year – ones of note include the Apropa’t A L’Art (art weekend) and the Moros y Cristianos Fira & Firo in May.
A word of advice: if you are planning a day trip, come here by train from Palma, rather than car. There is a road tunnel on the Palma road (with a pretty steep toll, €4.70 each way April 2012) through the mountain if you do drive. The alternative is to drive up the Coll de Soller, with its 57 hairpin bends, one of the most twisty drives in Mallorca (although views from the top are pretty good!). It’s also very popular with cyclists who are not allowed through the tunnel and who seem to enjoiy the thigh-busting climb! The train journey is a delight, and passes through wonderfully scenic countryside. The train has real character and is an attraction in itself, so sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
Things to Do in Soller
Many people come to Soller to enjoy “The Great Outdoors”. The surrounding countryside is so beautiful, it’s almost a crime not to be outside to enjoy it! Hiking is a major draw for visitors who are spoiled for choice when it comes to hiking trails. You can choose from coastal walks to heading deep into the Tramuntana mountain range.
The trails are well maintained and sign-posted. The famous ‘dry stone wall’ trail runs from Andratx in the south to Pollenca in the north of Mallorca, and is over 50km in length. Mountain refuges dot the trail so hikers have place places to stay en-route. Alternatively, use a local hiking guide such as Tramuntana Tours or Mallorca Hiking who can arrange all sorts of ways to discover the area.
Both road cycling and mountain biking are extremely popular ways of exploring the mountains around Soller. A guide for mountain biking is particularly recommended as much of the land in the area is privately owned. The roads from Soller up into the Tramuntana range provide great challenges for the road cycling enthusiast, with plenty of bends, ascents & descents. you can hire bikes and get information on cycling routes from Tramuntana Tours.
Tennis is a popular activity in Soller and there are public tennis courts at the Paddle & Tennis Club in the Argeles area of Soller (no website!). Shopping is not a major deal in Soller – there are a few gift shops and some lovely delicatessens.
Of course, being so close to the coast there are a heap of nautical activities to enjoy too. Boat trips up and down the coast start in Port de Soller and are a wonderful way to view the coastline with it’s majestic and dramatic scenery. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can charter a boat with or without a captain. It is also possible to SCUBA dive in the waters up and down the coast.
Port de Soller also has a couple of beaches if you prefer to take it easy, and the promenade is lined with cafes for refreshments. The beaches are quite small and narrow and do tend to be busy during the summer months. The sand is a little bit gravelly, but the sea is calm and shallow and fun to play in. Sun loungers and canoes are available for hire.
Soller has a number of satellite villages which are worth having a look at. Fornalutx has been voted the prettiest village in Spain and lies a couple of kilometres up the valley from Soller. En-route, you also have the chance to pass through Biniaraix, a tiny and sleepy hamlet.
The Pont du Gard is a Roman monument built halfway through the 1st century AD. It is the principal construction in a 50 km long aqueduct that supplied the city of Nîmes, formerly known as Nemausus, with water. Built as a three-level aqueduct standing 50 m high, it allowed water to flow across the Gardon river.
In essence, the bridge is constructed out of soft yellow limestone blocks, taken from a nearby quarry that borders the river. The highest part of the structure is made out of breeze blocks joined together with mortar. It is topped by a device designed to bear the water channel, whose stone slabs are covered with calcium deposits.
In designing this three-storey bridge, which measures 360 m at its longest point along the top, the Roman architects and hydraulic engineers created a technical masterpiece that stands today as a work of art.
As a result of numerous scientific studies, we now know that an impressive volume of rock was needed to complete the construction.
Moreover, archaeologists also uncovered evidence of how well organized the project was. They found numbering on the stones, points of support for scaffolding, and evidence of the use of hoists.
Port Ginesta is located in Castelldefels, Catalonia, Spain. Just 10 minutes from Barcelona International Airport and 75 minutes from the French border, this modern marina offers 1442 moorings for boats up to 30 meters in length. This marina has the necessary infrastructure to meet the technical needs of the boats who moor there as it has covered dock, paint booth, 75Tn travelift and 8 tons crane. It also provides cleaning, antifouling, repair, winter storage, maintenance and repair of any type of boat, between others. Notably, other services such as 24 hour security, seamanship, gas station, laundry and WiFi. This marina has international certificates according to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, which supports good environmental practices related to the sea and the environment.
The Bouzigues oyster is famous for its flavour and freshness. It is produced in the Thau lagoon using a method unique in France. I invite you to come over and discover this extraordinary local product that combines affordable price with very good quality.
A bit of history
It is in 1925 in the Thau pond of Bouzigues that the oyster culture began when a bricklayer named Louis Tudesq invented an authentic technique called oyster collage. His way involves sticking the little oysters one by one, attaching them with cement on a rope that is suspended in water and then letting them grow this way until they reach the ideal size to get harvested and eaten.
Being the cradle of oyster culture in the Languedoc region, Bouzigues is an attractive little village of a population of 900 inhabitants that principally rely on tourism generated by oyster and mussel breeding to live. Interestingly enough, the place has succeeded in keeping its traditions and charm as a small typical Mediterranean village of fishermen intact for generations.
More about Bouzigues oysters
The Thau pond is made up of 5 big oyster sites : Bouzigues, Loupian, Mèze, Marseillan and Sète. In total, around 12’000 tons of oysters are produced every year.
The “Bouzigue”, although essentially commercialized in its original region, is a hollow oyster yet famous and revered by connoisseurs almost everywhere in Europe. An oyster fair takes place every year in Bouzigues on the second weekend of August. Around 800 oyster growers from the Thau pond come to showcase their product which tastes quite peculiar, slightly salty with a hazelnut flavour.. The texture is very fleshy, crispy and tender at the same time.
Oysters are known as being low-calorie food (60 calories per 100 grams) and for their nutritional value (proteins, mineral salts, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B12, C and it is the only animal source of vitamin C, D, E, iron, calcium, magnesium, iodine, zinc, copper, phosphorus).
What’s more, oysters contain antioxidant properties that can prevent cancer, ageing and cardio-vascular diseases.
Useful things one should know before eating oysters
The oyster should not be consumed if :
It is open or half-open.
A bad smell emanates from it.
The shell contains a sort of second intern lining.
Always remember that oysters have 3 fatal enemies: freezing, heating and your knife.
Traditionally, this delicacy is best enjoyed with friends, family and loved ones. Bonne dégustation!
How they grow
Growing delicious oysters is a process that takes up to four years. It starts with a few million fresh oyster seeds. We get our seed, or larvae, from a hatchery further up the Oregon Coast when the larvae are only two weeks old,. They’re delivered to Umpqua Aquaculture overnight and maintained at a temperature of about 40 degrees F, which keeps them dormant during the trip.
The seed arrives in a lump about the size of a golf ball, which is divided among three large containers maintained at our processing plant, and dispersed in buckets of cold water. Warmer water is then incrementally added to reanimate the seeds and bring them up to the proper incubation temperature of 80 degrees F.
The food-grade tanks are filled with warmed incubation water from the Umpqua Estuary at high tide, rich in algae and phytoplankton. The tanks, into which the new seed is added, contain nets filled with empty recycled oyster shells.
For about two days, the seeds swim freely, then permanently attach themselves to the shells with an adhesive they excrete. After the young oysters are attached, the temperature of the incubation tanks is gradually lowered to match the temperature of the bay. The young oysters, now called spat, are moved in their nets to the triangular breakwater to grow. After a couple of months, the shells filled with baby oysters are attached to long lines and suspended for longer-term growth in the Triangle
After the oysters have grown for at least two years for the smaller sizes and up to four years for the larger, they’re ready for harvest. We use a custom-made barge with a motorized boom to raise the oyster lines, now weighing about 150 lbs. each. The oysters are cut free from the float line, placed in totes and hauled back to the plant, where they’re tracked by number for quality control and processed for shell-stock or shucking.
Shell-stock oysters are cleaned and sold in the shell in sizes jumbo, medium, small and extra small. Shucked oysters are sorted and sold as large, medium, small, extra small and yearling. Throughout, ice keeps the oysters fresh at a temperature of about 33 degrees F. until they reach your palate!
Celles is a commune in the Hérault department in southern France.The original village sits on the bank of Lac du Salagou. The French authorities are allowing this village to decay and all buildings except the town hall and the church are in ruins. It is a popular place for fishing and picnics.
Frontignan Beach Languedoc-RoussillonThe small town of Frontignan is built along the western edge of the Ingril lagoon at the foot of the massif de la Gardiole north of Sète and the surrounding area offers pretty Mediterranean scenery, including roughly 800 hectares of vineyards where the famous Muscat de Frontignan wine has been made for over 2000 years. Numerous biking and walking trails allow visitors to discover the massif de la Gardiole and enjoy the views of the coastline from its summit, and a pleasant morning can be spent visiting the nearby village of la Peyrade. The 7km beach itself is quite urbanised and a mix of pebbles and sand which is regularly awarded for its cleanliness, and the lagoon is very popular with kite surfing enthusiasts. Close by, the marina is the starting point for cruises for fishing or scuba diving parties.