There’s a wonderful moment when the road towards Valldemossa from Palma begins to climb into the mountains, leaving the almond orchards with their fields of red earth behind. Then road winds up through a verdant valley filled with more shades of green than seems possible. Turn a corner and the view of Valldemossa never fails to be breathtaking.
Valldemossa is certainly one of the prettiest villages on the island but, unlike other picturesque spots, it has the added benefit of being around 15 minutes’ drive from Palma and the Ma-20 highway. This makes it a great base for year-round living in Mallorca. You enjoy serene mountain energy but always know you have the buzz of the city on your doorstep.
The Ma-20 takes you either in the direction of the airport and the south of the island or west towards the port of Andratx and the west coast. You can leave Valldemossa and be strolling the atmospheric streets of Palma with its world-class shops, restaurants and bars before you know it.
If you decide to settle on the island all year round, it’s simple to drive your children to one of the highly regarded international schools.
Should you have a yacht moored in Palma or perhaps Sóller, in the opposite direction, it’s a short drive to the harbour.
Deià, with its lively cultural scene and choice of restaurants and bars is around 15 minutes away.
The Tramuntana mountains in which Valldemossa sits are UNESCO-protected so the land can’t be built upon. Knowing this adds to the sense that mountains themselves protect the village.
It also means that properties in the mountains are usually restored fincas and possessios — former farmhouses with buildings and land.
Having the Tramuntana mountains nearby means you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to walking.
One of my favourites is the Camí de s’Arxiduc, which roughly translates as ‘way of the archduke’. The archduke in question is Luis Salvador. In the late 19th century, he fell in love with this part of the island and bought properties and land along the coast to preserve the landscape.
The Camí de s’Arxiduc takes at least four hours but if, like me, you like to walk at a leisurely pace and stop and enjoy the scenery, around six is more realistic.
Incidentally, the imposing Teix mountain that looms over the village is sacred to Buddhists.
Most visitors to Valldemossa are aware that 19th century Polish composer Frédéric Chopin and the female French writer Aurore Dupin, who wrote under the pen name George Sand, spent from late 1838 to February 1839 in the village.
The couple came to Valldemossa because they believed it would help treat Chopin’s tuberculosis. They didn’t realise that the winter climate in Mallorca is damp and can be sufficiently cold that there’s snow on the mountains.
Chopin and Sand stayed in the charming Real Cartuja de Valldemossa, with its distinctive blue-tiled spire. His piano is on display.
After the couple’s visit, Sand wrote an autobiographical travel novel named A Winter in Majorca (1842). Although she agrees that the island is beautiful, she’s scathing about its inhabitants. This caused great offense in Mallorca.
Chopin and Sand are the best-known cultural figures to have spent time in Valldemossa. In later years, it was also a temporary home for the American artist John Singer Sargent who came to the village later in the 19th century.
Argentinian magical realist writer Jorge Luis Borges also spent time in Valldemossa.
There are plenty of excellent restaurants in Valldemossa. Out of all of these, two in particular are firm favourites with me.
I always make a point at stopping for a coca de patata at panaderia and pasteleria C’an Molinas whenever I’m in Valldemossa. Coca de patata, rolls made from potato and lard and dusted with sugar are a speciality of the village. C’an Molinas, a family-run institution stretching back three generations, claims to have invented them.
One of my great pleasures is sitting outside C’an Molinas in the sunshine munching on a coca de patata.
After this, I like to take a stroll around the village, exploring its ancient, cobbled and characterful backstreets. Many of the homes are adorned with the symbol of Santa Catalina Thomàs, the patron saint of Mallorca, born in Valldemossa on 1 May 1531.
Catalina, who had visions of angels and devils throughout her life, died in Palma on 5 April 1574. Her body is preserved in the convent of St Mary Magdalene, just off the Ramblas in Palma.
Carrer Rectoria 5, Catalina’s birthplace, is now a shrine.
Of all the restaurants in Valldemossa, my favourite is Es Taller. It’s also a favourite of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Es Taller is located in an open, airy space that was formerly a garage. Chef Nicolás Gago Aubert combines local seasonal produce with spices and flavours from around the world. The intriguing tapas and main meals that he creates are served with mellow music. A terrace at the back of the restaurant overlooks a charming orchard.
The road that winds down to Port de Valldemossa is one of the most dramatic in Mallorca. But it’s worth braving.
Midway down the road. a walk to your right takes you past S’Estaca, built by Archduke Ludwig Salvador and now owned by Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Follow the path and it takes you along the rocky coast in the direction of Deià to Son Marroig.
Alternatively, you can follow the road down to the tiny cala at Port de Valldemossa. Perfect for a swim followed by a drink and a snack in the simple restaurant.
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