We settled into the Parador at Villafranca del Bierzo for three nights and it was a wonderful stop – comfortable, quiet, friendly and with excellent food – highly recommended if you are travelling in the area. There are many historic sights in the town but I also enjoyed the river and gardens in Villafranca.
The town is built along the River Burbia. It is a major stop on the Camino, the only place apart from Santiago de Compostelo where pilgrims can receive a pardon if they are unable to complete the Camino. The path goes through the town and over an old stone bridge which has tiny entrance in the old town off the Calle Ribadeo.
The Garden of the Alameda is a beautiful and large formal garden, laid out in 1882, on one end of the town, and I visited it every day, sometimes twice! It is surrounded by a treed walk around the hedged flower beds, and the central fountain apparently came from the Cloister of the Monastery at Carraceda, which, sadly, we failed to visit. The garden was just a delight and I hope the photographs convey my enjoyment and appreciation.
There were beautiful window boxes everywhere, with massed petunias!
And quinces, walnuts and figs grow abundantly well here too. I saw these trees around most corners, squeezed into the spaces.
This is an enjoyable town in which to wander through the historic buildings. And the river and gardens in Villafranca give one space and time in which to relax, and then you can return to the comfort of the Parador!