We enjoyed a three-night stay in the Parador at Villafranca del Bierzo and it was a wonderful stop. The hotel is comfortable, quiet, friendly and with excellent food. I highly recommended staying here if you are travelling in the area. There are many historic sights in the town but I also enjoyed walking along the river and in the gardens in Villafranca.
Villafranca is built on 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.
Garden of the Alameda
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! A treed walk surrounds the park with its 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.
Flowers in the town
There were beautiful window boxes everywhere, with massed petunias!
Fruit and vegetables
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!