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Spain

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1 800 735 2478

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Official partner of the Routes du Bonheur

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the Routes
du Bonheur of...

Luisa García Gil
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Co-owner of A Quinta da Auga Hotel & Spa
My road to happiness on the path to Santiago de Compostela, through the north of Spain

I was born in Madrid many years ago and moved to Santiago de Compostela in 1976. I fell in love with these lands and it was there that I spent the best years of my life. When in the summer of 1974, I was still living in Madrid and coming to the end of my architecture course, I decided with a friend to set off along the path to Santiago de Compostela, with only a backpack, very little money and a camera (one of my great hobbies). We wanted to discover this journey in that decadent era, photograph the treasures of Roman art that we had heard so much about in University, discover the castles, sample the rich, diverse regional gastronomy, meet new people and, naturally, enjoy an experience and an adventure that we couldn’t wait to have. The years have passed now and I know every inch of a number of the paths that lead to Santiago. I can say that the Northern path, leaving from Navarra, running along the Cantabrian coast and then going into the deepest parts of my beloved Galicia, is a rare gem, that turns into a genuine Road to Happiness, above all when we get the chance to stay in one of the most beautiful and charismatic hotels in Spain and Portugal and to delight in culinary delights from the different regions.

Relais & Châteaux proposes its Routes du Bonheur for your inspiration: they are suggestions of itineraries that you can adapt to your preferences and desired experiences. Our advisors are at your disposal to individualise your routes and help you make reservations at our properties.
Example for a four-night stay from €753*
* Minimum indicative rate per person, subject to availability, on the basis of a double room with double occupancy, including accommodation, breakfast and dinner (menu, without beverages) in the properties suggested for the itinerary.
Activities on site and nearby must be reserved by you.

My Route du Bonheur
Stage 1: one night, one day

Castillo de Arteaga

The exceptional encounter of a neo-medieval palace with a bird-populated area at a ria
Castillo de Arteaga
Everything here is exceptional: the Urdaibai natural park, a biosphere reserve with its nearby beaches, and the castle, with its neo-Gothic tower, which was built at the behest of Napoleon III and his wife, Maria Eugenia de Montijo. Garbine Azkuenaga, the owner of the castle and her son Iván Zaldúa, did a remarkable job of reconstruction allowing us today to fully experience the peace that prevails within their walls.

Close to the property...

The Guggenheim Museum

The opening of the museum designed by Frank Gehry brightened Bilbao’s landscape. It opened up Bilbao to the outside world and vice versa. The capital of Biscay has become a place for heritage and culture. I regularly visit the museum to enjoy the exhibitions.

On the route...

San Fermin Festival

What would Pampelune be without its festivals of San Fermin, our holy patron? In July, the whole town and the region come alive to the rhythm of this unique tradition made famous by the American Writer Ernest Hemingway. Bull races in the village are exceptional events, at the same time traditional and popular.

Jorge Oteiza Museum

I knew Jorge Oteiza, the famous Basque sculptor and writer, very well. He sometimes stayed at our hotel whenever he was in the region. The splendid museum dedicated to him at Alzuza houses some 1,650 sculptures and 2,000 pieces from his experimental laboratory. A must see.

The road between Pampelune and Bilbao

We could call it the Romanesque road. Between these two cities of Navarre and the Basque Country is an enormous amount of Romanesque churches some of which date from the 13th century. It’s worthwhile stopping in San Sebastian to enjoy La Concha beach and its old town.

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : GARCIA

Calling from another country ? Click here

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Stage 2: 1 day, 1 night

Palacio de Luces

The best kept secret of the Asturias
Palacio de Luces
This splendid manorial residence dating from the 16th century blends old stones and modern design. A hotel located at the edge of the woods in the countryside, whose surroundings could provide the opportunity to enjoy country walks along the sea and at the mountain. The view is breathtaking and the Picos de Europa is a stone’s throw away.

On the route...

Santillana del Mar

The pilgrims who take the Camino del Norte (the northern road) will have the chance to stop in Santillana del Mar. This medieval village was considered by the French writer Jean-Paul Sartre to be the prettiest of all Spain. Above the country houses and palaces emerges the Collegiate Church of Santa Juliana, a Roman building dating from the 12th century. Not far from the village you will find the splendid Altamira caves which conceal some of the most extraordinary paintings from prehistoric times.

Covadonga and Picos des Europa

It is a timeless road that goes from the Covadonga sanctuary up to the highlands of the Picos de Europa. It stretches on nearly 7 miles winding its way between lakes and peaks. I like the feeling of being at the other end of the world although I’m just thirty miles away from the coast. In 1989, Pope John Paul II came here on a pilgrimage.

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : GARCIA

Calling from another country ? Click here

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Stage 3 : 1 day, 1 night

Hotel & Spa A Quinta da Auga

Luxury in all details
Hotel & Spa A Quinta da Auga
It is hard to imagine that this former paper mill of the 18th century was a ruin in the early 2000s. Lorenzo Garcia’s family revived this stone building by converting it into a beautiful hotel Spa, located in the most beautiful residential area of Santiago on an outstanding one hectare estate along the Sar River. This sumptuous and pastoral setting is a perfect stopover for pilgrims, for history lovers and for those seeking comfort and relaxation. From the time it was constructed, this place has been by turns a paper mill, a wool fabric factory, a sawmill, a brewery and a cooler. This place has managed to survive by continually adjusting thanks to the perseverance of enterprising families, who draw their energy from moving water. The owner Luisa García Gil is an architect and was awarded the 2002 Europe Nostra prize. She was responsible for the restoration of these ruins. For gourmets, this is a good address. In her restaurant you will discover the best of traditional Galician cuisine. You won’t be disappointed by the magnificent spa area and the therapeutic massage centre. Simply impressive.

Close to the property...

The Cathedral and the Old City

You have to climb up the rooftops of St. Jacques de Compostelle Cathedral to discover the beauty of the surroundings and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the old city; it’s a unique view that takes us away from the crowd for a while. The cathedral is a major Baroque masterpiece where you can spend hours and hours. St. Jacques de Compostelle is a city classified as a World Heritage Site, very well preserved and every time I visit I notice that it is even more beautiful and surprising than ever. This is a magical place whose architecture has fully respected history. You can walk through the streets listening to the bells ringing and discover the numerous old squares, "ir de tapas" (stroll from bar to bar) along the Franco y Raíña streets, discover the City of Culture and the Contemporary Art Museum of Alvaro Siza, visit old monasteries or wander as a resident of the premises between the old and original stalls of the Abastos market and finally for the adventurous, you can enjoy a helicopter flight over the city.

July 25 is the celebration day of James the Apostle. Crowds of pilgrims arrive the day before at the start of the path. You must not miss the fireworks on the night of July 24 as well as the impressive Sound and Light show in the Plaza del Obradoiro. Explore the La Lanzada and Areas Gordas beaches, the top places for legends associated with witches and their witching hour. Discover the Galician estuaries from the sea: you will approach the sea aboard a large passenger vessel with an experienced captain at its helm and discover the secret recesses of these estuaries. Discover a Galician manor house and enjoy the famous Almariño wine coming straight from the cellar.

Cape Finisterre

The Finisterre road passes in front of A QUINTA DA AUGA This is where the road to Saint-Jacques really ends. After this long journey and like so many other pilgrims, I burnt my boots and clothes there. Cape Finisterre is not the end of the world but rather where the road ends ... and where another one begins; that of a new life.

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : GARCIA

Calling from another country ? Click here

Texts : © Guides Gallimard