Antiques and Jazz in Sant Cugat del Vallès
Living in Barcelona
This fall, I’m living and working in Barcelona. Actually, I should amend that: I’m living and taking long walks and eating my way through Barcelona one chocolate croissant and cafè con leche at a time. And, every now and then, I’m doing a bit of work.
Barcelona has so much to offer – cozy bars, tree-lined avenues, salty jamón ibérico at every turn – but one of its very best features is its proximity to Costa Brava (Spain’s rugged coast), the Basque Country, and southern France.
I’m planning excursions to all those places, to be sure, but I’ve been surprised to find that I don’t have to travel far to happen upon hidden gems just outside the city limits.
Visiting Sant Cugat del Vallès
Last weekend, I took a 30-minute train ride north to Sant Cugat del Vallès, a town of just over 80,000 residents, to visit the incomparable Mercantic, an antiques and flea market. For how large Mercantic is – some 10,000 square meters and over 80 vendors for its permanent collection alone – I was startled to find out that many Barcelona locals haven’t visited it.
Every first Sunday of the month is delivery day, when vendors receive a new shipment of goods. And since it’s open Tuesday through Sunday (yes, even Sunday, when most shops in Barcelona are closed), it’s easily accessible most of the week. For good deals, visit on Saturday morning, when seller auctions take place.
The Treasures of Sant Cugat del Vallès
What did I find there? Chandeliers and floor lamps and traditional lace tablecloths. Baskets big enough to fit a litter of puppies, toy figurines and metalworks. Armoires, stained-glass goblets and a roomful of international books.
In a word, I was charmed. And I know that’s a word that’s bandied about a lot when speaking of Europe, but truly, Mercantic embodies the charm, mysteriousness, and singularity of Catalonia.
The Catalonia Escape
At one end of the book room sits a café fashioned after a library, with a bar along one wall. On stage, two musicians played jazz music and chatted with the crowd. I sat, reading a book, drinking café con leche (of course), eating pan con tomate (toasted bread rubbed with tomato, garlic and olive oil), feeling like I was perhaps living a scene from a novel.
That’s what Catalonia is offering me: an escape, but not in terms of abandonment or flight. Instead, it’s an absence of constraints, the possibility of a new experience – a hidden treasure – around every corner.
Rius y Taulet, 120
08173 Sant Cugat del Vallés
Written By Molly Niendorf
Molly Niendorf is a content strategist and writer currently based in Barcelona, Spain, where she’s eating (and drinking) her way through the city one chocolate croissant and glass of vino tinto at a time. Originally from northern California, Molly has lived in Chicago and Las Vegas and considers Portland, Oregon home. She writes about travel and running at seemollyrunaway.com.