From Alger to Malgrat: a 250-kilometer circular path following the sea

A coastal path of 250 uninterrupted kilometers that connects Argelès-sur-Mer, in the French Côte Vermeille, with the first municipality on the Maresme coast, Malgrat de Mar, passing through the Costa Brava.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
11 May 2024 Saturday 22:24
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From Alger to Malgrat: a 250-kilometer circular path following the sea

A coastal path of 250 uninterrupted kilometers that connects Argelès-sur-Mer, in the French Côte Vermeille, with the first municipality on the Maresme coast, Malgrat de Mar, passing through the Costa Brava. It is the ambitious proposal that the road, canal and port engineer Eduard Bonmatí and the geographer and historian Josep Lluís Martínez presented a few days ago to around twenty mayors and institutions with the aim of making it a reality in 2039. A unique path with views of the sea ​​with which its promoters want to contribute to deseasonalizing tourism.

The model to follow is the Camí de Cavalls in Menorca, where, according to Bonmatí explains, the GDP on the island has risen 15% since this tourist resource was created that allows you to go around the island in stages based on a path. ancestral 186 km that follows the Menorcan coast. Another reference point from which its promoters are inspired is O Camiño dos Faros, in Galicia, a hiking route that connects Malpica with Finisterre on board the sea and that runs through the lighthouses and main points of interest on the Costa da Morte.

“We want to create a cross-border path that links the Costa Brava and the Côte Vermeille, that respects the environment, and can compete with others to attract sea walkers,” says Bonmatí. A profile – they say – that values ​​traveling the coastal paths without interruptions and without the need for a vehicle.

The Camí de Mar, the name with which they have baptized the initiative, would take advantage of the sections of coastal paths already existing on the Costa Brava and in the French part. Along this route, there are currently 156 kilometers of coastal paths in good condition, which represents 62% of the 250 km of route that Camí de Mar would have.

In 60 km some intervention is necessary due to deficiencies in the road and 33 are discontinuous in which the coastal path has ceased to exist. On the Costa Brava alone there are 85 discontinuities, a fact that currently makes it impossible to follow the entire coastal path from Blanes to Portbou.

A path that would start on the beach of the Racó de Argelers and culminate in the church of Sant Nicolau, in Malgrat de Mar, which would be divided into 18 stages – 16 on the Costa Brava and two on the Côte Vermeille – of about 14 km on average each one.

This idea was presented by its two leaders in September 2023 at a conference on public works heritage held in Toledo and is now in the study, collaboration and search for financing phase. In seven months they have gained the support of 35 sponsors and they also hope to be able to count on public aid.

A proposal that, if fully realized, will not be cheap. Bonmatí estimates that for every linear meter of road in poor condition, 470 euros are required. Just repairing the damaged sections would cost around 30 million euros.

The president of the Girona Provincial Council, Miquel Noguer, described the idea as “brilliant”, but recognized that for it to be a success it must have the involvement of all the town councils and institutions.

Noguer added that one of the keys to this proposal "is not to do the initial work, but to ensure its conservation and maintenance once it is executed." An idea shared by its promoters. “Management and construction will be global, otherwise it will not be done,” they say.

An idea that, apparently, has the support of the city councils. The mayor of Portbou, Gael Rodríguez, has been “enthusiastic” about the initiative and indicates that “they will do everything possible to make it go ahead.” The Portbou section is basic since it is the one that would connect the Costa Brava with the Côte Vermeille.

The mayor of Calonge, Jordi Soler, also welcomes the proposal, which will create a flow of visitors throughout the year and increase hotel occupancy in the low season. The municipality has begun work to adapt the coastal path and is willing to establish public-private collaboration systems to rehabilitate the path.