Quintin Jardine on Sant Marti d’Empuries in Catalonia



Where is it?

Sant Marti d’Empuries. It is part of L’Escala, the town in Spain where I have had a place for the last 30 years. The oldest stones in Sant Marti d’Empuries date to Roman times and can be found in the church. Change happens very slowly there.

Around 25 years ago they decided they were going to pave the streets. Before then, all the services – electricity cables, phone lines and everything else – were above ground and when it rained, the street flowed downhill and they were left with big ruts and rivulets.

When it was proposed by the town council to pave the streets, a very Catalan thing happened. Black sheets were hung out of every window in town as a sign of disapproval. But the black sheets had no effect, and the town was paved. Like everything else, gradually it became accepted.

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Why do you go there?

The main square in Sant Marti d’Empuries is very small yet busy. There are four restaurants with tables outside. Try to get a table there in the second half of July or first half of August, you can forget it. Over the years, I got to know all the restaurateurs.

How often do you go?

At least four or five times a year. The last time we were there was in February. My wife Eileen and I have family there. Ryanair is like our bus.

Crime author Quintin Jardine

How did you discover it?

Almost by accident. Friends of our bought a place in L’Estartit in the 1980s. My late wife, Irene, and I fancied doing the same. But rather than L’Estartit, we bought just over the hill in L’Escala. I have been going ever since. I have had four different places in L’Escala.

What’s your favourite memory?

Getting married to Eileen in Sant Marti d’Empuries. The hoops we had to jump through to arrange a civil ceremony were unbelievable. The bureaucracy was so crazy that our marriage ceremony was on September 21, but we didn’t actually sign the paperwork until October 30.

We actually got married twice. We had the civil ceremony with all our friends, then a month later had to go through it again with the mayor at the town hall.

Who do you take?

Eileen. We sometimes invite family and friends.

What do you take?

My laptop. Everything I need is already there.

Sant Marti d’Empuries beach at L’Escala, Catalonia, Spain. Picture: Getty

What do you leave behind?

Nothing. Life is continuous.

Sum it up in five words.

Best place in the world.

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What travel spot is on your post-lockdown wish list?

Canada. I have been a few times. If I had to choose a Canadian city to live, it would be Toronto, but for a holiday I would pick Vancouver. I would like to go for Sunday breakfast at Granville Island Public Market. Vancouver has an excellent book festival.

The Roots Of Evil by Quintin Jardine is published by Headline, priced £20


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