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Since 2001, Gerona, in the northeast of Catalonia, Spain has become the main training destination for Lance Armstrong and a number of other professional cyclists who are determined on getting into great form for the upcoming Tour de France. Easily accessible from France and Barcelona, it has great roads, not too much traffic, excellent air and rail links, city comforts and a local population that respects privacy, making this area the perfect place for celebrity cyclists or cycling enthusiasts.
In the light of the rider-friendly environment and “bike celebrity glamour”, this destination has become a draw for recreational cyclists, with several businesses springing up to cater to them. Options include excursions to Olot, near the French border; to Sant Feliu de Guíxols on the coast; or along “green paths”, dedicated bike trails that follow old railway routes.
DeSimone uses words like “ancient, moody, beautiful, gentrified” and “culturally rich” to describe Girona. She goes on to detail upscale shopping and a vibrant university campus offset by “peaceful, expansive parks”.
Running through the heart of the city is the Onyar River. On one side is the ancient and historic Jewish Quarter, or Call. Opposite is the Placa de la Independencia with its restaurants, tapas bars and row houses fronting the river and painted in muted colours.
Gerona is also compact and easily explored on foot. It is highly recommended to take a walk along the top of the fortified wall surrounding the city with its views of the cathedral, the Call and the ancient with varied architecture and is truly beautiful.