Instawalk: Old Barcelona, Inspired by L’Auberge Espagnole

see also Part 2: Hills and Beaches and Part 3: El Raval to the Sagrada Familia

for my first full day in Barcelona, i mashed up parts of two walking tours [1, 2] and two filming location guides [3, 4] of one of my favorite movies, L’Auberge Espagnole (2002) as to guide me around the center of Barcelona.

here’s the trailer for the movie in case you’re not familiar with it (English version, though i recommend the trailer in French if you can understand it, as it’s a lot better — same with the movie itself; watch the original version with subtitles):

the short version of the story is: i watched L’Auberge a couple months before i myself went to study abroad, and it’s always been a touchstone for my own experiences studying — and most of all, living — in Europe. in as much as it is a movie about a French student doing a year in Spain via the Erasmus program and how the Europe of today is multiculti, IMHO it’s also a movie about Barcelona (in the same vein that Before Sunrise is an homage to Vienna).

(psst you can find the movie with English subs on YouTube…)

anyways, the pictures. what might not seem that special to most people (e.g., Urquinaona) have always stuck out in my head as places i wanted to see, just because they figured so prominently in the movie. also, they’re in the order that i visited these places, not movie order.

Plaça de Catalunya

where Xavier first really steps foot onto Barcelona soil (assume because he took the Aerobus from the airport that drops you off there), schlepping all his stuff around.


“Quand on arrive dans une ville, on voit des rues en perspective. Tout est vide de sens, inconnu.”

Urquinaona and Via Laietana

where Xavier philosophizes on how the unknown and foreign soon can become a home.

Urquinaona #laubergeespagnole

“Au bout d’un moment, tout ça vous appartient car on y a vécu.”

Around the Cathedral and Barri Gòtic

not in the movie, but why skip out on this cute area with narrow windy streets?


There was a large metal sculpture at the entrance to the Plaça de la Seu.


Cathedral entrance, sideways

Geese in the cloister, p u! (Also honk honk)

Geese in the cloister, p u! (Also honk honk)

Ye olde walkwaye

The little bridge everyone takes a picture of


Plaça de Sant Felip Neri

I love this teeny old-timey sign! I'm pretending I'm in an old Audrey Hepburn film.

Temple d’Augustus. I love this teeny old-timey sign! I’m pretending I’m in an old Audrey Hepburn film.

La Galería de la Magdalena

after lunch as i was heading to the next L’Auberge stop, i came across this:

La galería de Magdalena.

while Barcelona is not bereft of street art by any means, this outdoor space was an amazing find that gave me palpitations. many might not see it that way, but i’m with the artists, who believe they are giving regalos urbanos, or “urban gifts” to the people of the city.

This street art corner, as they say, is everything.

I’ll gladly take these gifts!

Carrer d’Escudellers Blancs

Xavier finally reaches his first (failed) apartment here. i’m not sure of the exact location, but here’s a typical street with the same type of balconies.

Carrer dels Escudellers, where Xavier looks for Sr. miralpeix's apartment.

“Señor Miralpeix?! Señor Miralpeix!!!”

Plaça Reial

poor Xavier continued to schlep all his stuff around here after he arrived. if i’m not mistaken, we do see this square again a couple times through the course of the movie. oddly enough, in the movie the square wasn’t packed with people…

"Je suis ici" -- where Xavier crosses with all his luggage. #laubergeespagnole

“Je suis ici”


this is the local bar where one of the bartenders (Juan) teaches Xavier “l’español de puta madre” and it becomes a party spot for Xavier and his friends. there is a lot of construction going on around it at the moment, and for some reason it seemed to be a popular lunch spot for Asian visitors? maybe it was just today.

Iposa, the bar where Xavier learns "l'español de puta madre" #laubergeespagnole

“You spend too much time at school. Come here more often. This is where you’ll learn the most important stuff about Barcelona!” (his Spanish is wayyy too fast for me to figure out exactly the words he’s saying.)


around the corner from the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona is where Anne-Sophie complained about Barcelona and Xavier calls her out on her “racist” views. at the time the movie was filmed, this area did look a bit less…sophisticated, but now there’s a large university building there. this is a photo of the area directly in front of MACBA instead.

Around the corner from where Xavier calls Anne-Sophie on her "racist" views of Barcelona #laubergeespagnole

“Je sais qu’ici, il faut être plus cool. Je ne suis pas cool, rock’n’roll comme vous dites.”

tomorrow i hope to go a bit further afield to some of the other sites from the movie (which also happen to be big sights, so i’m totally fine with that) — cross fingers!

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