Architectural designer Charlie Luxton’s new series sees him travel all over the Mediterranean coast, exploring the best houses in the most attractive regions. The show covers two of my favourite genres – travel and property – and doesn’t disappoint. Some of the houses featured are quite simply breathtaking.
Related: Discover Saga's holidays on the Costa Brava
Luxton’s odyssey begins in Cadaqués, on the Cap de Creus. This picturesque and unspoilt fishing village is a slice of authentic Catalan heaven, and is so magical it has attracted artists from Matisse to Picasso, while Salvador Dalí called it home. He probably painted it, but you wouldn’t know as it ended up being a picture of an egg being ridden by a melting elephant or something. Crazy fella.
Anyway, a few miles outside the town is a surreal and abstract house of ten interlocking cubes of white render and reinforced glass. It looks like a giant, slightly drunk kid constructed it from building blocks while being distracted by the telly. In a good way. The house has been christened The Sunflower House, presumably by someone who has never seen a sunflower. Anyway, it’s all rather fabulous, if slightly too stark and chilly for my tastes. But the views are gorgeous, and you can see the fierce Catalan wind whipping down from the mountains and over the sea.
More up my calle (that’s Spanish for street, by the way – we’re multilingual here at Saga) is the next property – a gorgeous old town house on an unprepossessing little alleyway in Cadaqués itself. It’s small, quirky and beautiful, all old stone and dark wood. Spread over four storeys including a fabulous roof terrace, it even has a lift in it if you’ve overdone the Rioja.
Local stone is also used to jaw-dropping effect in the next house, inland in a heavenly medieval walled town called Peratallada. Before this stunning home, no new houses had been built here for over a century. No pressure then! Yet the house manages to carry of the singular achievement of being ultra-modern, and yet entirely in keeping with its surroundings.
At this point, for no apparent reason whatsoever, our perfectly delightful property programme becomes a slightly underwhelming cookery show for five minutes, as Luxton meets up with a lady who cooks him the local version of paella. It looks very tasty, but it’s all rather baffling, a bit like having a section on the correct way to store cheese in the middle of Match of the Day. At one point, I thought the cook was attempting to poison Luxton, when she told him to “add the ricin,” but it turned out, rather prosaically, to be “add the rice in.”
Along the coast to Tamariu, and back on the property trail once more, Luxton visits a house cut into a cliff, with two rooftop pools, one of which has an underwater window into the house. Once again, it’s rather lovely. All the owners talk about the lifestyle, the culture, the climate, the views. The Costa Brava is undeniably beautiful, far more than just the golden beaches from the holiday brochures. This is a taste of the real Catalonia, and it makes me wonder why we all don’t just up sticks and move there. Seriously.
And then Luxton visits his last house, an old farmhouse renovated for the modern age, and I am sold. Beautiful doesn’t begin to do it justice.
Related: Find more holidays in Spain with Saga
Homes By the Med, Saturday 23rd April, 5:30pm, Channel 4