One Stop Shopping In Barcelona

by Patty Sanchez

By now most expat families have settled into a new apartment and neighborhood in Barcelona after arriving in September to begin new jobs. I recently met a mother who moved from Illinois to Barcelona and wanted to find a store where she could find it all: groceries, domestic appliances, clothing, etc. Obviously, she wanted to save time by shopping at one location rather than running from one shop to another to cover basic needs.

“Is there a store similar to Target where I can find it all?” she asked.

My initial response was “Yes,” there is a store similar to Target that has many departments to accommodate consumer needs all in one stop, albeit somewhat pricey.The first option, on the mid to high-end is a store called El Corte Inglés. It offers just about everything a person needs to get settled rather quickly into a new lifestyle in Barcelona. This is a convenience for expats preferring to allocate extra time adjusting to a new job and city, and who do not have time to spare looking for bedding or other domestic necessities.

I recommend shopping at two convenient El Corte Inglés locations (both on Diagonal Avenue) saving you the trouble to avoid hordes of tourists looking to buy a gift or souvenir for family or friends back home. The least crowded El Corte Inglés is on Diagonal Avenue next to the Francesc Macià roundabout. The downside to this store is that it no longer carries electronics or domestic appliances.

The second recommended El Corte Inglés store is on Diagonal with cross street Gran Via de Carles III, right next to the Maria Cristina metro exit. This location has just about every department you can imagine for furnishing your home or stocking your kitchen with their own generic food brand (Aliada) or with expensive grocery items from the gourmet shop.

The same applies to their low cost clothing line called Easy Wear, which is reasonably priced to designer clothing, such as Burberry or expensive handbags and shoes by Louis Vuitton. The downside is you will encounter larger crowds of people, since it carries everything from hardware items to a travel agency. Both locations have underground parking and depending on how much you spend, you get two hours of free parking. I strongly advise not shopping at the Plaza Catalunya or Portal de l’Angel locations to avoid tourist conglomerations that make shopping a dreadful experience.

The second option for shopping and closest resembling Target is Eroski or Carrefour megastores. You will usually find stores of this type on the outskirts of Barcelona. Both stores closely resemble Target in their expansive layout with wide aisles and low cost items. These megastores are normally located in a shopping center and the good news about that is the free parking.

The Eroski store I am most familiar with is in Sant Cugat del Valles and it is located in the Sant Cugat Centre Commercial, also a shopping mall. The Carrefour megastore is located in L’Hospitalet (Barcelona) at the Gran Via 2 shopping mall about a mile away from IKEA (I see that sparkle in your eye).

Another shopping location is L’illa Diagonal located at 557. It is a shopping and office center one block away from El Corte Inglés (the one next to the Maria Cristina metro exit). It is open from Monday through Saturday from 10:00 A.M. to 21:30 P.M. and has ample, but pricey underground parking. My favorite part of L’illa is the FNAC bookstore and Mexican restaurant Andele and Spanish Andreu offering entrepà amb pernil (Spanish cured ham “sandwich”).

The mall has two levels and an assortment of boutiques, jewelry stores, clothing stores, a food court, shoe shops, home and gift shops and the infamous sporting goods store, Decathlon. You can use public transportation to get there. Buses stop right in front of L’illa as does the Tram.

Good luck shopping!

After graduating from UC Irvine, I returned to the university to obtain a TESOL certificate and upon completion of the program I headed to Barcelona to live a different cultural experience. I found a job teaching English two weeks after I arrived in August of 2001. One year later I fell in love and married my Catalan husband. I have been living in Barcelona for the past ten years and continue to discover the many layers of this fascinating culture. One of my long term goals is to speak fluent Catalan by practicing with my husband as I test his patience with my many mistakes. I am returning this fall to the university, and look forward to another unique expat experience with the Spanish university system. I’ve already had interesting encounters with the bureaucratic process to register.

Patty blogs at www.pattyinspain.blogspot.com