Though Passeig de Gracia has long been considered Barcelona’s smartest address, with house prices to match, the city’s other grand boulevard – Passeig de Sant Joan – is lesser known, but in some ways now a smarter residential choice.
When Barcelona’s Eixample district was planned it was always envisaged that Passeig de Gracia and Passeig de Sant Joan (as they are known in Catalan) would be the city’s two grandest streets, with imposing buildings looking onto wide, tree-lined avenues. Passeig de Gracia has played that role from the beginning but it seems that, despite a promising start, Passeig de Sant Joan never fulfilled its potential to be the sister street to Passeig de Gracia, even if it did manage to attract some of Barcelona’s wealthiest families when it was first built.
Whilst Passeig de Gracia became the smart street to live on, and attracted all the luxury brands in recent decades, Passeig de Sant Joan fell behind, and even went a bit shabby in places for a while. The wholesale rag-trade took up shop in the area near the Arc de Triomf in the 1990s.
But after a big recent refurbishment of the boulevard by City Hall, the street’s attractions are starting to shine, and Passeig de Sant Joan is making a comeback with savvy local buyers. An article in Sunday’s La Vanguardia property supplement by Mar Claramonte, one of Spain’s leading property journalists, pointed out what more and more locals are thinking – that Passeig de Sant Joan is a smart alternative to Passeig de Gracia. La Vanguardia is Catalonia’s leading daily paper (published in Barcelona), and Claramonte has her finger on the pulse.
Passeig de Sant Joan has a great location in the city, running from the Arc de Triomf in the South East up towards Gracia in the North West. The Parc de la Ciutadella, the Born, the beach, and Passeig de Gracia are all walking distance. This is a street at the heart of Barcelona.
It’s a wide, bright street with lots of space and light, green areas, playgrounds, and ample, uncrowded pavements, plus a bike lane in the middle. The area has good public transport, health facilities, schools, shops, trendy restaurants, and great neighbourhood vibe. It’s a pleasant place for families to spend time – a big selling point from a residential angle.
I can’t say the same about Passeig de Gracia, which is an increasingly impersonal street of international shops, hotels, and offices, not to mention swarms of tourist. Even the iconic interior-design shop Vinçon, so identified with Barcelona and Passeig de Gracia, couldn’t hold out any longer against tourism and global brands. You could argue that Passeig de Gracia has lost some of its local charm.
Passeig de Sant Joan, on the other hand, is all about local charm and attractive public space. “You are in the middle of the Eixample and can enjoy all the best that it has to offer but without the downside of overcrowding in other areas, because public spaces also determine quality of life,” local developer Jan Maarten Goedemans, of ARC Properties, told Claramonte, quoted in La Vanguardia. “Some clients have told me that for that reason Paseo de Gracia and its surroundings are no longer an option.”
So if you want to live on one of Barcelona’s grandest streets, in a classy neighbourhood with local charm close to everything and not over-crowded, then take a look at Passeig de Sant Joan, where house prices are still around 25% or more cheaper than Passeig de Gracia, according to Alex Vaughan, founding partner of Barcelona-based Lucas Fox International Properties.
ON THE MARKET – AUSIÀS MARCH 49
One option for buyers looking at the Passeig de Sant Joan area is a new development on Calle Ausias March, 49, just off Passeig de Sant Joan. This building redevelopment by ARC Properties will offer ultra-modern homes with bright, open distributions (and underground parking) in a classic setting just a few yards from Passeig de Sant Joan.
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