Pueblo Garzon in Maldonado is a favourite of slow tourism. Investors and foreign tourists choose it for its high quality lifestyle.
More than 35 kilometers from José Ignacio lead us to a very picturesque village, consisting of only a few blocks. Pueblo Garzón, was where the famous Argentinean Chef Francis Mallmann, with an obvious and clear confidence in his career, decided to open a restaurant. And he was right, because people drive many miles to eat there and pay a price.
The town Garzon was born in 1890 on the banks of a stream because it was a passageway into Rocha. The railway station and Mill gave life to its 2,000 inhabitants between 1930 and 1950. Then the railroad agonized, and the inhabitants migrated to San Carlos. The slow death seemed inevitable but when Mallmann discovered Pueblo Garzon everything changed. With no more than 200 inhabitants, Pueblo Garzon became known again after the development of this luxurious restaurant, named after the town.
The chef remodeled an old house that he bought for only U$$ 8,000 in one of the corners of the Plaza Artigas. The building was recycled and converted into a luxury restaurant with a five-room hotel attached.
The furniture is rustic but with a very peculiar and creative imprint with “that ” taste that invites you to stay. The elegantly dressed tables with placemats, make room for little more than thirty guests at a time, the five rooms are always fully booked.
Staying at the Hotel Garzon, in any of its five double rooms costs U$S 660 per day including breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner with their drinks, “Juanico” wines, horse rental and laundry.
“I always liked this town,” says Mallmann, The chef wants customers to know what he calls “the Uruguay from within.” He compares his development, to Provence in Italy. “I hope others will also invest here.”
The style contrasts with Pueblo Garzon but coexists with local stillness. Meals are slow, then inviting visitors to quiet walks outside. The hills in the distance can be seen at every corner of Pueblo Garzon. In the neighboring canteen, the parishioners stretch out after a nap, observing visitors passing by.
The whitewashed church, the abandoned train station, the colourful main square, horses and stray dogs wandering freely, make Pueblo Garzon, a town out of a play.
This slow fashion, positions Pueblo Garzon as high-end tourist destination.
How to get to Pueblo Garzon
To get to Pueblo Garzon you need to drive from Punta del Este up to kilometer 175 of Highway 9 and from there to the left another 11 kilometers down a gravel road. Along the way you will see the red roofs of Agroland, another new venture in the area.
Other places in Pueblo Garzon
Crossing the main square, you can easily find “Paulette Bistro” managed by Paula Santucci, who offers affordable prices ranging from U$S 40 on a meal .”We can cater for 40 people at a time. We are creating jobs for local people, the girls who work with us are happy, it has changed their lives “, says Paula .
On the outskirts, just three blocks away, is “Lucifer”, a small restaurant , much more modest in its presentation and with a fixed full menu of U$S 35 owned by Lucia Soria.
There is also an Art Gallery which aims to spread the work of national artists such as Mario Lazo born in Pueblo Garzon and several other international artists.
Since then, several artists dedicated to painting and sculpture have come to Pueblo Garzon. Such is the case of Anne Marie, a French lady who is responsible for designing the friezes on clay for the town buildings and also teaches this technique to residents.
The ranking of visitors to Pueblo Garzon show British and Americans in the lead, followed by the Brazilians and Uruguayans.
These changes in Pueblo Garzon, shows it is possible to promote an unknown place, it may very well be ” the other country “. Surely , we’ll have to wait for people like Francis Mallmann to create new destinations in Uruguay.
For more information about Uruguay or when you would like to see any properties for sale in Pueblo Garzon or elsewhere in Uruguay please contact us.
By Mary Ann Thompson