Thanks to its setting, variety of activities and attractive hotels and restaurants, COLÓN is easily the most appealing of Entre Ríos’ resorts. It also makes a good base for visiting the wonderfully exotic-looking Parque Nacional El Palmar, just 50km north, or the European-style splendour of Palacio San José, about 40km southwest. Moreover, Colón is linked to the major Uruguayan city Paysandú, 15km southeast, via the Puente Internacional General Artigas. Every February Colón hosts an important craft fair, the Fiesta Nacional de la Artesanía, with over five hundred exhibitors from Argentina and further afield. The rest of the year, there’s no shortage of stores selling artesan goods ranging from mates and asado tableware to local cheese and salami.
Colón spreads along the Río Uruguay, with a narrow strip of beach running for several kilometres alongside its alluring riverside avenue, the Costanera Gobernador Quirós. The town’s central square, Plaza Washington, where you will find the municipalidad, is twinned with Plaza Artigas and together they cover four blocks, ten blocks inland from the riverside; far more elegant and closer to the Uruguay, however, is smaller Plaza San Martín, east of Plaza Washington along Colón’s main commercial street, Avenida 12 de Abril – named after the town’s foundation date in 1863. The most distinctive district is the sleepy port area, a small but charming cobbled quarter lined with a clutch of handsome colonial-style buildings which slopes down to the riverbank, immediately to the north of Plaza San Martín; if you are driving, watch out for the huge toads that often hop across the street here.
Colón’s unique winery
Colón’s unique winery
In defiance of Colón’s subtropical climate, usually regarded as totally hostile to wine grapes, in 1857 a Swiss immigrant named Joseph Favre planted a few vines from his homeland just outside the city. Seventeen years later, with his vines not only succeeding, but thriving, he added a handsome bodega (winery) in the Piedmontese style – an Italianate villa with ochre walls that would not look out of place in the countryside around Turin. In 1936, the national government banned the commercial production of wine anywhere outside the Cuyo and the Andean Northwest, but Favre’s descendants continued making wine for their own consumption. When the law was finally repealed in 1998, Jesús Vulliez, a local descendant of other Swiss immigrants, bought the nineteenth-century bodega and began producing wine for commercial distribution under the label Vulliez Sermet, planting five hectares with chardonnay, malbec, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, tannat, syrah and sangiovese vines. If you call ahead, you can visit the beautiful bodega, with its impeccably restored interior and cool cellars, taste the fine red and white wines, and eat at the bodega restaurant (closed Tues). The attractive grounds nearby house a large swimming pool and three luxurious cabañas sleeping up to six (wbodegavulliezsermet.com.ar).