San Miguel de Allende is beautiful, our friends in Mexico City had told us. We believed them, but based on what we’d read and heard we somehow expected a Disney version of a Mexican town, with perfect buildings and immaculate streets, with all the gritty character and atmosphere painted over and scrubbed away. The streets of San Miguel de Allende, are just a little more genteel than most.

Sure the facades are in better condition than they are in most towns, and the cobblestone streets are well-paved, but we were relieved to find that San Miguel was as grungy and authentic as the next Mexican town, with paint peeling from walls, hand-written signs, and saloon doors half-swinging off their hinges.

Sure our holiday rental had been restored to within an inch of its life, but them moneyed expats lived their lives somewhat separated from the locals. They went to bars with other expats or ones frequented by tourists and listened to cover bands playing Hotel California. They ate Tex-Mex food with the other tourists. They were flour tortilla people, not becoming enamoured with the corn tortillas of the street food carts — if they were brave enough to eat from the street food carts.

The town has plenty of character and charm – even with an expat population hiding in plain sight.

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