surinenglish

Village gets new lick of blue paint three years after Smurf deal ended

The town hall has given paint out to homeowners.
The town hall has given paint out to homeowners. / V. MELGAR
  • Residents in Júzcar voted to keep their distinctive look as a way of attracting more visits from tourists

The tiny village of Júzcar, in the mountains near Ronda, has been busy freshening up the famous blue paint on its traditional houses ahead of the peak summer tourist season.

It is now eight years since the first time the blue paint cans came out to cover up the more common white walls in readiness for Hollywood. In 2001 the village of just 200 residents was selected as a promotional backdrop for the worldwide launch of the Smurfs 3D film.

The new-found fame provided a welcome boost to visitor numbers, with Smurf images and merchandise cropping up alongside the blue homes. But the relationship with the Smurfs turned sour in 2016 when the holders of the image rights to the popular cartoon characters grew tired of attempts to stop locals selling unofficial souvenirs or using non-copyrighted drawings of the characters. Although the Smurf deal was cancelled, the houses stayed blue in the meantime, gradually fading until some were almost white again.

However this summer, helped by a grant from the Diputación provincial authority, the local council has been giving out free blue paint.

Despite there being little evidence around of the Smurf past, locals voted to stay as a blue village as a way of attracting tourists.

Sources say tourism is more sustainable now than in the heady days of the Smurfs, with more visitors opting to stay the night as well and explore the beauty of the mountains.