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Spain and/or France Basque region

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I'm struggling with how to add a week's visit to the Basque region before ending up in Barcelona to begin a Mediterranean cruise. I originally wanted to visit San Sebastian and the French Basque side…St. Jean de Luz and a hill town. Coming from the US, my current idea is to fly into Bilbao ( and get to see the Guggenheim) for a night…rent a car…visit S.S. for two nights…head across the border and spend 2 nights in St. Jean and 2 in a hill town…then drive back to Barcelona to drop the car…hopefully spending a night en-route in a mountainous area of Spain or a parador. I'm also spending 3 nights in Barcelona before the cruise. What's bothering me is that I don't like any of the hotel options in SS….either they're more than I want to pay here or they're too basic, and a charming hotel is high on my list of trip priorities. So, I'm thinking, should I just add a night to Bilbao and visit SS as a day trip before heading to France? Or, cut out France and spend the money at a nice place in SS and maybe see more of rural, mountainous Spain? I'd really llke your thoughts on the merits of each region.
FYI, we have been to Barcelona before and the Costa Brava so don't need to see that area.
Thanks so much for your thoughts! P.S. Another idea is to just fly into Barcelona and visit the rural areas from there including La Rioja and La Seu d'Urgell. Please share your experience with either or both of the regions.

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