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3 weeks including Barcelona and France(with kids)

3 weeks including Barcelona and France(with kids)

Feb 20th, 2007, 05:46 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 90
3 weeks including Barcelona and France(with kids)

We are going to Europe in the middle of April for 3 weeks with children 14,12,10 and 3. I stupidly booked flights in and out of Heathrow. (I guess the excitement of going away got the better of me). I will deal with the comings and goings of there, but would like some help or suggestions with itinerary.
We are definately going to Barcelona for a minimum of four nights. DH is determined to get there. There seems to be a fair amount to see and a football match would definately be a highlight. We will not get a car here.
I would like to spend at least a week in the south of France. I will book an apartment as a base. This is to immerse children in French. (let's see just how good their french is...)
That leaves at least another week (if not slightly more). We did a whirlwind tour 2 years ago and learned my lesson (although it was still fantastic!!) There will be relaxing involved--that is my mantra this trip.
One thought is to go into Rome. I don't know how realistic this is with the children involved - esp. the 3 year old. I am wondering if we should leave this for when they are older.
Another thought is to fly into Milan, visit the Lake Como area and possibly go down to Florence for a few days.
DH's suggestion would be to go to Malaga and spend a week on the beach (weather?)
If at all possible, we will be flying between destinations.
I love reading all of your posts, and would appreciate any comments.
mom04 is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 06:06 AM
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With 3 weeks an 4 children I would stay with 2 countries at the most:
Spain and Italy or Spain and France..

Feb 20th, 2007, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,842
My two favorite regions in France are the Dordogne & Provence. I think the kids would love the Dordogne with all the castles, caves, rivers they can canoe on, perched villages they can wander through, and the wonderful countryside. Then off to Provence, stopping at Carcassonne for a fairytale like castle/city. Provence will provide more cities to wander in, perched villages, perhaps warm weather, farmers markets, & relaxation. You can fly back to London from Marseille.

You will need a car for the France portion of your trip. Take a train to Perpignan, rent a car there, then off to the Dordogne. You could even stop at Carcassonne on the drive from Perpignan to the Dordogne. Another possibility would be to spend a few days in the Perpignan area - where there are more sites that you and the kids would enjoy.

I like to remind people who travel to Europe in early spring, that much of Europe is farther north than you may think. Rome is the same latitude as the Calif Oregon border. We were in Tuscany in very early April in '04, and it snowed a little one day.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Feb 20th, 2007, 07:01 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 88
We are doing a similar trip in April with 3 kids. I also booked flights in/out of London. I found that there were NO flights from anywhere in Spain that could connect us to Gatwick for our return flight to the states. I ended up changing our tickets (booked with miles) to fly home from Madrid via Miami. I would look at your connections back to to Heathrow and then plan backwards.

Using the website www.flightstats.com you can enter arrival and departure airports and see which airlines can get you to Heathrow on time.

If you have three weeks maybe...
- Fly Heathrow to Madrid and take the train to Sevilla. It will be warm there. Tour Andulucia.
- Fly Sevilla to Barcelona. There were several flight options when I looked.
- Somewhere in South of France. You could fly Barcelona to Nice or drive. The train options I looked at did not work.
- If you end up in Provence, take the high speed train to Paris for a couple of nights and fly back to Heathrow from Paris.

If you do go to Sevilla - Santa Semana is the week before Easter (April 9th) and the Feria is two weeks after that.
sdfamily is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 07:56 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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I don't know what your threshold is for "train options that did not work", but there is a 8:00am train from Barcelona to Montpellier that arrives at 1:16pm - no train changes. From Montpellier it's a short drive to Provence. Personally, I would take the train over flying to Nice & putting up with all the stress involved with air travel these days.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Feb 20th, 2007, 03:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2005
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I have all of your packages, which are super. You are my hero. One day I aspire to be like you (and your wife).

I am having trouble navigating the train system. Originally I had planned on renting a car in Barca and driving into France. Upon fodorites advice, I have discovered this is not done (especially if we want to leave the car in France.) The one train I saw on the net the fare from Barca to Perpignan was around $300.00. This is not an option with 6 tickets to buy. What am I doing wrong, or is this the going rate for train travel?
mom04 is offline  
Feb 20th, 2007, 05:11 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Thanks for the complement

I'm not that familiar with Spain - I've only ventured into the Pyrenees, & around Barcelona. I don't know where Barca is located - there seems to be several Barcas in Spain.

If you are renting a car in Spain, you can certainly drive it to Figueres, dump the car, hop on a train to France, then rent another car. With 6 people, I might even drive into France, dump 5 people off at some interesting place that has a train station & rental car offices, then drive back to Figueres & return the car, so only 1 person needs to get to France via train.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Feb 20th, 2007, 08:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I would also suggest that two countries will be enough (or more than enough). We are taking our 11-year-old on a similar - though shorter - trip this spring. We're flying into Barcelona, 4 nights there. Then taking the train from Barcelona to Perpignan, picking up the rental car and driving BACK to Figueres for the night (Perpignan is only 57 km from Figueres). After several days in the Languedoc area (including a visit to Carcassonne), we'll spend another 4 nights in the Dordogne, finishing with a short stay in Paris before we fly home.

We considered going to Provence instead of the Dordogne (we love both, though on the whole I guess I prefer the Dordogne, for the foie gras if nothing else). But after consulting with our son, we decided there was more that he was interested in in the Dordogne - between the castles and the prehistory, we could spend weeks there!

Maybe you could visit Barcelona, then the Dordogne, then some time in Provence, then a few days in Paris before heading back to Heathrow.

We haven't bought our train tickets from Barcelona to Perpignan yet, but based on my initial checking on RailEurope of a price of 115 Euros, total, for the 3 of us, your net price (I assume you mean total for the 6 of you) sounds about right. Per a helpful post here on Fodor's (don't remember which one, maybe search for "Perpignan"), the Talgo trains are the way to go, and because they're international, you can't buy them from the Spanish or French rail websites. RailEurope charges more, but sometimes it's worth it.
Lexma90 is offline  
Feb 21st, 2007, 12:51 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,319
"Author: sdfamily
Date: 02/20/2007, 11:01 am

We are doing a similar trip in April with 3 kids. I also booked flights in/out of London. I found that there were NO flights from anywhere in Spain that could connect us to Gatwick for our return flight to the states. I ended up changing our tickets (booked with miles) to fly home from Madrid via Miami. I would look at your connections back to to Heathrow and then plan backwards."

For 2007 -

Easyjet fly Gatwick to Barcelona (and 9 other destinations in Spain).

You can also fly Girona - Gatwick with ThompsonFly

mpprh is offline  
Feb 21st, 2007, 02:09 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,870
We spent a month with our kids in the "Dali Triangle" area of Catalonia with a weekend excursion into Southern France. It was one of our best vacations ever, great combo of relaxation and culture. Flew in and out of Heathrow then to and from Barcelona on BA. Rented a car in Barcelona and drove in and out of France with no issues.

We spent a week in Barcelona, rented two different wonderful villas (one near Girona, one on the French border near Figueras), one week in Cadaquez (art town on the coast, fabulous, but better in summer) and 3 days in Toulouse visiting relatives.

For you, with shorter time, I would recommend:

1 week Barcelona - rent apartment
1 week countryside near Girona or Figueras - rent villa
(besides those two cities you can visit Gala's castle, Besalu, Olot and unspoiled parts of the Costa Brava on day trips - the kids loved all of these. Also our houses had activities -pool, mountain bikes, ping pong, picturesque towns within walking distance)
1 week in charming Ceret in France (w/ day trips to Collioure & Carcassonne)

Drive back to Barcelona, fly back to London

Rented our villas through:


They were a fraction of what you would spend in Tuscany, but a similar level of culture/cuisine/rustic elegance.

crosscheck is offline  

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