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41 days in France and Spain - itinerary questions

41 days in France and Spain - itinerary questions

Old Jul 7th, 2007, 09:30 PM
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41 days in France and Spain - itinerary questions

My husband and I are planning a trip to France and Spain, arriving in Paris first week of Sep 07, and flying out midday exactly 41 days later. Extremely excited! But overwhelmed by what to see. We've both been to Europe before, but whirlwind tours of major cities only.

After 8 guide books, numerous websites and much lurking on these forums, we’ve come up with a rough itinerary. Would very much appreciate any advice or comments. To help you answer my questions, I put down all my questions in full first, and then wrote down the full itinerary.

Some things to note,
(a) we want to try and minimise the driving (at home we drive on the different side of the road) but realise some of the places we are going we won’t get the real “sense” of the place without driving.
(b) We love love love food, but not so much knowledgeable about wine.
(c) Arriving and departing internationally from Paris.
(d) We’ve booked accommodation in Paris for a week, but no where else. We know we have to do this pronto!
Thank you very much for your help!

Question 1:
I really really really want to see San Sebastian. I’ve heard so much about the food there, e.g. Etxebarri domain of the grill king, Elkano for seafood. I know I’m causing myself logistics problems getting there. Is there a way of avoiding making the 9 hour drive from Provence to San Sebastian? I’m even considering going there by way of Barcelona. On the other hand, I don’t know if it will be much more expensive dropping the car off after 7 days in Provence and then going to San Sebastian via Barcelona by rail and picking up another car instead.

Question 2:
In each of the places we’re planning to stop, do you have advice on where to stay? Some people use somewhere as a base, and some people move around a lot. I’m trying to find a nice balance, and if you could advice which option is best in each place of the itinerary, that would be greatly appreciated. I’m pretty sure that I want 1 week in Barcelona in addition to Paris. Also considering 1 week based somewhere in Provence and 5 days based somewhere near San Sebastian.

Question 3:
Is it worth the detour to see Nice? I’ve been to Nice very briefly for 1 night, don’t know how “messy” it will be to go there and whether worth the effort.

Question 4:
Should I repost this question in the “Spain” forum?

Day 1 (Wed) Morning arrival in Paris -> Accom: Already booked one week apartment in Paris in Arrondisment.1
Day 2 (Thu) to Day 7 (Tue) in Paris with a day trip to Versailles on Day 6(Mon). I am sooo excited I can’t help bouncing in my seat as I write this.
Day 8 (Wed) Travel to Dijon via train: Paris>Dijon (8:44a-10:28a) and spend afternoon/lunch in Dijon. Then take trainijon>Lyon (3:15p-5:00p) arrive and arrive at accommodation in Lyon.
Day 9 (Thu) Lyon – spend whole day in Lyon.
Day 10 (Fri) Travel to Provence, take a train Lyon>Avignon TGV (10:11a-11:20a)
Day 10 (Fri) – Day 14 (Tue) visit places in Provence area per Stu Dudley’s province itinerary, including Aix en Provence, Marseilles, Narbonne etc.
Day 15 (Wed) Take train from Avignon to Nice
Day 16 (Thu) Train from Nice to Cannes
Day 17 (Fri) Cannes to Carcassone
Day 18 (Sat) Carcassone to San Sebastian. Pick up a car in San Sebastian. Day 18 to Day 22 will be accommodation in San Sebastian or nearby.
Day 19 (Sun) San Sebastian
Day 20 (Mon) San Sebastian
Day 21 (Tue) Day trip to Bilbao
Day 22 (Wed) Day trip to Elatnxobe
Day 23 (Thu) Drop off car, take train to Barcelona. Rent a week vacation apartment in Barcelona for Day 23 to Day 29.
Day 24 (Fri) Barcelona
Day 25 (Sat) Barcelona
Day 26 (Sun) Barcelona
Day 27 (Mon) Day trip to Monserrat
Day 28 (Tue) Barcelona
Day 29 (Wed) Barcelona
Day 30 (Thu) Train from Barcelona to Madrid. We have a friend in Madrid who is happy for us to stay.
Day 31 (Fri) Madrid
Day 32 (Sat) Madrid
Day 33 (Sun) Day trip to Toledo
Day 34 (Mon) Day trip to Segovia
Day 35 (Tue) Travel to Cordoba
Day 36 (Wed) Travel to Sevilla
Day 37 (Thu) See Sevilla
Day 38 (Fri) Travel back to Madrid and spend another day/night tapas crawling there 
Day 39 (Sat) Travel back to Paris and lodge Day 39 and Day 40 there.
Day 40 (Sun) Paris
Day 41 Leave Paris *sob*
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Old Jul 7th, 2007, 09:31 PM
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Oh darn! Newbie mistake I didn't realised I could select 2 topics. Please advise if I should repost
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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 04:18 PM
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I like your itinerary..you have picked some great places so far!

I might be biased (loving the smaller less known places in the South of France)...I am just not a fan of Nice/Cannes. However, it might be worth seeing depending on what you like. Certainly beautiful, but expensive and touristy. It might be nice to leave Lyon for the Var/Vaucluse regions (think Lavender) and Provence. However you mentioned you wanted to minimize the driving - and Cote d'Azur is very convenient by train.

Bilbao or St Sebastian are excellent choices as a base as you said it is a must for you - but I would explore Carcassone only as a day trip.

When I travelled through Spain with my friend, we had a nice balance of "rough itinerary" and "play by ear". As you know you will move/change it accordingly, as you discover cool places.

I love your Spain picks! May I suggest Grenada as an amazing destination in Andalucia.

There are my 2 euros! Have a wonderful trip!!
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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 04:24 PM
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effe, no comments really as I haven't been to Spain or many parts of France (yet) but just an fyi that even though you can select a country all posts end up in the same place and we can all see them. Selecting a country from this list is mostly a convenience to those who are doing a search for posts only on that particular country. So basically no need to repost.

Good luck....I am so envious!!

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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 04:24 PM
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There is no "Spain Forum," just a Europe one, so don't worry about that.

Looks pretty good to me, but the Provence part looks a bit strange. Not sure why you're going to go to Narbonne from a base in Avignon when you're going to revisit that route when you go to Carcassonne. And I'd leave out Marseilles unless there's a pressing need to do that. I think there's a lot more to see and do in Provence than you've allotted time for in such a nice,long trip. What about the Bouche-du-Rhône area?
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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 06:34 PM
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Seems to me that this is still a whirlwind tour, what with changing every couple of days. The French Riviera is great, but the pretty areas are up in the hills behind Cannes/Nice, so difficult w/out a car.

Skip Marseilles, and I agree with the post above that says maybe rethink the itinerary in Provence.

You might instead consider southwestern France on your way to the Basque country - slightly fewer tourists, really good food, nice people, beautiful hill towns, just plain nice.

Personally I'd choose either Dijon or Lyon, and maybe choose more time in Seville over Cordoba, but that's just me.

Actually, after saying that I love the Riviera (I have a home there) I might even leave it behind unless you're dying to see the for two days and go further west right away.
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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 07:15 PM
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Thank you for your replies so far. They were really helpful in that they clarified some doubts I'd already had about the itinerary.
hunnibun & tamarackidaho> I think I will forego the Riveria, spend the extra 2 days round Provence.
St Cirq > Provence part looks strange because I haven't figured it out yet. I'm not really fussed about Narbonne and Marseilles, I just put them in because I'm trying to figure out what I'd like to do in Provence.

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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 07:26 PM
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You guys are so Lucky!!!!

Have a wonderful trip.
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