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8 days Paris/Barcelona in Summer Travel Advice!

8 days Paris/Barcelona in Summer Travel Advice!

Old Mar 24th, 2014, 01:53 PM
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8 days Paris/Barcelona in Summer Travel Advice!

We're a family of 4 - two 50+ and two 20+ from the US on a modest budget and first time to Paris/Barcelona. We Old People love food, wine, beer, museums, history and being outdoors. Our young adults love all that and nightlife too. We added Barcelona because among other things, we'd love to see Spain and go to a beach on our July/August trip. I'm a recent cancer survivor who doesn't have all of my stamina back so we'll probably have to split up for some of the sightseeing. My husband would love to travel from one city to the other by train to see the countryside, but haven't figured out if that's the way to go with our time restraints. Any advice with travel, hotels or apartments, must-sees would be deeply appreciated.

Thank you so much.

Gabrielle
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Old Mar 24th, 2014, 02:07 PM
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Initial thoughts:

1. Are your "eight days" really 8 days on the ground in Europe or 8 days from take off in the USA to "wheels down" back in the USA (which translates to about 5.5 actual vacation days when you include jet lag, baggage retrieval, checking in, checking out and ground transportation). The actual amount of time on the ground makes a difference! If you really only have 8 days from wheels up to wheels down, I strongly recommend one city, not two.
2. Given the limited time, I suggest an "open jaw" or "multi-city" flight, landing in Paris and leaving from BCN (or vice versa). Travel between these cities by plane (either Ryanair or Vueling). You should be booking these tickets NOW (I mean today)!
3. Start looking at apartments NOW. You are really quite late in the process, but you may be able to find something acceptable. An apartment will save over 2 (or possibly three) hotel rooms, depending on the gender of your kids). Use "home away" website or VRBO.
4. Depending on where you live in the USA, European beaches leave a LOT to be desired. No "powdered sugar" sand, mostly industrial sand. It will be extremely hot and humid in July/August and not the best weather for lolling on the beach IMO.
5. We like and use "Top 10 Barcelona" and Top 10 Paris" (available from Amazon) to familiarize ourselves and orient us to directions, attractions, metro/underground systems. Others like the green Michelin guides, or Fodor's. Suit yourself, but get and study somebody's guidebooks so you have an idea at least of what somebody else thinks is important to see.

These are two absolutely WONDERFUL cities, so you can't go wrong no matter how you split up your time. Bonne chance!
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Old Mar 24th, 2014, 02:26 PM
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Thanks so much for your advice. Unfortunately we only have 8 days total travel time, but my kids have never been to Europe and want to pack in as much as they can. I think apartments are the way to go so thanks for that tip as well as my son may not be able to come and we want to go ahead and make plans regardless. Merci beaucoup!
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Old Mar 24th, 2014, 03:30 PM
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Agree 100%. Been to Paris and Barcelona numerous times in the past two years and can't really add more to what z said. We've become cruisers the past 5 years, so back to Barcelona we go (were there in April and will be there again in October.
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Old Mar 24th, 2014, 04:10 PM
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It's a bit of a train ride, you may be better off flying from Orly to Barcelona.

For Barcelona, use www.apartur.com. Not homeaway or vrbo. Barcelona has a very extensive and competitive vacation rental market. If the kids can't find nightlife there, they just aren't looking.

May your tests be negative.
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Old Mar 25th, 2014, 02:13 AM
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You can travel between Paris and Barcelona by train, on one of three daily 200 mph double-decker TGV Duplex trains.

The journey takes 6h25 centre to centre by train with zero check-in compared to up to 5 disjointed hours of local RER train, airport, flight, airport and another local train if you fly.

Plus it's quite a scenic run, with a cafe-bar on board or you can bring your own picnic and bottle of wine (you're treated as an adult on a train, not like a potentially naughty child as on a plane)

You can buy tickets from 59 euros at www.capitainetrain.com - you print your own ticket (tip - it's sometimes cheaper to split-ticket at Perpignan).

Photos and a short video of the journey are at http://www.seat61.com/Paris-to-Barce...-TGV-train.htm
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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 09:05 AM
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My husband and I are in our late 20s and have many of the same interests as you on a somewhat modest budget as well. I know all of this is highly subjective but here are a few tips from our trips:

Probably my favorite thing we did in Paris was get take out from a little sandwich/salads shop and a bottle of wine and had a picnic in the grass under the Eiffel Tower, then sat there until it started sparkling at dark. (Wine is so good and cheap in Paris!)

We went to the Louvre twice on the nights it's open late. I'm glad we did this bc lines weren't too bad and this was a major thing on our to do list that we could do at night to free up more day time.

We loved the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona at night when the cruise passengers were gone. No crowd at all in September. We love walking around the narrow streets, stopping to hear guitarists and ducking into little restaurants for (amazing) sangria.

Parc Guell in Barcelona. Gave us some time to sit and have a beer and enjoy the views and fresh air.
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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 09:12 AM
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Considering all the issues with flying the high speed train would be an excellent option. There will be more night life than two can handle in Barcelona. It starts and ends late.

A good neighborhood to stay in would be the Xiample.

Although Barcelona is one of my favorite cities, it is vastly different than the rest of Spain but worth any time you can spend there.
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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 12:58 PM
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Done this a few times, but over a few days by train and car. We often use discount airlines Vueling and EasyJet for travel within Europe. Watch that you are coming into Barcelona El Prat and not Girona airport, which is more than an hour from the city.

Best train pricing usually comes out 90 days before travel date, PREM tickets, and they can go quickly.

For a short or first-time visit to BCN we prefer El Born/Barri Gotic, just because so much is within walking distance. We've stayed here as a family of five adults and liked it a a lot: http://tinyurl.com/lvpv4jh
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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 01:31 PM
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There is no Xiample in Barcelona.

There is a large district known as Eixample.

And Man in Seat 61, like his friend PalenQ, tends to overstate airline travel times by exaggerating the transit time to and from the airport and wait time at the airport and adding that to the travel time on the flight then comparing that (inflated) sum to just the time actually timetabled on the train (not travel time to the station or from it to your hotel or time you spend on the train before it departs - all told, that makes the Paris-Barcelona rail option more than 7 hours).

Barcelona's airport isn't that far from the city center.
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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 01:36 PM
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I agree with Man in Seat 61. We did the Paris to Barcelona train trip and it was completely relaxing and scenic in many places during the trip. I recommend it.
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Old Mar 26th, 2014, 03:04 PM
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I think its madness to fly when there's a direct train and we are talking a transit time of just 6-7 hours. Even if the flight is marginally quicker I don't know anyone that prefers hanging around an airport for a couple of hours, plus the stress of the flight itself. The last half of the journey by train from the south west of France into Spain is gorgeous, with the salt flats, Spanish architecture and lots of glimpses of the med.
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