Advice sought - Madrid & Paris


Mar 19th, 2013, 07:40 PM
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Advice sought - Madrid & Paris

Another year, another niece finishing high school and traveling to Europe with her favorite uncles. This time, though, there's a new wrinkle. The sister of this year's niece will do a summer internship in Madrid and we are thinking about visiting Madrid and seeing her. (Yes, she is fine with this - welcomes it, in fact.) I have not been in Madrid since 1996 so need counsel from those with more / more current knowledge.
Plan is to fly into Madrid, out of Paris. Thinking about arrival Madrid 5th July, would like to be in Paris by 11 or 12th. Appreciate suggestions for accommodation and activities in Madrid, practical advice and potential day trips. Also, have read that high speed rail linking Madrid and Paris has just started, am wondering if anyone has experience with it?
As always, thanks / merci bien / muchísimas gracias for your assistance!
Seamus is offline  
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Mar 19th, 2013, 09:07 PM
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Here's your madrid-paris train info: it's about 2.5-3x the time as a flight.

Popular day trips from Madrid include Toledo (yes), Segovia (meh), and there are not-too-far away places that might be better for an overnight (Cordoba, Salamanca; Seville is a trip on its own).

Beware, it will likely be really flippin' hot (of course, I lived the exception - when weather was below 60 [15 C] at night on July 3-5 in Madrid one year).

Madrid isn't really as much of a tourist haven as Paris, Rome, or Berlin (the other Chicago-size Western European cities) and the Spanish economy has taken a toll on parts of it, but the Palacio Real is impressive (even though the riff raff are only allowed in like 5% of it), the Prado is world class and the Reina Sofia is also top end and there's certainly enough nightlife for the niece to remain entertained.
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Mar 20th, 2013, 02:20 AM
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In Madrid, the Veranos de la Villa (Summer in the city) festival goes on while you are in town. World class artists in a wide variety og genres perform every night in outdoor scenes (a quite spectacular scene in the Sabatini gardens just in front of the Royal Palace). I've seen some fabulous flamenco concerts at this festival. Also several free outdoor concerts. The festival runs through all of July and August.

This is the best Madrid guide, always updatede info on theaters, concerts and virually everything:

I've previously posted these suggestions for Madrid:

Have breakfast or lunch at Café del Círculo de Bellas Artes in down town Calle Alcalá, 42. One of the city's most emblematic cafés. Grab a window table and watch Madrid life on bustling Calle Alcalá. Take the lift up to the roof topp terrace (the azotea) for great views of the city.

Watch the sunset over the Guadarrama mountains from the terrace at El Ventorrillo in the Vistillas park. Great pollo al ajillo (garlic chicken), some say the best in town. Map, video and some pictures:

Have lunch or some tapas at Casa Granada, on the 6th floor of an apartment building just off Plaza Tirso de Molina. Hard to find and an excellent terrace.

Café Central, just off bustling Plaza Santa Ana, is a fabulous jazz venue with live performances from the best artists every night at 10. Artists shift every week. Entrance 15€. Good food also. Populart, a little further down the street, is also a great place.

Experience world class flamenco at one of the best tablaos. Madrid is arguably the flamenco capital of the world. Although the art form comes from the South (Andalucía), everybody has to conquer Madrid to get to the top. On their way there, or as an opportunity to try out new things and get an up close audience, many of them work the top tablaos. I recommend Casa Patas and Cardamomo, both close to Plaza Santa Ana.

A stroll in the beautiful Retiro Park.

Asturian Casa Mingo for the best grilled chicken and cider:
Watch the video, and you're sold:

Txirimiri in Calle del Humilladero, 6 gives you an idea of why the Basque kitchen is considered among the best in the world. In the midst of one of the best tapas/restaurant districts in town, in and around Calle Cava Baja in La Latina.

I never leave Madrid without having had the squid in its own ink and the famous cod at Casa Revuelta, also in the same district.

The Reina Sofia contemporary art museum. The second floor with Picasso, Dalí, lots of other painitings, posters, films, photos etc., dealing with a couple of the greatest civilizational breakdowns of the 20th century, the Spanish Civil War and WWII, completely blew my mind off a couple of years ago.
(And of course Prado and the Thyssen-Bornemisza museums)
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Mar 20th, 2013, 09:33 AM
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You can also download Maribel's Guides to Madrid, dining, hotels and sightseeing (
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Mar 20th, 2013, 08:19 PM
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Thank you, BigRuss, kimhe and Robert2533 - this is great info that will be helpful.

Understand that Madrid in July can be warm but don't have a lot of wiggle room. Also understand the time required for train to Paris, just curious and more likely to fly.

Not familiar with Madrid neighborhoods, need to bone up as I am considering renting an apartment for a week. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Mar 21st, 2013, 09:07 AM
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I use to stay around the very central Plaza Mayor, Plaza Santa Ana area (Including La Latina and Huertas/Barrio de las Letras neighbourhoods). Use to be a lot of rentals around here.

All this is very close to eachother:
Plaza Mayor:
Plaza Santa Ana:
La Latina:
Barrio de las Letras:
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Mar 22nd, 2013, 06:57 PM
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Thanks, kimhe, am seeing some apartments around La Latina that look promising if we decide to spend the whole week there.

Would very much welcome suggestions about how to best arrange our time in Spain. Plan to arrive Madrid on 5 July. I know that it may offend devotees of Madrid when I say we will be OK with just three or four days there, but that's how it is. Only firm request is to visit the Alhambra in Granada. I have previously visited Segovia, Toledo and Sevilla but this will be the first time in Spain for the others. Not sure I want to drive, would even consider a (gasp! excursion tour of two or three days. Not necessary to return to Madrid, fine with flying to Paris from elsewhere. Would like to be in Paris 12th July.

Fire away, fellow Fodorites!
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May 31st, 2013, 10:17 PM
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Circling back now that things are more firmed up. We will arrive Madrid late morning on 5 July, will be staying at Holiday Inn Madrid, Plaza de Carlos Trias Bertrán, Cuatro Caminos area. Perhaps not best location for tourist sites but got the rooms on points, metro is close and niece's apartment is near there, on calle Maudes.
Have abandoned thoughts of venturing south, will train to Barcelona for a couple nights then fly to Paris on 12th to spend a week.
Still welcome any suggestions /advice/caveats from Fodorites.
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Jun 1st, 2013, 03:15 AM
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I second kimhe's recommendation of Casa Granada. It's a great experience up on the roof of an apartment building terrace. We sat there one night and ate a plate of prawns washed down with a refreshing Spanish beer.
I see that you have already booked a hotel. I was going to recommend (and still will) the apartment rental agency SpainSelect. We rented a very nice apartment from them right next to Plaza Mayor.
We like to go to horseraces so we did go out to the track right outside of Madrid. It was a fun day out and the track that day was very family oriented.
Barcelona is a good next city to travel to from Madrid. I don't know if you have been there before, but if not you are in for a treat. Last year we took the train from Paris to Barcelona. It was a very pleasant way to travel between those cities with some beautiful scenery. We left Gare de Lyon at around 7:30 am and arrived in Barcelona around 3:00 pm. I'm not sure if the reverse travel is the same as far as the timetable goes.
When in Barcelona we did a very enjoyable half day side trip to sant sadurni d'anoia for a cava tour of the Codorniu vineyards. It was a lot of fun.
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