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Barcelona to Bordeaux and back in two weeks

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Nov 27th, 2015, 07:47 PM
  #1
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Barcelona to Bordeaux and back in two weeks

Taking a two week father-daughter trip (both adults) from Barcelona in late May, early June. Renting a car and going to Carcassonne, which is a must, so was thinking we would go to Bordeaux from there and then return through the Basque country back to Barcelona. However, only Barcelona and Carcassonne are set in stone. Shopping at high end stores and staying in fancy hotels hold little interest. Photography, local food & wines, local markets, cultural and off-the-beaten-path items are our greatest interests. Any help with itinerary while pointing out areas which would meet our interests would be appreciated.
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Nov 27th, 2015, 09:32 PM
  #2
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Have you already booked? If not, consider flying into Barcelona and out of an airport near Carcassonne so you don't have to backtrack -- unless, of course, you have a specific reason for a loop.

Your interests could be easily met by any number of locations in and around Barcelona and Carcassonne. I recommend that you get a good guidebook or two -- for that area, I recommend the Michelin Green Guide and Rough Guide -- and decide what YOU most want to see. Identify the things you most want to see in each of various possible locations, check their opening/closing times on the internet, and mark them on a calendar. Then pencil in your transportation, add some time on either side (for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting oriented, etc.). Then see how things fit together.

Should be a wonderful trip -- you and your daughter are fortunate!
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Nov 28th, 2015, 03:26 AM
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I agree that making a round trip might not be in your best interest. You will be spending a lot of time on the roads when you could be in wonderful places. The manipulation you need to avoid 2d country drop charges on a rental car will take you far less time than that which you would spend driving on the round trip.

For example, you could fly to Bordeaux, pick up a car rental there at the airport, and return it at the train station in Perpingan. (I recall Avis in or very near the train station.) You could then take the train to Barcelona. If you wanted to spend some time in the Costa Brava, you could get off the train in Girona and pick up a car there.

In any event, for visiting inside Bordeaux and Barcelona, you do not need a car, and, I think,it would be a burden to deal with it.
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Nov 28th, 2015, 05:08 AM
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As is often the case, I was not thorough enough in my original post. I have not been on this site for a few years but remember how helpful it can be. Therefore let me be more specific. Driving in the countryside with my daughter is the primary purpose of the trip although we will go to larger cities for "must see/do" points of interest if convenient. The idea of driving for fun and exploration is strange for some to understand, but I want to do it before I get too old to drive safely and then must depend on public transportation. Stopping to take photos, eating local cheeses, wines, bread, etc., is important at this time. While I can, and have, read guidebooks and searched the internet, I was looking for ideas which may not necessarily be found there. For example, perhaps a recommendation for a little known winery. Anyway, I intend to drive from Barcelona to Carcassonne on the first day of our road trip. After that, I can point my car in any direction as long as I am back to Barcelona in about eight days. Under these circumstances, where would you go and what would you want to see.
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Nov 28th, 2015, 05:10 AM
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If you are going for your defined interests Bordeaux is going to be a bit of a let down. While the business of Bordeaux is wine, the wine is in the countryside. St Emilion is the most touristy of towns with loads of high-end wine "sales" worth about 2 hours of your life, then look at more serious places like Pauillac, you'll find it easy to visit the better places with a pre-booking but smaller places are still open to desgustation.

Bordeaux city is also famous for its shopping and high end accom.

I suggest look at San Sebastian or perhaps Bilbo as your key visit

You might find http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ur-spinach.cfm at least of some interest for parts of your journey.

In Barcelona don't forget the Cava town where Freixenet is based and Torres.
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Nov 28th, 2015, 09:51 AM
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After Carcassonne, I would just head to the Dordogne area and stay there for the duration. We've vacationed for 10 weeks in the Dordogne region, 9 weeks in the Pyrenees between Biarritz and Perpignan (your path back to Barcelona from the Basque region), 2 weeks just outside of Carcassonne (this year), 2 weeks in the Tarn Gorge area north of Carcassonne (this year also), and 4 weeks along the Lot River.

The Dordogne is our favorite of the regions that I've mentioned. With all the caves (pre-historic paintings & stalactites/mites), rivers (father/daughter kayak trips), castles, cute villages, beautiful countryside, and farmer's markets in the Dordogne - you'll be "fully occupied" for at least a week.

Driving through the Pyrenees can be "iffy" in late May or early June.

I have sightseeing/driving itineraries for all of these regions. If you would like a copy of one or more of them (Dordogne, Languedoc, Pays Basque), e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach them to the reply e-mail. I've sent over 5,000 copies of my various itineraries (I have others too) to people on Fodors.

Stu Dudley
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Nov 28th, 2015, 11:48 AM
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No advice, but it sounds like a great trip, exactly the sort we enjoy.
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Dec 1st, 2015, 06:19 AM
  #8
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Thank you all for your input and I would like to see the ideas keep coming.

Stu,

Your reports and itineraries just blew me away. The Dordogne report was of particular interest where I found your 21 page effort as very well written, comprehensive and extremely helpful. I am really impressed with your offerings. Thanks again for the fine work and generous sharing.
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Dec 1st, 2015, 10:07 AM
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I am planning to do a version of your trip with my (somewhat reluctant) 14 year old daughter this August. Please share specifics of your itinerary if you don't mind. I can tell you I am a Stu Dudley groupie - followed his recommendation to explore the Dordogne and I am a changed person as a result. My heart races when I think our stay in Domme and exploring Sarlat and the Dordogne. This is an area of the country where the French go to vacation. I plan to return this summer, staying 1 week in Beynac and then venture into Carcassonne, Costa Brava and Barcelona, San Sebastina and Bordeaux (a kind of J shape trip). Also, a road trip kind of guy who loves to explore forst and then immerse later (future trips), in my research thus far I learned that Pals - ancient Roman town - and Gerona are ery worhtwhilalong the Costa Brava. Pals looks amazing. There are several towns near San Sebastian that are supposed to be wonderful: -Fuenterrabia ( Hondarribia, in Basque) and Guetaria. In Basque, France - Bayonne looks very cool. Hope that helps a little
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Dec 1st, 2015, 10:40 AM
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Steve - thanks for the complement.

I just completed a new itinerary for the Pays Basque.

We visited the Carcassonne area & the Gorges du Tarn region for 4 weeks this past June/July. I did a major update to my Languedoc itinerary. If you would like a copy of either or both itineraries, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach it/them to the reply e-mail. Let me know which ones you want.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 1st, 2015, 10:03 PM
  #11
 
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I too would only venture as far as the Dordogne after Carcassonne. There is so much to enjoy in that pocket of France, including some excellent small wineries, you will easily fill the eight days. For good small wineries to visit in the Dordogne, you could look at the Bergerac region, where you could visit and taste some highly regarded wines at Chateau Monbazillac, Domaine de la Jaubertie, or L'Ancienne Cure or Clos des Verdots - if you like white wines. For red wines, head just north of Bergerac, and go to Chateau Tiregand or Beauportail...both wineries have excellent reputations for their Pecharmant reds. Just check their websites about cellar door visits. There are many, many atmospheric villages in the Dordogne (north and south of the river) which would be ideal stops on your road trip.
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Dec 2nd, 2015, 03:54 AM
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There's so much to see/do on this route that it will be very hard to choose.

Time permitting I would stop in Cadaques to see Salvador Dali's house, then Peyrepertuse - one of the Cathar Castles just over the border in France. http://www.chateau-peyrepertuse.com/

Then Carcassonne, the Dordogne, San Sebastian and back to Barcelona.
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Dec 2nd, 2015, 08:15 AM
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<>

Ummm, no, not so much, particularly in August (when it would be folly, IMO, to base in Domme or Beynac unless you really like sitting in your car). The French come here off-season in droves. It's the Brits and Dutch that vacation here in summer.

At any rate, do include the Dordogne in your plans. And get off the main routes. Use the D roads to get to places like St-Julien, Pompon, Tamniès, St-Génies, Belvès, Carembac, Meyrals....you don't need an itinerary, just a map and a sense of wonder and adventure.

If you don't get to the vineyards around Bergerac, at least stop at Patrick's Château de Mazivert stall in Les Eyzies and buy a vrac.
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Dec 2nd, 2015, 10:16 AM
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Dec 19th, 2015, 06:38 AM
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Thank you all for your helpful advice.
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Dec 19th, 2015, 10:30 AM
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I enjoyed Bordeaux and the hotel I stayed in, which was excellent and a very good location, was very modestly priced compared to hotels in cities like Paris. I guess I missed the glam quotient in Bordeaux, never saw it. it is an important business city so I imagine there are some expensive hotels for those folks or something maybe, but hotels are not expensive there when I searched (and I was there in summer). The old town area was pleasant and interesting, and several good museums, lots of good restaurants, modestly priced. I think Bordeaux would make a good place to end up as you have to fly out of somewhere, I am guessing, and Bordeaux is a larger city and has a decent airport. I just imagine flight options from Bordeaux are much better than wherever you'd be if you ended in Dordogne.

This is the hotel I stayed at, the bus to the airport is about a half block away, as well as a tram stop. http://www.hotel-majestic.com/

Returning to Barcelona makes no sense, either way. I presume you don't live there as it was listed as a must-see for the vacation. I would guess the only reason for returning to Barcelona would be if it were a Spanish rental car. Seems like a big waste to me, though, so I'd just take the train from Barcelona across the border, say to Perpignan, and rent the car there. Then you could fly home from Bordeaux. Or, you could end up in Toulouse and fly home from there and spend some time there, that would be a good idea, also. Bordeaux is right next to Dordogne, going there afer Dordogne wouldn't take much time, then you could ditch the car for a few end days in Toulouse.
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Dec 19th, 2015, 02:00 PM
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Ummm, no, not so much, particularly in August (when it would be folly, IMO, to base in Domme or Beynac unless you really like sitting in your car). The French come here off-season in droves. It's the Brits and Dutch that vacation here in summer.>

Yes it is known as Little Britain in some circles - very little French about the Dordogne towns in the tourist season - few French live here too in what has been dubbed Dordogneshire by many:

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/365...le-of-Dordogne

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/420...ee-groups.html
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Dec 20th, 2015, 04:24 AM
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FEW French? Have you ever set foot in the Dordogne? There are 160,000 British expats in France, and the vast majority of them - almost a quarter of them - live in Paris and the Ile-de-France. The next largest group lives in the Charente, and after that, Brittany.

Digging up an article from 2008 is meaningless. Floods of Brits moved back to Britain all throughout 2009.

And what does is matter, anyway? There are expats everywhere. Do you consciously avoid them when you travel?

My point was it's French tourists who make up by FAR the greatest numbers in off-season, though there are plenty here in summer as well. And that the well-known tourist towns are jammed in high season, as they are everywhere in Europe.
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