Barcelona to France?

Aug 30th, 2007, 06:52 PM
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Barcelona to France?

We will be in Barcelona March '08, interested in going by train or car to Monte Carlo or other French towns near the coast, for an overnight. Welcome suggestions for travel and which towns would be most interesting. Interests are Medieval towns, old churches, muesums, cafes, architecture, anything interesting. Thanks.
Challiman is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 05:47 AM
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More information: We are especially interested in train travel between Barcelona and some interesting towns along the coast in France. We would also consider renting a car instead of using the train. We'd like to leave early AM and stay overnight in one of the towns, and depart the next afternoon or evening for the return to Barcelona. We'll be in Barcelona March 20-28, over Easter, so any particular festivals or events that happen during that time would be helpful, too.
Challiman is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 06:47 AM
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It’s an easy drive from Barcelona and over the French border, and you can catch a train with little difficulty too.

However in your first message you mention wishing to visit Monte Carlo, and I would really caution that is too far to attempt to do in the time frame you have.

Be aware that Easter is quite a busy time for travelling in Europe, and trains will be crowded. Roads will busy too so you might to think about how far you can go in to France.

You can get a train from Barcelona to Perpignan or Montepelier, which are both interesting cities but personally I wouldn’t recommend travelling much further by train given your limited time.

If you were to drive - and I think this gives you the greatest freedom -The A7 autoroute is your quickest way into France by road, and I would recommend just popping over the border and visiting the City of Perpignan (churches, castles, old historic interior city) the beautiful town of Ceret (Good Picasso Museum) and possibly the fishing village of Collioure (couple of good restaurants, beautiful view from a castle over a bay etc) on the coast. You will find a range of accommodation in all these places, although given its Easter do book in advance.

All quite easy to do with a car for the weekend and will give you a good taste of French life.
Londonman is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 06:54 AM
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FYI when I took the train from Nice (which is about 10 minutes by train from Monte Carlo) to Barcelona, the whole journey took about 8 hours, and we had to transfer trains twice. I agree with Londonman that this might be too far of a journey for just an overnight trip!
Erin464 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 08:40 AM
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If you have the choice to take a car, do this for sure. You could visit some of the nice coastal villages in Spain, as you're heading towards France.

Perpignan is a nice place as being a final destination. Londonman posted some good places to visit in France.

Going further into France than Perpignan, you're going to miss some good interests, just for mileage.

This is a photo album about the area across the Spanish/French border. The photos are not in any order but you'll see the coastal villages (Argeles, Collioure, Banyuls, Port Vendres, etc.)

It's a nice area to visit, so enjoy.

blackduff is offline  
Aug 31st, 2007, 08:50 AM
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just across the border from Port Bou and a few miles beyond Cebere is the cute fishing village of Couliore (sp?), and a string of similar villages. Trains will take you there from Barcelona in about 2 hours - changing at border on most routes - and then you can walk a few miles between some dreamy former fishing villages - this is if you want an easy trip to France.
PalenqueBob is offline  
Sep 1st, 2007, 04:16 PM
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Thank you all who responded. Londonman, I checked out your ideas and they seem very good. We have a while, but know we need to make some reservations soon. Any additional information is welcome. Erin I think you are right about Monte Carlo. Blackduff, loved the photos, two of us are very into photography, have many pix from our other European trips. Palen, if we take the train we'll be carrying bags, you know women, so we probably won't walk miles between villages, but if we drive we'll be able to see all these lovely spots. Thank you all again.
Challiman is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2007, 05:03 AM
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Hi C,

Check mileage, times and routes at or

It's 3 hr by car from B to Carcassone, almost all on highway. You could visit Perpignan along the way.

ira is online now  
Sep 2nd, 2007, 06:50 AM
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I'll be driving the A7 the day after tomorrow. Blackduff's pix are great however I didn't see any pictures of the cassoulet but boy those saussions looked great on the BBQ!!I've been dreaming about that and it was fun seeing you doing that. The car is more expensive but certainly worth it. Ira's links are very helpful for times and I sure wouldn't miss Arles or Aix-en-Provence.
johnthedorf is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2007, 08:06 AM
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If medieval towns and old churches are your priorities, why Monte Carlo?

It's too far, anyway. Get a good map and plan a route north from the Costa Brava that takes you no farther than Montpellier.
StCirq is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2007, 09:52 AM
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StCirq: Monte Carlo just looked to be the maximum distance we could travel in the two days, not interested in the Casino, but it appears that is too far. That's why I posted here, to get info from people who either live in the area or have traveled there. Distances in books don't tell the whole story, need the input of road conditions, indirect routes, mountains, etc. We are eager to visit the area, but have limited time and want to make the most of it. Quality, not quantity, is our goal. Good to know there's a bit of agreement that we had planned too far. Thank you all again for your input.
Challiman is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2007, 10:08 AM
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For something totally different, you culd pick up the A75 at Montpellier and drive to Millau. It is a charming town and it also had the famous Viaduct. Barcelona > Millau is a very pretty 4-hour drive.
kerouac is online now  
Sep 2nd, 2007, 01:04 PM
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Here are a few links to places around France, right across from Spain. Some of this is in French, so you'll have to root around the site but there are web cams (panorific ??).

It's really difficult to limit which would be interesting. Your subject can be busy for two or three years of visiting in this area. Both the Spanish and French Catalonia region is packed with castles (ruins included)which are fun to visit. There are bunches of chapels which are all from ca year 800 to 1200. The photo album I posted previously shows several of the older chapels.

I guess being able to have a car will open thousands to visit this area. But how much of your vacation time will be at Barcelona. It's a beautiful city and should spend some of your vacation time.

Okay, I'm getting away with my thoughts. It's just a nice area and visiting is endless.

blackduff is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2007, 05:26 PM
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We did this by train and it was very unpleasant. Might have been because if was during Easter and the train was literally a cattle car (despite the fact we had 1st class tixs and reservations). So, I too would vote for renting a car.
artlover is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 07:10 AM
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If you don't take the few daily Talgo trains that go thru the border then yes IME the local trains can be cattle cars and i've experienced that as well

Stick to Talgos with mandatory reservations that prevent that - hard to book however as they are the only trains to go thru the border due to track width differences in Spain and France - talgo wheels are cranked apart and together at the border. These trains are often full - reserve ahead of time at or or in the U.S. i recommend BETS (800-441-2387) for their expertise.

In a few years when the new high-speed line to Barcelona is complete and to standard gauge as used in France rail links will become much easier and faster.
PalenqueBob is offline  

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