France/Spain -10 Day Plans Help!

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Feb 6th, 2014, 01:57 PM
  #1
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France/Spain -10 Day Plans Help!

My wife and I, both 43, love to travel and explore. We have the opportunity to travel without our three children and have decided to visit France and/or Spain from September 24-October 4, 2014.

Five years ago, we traveled to Northern Italy for 11 days and visited Lake Como, Verona, Venice, Florence, Tuscany and Rome and had a blast. Although it was a fast-paced vacation, it was manageable and enjoyable.

Our tentative thoughts at this point, would be to fly from LAX to Paris, stay in Paris for 2-3 nights, and travel by high speed train or car to another region of France (Provence??) for 3-4 nights, then to Barcelona for a few nights then return from Barcelona to LAX.

Looking for some advice on amazing culinary experiences/ locations with beautiful scenery and historical significance along an itinerary that is reasonable for the limited time constraints we are burdened by.

I am aware that we are not able to do it all and will have to return to continue our exploration.

Possibly Paris, Dijon, Lyon, Avignon, Narbonne/Carcassonne, Barcelona.

I know NOTHING about these towns other than their familiarity by name alone. Any hands on advice might help.
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Feb 6th, 2014, 02:07 PM
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First suggestion: buy open-jaw tickets, into Paris, out of Barcelona. You don't want to be backtracking that sort of distance.

Second suggestion: I would skip Dijon and Lyon on this trip and just go straight to Avignon on the TGV. Then you can spend a couple of days in the Bouche-du-Rhône area and then make your way down the Med to the Spanish border, either picking up a second rental car in Spain or taking the train from Perpigan to Barcelona.

Is there anything other than Barcelona itself in Spain that you want to see?
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Feb 6th, 2014, 02:32 PM
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Thank you, StCirq, for your quick reply.

Definitey Open Jaw...no doubt that back tracking would be wasteful.

We are soooo up in the air with our France plans that we have no real direction at all other than knowing we must see Paris. Barcelona was only included in our theoretical itinerary as a major city by which we can fly home to LAX from the south of France. If there is another major international airport in the South of France by where we can fly out of, we would not necessarily include Barcelona in this itinerary.

When backpacking through Spain, France and Italy after college, I was able to visit Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and Seville in Spain. That was when I had no money and on a tight budget. Things are a little different now being that I will be with my wife and all.

We, ideally, would create a reasonable itinerary to see quaint villages in both France and Spain and stay in farmhouses with delicious local food.

Do you think it would be reasonable to fly into Paris for a few nights, then spend the remaining time in the "south of France" and northern Spain to ultimately fly home from northern Spain?

We love the idea of soaking up the local culture and not necessarily museum hopping. Again, landmark quaint towns where we can experience local culture and living is ideal for us.

Possibly,

Paris (2 nights)
TVG Train to "south of France"
South of France (3 nights)
San Sebastian or other must see Spain Town (2 nights)
Madrid or Barcelona (2 nights)
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Feb 6th, 2014, 03:03 PM
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The two commonest mistakes tourists make are trying to see/do too much in too little time and packing too much. So far your managing to make the first mistake at least.

You will see as much of trains as you will of anywhere else. Moving every day or two does not result in seeing/doing more, only in moving more. The way to see/do as much as possible is to spend your time IN a place, not in BETWEEN places.

Your 10 days is a bare minimum for just Paris and Barcelona. All of it in one or the other would be better use of time. In travel as in many things, less is more. Move less, see/do more.
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Feb 6th, 2014, 03:09 PM
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the obvious places to look at flying home from are Toulouse and Nice. if you are using Toulouse, the obvious choice of interim destination is the Dordogne, or even just staying in Toulouse and doing day trips. if you end up with Nice, then TGV to Avignon, pick up a car, tour Provence, and fly home from Nice.

In 10 days [which is only 9 nights] you definitely don't have time to see Paris, Burgundy AND Provence or the SW. 3 places to stay max, but 2 would be even better.
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Feb 6th, 2014, 03:55 PM
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San Sebastian or other must see Spain Town (2 nights)

From the Provence it is not easy to get to San Sebastian. Stick to Barcelona with outings to Girona and Figueres for the Dali museum.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...th/4269699280/
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Feb 6th, 2014, 06:45 PM
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You can get international flights from Nice - I think some direct to major US cities - and some have mentioned Marseille - although I don;t know the schedules.

In the limited time you would have I would do Paris and Nice - that will give you a big variety and enough to do for several weeks in each place.
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Feb 6th, 2014, 07:38 PM
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Do San Seb on another trip when you can experience the Basque country bith Sapnish and french. This alone is worth a another trip. You have enough on your plate to savor so don't try to do it all!!
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Feb 7th, 2014, 06:04 PM
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Thanks for your replies thus far. According to the feedback, we would be stretching ourselves too thin by adding Barcelona or Madrid onto this vacation. Sounds like flying into Paris then taking the TGV to Avignon, Aix, Toulouse or Marseille. The details of our vacation beyond Paris are just starting to be researched. Again, we are looking at quaint towns rather than large cities. The idea of Carcassonne seems nice due to its unique walled border.

We will look into flying out of Nice or Marseille.
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Feb 7th, 2014, 07:10 PM
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HI,

I suggest doing the Dordogne and flying out of Toulouse. It is fabulous there. Beynac, Sarlat, Rocamadour and lots of others would fascinate. If you go there you must visit the Josephine Baker castle. Stay in bed and breakfasts - you would love them. We did.
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Feb 8th, 2014, 08:48 AM
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I would never call Carcassonne quaint. It has a population of 50,000 and, apart from the Cité, is a typical large working town. The Cité is shoulder-to-shoulder mobbed in high season. If you want quaint (and I'm not fond of that word, but get what you're aiming at), the Dordogne is what you're looking for. I've had a home there for 21 years, and "quaint" abounds (though not so much in Beynac and Sarlat). Rocamadour, BTW, is not in the Dordogne, and doesn't meet the "quaint" bar either. It's the second most visited religious pilgrimage site in France and in high season is mobbed.
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Feb 8th, 2014, 10:49 AM
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Quaint or not, Sarlat is a lovely town, with enough "normal" life to make it worthwhile for a 4-5 day stay.

it's also an excellent centre for visiting the surrounding area.
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Feb 8th, 2014, 11:23 AM
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Well for the southern part of your plan (of which I approve instead of Spain) you could look at the lists of France's prettiest towns.
https://www.google.ca/#q=france's+prettiest+towns

One I am familar with is Aigueze above the Ardeche river. You could train to nearby and then rent a car. Avignon is an easy day trip and the Ardeche Gorge has things to see and do.

For a place to stay I liked the http://www.residencelecastelas.com/

For a meal,Chez David's.

Easy enough to then drive to Nice or Marseilles for the flight home.
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Feb 12th, 2014, 04:35 PM
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OK...So now we have cut our trip plans a few days shorter due to child care issues. Here is what we are thinking.

LAX TO CDG- Arrive 5:30pm September 26th- Dinner and Sleep
26,27,28,29th (4 nights) in Paris

30th AM drive or train to Beaune in Burgundy for 2-3 nights

30th and 1st in or around Beaune
or
30th, 1st, 2nd in or around Beaune

Drive to Geneva AM of the 3rd for one night and fly Geneva to LAX on the 4th. If we only spend two nights in Burgundy, we will have another night to stay in Geneva or instead of flying out of Geneva, we can make our way down to Provence for the last two nights. Obviously, this would be further to travel and would be stretching our limits of enjoyment vs travel time. Since Geneva is only a 2-3 hour drive from Beaune, I thought it may be a move reasonable drive. I tried flying out of Dijon or Lyon and that didn't work so well or nothing was available.

How does this sound for a condensed 2-3 destination vacation?
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Feb 12th, 2014, 05:07 PM
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Sounds pretty good to me. I'm busy tonight and don't have time to go back through the whole thread, but is the drive to Geneva to save on airfare back to LAX? Have you checked the cost of tolls and fuel against flying out of somewhere in France? And be sure to leave the car on the French side of Geneva if you do this so you don't incur a hefty drop-off fee with a French rental in Switzerland. If it were me, BTW, one night in Geneva would be sufficient (though there are nearby nice towns).
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Feb 12th, 2014, 05:19 PM
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NO, StCirg, the idea of flying out of Geneva was not for the airfare savings as pretty much every airport I looked into was within $50-$100 of the others. I thought that Geneva would be significantly closer that driving or Training to another international airport in the area. I think that Lyon offers an international flight but it is at 6:50am and I was trying to get a later flight from another airport. All this with the idea of not back tracking to Paris.

We are now pretty set on flying into Paris for 3-4 nights then heading to Provence or Burgundy for the remainder of the vacation. Just thought that I would try to throw in another region of France for a night or two without back tracking or wasting precious time traveling to and from each destination.

Paris
Beaune (area)
Avignon (area)

Only have 7 nights on the ground now so can't squeeze any more in IF we can even do those three regions. It may be better to just visit Paris and either Provence or Burgundy and have a nice relaxing time without worrying about travel.Flying out of Avignon or Marseille in Provence seems easier than trying to find a flight out of Burgundy unless we back track to Paris for the flight out.
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Feb 12th, 2014, 05:28 PM
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I agree. I'd look for flights out of Marseille, or even Nice. The Geneva area is certainly a different area from Provence, but I'd rather have one or two nights in Marseilles or Nice than in Geneva.
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Feb 12th, 2014, 05:46 PM
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If my wife wants to be in Burgundy for three nights and we want to be in Paris for at least three nights does it make sense though to go all the way down to Marseille or Nice for only one night? Probably not? Arrrghh! Trying to squeeze too much out of this is frustrating.
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Feb 13th, 2014, 08:48 AM
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No, it makes no sense at all, of course. You know that. Either drop it or add time to the trip.

Fly into Paris and immediately get on a train to Burgundy. Rent a car there for 3 days and tour. Drop the car, take the train back to Paris, end the trip there, and fly home from CDG. Easy peasy.
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Feb 13th, 2014, 12:04 PM
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Progress made. Purchased business class tickets this morning.

LAX TO LYON September 25th (Arrival 2:00pm 26th)
Rent a car and drive to Burgundy (3 nights)

Paris 4 nights

PARIS TO LAX October 4th.

Now that we have teh flights purchased, we would love input on where to stay on our first night between Lyon and Beaune. Since it is only a two hour drive to Beaune, we could stay in this spot for the 1st three days of our vacation and use it as a hub to explore.

Heard that Ile Saint Louis in Paris or the 4th Arrondissment are great places to stay.
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