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Good layover between Paris and Barcelona?

Good layover between Paris and Barcelona?

Nov 7th, 2014, 05:31 PM
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Good layover between Paris and Barcelona?

After a week in Paris we are heading down to Barcelona for 4 nights. There are 6 of us (parents, two grown sons and 2 girlfriends) and I am trying to find to a relaxing spot between our 2 cities to get some downtime. I have done a little research on French basque region especially St. Jean de Luz since we have 2 surfers in the group. Worried that it is too far off the route from Paris to Barca. No car rental wanted. Any suggestions? Needs to have great food! Probably have 4 nights to spend between Paris and Barcelona. We've all been to Barcelona so 4 nights there is about right.
macdogmom is offline  
Nov 7th, 2014, 06:12 PM
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You have two options. The first would be to take the train to Biarritz, about 5-1/2 hours, spend whatever time you have (4 nights) and then take the train from Biarritz to Barcelona, about 9-1/2 hours. No car required.

The second option would be simply to take the train from Paris to Barcelona and enjoy the beach (no surfing).

Both options offer great food and wine.
Robert2533 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 12:55 AM
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Have you considered Toulouse? It's a very compact university city, with plenty to do and see for a few days.
There's a direct train from Paris to Toulouse, then there to Barcelona (or others that require a change at Narbonne). Di
di2315 is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 01:21 AM
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If you want to include the possibility of surfing, the you have to go to the Atlantic coast and choose one of the areas along the Bay of Biscay. This area of Western France is way off the route to travel to Barcelona, but the Med coast has no real waves of any size.

Robert is right to point you towards Biarritz, where there are several beaches used by surfers, but if you decide to avoid the trek west Toulouse is a good bet (but nowhere near the coast of course). Alternatively you could consider Avignon, a great place for a few days with lots to see and do.
Rubicund is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 02:00 AM
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There are 2 daily trains from Irun (French/Spanish border close to Biarritz) to Barcelona:
Irun dp 7.10 and 15.51 - Barcelona ar 13.20 and 22.09.
neckervd is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 03:33 AM
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If you go down to the Biarritz/Irun area, you should perhaps go the few extra miles to spectacular and beautiful San Sebastian, a surfers paradise and the culinary capital of Spain, if not all of Europe. Trains to Barcelona twice a day.

"Is San Sebastian the best place to eat in Europe?": http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandst...rink.shopping2

Video presentation of Donostia/San Sebastian, European capital of culture 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCt5P74DkcY
kimhe is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 07:38 AM
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Thanks for all the great suggestions. Looks like if we go to St. Jean, the train from Irun is the best way to access Barcelona. Thanks Kimhe for great San Seb links. We have stayed there twice in the last few years and want to explore another spot for this trip. I am a little worried about weather on Atlantic coast in May. We had a pretty wet few days in San Seb a few years ago. I'm searching for a duplication of our Masseria stay in Puglia last spring. A place to kick back for a few days in between Paris and Barcelona. Avignon is a possibility or something in the countryside around there.
macdogmom is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 08:00 AM
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except for the surfing Avignon and its area offers so so much even without a car and is smack on the TGV/AVE high-speed rail line between Paris and Barcelona

going via the west coast means adding an extra travel day into your plans and can't the grown sons and folks go their separate ways for a few days - both parties may find that nice (perhaps not).

Avignon, Arles, the Pont du Gard, fantastic Les Baux, St-Remy-de-Provence are all captivating places - one reason this is the number one tourist area in France I hear.
PalenQ is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 08:07 AM
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I would stick with a more direct route and avoid the long train ride from the Basque region. Arles is a beautiful small city with great Roman ruins (amphitheater etc.), food, sites and lots of charm and also can be used as a base to make day trips (Med. coast etc.). It's just under 5 hours by train from Barcelona, with a transfer in Nîmes. It will, however, require either one or two transfers if coming from Paris.

FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 08:53 AM
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>> little worried about weather on Atlantic coast in May<<

When we were in the Pay Basque (Sare) for 2 weeks in late June 2012, we had some rain too. Lots of clouds on other days. There was only 1 or 2 days when we had "beach" weather. One of my guide books says the Pays Basque gets more rain than Ireland. We thought St Jean de Luz was just OK - nothing special. Not even our favorite city in that Biarritz/Bayonne area. Wouldn't want to be there for 4 days in "iffy" weather without a car. Fabulous restaurants in the Pays Basque - but you'll need to use a car to get to our favorites.

Toulouse (along with Dijon) are our two favorite cities in France - after Paris. As di2315 stated - good train access from Paris & to Barcelona. Easy train access to Albi and Carcassonne. Albi is in our "top 5" medium-sized cities in France. Toulouse is where I would stay in May. Get the Michelin Green Guide for the Languedoc and follow the walking itineraries.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 11:37 AM
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Thanks for everyone's input. I'm going to do some more research on Arles, Avignon and Toulouse.

I'm remembering that Spain has a group of hotels that are located in monasteries and castles. Vaguely remember researching one that was north of Barcelona. Anybody have a link or name?
macdogmom is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 11:55 AM
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Stu Dudley
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Nov 8th, 2014, 11:59 AM
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Yes, thank you. I just googled and answered my own question.

Have you ever stayed in one, Stu?
macdogmom is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 12:38 PM
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Yep - north of Barcelona at Parador du Cardona in Solsona. Very nice!!!

Stu Dudley
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Nov 8th, 2014, 01:06 PM
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You might consider Marseille, it has more going on than Avignon, and is about midway on the train route. I do like Toulouse, also.
Christina is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 01:48 PM
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Fast train from Paris to Avignon is only a couple of hours, then about four hours from Avignon to Barcelona. Though no surfing, there are lots of beautiful places to see, wonderful food and wine. My personal favorite was Aigues Mortes because we stayed three nights and evening there was lovely.
Sassafrass is online now  
Nov 8th, 2014, 03:07 PM
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IMO, Avignon would be a good choice IF you are willing to rent a car. Provence is fantastic - we've spent 20 weeks vacationing there. Outside of Paris, Provence & the Dordgone are our favorite regions in France. You can get to Arles, Nimes, & Aix easily by train - but these 3 cities and Avignon are all somewhat similar in "look & feel", IMO. I would want to get out in the countryside and explore the Luberon, the Cote du Rhone winegrowing region, Pont du Gard & Uzes, and even Aignes Mortes (though not one of our favorites). But you said you DID NOT want to rent a car.

Also, getting to Barcelona might take a long time unless you can get all 6 of you up & running & taxied/bused to the Avignon TGV station by 8:15 am, or walk to the central Avignon station by 8:15 (a train change needed). Later than 8:45 will consume the entire day and multiple trains will be involved. You can decide if you can get the "gang" moving at that time of the morning (the sun rises later in Provence than it does where I live in Calif).

I still vote for Toulouse. I think there is more stuff to do in Toulouse than in Avignon, and Albi and Carcassone will be something quite different.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 03:11 PM
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>>But you said you DID NOT want to rent a car<< and you'll need a car to explore these places in 4 nights/3 1/2 days.

Stu Dudley
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Nov 8th, 2014, 04:02 PM
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Thanks, Stu. We have rented a car and explored countryside in Provence and a little of the Dordogne. I was just looking for a place to plonk down for a few days in between lots of sightseeing in Paris and Barcelona. Something with a pool and great food onsite. Starting to think maybe we should just go onto Barcelona and maybe do something at tail end of trip in Spain. It's a little scary how things are already booking up for May. I reserved apartment in Paris a month or two ago and still didn't get exactly what I wanted.
macdogmom is offline  
Nov 8th, 2014, 05:10 PM
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Perhaps try to find something in Perpignan or near Collioure. The TGV from Paris to Barcelona goes through Perpignan.

Stu Dudley
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