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Itenerary Ideas for France and Northern Spain

Itenerary Ideas for France and Northern Spain

May 27th, 2010, 07:13 AM
  #1  
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Itenerary Ideas for France and Northern Spain

I am wanting to plan a trip to visit some of the French wine country and then head over to Barcelona and Madrid. Does anyone have any itenerary ideas including driving or train? And what is the best time of year for budget and season to plan this trip?
davis82 is offline  
May 27th, 2010, 07:24 AM
  #2  
 
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Barcelona is not considered northern Spain, that would be the areas from Basque country to Galicia.

Do you mean the Bordeaux region?
Aduchamp1 is offline  
May 27th, 2010, 07:30 AM
  #3  
 
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From the Bordeaux region, you'd be in a position to enjoy the Basque country and then head on to Madrid.

Barcelona would kind of be askew, unless you are coming from Rhone or Languedoc. In which case, you could slide down to Barcelona and over to Madrid.
Woyzeck is offline  
May 27th, 2010, 08:39 AM
  #4  
 
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How long is your trip? We did a 35-day driving trip through France and northern Spain, in which we decided to visit Barcelona instead of Madrid so we could then meander up the Mediterranean coast to Collieure and Cathar country, then on to Provence. Being mid-Sept to mid-October we had planned a skeleton itinerary, but left quite a bit up to chance. It was fabulous.

Anyway, you might want to plan a more focused trip through Bordeaux (I think you can do that - we had spent our time in the Dordogne) down the coast to St Jean de Luz,entering Basque country. We didn't stay, but it was a lovely place. You could either continue down the coast to San Sebastian, or go inland a bit into the mountains (we wanted to cross the now non-existent border at Roncevales like in the Chanson de Roland) and head for Pamplona. From there we spent a night in Vitoria-Gasteiz, and back to the coast (we had lunch in San Sebastian) and stayed at a Basque seaside town for two nights (Lekeito) so we could ramble around the beautiful coast and countryside. We then went to Bilbao for a night, then on to Zaragosa, and finally to Barcelona. The best "long term" parking in Barcelona is at the airport. We left our car there and found a little apartment for five nights just of Placa Catalunya. In retrospect, while this worked out great for us, I wouldn't trust it to work out for everyone and would advise having reserved accommodations in Barcelona! We had decided to enjoy Barcelona and save Madrid for a future trip.

There is a trip report somewhere on line here - I don't think I was posting as Uh-oh at that time, could have been Lady O Leisure. But just that bit gives you an idea of a possible itinerary. (We had started visiting Loire Valley and the Dordogne) but you can easily cover parts of Bordeaux and Cotes du Rhone areas in France, and you'll find the Rioja area of Spain - if you looking for a wine-themed trip. We did about a week in France, then 13 days in Spain, finishing up with the rest of the trip in France.

The driving is easy. Use the highways (which are fairly expensive but fast) when you want to cover a good bit of distance, and the local road networks when you are enjoying poking around a smaller region. There were lovely little towns we discovered which we'd never have seen if we'd only focused on getting from one specific destination to another (e.g., Pamplona to Bilbao to Barcelona). Our Spanish isn't very good, but that wasn't a big problem in Basque Country. Not that people are likely to speak English, but patience and an easy going attitude will go far. We carried a small menu handbook that translated basics from French or Spanish to English, and the people at our hotels or B&Bs were usually able to give us suggestions. There was even an old guy on the street at one seaside Basque town who ran up and frantically gesticulated that we SHOULD NOT put a coin in the town parking meter because - maybe there was no charge during the lunch-time hours, or maybe he was against giving the local government any support - the signs were all in Basque not Spanish and we had no idea what they said!

When you end up in Barcelona (or it is probably the same in Madrid) you are in such a multi-national tourist area that English (and French, Spanish, Catalan, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, etc) is spoken all over the place. Here are links to our rambling through Spain. http://europetogo.yuku.com/forum/viewtopic/id/474 and http://europetogo.yuku.com/forum/viewtopic/id/529
uhoh_busted is offline  
Apr 1st, 2011, 04:42 PM
  #5  
 
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DId you do the trip? We are planning a similar trip startingfor OCT 2011 for 3 weeks----- in France (Bordeaux), the DORDOGNE, BASQUE area and then MADRID. We would prefer to stay in each area for about a week. Can you suggest homebase for Dordogne and basque region??
lajolla is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2011, 01:26 AM
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lajolla,

San Sebastián would be a perfect base in the Basque region. A fabulous city in itself and the gastronomical capital of Spain. 17 Michelin stars in town (pop 180 000) and according to the world's most famous chef, Ferran Adria, the best place to eat in the world "in terms of what you can get at any place you happen to walk into". The article "A different kind of Spain" gives you an idea of San Sebastián and the region: http://marshlands.blogstream.com/

Lots of charming villages along the coast towards vibrant Bilbao with the Guggenheim museum. http://www.guggenheim.org/bilbao
kimhe is offline  
Apr 8th, 2011, 03:25 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
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Have you done this trip? What time of year did you go? Did you rent a car? We are looking at doing a similar trip.
lajolla is offline  
Apr 9th, 2011, 05:57 AM
  #8  
 
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Been here almost every year since the late 80's. Gone along the coast between San Sebastián and Bilbao loads of times both by bus and car. Would recommend to go in April - Oct.
kimhe is offline  
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