northern spain/southern france

Old Oct 2nd, 2023, 04:16 PM
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northern spain/southern france

we are planning a trip in May 2024 to Rioja , Bilbao, San Sabastian up to Biarritzz/ Bayonne St. Jean de Luz, over to Costa Brava (need help here for some routes and beautiful villages to visit en route and to reduce the 5 + hour journey - Va d'Aran? Carcassone? ) and then down to Barcelona from Costa Brava (Begur? Cadaques?) - we would prefer to have a driver from stop to stop (not necessarily same person/entire trip but would prefer not to drive the long hauls ) but not sure how to set that up- would love to hear suggestions of what not to miss and how to coordinate and what resources are available
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Old Oct 3rd, 2023, 02:33 AM
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roughly how long is the trip?

Narbonne and the canal are the obvious places to visit
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Old Oct 3rd, 2023, 08:48 AM
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It would help to have a time line for your trip. It might be only 5.5 hours from Biarritz ro Girona. but the minute you detour and stop to visit a picturesque place, you probably will use a couple of hours. By naming several places along that route at least one extra day of driving would be required. Here are some things to do or see:

Taking the la Rhune cog railway for a view of the whole area:


Making a detour to see this town:


Of course, Carcassonne:


and Mirepoix is un plus beau village:

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Old Dec 4th, 2023, 12:27 PM
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spain / france basque region and costa brava

Hi I am reviving this thread - we would like to plan a 2 week trip in May of 2024 of the Basque regions of Spain and France (with emphasis on food/culture) and over to Costa Brava and back down to Barcelona - we hope to have either a private driver or dedicated transportation between stops - I'd love to hear what are the most recommended/interesting/charming towns/cities and about how long we would want to spend in each
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Old Dec 4th, 2023, 04:38 PM
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please let me know what you think of this itinerary that I have come up with - your input and suggestions would really be appreciated - we would like to arrange for private transportation/driver as we don't want to rent a car and drive:
  • fly from US into Madrid
  • train from Madrid to either Rioja or Bilbao
  • we would like to include Rioja in our trip as well but only want to do 1 winery
  • from there we would like to go to Hondarribia or San Sebastian - one of our friends has suggested staying in Hondarribia (and staying at the Parador de Hondarribia) and visiting San Sebastian, Biarritz, Bayonne , St Jean de Luz from there - benefit is less moving around - others have recommended definitely staying in San Sebastian since most of our meals will be there
  • definitely want to also visit Biarritz, Bayonne , ST Jean de Luz - either from Hondarribia/San Sebastian or staying there - the Hotel du Palais has been recommended in Biarritz
  • we have no interest in the towns affiliated with the Camino de Santiago or Lourdes
  • for stops along the Pyrenees, would it make sense to stop at Arreau followed by La Seu de Urgell? the Parador de la Seu d'Urgell has been recommended
  • rather than Carcassonne, Collioure would be a nice stop
  • afterward we would like to spend afew nights in Cadaques and stay at the Horta d'en Rahola
  • on the route from Cadaques to Barcelona we could stop in Girona
  • we could end the trip with 2 days in Barcelona
  • fly home from Barcelona
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 06:07 AM
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A few questions and some comments:
1. Since you're flying from the US, can you not take a connecting flight from Barajas to Bilbao on Iberia? Iberia has a flight at 11:45 am and another at 3:55 pm.
Our own Fodorite, mikelg, is a cultural/wine/food guide who takes his clients from their Bilbao hotesl down to the Rioja for the day for a wine tour and lunch.
www.toursbybasques.com

2. Most of your meals will be in the city of San Sebastián, as at the Michelin stars Amelia, Akelarre and Arzak or other non-starred?
Martín Berasategui is located in Lasarte, Mugaritz in Errenteria.

Hondarribia also has the Michelin-starred Alameda and several other outstanding Repsol sun recommended restaurants and others, such as Gastroteka Danontzat, Abarka, Arraunlari Berri, Hermandad de Pescadores, Asador Laia, Asador Sutan.
Hondarribia also has the lovely boutique hotel Villa Magalean in addition to the Parador.
https://www.villamagalean.com.

3. I've based at both to take day trips to the Pays Basque. Hondarribia is closer, but since you need a private driver, you´ll find the companies that provide driver-guides are based in San Sebastián, although Tours by Basques (above) can also provide private tours to the Pays Basque. More details on its web page. You don't need, then, to stay at the Du Palais in Biarritz.

4. Since you need a private driver for the journey from the Spanish Basque Country (starting in Hondarribia or San Sebastián) through the Pyrenees to Barcelona, it would make sense to take the route through the Spanish Pyrenees with stops perhaps in the gorgeous Val d'Aran (2 Paradors there, one in Vielha and another in Artíes) and La Seu de Urgell in the Alt Urgell. I've stayed at the contemporary Parador there and also outside of town at the Relais & Château El Castell de Ciutat or,,,,
your second stop could be in the equally scenic Cerdanya in Bolvir at the Serras Torre del Remei (formerly a Relais & Château). Why? Because Bolvir in the Cerdanya is closer than La Seu to Cadaqués. Viamichelin.com estimates a drive of around 3 hours, w/o stops.
This drive would take you through the very scenic Garrotxa extinct volcanic area, stopping for lunch in medieval Besalú. This route would not pass through Collioure but instead would pass through some of the most beautiful parts of Catalunya.

5. In Cadaqués, I wouldn't miss the chance to dine at Compartir, if you have your emphasis on fine food. Girona for me is best seen with an overnight but possible for a very quick overview on route to Barcelona.

6. All that said, I don't know that you can leisurely fit in all of the above in 2 weeks, if you have only 12-13 nights on the ground. If you include Collioure, you would have your driver take the French route from Puigcerdá in Cerdanya to Collioure. And I can't address the (naturally very expensive) private driver issue.

Others can give you advice on a French route. I just know the route through the Spanish Pyrenees much better, although I've done the other route.





Last edited by Maribel; Dec 5th, 2023 at 06:20 AM.
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Old Dec 11th, 2023, 04:25 PM
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Should we stat overnight in St Sebastian?

Sorry to jump in your thread. We ll be renting a car from Bilbao. We have a week available. Should we do St Sebastian on a day trip or better stay 5 nights in Bilbao and 2 in St Sebastian and from there visit Hondambia as well? While at Bilbao we plan day trips to the west. Thanks
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Old Dec 13th, 2023, 12:56 PM
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which route is more interesting and more scenic - across the Pyrenees in northern Spain or in southern France - any recommended towns/villages for overnights?
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Old Dec 14th, 2023, 03:12 AM
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towns/villages for overnights on the Pyrenees route with northern Spain, see post #6.
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