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Paris --> Madrid for two young adult women

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Mar 19th, 2014, 08:01 PM
  #1
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Paris --> Madrid for two young adult women

Hi! My 20 year-old sister and I (I'm 23) are planning a nine day trip through France and Spain this July. We're thinking of flying into Paris and then making our way via train through France and Spain to Madrid. From Madrid, we'd take the train to Seville where we're meeting friends and family that live there. I was thinking we could spend the first few nights in Paris, the last few nights in Madrid, and then break up the the rest of the trip (we're probably talking about 4 or 5 nights in the middle) by stopping in various places that correspond with the typical train route from Paris to Madrid. While we've traveled in Europe before, this will be our first time in Paris, and my sister's first time in Madrid. We were recently in Barcelona, so in the interest of seeing some new places, it's not a top destination for this upcoming trip.
I'd love any advice on train tickets or travel routes, and/or suggestions on places to stop along the way down to Madrid! We're both pretty adventurous and love getting off the beaten path, but are also always down for some great food, fun night life, museums, etc.
Thanks so much in advance for the help!
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Mar 19th, 2014, 08:25 PM
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The Basque country, French and Spanish side, might be a good mid-point between Paris and Madrid.
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Mar 19th, 2014, 08:31 PM
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You will see very little of Spain and France besides Seville with the amount of time you have allocated. Also take a look at Vueling, for a flight between Paris and Seville.
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Mar 19th, 2014, 08:55 PM
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Does the 9 day trip include Seville? As I would recommend not taking a train from Paris to Madrid and adding any additional stops. Fly from Paris to Madrid instead. Honestly, Paris you would want to stay a lot longer (at least 5 full days), so fly into Madrid for the rest of them.
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Mar 20th, 2014, 01:26 AM
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The last thing you want when you're on holiday is more airports and flights.

You can take a train from Paris to Barcelona, centre to centre in a scenic 6h25, from 59 euros at www.capitainetrain.com - departures at 07:15, 14:07 and (from 31 March 2014) 16:07. Flying would take 5 hours of RER train to the airport, check-in, flight, another airport and another train.

Have a look round Barcelona, then take a high-speed AVE train to Madrid in 2h30 centre to centre, from around 45 euros at www.renfe.com or www.petrabax.com/renfe

Or there are direct AVEs to Seville in around 5h30, again centre to centre.
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Mar 20th, 2014, 01:50 AM
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Gosh, the train to Barcelona is it! I didn't realize this was running. I thought it still took 12 hours.

Barcelona is absolutely fantastic if you are young and pretty good if you are old! Read a guidebook, and watch the movie "Vicki Christina Barcelona" before you go. Famous buildings, great food, great beaches.

It will be really hot in Spain in July unless you are from Arizona or Nevada. That is why they take siestas and eat dinner at ten o'clock at night. You are lucky to have relatives to show you around.

Have a great time.

PS If you haven't bought the tickets yet, it may be cheaper to fly Iberia into Madrid and maybe an Iberia code-share out of Paris, doing the trip in reverse.
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Mar 20th, 2014, 05:15 AM
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for lots of great info on trains check out not only Man in Seat 61 who posts above - his commercial site www.seat61.com and these other informative sights to help plan the rail part - www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com. There is a France-Spain Railpass that could be of use since you are traveling a lot by train in those two countries - check above sites for prices. Not sold in European stations - only for non-Europeans.
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Mar 20th, 2014, 05:22 AM
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If you intend travelling across France, then why not take in some of the most beautiful villages of France - there are 150+ villages which have been selected as "Les Beaux Villages de France"; there is a map here:
http://www.les-plus-beaux-villages-d...illages-france
This will help you plan your journey.

Alternatively, there are 28 World Heritage sites across France - map and further details here:
http://www.francefactsabout.com/amaz...e-sites-france

Bon Voyage!
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Mar 20th, 2014, 07:29 AM
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Thanks for all of the help! The nine day trip doesn't include Seville. We'll be in Seville for a longer period of time following our 9-day trip down from Paris. Ackislander, totally agree that Barcelona is really great, but we were just there together for an extended period of time not too long ago, and would therefore like to hit up some of the other places around Spain before meeting up with friends in Seville. To clarify: This is our third trip to Spain (my second trip to Madrid). Based off of where family and friends live in Spain, we know Barcelona, Seville/Andalucia pretty well, but have yet to extensively explore Northern Spain. And while we've been to the south of France, the rest of the country (including Paris), is new to us. I think we thought the train could be a nice change from flying, especially since we're then flying to other parts of Europe on the second leg of our trip.
Perhaps Basque country and one of the villages that OllyF mentioned could do the trick. I'll also definitely look into one of the France-Spain rail passes.

Thanks again very much! I really appreciate all of the advice.
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Mar 20th, 2014, 08:28 AM
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Spain has lots of overnight trains as well - same time say going between Granada or Seville and Barcelona - pretty boring scenery in between and save on the cost of a hotel too!
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Mar 20th, 2014, 11:20 AM
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For Seville you need to be aware that highs in the summer are often more than 100 degrees and can easily be 120 degrees for a week or more at a time. Don't know who you are staying with but be sure you have excellent AC and/or access to a good pool.

Otherwise you couldn't pay me to spend summer in Seville.
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Mar 20th, 2014, 11:44 AM
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can easily be 120 degrees for a week or more at a time.

Doubtful, but Seville is hot in the summer, and when we were there the hotel charged off-season prices. We did not have AC and survived quite well, but we also were much younger.
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Mar 20th, 2014, 12:38 PM
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Haha this will be our third summer in Seville! So at this point, we're pretty used to it. But you're right, the heat can be brutal.... But bearable!
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Mar 23rd, 2014, 01:19 AM
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I have spent a bit of time travelling in France n Spain.

I would strongly recommend spending time in Biarritz, San Sebastian & Bilbao. These three cities are up there with my favs between Paris n Madrid and all have excellent food, culture and some great nightlife.

I have found travel around Basque area was easy with spontaneous train/bus travel. I once did a pretty pleasant bus from Santander to Madrid which by memory took about a day with an overnight stay in decent sized village whose name now escapes.

Hope this helps, sure it will be a great trip.
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Mar 31st, 2014, 09:07 AM
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RoryG, thanks so much. I'm putting san Sebastian and Bilbao on our list.
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Mar 31st, 2014, 11:27 AM
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I also very much recommend San Sebastián, my favourite city on the planet. San Sebastián was recently voted #5 destination in the world by Condé Nast Traveler: http://www.sansebastianturismo.com/

San Sebastián is the food capital of Spain, some of the finest city beaches on the continent and great nightlife.
NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/07/tr...anted=all&_r=0
Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/20...as-pintxo-bars
Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/de...lin-stars.html

All about going for the famous pintxos in San Sebastián: http://www.todopintxos.com/home/home.php?lang=en

Nightlife: http://www.lacunza.com/spanish/sanse...-nightlife.php
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Mar 31st, 2014, 01:54 PM
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The official name of San Sebastian is Donostia and once there you will see the Spanish occupiers name San Sebastian often crossed out with just Donostia remaining.

Donostia may be ranked $45 by Conde Nash and it is a really nice place but 45th in the world - I would not even put in 45th in Europe though it is a very very nice town. a few days there for the average traveler is sufficient.
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