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Small Towns Spain(Catalonia,LaRioja,Navarra,Basque)w/ trip to Bordeaux

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Dec 4th, 2014, 06:48 PM
  #1
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Small Towns Spain(Catalonia,LaRioja,Navarra,Basque)w/ trip to Bordeaux

We will be in Spain for 2 weeks in May. Flying into and out of Barcelona. We like to partake in cooking classes, visit vineyards, wineries, markets and small villages and towns where there are cafes and lots of cute little shops. We will have a car. Recommendations on some bed and breakfasts in Spain are appreciated.

Can you please recommend similar towns and villages that we visited in France and Italy:
ITALY: Florence is large, but we loved it. Chianti region and surrounding areas, Bologna and surrounding area, Sorrento, Positono, Amalfi.
FRANCE: We loved Paris. In Provence, Velleron, Isle la Sorgue, St. Remy, Les Baux and other stops along the way. Lacoste, Apt, Bonnieux, Apt, Roussillon, Pernes les Fontaines, Sault, Vaison la Romaine, Eze near Nice.

We also plan to drive into Bordeaux and St. Emillion.

We will start our trip out in Barcelona and end in Barcelona. We don't mind taking a train/drive directly to our first destination and stay in Barcelona last before our departure back to the states. We have done something similar in the past, where we flew into Rome and took a train directly to Florence, beginning our trip there and ending in Rome.

I understand that we may not have time to visit all regions, nor do we intend to. I am simply looking for recommendations in those regions and am going to plan from there. We don't mind making brief stops along the way while driving through regions/towns villages. Our trips to France and Italy were also for 2 weeks and we found we had enough time to visit multiple regions staying few nights at each as a base for full day explorations via car/foot/bike/vespa.
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Dec 4th, 2014, 08:16 PM
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Based on your 14-day itinerary, in and out of Barcelona (open jaw would have been better), and having spent your first 3 or 4 days in the Penedes and Priorat, you can take a train to Pamplona, where you can pick up a car to explore the Navarran wine region, Baja Montaña, Valdizarbe, Tierra Estella, Ribera Alta, Baja, and the Baja sub zone (allow 3 to 4 days minimum just to get started). Then you can head down to La Rioja, which lies mostly south of the Ebro River, the Rioja Alavesa, Basque Rioja is on the north side, and the Rioja Baja, which doesn't get much play, but includes some outstanding wineries, including Marqués de Murrieta, lies to the east around Alfaro.

With all of that on you plate, it would be difficult to visit Bordaux and St-Emillion without adding another week.
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Dec 5th, 2014, 06:07 AM
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Were not any of the answers on this thread you started of help?
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...m#last-comment
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Dec 5th, 2014, 11:47 AM
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Ribeirasacra: yes that helped but im actually looking for actual towns people have visited and their experiences. I have sone of the places you mentioned already noted and am looking to incorporate them into our trip
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Dec 5th, 2014, 12:12 PM
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So, what is your planned itinerary? You don't actually say what areas you intend to cover in you two-week adventure.
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Dec 5th, 2014, 12:36 PM
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I do, in my Title. Those are regions. Im asking for ideas to visit villages small towns within those regions. I just have a high level plan for now:
Fly into Barcelona, and head to a B & B in Catalonia(not in Barcelona itself), explore the region by just driving around making few stops. Thinking to stay along the coast of brava. Few days later move on to another B&B in Argon or Navarra, explore that region for a few days. Next head to San Sebastian and stay around there for a few days. From there, head to Bordeaux and stay in that area for a few days. From there, head back to Barcelona making stops along the way (I know this is a long drive) and stay a few days exploring Barcelona before heading home. We did something similar in France for 2 weeks starting in Paris ending in Nice. We like staying at places for a few days and moving on to the next. We dont find a need to stay in 1 place for 1 week always.
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Dec 5th, 2014, 12:55 PM
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I agree with Robert, you don't have enough time to go to Bordeaux, there is more than enough to see and do in 2 weeks in the other areas you have listed. In Catalonia, you might investigate Girona (not a town but a small city, but full of cafes and lots and lots of shops), it could be a good base to see places like Besalu and Begur, visit cultural sites such as the Empuries, and visit wineries in Alt Emporda. If you want to go to Priorat and Penedes for winetasting, it is better to base farther south. It depends on how in depth you want the wine experience to be. You could stay in Grattalops for a couple of nights to visit the Priorat. Or if you want to see both regions, you could base in the pretty village of Montblanc and make day trips to both regions (and the Conca de Barberà DO is not far from there, either.)

In Aragon you might enjoy Ainsa, a very pretty medieval town with lovely views of the surrounding countryside.

Maybe you can make a loop from and back to Barcelona. I'd just keep the car the whole time though, rather than drop off a car and take a train somewhere, to pick up another car.

If you really want to visit France, you can go to Collioure from northern Catalonia as a day trip. Save Bordeaux for another day...
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Dec 5th, 2014, 01:23 PM
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Rialtogrl, thank you this is what I was looking for. We are going back to France next year because we loved it so much so maybe we will explore west half of France since we already explored Paris, east side of France Provence and Cote Azur. Thank you everyone else. Please keep the suggestions coming.

What about stuff to do in Basque Country? We will have car the whole time.
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Dec 5th, 2014, 02:21 PM
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I am glad rialtogrl has psoted their ideas. I understand they have been to the region a few times.
If I refer you back to this posting.
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...omment-8996810 I did suggest you did not rush too much. Thus leaving time for BCN then travel around you may not have real time to stay and visit all on your list.
I will add to rialtogrl's suggestions with the city of Zaragoza.
http://www.zaragoza.es/turismo/
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Dec 5th, 2014, 02:31 PM
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" Girona (not a town but a small city)"
With over 100,000 inhabitants I think it qualifies as a "town".
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Dec 5th, 2014, 02:40 PM
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I guess I meant "small town" Pvoyageuse - thanks for pointing that out.
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Dec 5th, 2014, 05:22 PM
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Girona, small or not, is normally referred to as a city. The following is from www.girona.cat

"Girona is a city on a human scale with all the charm of a larger city. Take a leisurely stroll through the old town, visit the museums and the historic buildings,..."
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Dec 7th, 2014, 04:27 AM
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It is not difficult to get to the Basque country from Barcelona and see some of France in the bargain -- in fact, in your other thread, I proposed precisely that itinerary for a foodie. But if you would rather stay closer to Barcelona and the Mediterranean in general, then there are interesting small towns like Castello d'Empuries or Besalu or the pretty beach towns of the Costa Brava. For a food market town with exceptional architectural interest and history, I suggest Vic, which is smaller than Girona.

If you have never been to Spain you might do well to adjust your expectations about similarities in the landscape, architecture, food to Italy or France -- and most of all -- the different in the everyday life of the culture. Most of Spain (Barcelona is a bit of an exception) takes a very VERY long lunch&rest break in the middle of the day, when small towns can look entirely deserted, with nothing open, and they don't come to life again until the early evening -- but from then on until late in the evening everything is hopping, with many Spaniards not sitting down to dinner until 10pm. If you are primarily interested in food and wine and markets, the rhythm of the Spanish day is something you need to factor in when it comes to choosing where to spend your nights and where you want to be in the mornings or the lunch hours.
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Dec 7th, 2014, 07:08 AM
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Sandralist, thank you. Yes, I am aware of the dining hours. It's a similar culture in terms of dining hours to France and Italy. We are interested in seeing the main attractions in addition to food and wine, so will incorporate that as well. We simply like being in a city, town, village, whatever it nay be and explore as much as possible. In Barcelona we will explore by foot. In the countryside, same. We will park our car and hit the tiny streets. We really don't have an "agenda". I usually just gather a list if must see's and towns/villages and go from there. If we are driving through the countryside and see a town of interest that I don't have on my "list" we will stop and explore even if is just for an hour for a snack or coffee. Thank you for your suggested places.
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Dec 7th, 2014, 11:53 AM
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"It's a similar culture in terms of dining hours to France and Italy" Not quite. Italy and France have similar dining hours, with the exception of lunch, but not Spain.

Lunch in France is normally served between 12:45 and 1:30 (2:00 if you're lucky and happen to be in a busy tourist area), which is why we often head back into Spain for lunch when staying in the Pays Basque or Béarn (Sud-Ouest), Jurançon or French Catalunya, for our normal lunch time, 2:30 to 3:00.

There is also a difference in the dinner hours between France and Spain. Restaurants in the French countryside typically serve dinner between 8:00 and 10:00, with many closing their doors at 9:30. Most restaurants in Paris close at 11:00. In the Spainish countryside you can generally dine betwen 8:30 and 10:00, but restaurants tend to remain open until 11:00, even in some of the smaller villages. Dining after midnight during the hotter months is quite common thoughout Spain.

In Spain you'll find nearly all restaurants closed on Sunday for dinner (city or countryside) and many will be closed all day Monday.
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Dec 7th, 2014, 03:03 PM
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Hi,

I live in Italy and frequently travel to Spain, less so France, but often enough to know. Hours for eating and shop closures are noticeably different in Spain, so your past experience in Italy and France really isn't a guide.

As Robert pointed out, when it comes to lunch, most kitchens in France and Italy are starting to close up by 2.30pm. In Spain, that is the beginning of the lunch hour, not the end. Ditto Robert's info on the dinner hour.

One thing you need to bear in mind is that Spain is quite far west with respect to the core European time zone. The sun sets much, much later -- and therefore eating dinner commences much much later.

Also, with regard to wanting to "explore as much as possible," your experience of visiting small touristic Chianti towns in the middle of the day is really nothing like what you can experience in small touristic towns in Spain in the middle of the day, even ones with notable churches or other attractions. You can really end up believing nobody lives in these towns if you go there between 1 and 5pm, or 6pm if it is hot enough. Nothing will be open. You won't find a snack.

If you find it interesting to walk around a de-populated town (some people do) that's fine. It can really work for a museum-like town like Toledo. But I found it really much more enjoyable to be part of the local life of a small Spanish town in the evening, when all the families, all the shopkeepers, all the authorities, priests, grannies, musicians, lovers -- you name it -- hit the streets in the evening. I usually road trip in Spain for precisely that reason.
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Dec 7th, 2014, 03:23 PM
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You might find this book a good investment if you are planning a food-rich visit to Spain

http://www.amazon.com/Late-Dinner-Di.../dp/0743284941
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Dec 8th, 2014, 09:31 PM
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Sandralist, thank you! No, I do not want to roam the streets while they are deserted. What towns/villages are most appealing to you that would serve our taste?
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Dec 9th, 2014, 04:14 AM
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I posted my choices above.
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Dec 9th, 2014, 08:32 PM
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sandralist, agh yes. I didn't look at the "name". Thanks. I have noted your suggestion and mapped them so hopefully they will work out during our routes.
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