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zac495 Jun 21st, 2016 08:51 AM

South of France to Barcelona
I am planning ahead - looking at France and Barcelona in July 2017.

The group: No kids (55ish healthy and possibly the grown kids)

What we like: Lazy days by the beaches; interesting shopping and eating in authentic towns, exploring old castles and such, boat rides. (We LOVED Turkey)

Where we like to stay: Nice hotels - not necessarily the big places, though we have a lot of Marriott points so we may take advantage of them here or there. But we like to stay on the ocean

We are happy to drive or take trains - we are considering doing 4 days in Barcelona at the beginning or end but not necessary (we can go back another year)

We're thinking 12 days

Any thoughts are appreciated. Yes, I have looked at some of the older posts and I thank you.


BigRuss Jun 21st, 2016 09:23 AM

How are you going to stay on the ocean in the South of France or in Barcelona? That's impossible.

There's a W in Barcelona that's out in the sea . . .

What's a non-authentic town?

Take trains. If you drive across country lines and drop the car in another country, it'll cost you a LOT. Besides, the French and Spanish drive like Europeans.

RonZ Jun 21st, 2016 10:25 AM

If you end the France part in Montpellier, the train to Barcelona takes 3 hours. What is your home airport?

PalenQ Jun 21st, 2016 10:31 AM

Trains are great if going to a few decided cities served by them but a car would be much much better to explore rural areas in between the large cities - but do drop it off in France to avoid steep drop-off fees for doing so in a country other than in which you rented it - like in Perpignan - direct high-speed trains to Barcelona from there.

But if by train check out these IMO superb sources - - great info on discounted tickets in both countries; and - check out the latter's online European Planning & Rail Guide for lots of suggested itineraries by train.

zac495 Jun 21st, 2016 12:10 PM

I'm sorry - I was trying to give a lot of information so that you could all answer without me confusing you and I seem to have done just that.

I didn't say non-authentic town - I said authentic. I should have said (I guess) quaint, non-touristy.

I said okay with train meaning I know we can't drive from France to Spain. I've read that here many times.

Big Russ - I meant places by the ocean in France not Barcelona.

Maybe this is a better question: What are some of your favorite towns to stay in along the south of France? We're quite adventurous and love renting cars and driving from place to place. OR choose one or two places and do day trips. We would DRIVE except to get to Barcelona.

Ronz - we are in Philadelphia. Thank you very much as always, here at this great forum.

PalenQ Jun 21st, 2016 01:20 PM

Aigues-Mortes is one you should research - historic port where one Saint Louis set off for Crusades long ago - ancient ramparts -neat port - right on your route.

go thru the Camargue perhaps - fabled swamp area where you can ride ponies into the wilds to see the iconic wild horses and flamingos.

I would stray from the coast too - like to Carcassonne and Toulouse and maybe take a train from La Tour de Carole to Barcelona - thru the Pyrenees - La Tour de Carole is a Pyrenees resort area - Andorra is a short bus ride from there. Direct trains to Barcelona.

Couliers and area is a bunch of cute seaside towns right near the Spanish frontier.

StCirq Jun 21st, 2016 01:26 PM

If you actually mean the ocean, and not the Med, which isn't an ocean, then obviously the only choice you have is the Atlantic, with loads of choices, from north of Biscarosse down to the Côte d'Argent to St-Jean-de-Luz and Bayonne and Biarritz...on down to Spain.

There is practically nothing "quaint, non-touristy" anywhere in France near water. Everything, however, is "authentic." You just can't hope to get near the water in France in summertime without being part of a huge tourist culture.

Christina Jun 21st, 2016 01:43 PM

I don't know of any spots that are on the coast that don't have lots of visitors as beaches, they are just all known and frequented.

But part of the problem is you want a luxury hotel and you are never going to get that in a small, non-touristed spot. So that is the biggest disconnect of what you want, it seems to me. And preferably something where you can use Marriott points.

I think if you want a higher-end hotel with an ocean view, I suggest you do that in Nice, where you can get one like that. Like La Perouse.

Then, if you go west, generally it seems things aren't quite as crowded west of Marseille. But I think you may really be disappointed if you really were at a small, nontouristy beach. Cap d'Ail is a little more laid back than some other places, but then I don't think you'll like a modest hotel like this one

kja Jun 21st, 2016 04:17 PM

For a stop along the Mediterranean between Barcelona and the border with France, consider Tossa de Mar. The Cap d'Or is small, but delightful:

RonZ Jun 21st, 2016 09:12 PM

From/to Philidelphia there are non-stop flights to Paris, Mardid and Barcelona.

PalenQ Jun 22nd, 2016 03:03 PM

Cap d'Ail is indeed one place on the generally over-developed Riviera that has escaped modern high-rise intrusions - a real backwater with good swimming if not nice beaches - boulders tumble right into the sea.

sunshine55 Jun 23rd, 2016 05:01 AM

We returned yesterday from a month exactly where you want to go. I would not drive a rental car from France into Spain. You could drop it in Perpignan and train it. Nice places - so many - Marseillan ((Noilly Prat), Sete, Collioure, Aigues Mortes. I would also go inland a bit - Fontfroide Abbey, Carcassonne, Pezenas is very quaint. We went to Albi and that was a long drive. Uzes is lovely. Cathar castles like Puilarens, Queribus, Peryrepertuse. My wife took an amazing cooking course just outside Carcassonne. So many wineries, best beaches - hands down Espiguette and Cap d'Adge. Don't forget the 7 locks in Beziers are closed for repair so forget about them. FYI The tolls from Marseille to Narboone came to 32€. The N and D roads are fine unless you want to make time.

PalenQ Jun 23rd, 2016 10:32 AM

sunshine - sounds like a lovely month!

zac495 Jul 31st, 2016 03:30 AM

Thank you so much for all of your replies. Our plans have changed as we must be in London - so now it will be fly into Barcelona, go to a couple of coastal (yes the sea, not ocean, I apologize) towns and then fly to London.

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