Spain and France Itinerary Help

Jul 18th, 2013, 01:39 PM
  #1  
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Spain and France Itinerary Help

DW and DH are putting the final touches on our upcoming (September '13) seventeen day trip to Spain primarily, ending at CDG. Our primary objective is to visit Barcelona and the San Sebastian area. The "problem" is that we're not sure where to spend the last three nights of the trip. The following is our itinerary as it now stands:

-- 5 nights - Barcelona (Mercer Hotel in the Barri Gotic)
-- Fly to Bilbao for one night at the Silken Gran Domine to see the Guggenheim
-- Drive or train to San Sebastian - 5 nights at The "Zen Apartment" (Centro location) Friendly Apt. Rentals. Explore environs.
-- 3 nights ????
-- one night - Sheraton CDG before flying home

One obvious solution is to stay in Paris for the last few days, although DW wanted to try someplace "new" since we have been to Paris many times before. DH was thinking about Bordeaux, then TGV directly to CDG. DW not so sure, since she is not a big wine fan and regardless, we have Napa Valley near our home. Would Toulouse make sense?? What other cities/towns "on the way to Paris" might work? Any thoughts/recommendations would be greatly appreciated, including lodging recommendations. DH needs help!

Although it's been a long while since my last post, I have always admired this forum as the premier site to get reliable travel info.

Thanks in advance for your help.
BelTib is offline  
Jul 18th, 2013, 02:03 PM
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Bordeaux is a fascinating historic town but not one that I would chose to spend vacation days in - a big loud city for the most part - now Saint-Emilion in the heart of the Borfdeaux wine country is a gem - a neat old city around which vineyards swirl in a 360-degree circle - hop into local wineries for a tour and a taste - St Emilion even has train service (sometimes buses) from Lilbourne - which has TGVs (on the Bordeaux-Paris Montparnasse line. I could see spending a few neat days in St-Emilion - could do a day trip one day to the fabled Dordogne as the train (and bus) line goes to Sarlat, tourist and administrative capital of the famous Dordogne (sans car however hard to get around in) -

farther north Angouleme is a neat old larger town smack on the rail route to Paris - also good for a day's rest.

The Loire Valley is also smack on the rail line - take a train to Amboise and use it as a base to hop on such famous nearby chateaus like Chambord and Chenonceau.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 18th, 2013, 02:22 PM
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Thanks PalenQ!

We always talked about visiting the Loire one day. That's is a good possibility for us. I will start looking into train/plane schedules from San Sebastian.

Any recommendations for the best hotel near Amboise?
BelTib is offline  
Jul 18th, 2013, 02:30 PM
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http://www.chateaupray.com/index.html - short walk from Amboise' castle and town center. Stay in a veritable chateau.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 18th, 2013, 02:43 PM
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From Bilbao to San Sebastián I recommend the direct bus in 1h 15min. Leaves Bilbao every 30 mins.
http://www.pesa.net/pesa/documentos/...ian-Bilbao.pdf
http://www.pesa.net/pesa/horariosBD/ctrl_horarios.php
kimhe is offline  
Jul 18th, 2013, 02:44 PM
  #6  
Ian
 
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Another vote for the Loire. The TGV stops in Tours & rental cars are available at the station (well they were a decade ago but easy to check). Tours is about an hour from Paris. Rent a car & tour the chateaux. A very relaxing area. As above - stay in a chateaux. We stayed in the Chateau Chissay in '99.

Ian
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Jul 19th, 2013, 02:53 PM
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Just a couple more logistical questions, as we have decided to spend the three last days of our trip in the Loire Valley.

What would be the fastest/least stressed way to travel from San Sebastian to the Loire? Drive/fly/train? I know I will want to have a car in the Loire and drop it off on the last day at the TGV station in Saint-Pierre-des-Corps before heading to CDG.

Also, would it make sense to stay at a hotel in Chinon for the "west of Tours" chateaux and one in Amboise for the "east of Tours" chateaux to minimize crossing through Tours? Just a thought...
BelTib is offline  
Jul 19th, 2013, 08:11 PM
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Sorry to be off topic... How did you chose Silken Gran Domine? I'm thinking about this hotel but some reviews have me doubting it.
joannyc is offline  
Jul 20th, 2013, 07:59 AM
  #9  
Ian
 
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Fastest & least stressed? Probably fly to Orly, rent a car & drive down.

Ian
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Jul 20th, 2013, 03:59 PM
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You don't need a car however as there are lots of mini-bus tours from Amboise that do full- and half-day jaunts of providing transportation to the more popular chateaus. You can take trains from St-Pierre-des-Corps to Amboise.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2013, 10:17 AM
  #11  
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joannyc: The reviews for the Gran Domine on Tripadvisor were extremely positive. We reserved the "Guggenheim" room for 238 euros including a well recommended buffet breakfast for two on the upper floor terrace overlooking the museum. Also, I believe our PESA bus from the airport and the one to San Sebastian stops right in front of the hotel. Should be the perfect hotel for one night in Bilbao.
BelTib is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2013, 11:06 AM
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Thanks very much, BelTib!

Being that I'm a solo traveler, I wasn't going to pay over $300 USD for one night. I booked the Hotel Carlton for 93 euros instead. I think, for me, it's a better location... midway between the Guggenheim and Old Town.
joannyc is offline  
Jul 24th, 2013, 04:42 AM
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Your apartment is located on a pedestrianised street and parking is difficult in San Sebastian anyway so the PESA bus from Bilbao is recommended.
BiarritzTaxi is offline  
Jul 24th, 2013, 11:07 AM
  #14  
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BiarritzTaxi: I did notice on the PESA website that the bus from Bilbao to San Sebastian runs on the hour, but I wasn't sure of the exact route. Do you know if in fact it stops near the Gran Domine hotel in Bilbao and if there is a stop near San Marcial 21 in San Sebastian?

We will be renting a car near the end of our stay in SS so that we can tour around Biarritz/Saint-Jean-de-Lus/Bayonne then on to Amboise. As your screen name implies, maybe you would know of restaurants in the area that we shouldn't miss (or other local knowledge)?
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