Thoughts on Spain/France Itinerary 2024

Old Jul 18th, 2023, 07:12 PM
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Thoughts on Spain/France Itinerary 2024

I am starting to plan a trip to Spain and France for Feb/March of 2024.

Having never been to Spain, I have been enjoying everyoneís trip reports and have come up with the following itinerary-

Spain:

Madrid- 4 nights

Granada- 2 nights

Sevilla- 5 nights

Valencia-5 nights

We will be taking a train from Madrid to Paris and then go onto Normandy.

France:

Honfleur or Rouen for 4 or 5 nights

Versailles- 2 nights

Paris- 3 nights

My questions are-

Would it be better to switch Madrid to be last place to stay in Spain?

Thoughts on Honfleur vs. Rouen? Or a suggestion on another place.

Any other suggestions are very welcome.



Thanks for your help.
Janice
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Old Jul 19th, 2023, 12:27 AM
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Just a few thoughts, Madrid is one of the highest capitals in Europe and can get pretty cold in February, so just check some climate data before you go there.

Normandy ( I know very well) can also be a bit miserable so early in the year. Honfleur is very pretty around the old harbour and for a couple of days fine, but you might get a bit bored unless you are traveling away. Rouen is at least a modern city with an old centre with a bit more to do. Bayeux, also has a small lovely centre and might be an optional base.

Versailles for two nights.... if it floats your boat why not but also look at say Strasbourg, Nancy, Metz, Reims or, since the train passes through these why not look at Girona or Narbonne?

Thank you for considering using the train to get across country BTW. Appreciated.
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Old Jul 19th, 2023, 03:05 AM
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Your Spain leg is a bit confusing. Where are you flying into? If it's Madrid you're going to be criss-crossing and doubling back on yourself unnecessarily. It would make sense to fly into Seville or Malaga depending on what's available from where you are, then onto Granada, Valencia and Madrid. You'd then pick up your train as planned.
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Old Jul 19th, 2023, 09:33 AM
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You might find that there are faster trains from Madrid to Seville, than Grenada so I would look at doing that and then go to Granada. I think you need to drive along the coast to Valencia otherwise the train routes back to Madrid. I would take the fast train to Paris from Barcelona rather than Madrid and spend at least 2 nights there. Possible itinerary
4 nights Madrid
3 nights Seville
2 nights Granada
1 night Alicante if driving
4 nights Valencia
2 nights Barcelona

In France, I would opt for Rouen. It is a city with some interesting sights to explore plus good shops and restaurants. I suggest that you go straight to Paris from there and spend 5 nights in Paris. Do a day trip to Versailles if the weather is ok. That way you will save time traveling and changing hotels.
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Old Jul 19th, 2023, 12:33 PM
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What are you aiming to see in Normandy? It's a big area, with a lot to see.
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Old Jul 19th, 2023, 02:53 PM
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I find your France itinerary surprising, but it's your trip so you must know where you want to go. I just would never spend 4-5 days in Honfleur or Rouen. I wouldn't spend 2 days in Versailles either. It may be ok as a suburb, I never had a desire to stay there in a hotel but maybe you have a reason. I gather you've been to Paris before and that's why you want to spend more time in Rouen or Honfleur than Paris.

A train from Madrid to Paris is one pretty darn long trip, especially since you then want to go to Normandy the same trip, I gather. I mean the train from Madrid to Paris is probably at least 10 hours, and then you will have connection time and another couple hours to your final destination?

It's hard to say as I don't know why you want to go to Honfleur/Rouen so much when you start in Spain. If it were me, I'd cut out that stay plus Versailles, and stay in some place on the train route between Madrid and Paris, there are lots of good choices. Of course being February is a consideration.

I wouldn't go to Normandy in winter.
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Old Jul 20th, 2023, 03:21 PM
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bilboburgler- Thanks, I will look at your ideas.

Rubicund- Good idea. I will definitely look at that when booking my tickets.

uktravelover- I like you itinerary and we could do the driving bit.

twk- The Normandy portion was an idea by my husband. Mostly would like to see the WW2 sites and the towns. I really wanted to base ourselves somewhere and then do day trips to explore the region. Is Normandy ok to explore in March?

Christina- I like the idea of exploring an area between Spain and Paris. I am just not sure exactly where.

By the time we leave Spain for France it will be mid March. I am completely open to suggestions on where to go. I really would like to explore one region in France and then spend some more time in Paris.

We have been to Reims, Beaune, Provence area, Lake Annecy and Paris. While, I love all these areas it would be great to base ourselves somewhere and explore something new.

Lots to think about. Thanks everyone.
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Old Jul 20th, 2023, 04:02 PM
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Hi Paqngo - this looks like it could be a great trip, though you might encounter bad weather at that time of year, especially in Northern France. So I think that I would be inclined to start in the South of Spain and work north. The other thing that I would factor in is when Las Fallas happens in Valencia and to try to be there for at least part of it - it will be from 15-19th March.Hopefully that's not too late for you. It really should not be missed if you can fit it in somehow.

From there you could either go to Madrid, or explore more of the eastern coast of Spain, or fly to Toulouse, Marseiles or Nice, and when you've explored whichever area you choose, catch a fast train to Paris to finish your trip.
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Old Jul 20th, 2023, 09:30 PM
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I love Annís idea of Southwest France.

You could go from Madrid to Barcelona then through Girona, Cadaques, Narbonne, Carcassonne. Then onto Toulouse and Paris perhaps.

That said, I cannot wait to explore Normandy myself!
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Old Jul 21st, 2023, 07:26 AM
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Could you fly into Valencia, and then make Madrid last, Paqngo? As Christina wrote, that's a long train trip to Paris. Would a flight be cheaper? Take less time?

I don't have first-hand experience but could you stay in Honfleur and make Rouen a day trip? Or vice versa? Save a move.

The Palace at Versailles is huge enough to take more than one day to visit...could you just spend one night in the town of Versailles?? Two nights = a nice leisurely pace.

Can I come too?! 😁


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Old Jul 21st, 2023, 09:27 AM
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Having holidayed across Europe in November I'd stay south as long as possible. Holidays of cold wet rain and wind are not fun, trust me
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Old Jul 21st, 2023, 11:53 AM
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twk- The Normandy portion was an idea by my husband. Mostly would like to see the WW2 sites and the towns. I really wanted to base ourselves somewhere and then do day trips to explore the region. Is Normandy ok to explore in March?
If WW2 sites are the objective, you need to be closer to the beaches than Rouen, or probably even Honfleur. Bayeux, or one of the smaller villages between there and the coast, would be best. If you are not renting a car, then Bayeux would be the place to hook up with one of the guided tour companies, or perhaps a private guide if your budget allows. You could spend a day in Rouen along the way if traveling by train. Honfleur would be more difficult without a car (I believe). March would not be the optimal time to be there, but it's not the dead of winter, either, where the days are short and the weather is cold.
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Old Jul 21st, 2023, 04:21 PM
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Annhig- You and AGM have mentioned Las Fallas. I thing we may be able to get to see some of it. I think the idea of staying south is one we will most likely do.

Irice- Normandy was on our agenda for our trip that we had to cancel in 2020. I is somewhere we would like to explore. I hope you get there soon.

Tdudette- Christina is right about the long train ride. I think we will be breaking it up a bit and stay somewhere in the south of France for a bit and then continue onto Paris. Bilboburgler also mentioned some places that interest me. France certainly has a lot of places to explore.

twk- Thanks. I will keep that location in mind. I like the idea of a smaller village a lot. Having a guide would also be really great. All things for me to add to my trip list. I think we will probably forgo Normandy due to or timing on the trip. It is someplace that we both want to see. Would it be better to see Normandy in the fall?

I definitely end to work on the France portion of our trip. We have our grandson this week. I will be squeezing in trip planning around the 6 y/o.

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Old Jul 21st, 2023, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler
Having holidayed across Europe in November I'd stay south as long as possible. Holidays of cold wet rain and wind are not fun, trust me
At least not if the trip is aimed at the countryside. Most cities are okay. Often museums are heated and the roof rarely leaks. But then I booked Berlin for January so maybe I'm just weird.

For the OP instead of backtracking from Valencia to Madrid why not fly from Valencia? Or if you're set on the train take the train up to Barcelona and then up to Paris.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2023, 03:26 AM
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The weather in Normandy can be mixed in March, anything from warm sunny days to sleet. Bayeux is the normal base for touring the WW2 sites. If you decide to skip it, then I would stay in Perpignan and explore from there by train before going to Paris.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2023, 03:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Traveler_Nick
At least not if the trip is aimed at the countryside. Most cities are okay. Often museums are heated and the roof rarely leaks. But then I booked Berlin for January so maybe I'm just weird.
agreed, but add to that that the days are short, that some museums are operating shorter hours or even day closures and ... well everything sort of closes down a fair bit. In the countryside it is worse. But I've tried to enjoy St Vaas on a chilly day in November and imagine Ouistreham would be much the same, in high summer it is great but in November...
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Old Jul 22nd, 2023, 04:50 PM
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I have encountered rainy and cool weather in Madrid ( and Barcelona ) in April.
Fb/ March could be iffy.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2023, 05:30 AM
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Another vote for Las Fallas, which I was lucky enough to enjoy with both annhig and AGM. Iím one who usually avoids festivals and other events due to crowds, but this one was so manageable- easy to get away from revelers if you just arenít in the mood, but that never happened for me. Loved Valencia, too - would go back in a heartbeat.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2023, 03:01 PM
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+1 YankyGal.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2023, 07:57 PM
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uktraveler- I will take a look at the city you recommended.

danon- Weather can be a bit roll of the dice. We will definitely bring options for layers.

Yankygal- Thanks! Las Fallas will fit into the itinerary. I am booking a place and we will be able to catch the first few days.

Thanks Annhig.
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