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3 weeks in France... to San Sebastián. itinerary help please

Hi! Planning first trip to France.
We land at CDG April 8. And depart from Barcelona on April 28.
We want to spend some time in Paris, then either train or rent a car and explore wine regions, chateau, Provence, possibly Nice/Riviera. We plan to finish the trip in San Sebastián, Spain, for 3/4 nights, and will fly out of Barcelona. We’ve been to Barcelona, so not planning on nights there, possibly just night before flight.
We love food and wine.
We cook, and would love to get better at it, so possibly a class
We are interested in art, but don’t feel like seeing every church, and every last museum. (My favorite art experience so far was Michaelangelos Prisoners at Accademia in Florence)
We love music, and theater
We love nature
We don’t speak French 😳
Any thoughts are so appreciated. :)

Posted by
1653 posts

Hi,
I don't want to discourage you from visiting San Sebastián, but April is quite possibly the worst time of the year to do so, being the rainiest month in a rainy region. I spent many Easter holidays in nearby Biarritz, with days of non-stop rain.
San Sebastian is also far from Barcelona, and very far from Provence, let alone the Riviera.

Conversely, April is a great time, possibly the best time, to visit Mediterranean regions with nice spring weather and no/few crowds.

Still, assuming you are set on San Sebastián you could do:
- Apr 8-12 Paris
- Apr 13-16 Provence (rent car on Apr 13)
- Apr 17-19 Carcassonne area
- Apr 20-23 Bordeaux wine region (drop car in Bordeaux)
- Apr 24-26 San Sebastian (by train from Bordeaux)
- Apr 27-28 Barcelona (by plane from S. Sebastian)

Among major highlights, it skips both Nice (too far East) and Périgord (magnificent but time-consuming).

Posted by
4125 posts

Out of 20 nights, you probably want to spend 5 or so in Paris (you don't say, I am just guessing). Then later 4 or 5 nights in San Sebastian before flying out of Barcelona (at least 1 night).

That give you about 10 nights.

You mention Provence and the Riviera. To make that work with San Sebastian, you probably need to fly from Nice into the region (San Sebastian, Bilbao, or maybe even Biarritz).

As an alternative, consider spending time in SW France, with a car, before heading to Spain. From Paris, the new TGV line to Bordeaux takes 2 hours. Bordeaux is one of the two most prestigious wine regions in France.

After a few days there, spend 6 nights in the Dordogne and Lot. Your art choices included paintings that are tens of thousands of years old. For the balance of your time, there are many worthwhile destinations on the way to Hendaya, where you can catch the train to San Sebastian.

As an alternative, if you are willing to save both Nice and San Sebastian for another trip, you could instead go from Paris to Burgundy, another distinguished (and very friendly) wine region, explore by car, and then go to the Rhone Valley part of Provence (Avignon, Arles, etc.). There is a good rail connection from there to barcelona.

I think this alternative might be the better trip, because San Sebastian and Nice are both outliers that complicate your trip logistically. But expect rain showers in the north that time of year.