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Barcelona/Dordogne/Basque country/Barcelona

Hi all.

Am in the midst of booking a 27 night trip in September 2020. Flying into Barcelona; immediately heading up to the Dordogne, then to Basque Country, then back to Barcelona.

The French portion of our itinerary is as follows:

Arrive Barcelona on a Sunday at about 12:30 pm. Pick up a car and drive to Cucugnan (about 3 hrs). Two nights there at the Rick Steves recommended https://www.ecuriedecucugnan.com/

Plan is to spend the full day at Cucugnan hiking up to Queribus, seeing Perypertuse, and (if we aren't too wiped out) doing the spa in Rennes le Baines.

The morning we depart the plan is to get up early (5 am), drive 90 minutes, and make it into Carcosonne by 7 am before the crowds set in. Spend the morning there, have lunch, and leave. Then drive to Puycelsi for two nights at the Rick Steves recommended https://ancienne-auberge.fr/

Plan to spend the day staying at Puycelsi doubling back to Albi to see the Toulouse-Latrec museum, and other sights in Albi, returning to Puycelsi in the early evening.

After a second night in Puycelsi, will saunter up to St. Cirq Lapopie, spending two nights there at the Rick Steves recommended https://aubergelesombral.wordpress.com/le-sombral/ .

During our full day at St. Cirq, we will spend the morning visiting the caves at Grotto de Peche Merle http://www.pechmerle.com/

My S.O. and I are avid bridge players, and I noticed a bridge club in Figeac, so we may also try to incorporate that into our itinerary there (it's a great way to meet local people).

The day we leave St. Cirq, we will head up to Rocamadour and spend the entire day there, leaving about an hour after sunset. Then drive to Sarlat (where we have advised our B & B that we will be arriving quite late).

Then, 5 nights in Sarlat at the Rick Steves recommended La Laterne B&B http://www.sarlat.biz/

Then, we depart for two nights in Bordeaux, stopping in St. Emilion on the way. In Bordeaux, a town not covered in Rick Steves, we will be staying at https://www.gites.fr/gites_lurbe-bleue_bordeaux_h907291_en.htm

After a day exploring downtown Bordeaux (I am particularly interested in https://www.laciteduvin.com/fr), then depart for Ciboure, where we are staying for two nights at the Villa Erresinolettean http://www.chardiet.com/

After that we head south into Spain, visiting San Sebastian (2 nights); Bilbao (3 nights); Zaragosa (2 nights) and Barcelona (5 nights) before returning home.

If anyone has comments, suggestions, constructive criticisms, or has had experiences at any of the places we are staying, I would be very interested in hearing them.

I am particularly hearing about anything that requires advance reservation (other than the prehistoric stuff around Sarlat, which is well covered in Rick Steves).

Thanks in advance to all who take the time to respond!

Posted by
1864 posts

Ah you drive around the most interesting part by far! One of the last wild places in western Europe, the Pyrenees! Yes the magnificent Pyrenees, so wild and beautiful, the small towns and villages there feel like they are in a time warp, you'll find 7 languages spoken in and around the Pyrenees, some very old indeed. It's one of the last places in Europe where you can still find wild brown bears and wolves.

Take a look at what you'll be missing: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/france/the-pyrenees + https://www.trekpyrenees.com/most-beautiful-towns-villages-pyrenees/

Posted by
3436 posts

You might save some time, at about the same price, by using a multi-destination search function to fly into Toulouse and then work your away around to Barcelona for departure home.

Posted by
16770 posts

Figeac is worth exploring before and after your bridge game. The historic center is very picturesque. I especially got a kick out of the small square near the Champollion Museum, which is paved with a large replica of the Rosetta Stone.

I'm not sure there will be enough in Rocamadour to occupy you for a full day; I think it would have to be the religious sites, because the town itself seemed to be just one old street packed with restaurants and souvenir shops. So I'd do some research on places you might stop on your way to Sarlat if you end up having some free time that day.

You should buy tickets ahead of time for these places in Barcelona if any are on your target list: La Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, La Pedrera/Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, the Picasso Museum, and possibly the Palau de la Musica Catalana (because English tours might sell out). Ticket lines at the first five are likely to be exceptionally long, and the ticket you are sold will likely be for many hours later (or the next day). I haven't heard that any of those places sell out far in advance, but their tickets are timed, and you'll want to put together a coherent sightseeing plan, not just take any old tickets you can get.

The first five places on my list get very crowded, so I recommend visiting one of them first thing each morning so you will at least not be walking into a place already packed with people who had tickets for entry 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes before you did. In addition, with first-time-slot entries you don't have to worry how much time you'll want to spend at your previous stop.

Posted by
287 posts

I had the same thought as Southam above. (Into Toulouse, home from Barcelona) We flew into Toulouse, visited friends in the Dordogne region for a few days, and saw wonderful sights including St-Cirq-Lapopie, Cahors, Domme, and La Roche Gageac. We then took the Ouibus from Toulouse to St.-Jean-de-Luz for a few days - lovely and quiet. After that, another (shorter) Ouibus ride to San Sebastian, where we stayed for 5 nights. I would recommend you stay another day or so there, because it was beautiful, great food, and we had two especially memorable trips. One to the top of Monte Igueldo, overlooking La Concha beach - gorgeous! If you do that, the 2 euro ride on the Rio Mysterioso was simple and fun. The other was a longer excursion to a cheesemaking farm and a cider house, with a delicious traditional cider house meal. Traveling into the mountains less than an hour from the beaches of San Sebastian was a real surprise for us - we felt we were in Switzerland with bells and all! It was a highlight of our Basque Country visit.

The last part of our trip was a high speed train from SS to Barcelona, and three nights there before flying home. We were able to get an early time slot for La Sagrada Familia, by watching the ticket sales a few months in advance. I'd highly recommend that strategy. It was so crowded by the time we were ready to leave - but not bad when we got there.

We will be flying into Toulouse again this summer to see our friends. We go through Amsterdam, but I also noted possibilities from the US to Munich to Toulouse as well. I'm sure there are others - we were just trying to avoid CDG this time around with the strikes and uncertainty about transportation options.

Have a great trip!
Laurie