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Hop on hop off travel from Provence region to Barcelona

In October my husband and I plan to spend a couple of weeks exploring Provence before traveling to Barcelona for a RS tour. We would like to spend at least a week making our way by public transportation to Barcelona. Our origination city in the Provence region is totally flexible, but will probably be Aix or Arles.
We’re happy with buses or trains.
Can anyone recommend travel options between those two cities and Barcelona where it is feasible to have multiple layovers? Thank you.

Posted by
16766 posts

I traveled through that area in the same direction during 2017. There are many great places to stop, and the more places you stop the likelier you are to be on fixed-price regional trains (TERs) or buses rather than the costly-at-the-last-minute TGVs. I just bought tickets on the day of travel or the day before. You can take a look at fares on the SNCF website.

In the area around Perpignan (I'm not sure of the geographical extent) I encountered 1-euro fares for some trips on both trains and buses. I think there were some brochures floating around; keep your eyes peeled in train station in that area. You can also ask at any tourist office you encounter.

A trip I especially recommend is the Yellow Train through the Pyrenees that runs between Villefranche-de-Conflent Vernet les Bains (wildly picturesque but also wildly touristy) and Latour de Carol. Regular trains run from Perpignan to Villefranche. I believe you could make a round-trip on a single day. The best scenery is in the middle of the trip, so you wouldn't have to go quite all the way to Latour de Carol before turning around. I believe the schedule shows more frequent trains on the middle section of the narrow-gauge line. I'm not sure of the frequency during October, though.

For what it's worth, these are the places I stopped either overnight or on daytrips: Montpellier, Sete, Narbonne, Pezenas (craft town), Perpignan, Collioure, Banyuls, and Ceret. Montpellier, Narbonne and Perpignan are good-size places; the others are rather small, and you could probably take in all their sights within a few hours.

On the Spanish side of the border the obvious places to stop are Figueras (if you're interested in seeing the Dali Theatre-Museum, for which you'd want to buy your ticket ahead of time) and Girona, which has a walled medieval district. The bus trip from Figueres to the coastal village (now touristy) of Cadaques is very pretty, and Cadaques itself is lovely.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for so much great information. I’ll have to look at a map and transportation schedules. You’ve given me so much to start with. Thanks.

Posted by
16766 posts

If you have specific interests (like art museums), let us know. There are quite a few people on the forum who've spent more time than I have in that area. Several like Carcassonne, which I haven't been to.

Posted by
1391 posts

l live in Perpignan now and second acraven's advice.

Collioure is the best stop, but it is on the old slow route to Figueres.

There is a new TGV route to Figueres, the second most signiificant stop on your way down to Barcelona.

You could easily get off at Narbonne and transfer to the train to Carcassonne though the medieval city is about 2km from the station.

The Yellow Train round trip is an all day affair from Perpignan.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you both for great information. I’ll have to look at a map to have a better idea of the geography.
If we’re going to spend a week making our way from Aix to Barcelona and choose only to stop at three cities in between, what three would you choose. We’ll probably spend two leisurely days in each of the three we choose.
We just enjoy meandering around the towns, historical sites and being outside. We’re hikers so we enjoy parks and scenery. Museums can be very interesting, but we never stay inside them for long.
Also, there are so many train options in Europe, if you don’t mind could you please help me narrow down my best choices traveling between the three cities you recommend. Thank you.
I’ve planned our trips to Vienna and Prague and booked trains myself between those cities, but I don’t recall having so many options to ponder. We did use buses and Uber in both of those cities.
Your help is invaluable and much appreciated.