Itinerary suggestions: drive from Barcelona to Paris with a stop in Lyon

My boyfriend and I are attending a wedding Le Boulou, France in early August. We're planning to fly into Barcelona, spend a couple days there (our itinerary will not allow for more, and I have been previously) and then drive to Le Boulou. I understand there are fees if we rent a car in Spain and drop off in France, so I am looking into train options as well.

From Le Boulou, we are planning to visit a friend of his in Lyon and then make our way to Paris for a few days. Can anyone recommend a route or itinerary from Le Boulou to Lyon? Collioure seems highly recommended - is it worth an overnight stay? Is Avignon worth a visit on our way? Any other towns to visit? We both love food and wine - if there are any recommendations on where to stay and for how long - or where to dine - it would be greatly appreciated!

We are a bit flexible at this point, as we have not yet booked hotels, etc.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
6528 posts

Avignon is well served by train, but driving could get you onto a less-traveled road, for instance via Roquefort and the Gorge du Tarn. You could detour a little further west to Albi for it's well-preserved (and different) gothic cathedral and the Toulouse-Lautrec musuem, if those interest you. Presumably you don't need the car to visit the friend. If you drop the car in Lyon, direct TGV train to Paris takes only 2 hours.