My teenage son and I are traveling to Barcelona in June. We would like to see some castles and the countryside, perhaps in Loire Valley or elsewhere in France or Spain. We will have about three or four days. We're trying to figure out which airports would be best to fly into from Barcelona, or whether travel by bus or train would be best and if so, to which town. Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.
Loire is the classic place in France to go see castles and they are amazing! Other places have excellent choices as well though. I love Vaux le Vicompte just outside Paris. They offer evening candlelight tours (they light candles all over the house AND the gardens) that are magical...we were lucky enough to do this on a night filled with rain, thunder, and lightning...felt like we were on a movie set!
I would choose the flying option from Barcelona to get to Paris. That is a very long train ride!
I think that the high speed line between Barcelona and Paris has been launched. You might want to look into it -- supposedlythe trip from Barcelona to Paris would be about 6.5 hours on the train.
Carcassonne, France or Zaragoza, Spain might fit the bill. Both have airports but my guess is that rail or bus to either place would be a better option. There are several Cathar/Knights Templar castle ruins in the Carcassone area but you would probably need to rent a car to get out to them. The old walled cité of Carcassonne is impressive. My sons liked that. If you have never been to the Alhambra in Granada, Spain you need to conside that. Absolutely gorgeous and so much to see. One of the most beautiful places in Spain. While in Barcelona you and your son might like a daytrip to Montserrat. It is not very far outside of the city. My sons, in their twenties, enjoyed our daytrip to Montserrat from Barcelona. We took the train and then my husband and I went up the mountain via the cog railway and all the young guys went up via the gondola style cable car.
What type of "castles" do you want to see?
Those in the Loire Valley were built (relatively) more recently, and are chateaux, showpiece homes that generally don't have the defensive features of construction that are found in older castles. If those are the types that you want, then that's the place to go - many located within easy distance of each other.
If you want to visit older, more defensive structures, sometimes in a more ruinous state, then consider the Dordogne area of France. The castles there are mostly from the 100 Years War, when that part of France was being fought over. This area is also relatively easy to reach from Barcelona. Our son (10yo when he visited the Loire Valley with us, 12yo when we took him to the Dordogne) preferred the Dordogne castles.
Google to see the castles that you can visit in each location.
Lexma made a very good point,, the chateau in the Loire Valley are really more like palatial homes.. palaces,, not perhaps the "castles" that a young boy is thinking of.
The Dordgonne area would be better for "castles".. but that area is not easy to do in 3 days ... ( since 2 of 3 days are transit days)