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Barcelona/Southern France Itinerary

First time traveling solo with baby, so looking for advice, as in the past I travelled pretty faced pace. Want non tourist spots, love charming places to stay with hosts/ breakfast. Baby co-sleeps so its fairly easy. Was thinking of going up coast to South France/ Andorra via car. Too aggressive? I prefer transversing all towns and will skip major museums etc this trip. Recommendations for towns to stay in, itinerary given weather in late March.
March 20- Arrive Barcelona 3pm: Any recommended locations that are easy as we will be jet lagged?
March 28- Depart Barcelona 2pm

Appreciate feedback!

Posted by
2832 posts

Collioure is a pretty waterfront town in France just north of Spain’s Costa Brava. Both are wonderful places to visit. Are you planning any time in Barcelona?

Posted by
143 posts

Gràcia Neighborhood is a good place to stay in Barcelona and it is only 22 minutes from Barcelona airport via taxi.

Posted by
3 posts

Any recommendations on places to stay 1 on coast one in country. plan to do day trips via rental car. Like quaint and unique spots!

Posted by
565 posts

Besalu Spain looks quaint. Same with Cadaques. Did you intend to spend any of that week in barcelona?
Teruel, Cuenca and Albarracin could be interesting for a few of the days and then Cadaques and Figueres for the other (if not going to barcelona), and that doesnt include France ...

Posted by
650 posts

I live in this part of the world. I think Besalu and Collioure fit your requirements. Figueras with the huge Dali museum does not. Cadaques does not appeal to me and will not be vibrant in March. Not fond of Andorra either. However, Olot with several volcanic cones is of interest.

Posted by
317 posts

I am not sure if this is along the lines that you are thinking, but here is a rough itinerary for a road trip through northern Catalonia and the Languedoc region of Southern France, I had previously drawn up:

DAY 1-
Start in Barcelona, rent car, and drive north to
-{ Girona: An ancient city in northern Catatonia. Has an impressive Cathedral, towering medieval walls, narrow winding streets, and one of the best preserved Jewish Quarters in Europe.
Sleep in Girona

DAY 2-
Drive north to
-{ Besalú: Well preserved medieval town showcasing Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The centerpiece is the impressive medieval bridge.
Turn West to Andorra la Vella
-{Stop in the medieval village of Castellfollit de la Roca
Sleep in Andorra la Vella

DAY 3-
-{Explore Andorra and the nearby Early Romanesque churches in the Vall de Boí, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

DAY 4-
Drive north through the Pyrenees
-{Stop at Foix and check out the Château de Foix
Continue north to Toulouse
Sleep in Toulouse

DAY 5-
-{Explore Toulouse: The fourth-largest city in France, nicknamed the "pink city" because the old center of the city is built with terracotta bricks. The UNESCO designated ancient Basilica of St. Sernin is a highlight.

DAY 6-
Drive south east to Carcassonne
-{Explore medieval fortified town of Carcassonne
Continue east to Béziers
-{Explore Béziers: The historical center, built on a hilltop, is a great place for a stroll through the little squares and picturesque streets. Check out the lovely cathedral (with a sinister past)
Sleep in Béziers

DAY 7-
Drive south to Narbonne
-{ Narbonne: A city with deep historical roots from the Roman and early Medieval times, the highlight being the Archbishop's Palace.
Drive south towards Spain
-{Check out Narbonnaise en Méditerranée Natural Park: Diverse protected landscape with good hiking trails through beaches, lagoons, and vineyards
Continue south to Figueres
-{See Dali museum in Figueres: Extensive collection of Dalí's artwork, from paintings to sculpters and everything in between.
Return car in Girona and sleep in Girona

DAY 8-
-{Explore more of Girona in the morning and pack
Take the AVE high speed train to Barcelona and fly out of Barcelona

Note that this is a pretty rough itinerary, it's more meant to inspire some ideas about potential destinations for your road trip. Hope this helps :)

Posted by
11111 posts

I'm sure there's some nice scenery in the vicinity, but Andorra-la-Vella (the capital) is known for its resemblance to an outlet mall. Tax-free shopping, you know. It was no great shakes when I visited it in 1972, and by all accounts it has gotten much, much worse.

On the other hand, I was impressed by the very pretty historic center of the relatively nearby town of La Seu de Urgell, and I spent several nights in the pretty, good-size hill-town of Puigcerda. I have no experience with March weather, though. Puigcerda and the Cerdanya Valley can get miserably hot in the summer; perhaps they have moderate weather in March.

Posted by
88 posts

I did a similar trip, also in March - in about the same amount of time. About half the time in Barcelona and then drove up to France - Carcassonne, Ceret, Collioure, France and Besalu and Cadaques Spain.

Here is my trip report - https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/barcelona-to-carcassonne-isabels-spring-break-to-snowy-spain-and-france-833792/

The photos are now at: France - https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p789827808
Spain - https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p1713214

Posted by
3 posts

these are great! have already booked car rental- any advice on crossing into France? any specific places to stay (think country house/ b+ b with homemade breakfast)

Thanks!

Posted by
317 posts

You won't even notice that you crossed from Spain to France other than some small signs, since both countries are part of the EU there is no "hard" border, passport control etc. There is some more security between Andorra and Spain, since Andorra is not part of the EU, but nothing too serious, it's more the Spanish Guardia Civil looking out for contraband and alcohol/cigarette smuggling from Andorra.

Posted by
11111 posts

I twice walked back and forth across the Spanish/French border in 2016, between Puigcerda and Bourg-Madame. There were some abandoned buildings that had obviously been the border post. It felt sort of odd to walk right past them.

Posted by
650 posts

Acraven's remarks on Andorra and La Seo d'Urgell are on the money.

Toulouse, however, though a pretty city, has nothing special. Albi and Carcassonne do.

Collioure is a jewel, not to be missed. I want there yesterday on my way down the gorgeous Cote Vermeille.

Posted by
11111 posts

Aww, Andrew. Collioure is a cute, very touristy town with a nice modern-art museum. I enjoyed it for a few hours. Toulouse is a beautiful red-brick city with many museums. I was happy to spend multiple nights there. I liked Albi, too. I will admit that Toulouse and Albi were quite a lot hotter than Collioure.