Please sign in to post.

From Barcelona to Southern France...suggestions??

Hello!
My husband and I are hoping to get to Barcelona in August and do some traveling around the area. I have traveled quite a bit in Europe, but he has not. I would love for him to see parts of Southern France. Any suggestions on where to go? I have not been to Perpignan or Montepellier. Are they worth it? I loved Arles when I was there, but am not sure if it's feasible to get there from Barcelona. We will only have about 10 days total to travel.

Any suggestions (even if France is not included) are appreciated. We like big cities for a day or two, but then do like to get out and see where the "real" folk live.

thanks!
D & D

Posted by
11292 posts

Much closer to Barcelona than France is Girona. Don't miss it. The Let's Go I was using at the time called it "a world class city patiently waiting for the world to notice," and they were 100% right. It was a wonderful daytrip, and I wish I had stayed overnight.

Posted by
4125 posts

Perpignan is about 3 hours from Barcelona by train. Arles another 3 by train or car.

So if you fly open jaw and do not return to Barcelona, an itinerary along the coast is quite feasible.

Your return options would be a flight home from either (1) Marseilles or (2) Paris(!) catching the early TGV that will deliver you to Charles deGaulle airport by 10:30 AM.

August is high season, make your plans soon.

Posted by
5648 posts

I second Harold's Girona suggestion - wonderful narrow, steep passageways around the old town, wonderful plazas, a great walking location that's just an hour away from Barcelona by train or car. You didn't mention whether you were using your own car or public transportation, but seeing some of France is doable. If you're renting a car in one country, remember that turning it in in a different country could result in hefty fees, if the company even allows it. Going by air or by fast train could allow you to reach more-distant places without taking too much time away from those places. We drove this past November up to Figueres, Cadaques (great spot on the water, with verdant hills all around), and Port Llegat for the Dali museum & his & Gala's house and enjoyed that.

I haven't been there, but it seems to me that just north of the border in France, Collioure is one of Rick Steves' special "back doors" and we hope to get there some day. I've visited other places in southern France, though, and don't think I would go out of my way for Perpignan or Montpellier. Seeing the rice and salt operations in the Camargue were interesting, though. We spent a night in Sete (it was late and we needed a room) but would not go there again. Depending on how far you wanted to go and how fast you could get there, even Nice could be worth considering!

Posted by
16883 posts

Standard train travel tips for you: How to Look Up Train Schedules Online gives you the DB train schedule link and tips for using it. it's quite complete, but does not sell these tickets.

There's no deadline to buy train tickets, but the French TGV does have advance-purchase discounts, the best of which are probably already sold. SCNF may not accept your credit card online, but you can go through the US agent: http://ricksteves.raileurope.com/us/rail/point_to_point/triprequest.htm.

Booking hotels is also advised.

Posted by
3118 posts

We've just arrived in Barcelona after spending 4 nights in Collioure, France. Collioure is about 2.5 hours from Barcelona so it's convenient--it's touristy but lovely--a small town on the Mediterranean coast. It's a great place to relax but there is enough to keep you happily occupied for a few days--especially if you follow the recommendations in Rick's France guide. We had a car and took a day trip to Ceret for lunch and the Modern Art Museum and also went to Perpignan--we weren't so impressed with Perpignan but enjoyed Ceret. There are many hiking opportunities from the city center and a spectacular views if you drive the Route de Madeloc. Also, good seafood restaurants. It might be a good option for you!

Posted by
25 posts

Wow! Thank you all for the replies. I was out of town and did not have a chance to check the site/responses. I really do appreciate everyone's help. I think we are postponing the trip to September - less expensive and spanish siesta's won't be as long as they are during the period in August when Europeans travel. We'll probably travel by train to destinations, but if we have to rent a car I suppose we will. Can you rent cars with just US drivers licenses or is an international license required?

Posted by
11292 posts

"Can you rent cars with just US drivers licenses or is an international license required? "

If you are driving in Spain, an International Driver's Permit (note: not license) is legally required. While some report that the rental counter did not ask to see it, if you are stopped by the police for any reason, they certainly will.

You get it at an AAA office (you do not need to be a member). You must carry you US license with it, as it is not a substitute, but merely a translation. It's good for a year, and you can start the year whenever you wish (i.e., it doesn't have to be January 1 through December 31).

Posted by
5648 posts

We rented cars twice (in Bilbao and later in Girona) from Europcar in November 2013 and weren't asked for our International Drivers Permit at the rental desk either time. We also, fortunately, didn't have any encounters with the policia, but having the International Permit (which wasn't originally designed to fit conveniently into my moneybelt, so had to be folded up and was stiff paper) allowed us to drive and not worry about extra fines - cheap peace of mind. Northern Spanish drivers are courteous and don't seem to speed like drivers in other countries - maybe they're also trying to limit their contact with the policia.

Posted by
25 posts

Thank you Harold for the info! = both about Girona and the international permit.

Posted by
245 posts

Would also suggest Girona. Stay in town if possible. Go to Konig restaurant in Indepencia Plaza.
Great food, reasonable and good variety. It's a local restaurant group and we ended up doing all our meals there. Great garlic chicken, croquettes, potatoes bravo as well as hamburgers. Something for everyone. Their shrimp ricotta is heavenly. We went by train 1/2 hour to Figueres to the Dali Museum which is a lot of fun. Then we bussed to Cadiques from there about an hour with a harrowing but beautiful mountain ride to Cadiques to the Dali house which is in a lovely fishing house. I'm a Dali fan, husband more a Picasso fan and he loved it too. Would recommend where we stayed in Cadiques but not Girona. If interested I can find name of inn and post it.