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Spain and south of France - ideas I might not think of??

Flying in and out of Barcelona with the idea to see it (for the first time) with our kids (teenagers) for 3-4 days, then drive up to Provence, have a home base there for a week.

Any thing on the way we should see? Specifically, looking for any ideas up in that northeast corner of Spain.

Any tips on that drive?


Posted by
1237 posts

I know it's really tiresome when one asks a question about somewhere and a reply suggests somewhere else. Still, is there a reason for choosing Provence since you need to return to Barcelona? Instead you might spend the week based in rural/coastal Catalonia, avoiding the long drive. Or, if you want to cross the border, nearer is the Languedoc which has plenty to see. If it must be Provence, you can go by rail to Marseille and then hire the car there for your week. If you prefer to drive, then Nimes and Pont du Gard are worth seeing along the way.

Posted by
2168 posts

100% agree with Nick, between northern Catalonia, the Pyrenees, and Languedoc (across the border) you have more then enough to fill a week or two at least. 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 - 2 nights

DAY 3-
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 - 2 nights

DAY 4-
-{Explore Andorra and the nearby Early Romanesque churches in the Vall de Boí, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

DAY 5-
Drive north through the Pyrenees
-{Stop at Foix and check out the Château de Foix
Continue north to Toulouse
Sleep in Toulouse - 2 nights

DAY 6-
-{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 7-
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 8-
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 9-
-{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
18722 posts

Three or four days is a very short time for seeing Barcelona on a first visit. Many of the most popular sights require pre-purchased, timed tickets to avoid standing in a very long line and possibly being told to come back hours later, or that the sight is totally sold out. It's not easy to be a super-efficient sightseer under those conditions. Keep in mind that at least some of you will probably be very sleep-deprived and jetlagged on your arrival day, so the real sightseeing, beyond wandering around perhaps the Barri Gotic or the Eixample, probably will not begin until Day 2.

Posted by
6492 posts

We spent time in Carcassonne and , Collioure, France and the Costa Brava( Begur) on our way to Barcelona. Make sure you pick up and drop your car in the same country.
Barcelona needs more time than you are planning.

Posted by
2451 posts

I’m assuming you already booked your flights? If so, you’ve gotten good advice, whether it’s staying in Spain or visiting closer areas in France. You need to return your car to the same country or pay outrageous drop off fees. If your heart is set on Provence, train from Barcelona to Marsielle, pick up a rental car there. Spend your week in Provence and go back the way you came. If you have not booked your flights you have many more options, such as train to Marsielle, returning car and flying home from Marsielle (open jaw booking). We spent a lovely week in Provence a few years ago. Rented a flat through VRBO in the town of Lourmarin and did day trips to many places. But the places previous posters have described are great as well.

Posted by
1 posts

In addition to Barcelona, I'd recommend heading to Girona and Tarragona. Girona is to the north of Barcelona, it is an enchanting, medieval town with a well-preserved historic quarter and stunning cathedral. Tarragona is to the south of Barcelona and is full of some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in all of Spain. It is also surrounded by vineyards with plenty of great wine.


Posted by
80 posts

If you follow some version of the itinerary Carlos proposes I doubt you will give one thought to Provence. Catalonia and Languedoc are full of treasures.