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9 day Honeymoon - Spain vs France

Hello everyone,
I'm planning a 9 day honeymoon, starting Sept 10th to the 18th, and could use some advice. We would be travelling to/from Toronto on Sept 9th & September 19th, respectively.

Itineraries we have in mind:
Option 1: France - 4-5 days in Paris (with day trips to Mont St. Michel, Chartres), 4-5 days between Heyres, Nice, Eze & Monaco.

Option 2: Spain - 4 days in Barcelona, with the rest of the time available between Granada, Seville, Malaga & Cordoba.
We initally wanted to visit Ourese, Vigo & Las Islas Cies, but it doesn't look like this is doable even if we were to cut out Malaga and Cordoba.

A) Which of the two options would be better for a honeymoon.

B) For the people who have been to Paris, are the Parisiennes really not friendly? How were you treated the rest of France?

About us:
a) It is our first time travelling together overseas, and we don't want to start each morning by waking up at 6/7am to catch a bus/train to the next place. I went to Greece with a girlfriend before, and we followed a tight schedule. We still had lots of fun, but definitely not something we want to try for the honeymoon.

b) My French is very limited, although I'm better at understanding French when it is written rather than spoken. My husband can speak Spanish (the way it is spoken in the US).

c) We are more into architecture, bridges, mountains, than beaches, so we are okay with just one or two days at the beach.

d) We plan on going to Europe again in April/May next year for a month, so if the weather permits, we would try to do 2-3 countries - either Spain, Portugal & Morrocco or France, Switzerland & Germany.

Lastly, I know this post is quite loaded, but I thought I'd give you as much information as possible, and see if you have other ideas/additions/changes to either itineries. Thanks for your help!

Posted by
9110 posts

With only four or five days in Paris, going to MSN will take all of a very mean day. Chartres will eat a half day. You don't really have enough time left to see Paris. The second part of the France idea will work since Monaco and Eze only take a half day each, but you'll kill another half day getting from Paris to southern France. You must have something special in mind about Heyeres since it's pretty much fifth tier.

Regarding Spain, Barcelona is way the heck and gone from the rest of the places. Subsituting Madrid might be a better option.

A. Parisians are not unfriendly, there are butt-heads all over the world, but the French are universally great folks.

B. You will be fine without speaking any French, Your husband's Spanish will be essentially useless, especially in Catalonia and Andalucia. Actually, it won't help much in Madrid either since Castillian and South/Central American Spanish are miles apart. Still, you won't have any trouble stumbling along in English. Don't worry about language problems.

C. Architecture and bridges will abound, I don't see any places with mountains listed, beaches are what you make of them.

D. If you're going right back, I'd concentrate on France this time. A month would do nicely for Spain and Portugal with maybe three of four days for dipping into Morocco. Germany and Switzerland also pair nicely.

Regarding one country or another for a honeymoon: who cares? You can be miserable or delighted anywhere you go.

Posted by
1319 posts

Lisa - I can't answer (A) for you but as for (B), in seven trips to France, I haven't come across unfriendy Parisians and I've been treated with courtesy and respect throughout France.

Posted by
25 posts

Spain for most people is not Travel 101 because the transportation connections are not as good as they are in other parts of W Europe but, with that said, it is a great place to travel. We just returned from there earlier this month. We did not do Barcelona but I would highly recommend Granada and Seville (Hotel Amadeus in the Barrio Sta. Cruz). Madrid was only OK. The area that we enjoyed the most was the Basque region. Rented an apt in Orio, San Sebastian was about 12 km day tripped into the mountains and just over the border with France. Driving is easy in this area. Beautiful, good people, great and fresh food. We've travelled to France many times and the people of Paris are no more rude than the people in any large city. The countryside in France is beautiful, the Loire and Dordogne areas are particular favorites. Day tripping from Paris is easy but it may take some early mornings and late evenings to do a few of your listed cities. If you like wine and history, you can easily day trip to Beaune from Paris via the TGV. Either way, if you plan to go back soon, you may want to trim you itineray and enjoy the lack running from place to place. Enjoy your honeymoon!

Posted by
375 posts

Just a thought about the time of year you are going. You said you will return to Europe next April/May with a choice of either Spain, Portugal and Morrocco or France, Switzerland and Germany. Since Spring weather can be quite iffy in the more northern countries, I think it might be better to go to Spain, Portugal, Morocco next April than to France, etc. Therefore, perhaps you'd rather do France on this honeymoon trip in September and save Spain for next year.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks everyone for replying so quickly, and for easing my initial hesitations about a trip to France.

I hope I didn't offend anyone by bluntly asking how tourists are treated in Paris. Its probably similiar to how the general pop'n might view a big city in North America, like NY for example, and yet, I have never had a bad experience in NY. I actually found them to be helpful whenever I needed to ask for directions.

ED - thanks for breaking down time required to visit the different cities I listed in our itineraries.
D.D. - you make a good point about travel options in May because of the weather

I'm definitely leaning towards Paris, especially since we have only 9 days. thanks everyone!

Posted by
23418 posts

I like the idea of Spain and agree with Ed that Barcelona is off to the side. We did a quick 10 day hit of Madrid, Cordoba,Seville, Granada and home from Malaga. Using an open jaw will save some backtracking time. And southern Spain is very unEurope because of the Moorish influence. You would have the architecture, bridges and mountains.

Posted by
655 posts

Paris is unique for a honeymoon and would be my choice.

Spain (and Portugal) is wonderful in the spring so that works well as has been suggested above.

The French will be just as friendly as you let them be. There is absolutely no truth to the idea of an unsmiling, unfriendly Frenchperson. That said, a little preparation about their customs is helpful.

Language, or lack of it, isn't really a consideration. A smile and friendly attitude is more important.

Posted by
8 posts

You can't go wrong with either France or Spain.

If I had to choose one, I would definitely go with France. Everyone lese is right aboout the French rudeness...that was true about 30 years ago, not today.

If you do go to Spain eveyone else is right that Barcelona is out of the way. But it's my favorite city in Spain by far. Especially if you like architecture.

Posted by
8 posts

Hi Lisa,

Questions: A) Which of the two options would be better for a honeymoon.
I have never been to Spain, but I have been to Paris and Rome. If you are going on your honeymoon, I strongly suggest Paris. I would stay there for your entire honeymoon (4-5 days may leave you feeling cheated); you want to relax and enjoy the city. The Paris metro and train systems are easy to master and will get you to wherever you want to go. By the way, as an aside, give yourself plenty of time at Charles DeGaulle airport.

B) The Parisiennes were very nice. I stayed in Paris for a month with limited knowledge of French. Many people spoke English. If they didn't, you usually could get your point across. If your fiancee knows Spanish, you should have no problem understanding French. (If you say please and thank you and are respectful, you will receive the same in return.)

About us: a) It is our first time travelling together overseas, and we don't want to start each morning by waking up at 6/7am to catch a bus/train to the next place.

Point taken- I would identify the major things you have to see and do (the Eiffel Tower, take a night stroll along the Seine, eat a crepe, enjoy a cafe au lait, Notre Dame...). In Paris, the sun doesn't go down until around 10 PM, so everything is open pretty late.

d) We plan on going to Europe again in April/May next year for a month, so if the weather permits, we would try to do 2-3 countries - either Spain, Portugal & Morrocco or France, Switzerland & Germany.

I would investigate a rail pass and see if it is more economical.

Have a wonderful honeymoon!


Posted by
4132 posts

Nobody can answer (a) but you. It's a great time to visit either country.

"Honeymoon" travel means different things to different people, e.g. heart-shaped beds, luxury suites, and so forth. (For us it was just our first trip together in Europe.)

Here are some things you might want to consider.

The transportation infrastructure is arguably better in France (though with more AVE lines that really depends on your destinations), so in a short trip you can change venues quicker.

Next April will arguably be nicer in Southern than Northern Europe, arguing for France now. On the other hand your FSG plan is arguably more ambitious than SPM and would benefit most from having a full month. arguing for FSG later.

You can slice and dice, e.g. Barcelona, French Catalona, Provence, and/or Nice this trip. Or Barcelona, F Catalona, Perigord, Paris, Alps next trip.

The language barrier thing is worthy of attention, but eminently manageable. I don't think it should play a role in your decision.

Best wishes & have a great time!

Posted by
12 posts

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to thank you for all the suggestions. We decided on Paris. I tried to get an open jaw ticket as a few recommended, but it was a lot more cheaper to fly in and out of Paris direct.

We want to see the Millau viaduct, and it far from Paris & Nice, so we will have to either fly or take the train from Toulouse to Nice or From Paris to Toulouse. Any suggestions on which airlines we can use to fly once we are in Paris? I checked Ryan Air, but they don't seem to service many airports in France.

Thanks again,

Posted by
251 posts

Hi Lisa,

My husband and I were in Paris in June,celebrating 30 years of marriage. Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials. Parisians were friendly, I even had a woman strike up a converstion with me while we were waiting for the bus. If you are friendly and courteous you should get along just fine. Remember to greet people with a bonjour monsieur or madame when you enter your hotel or a store. Bon voyage

Posted by
9429 posts

Justin, it wasn't true 30 yrs ago either.

We just got back from 1 month in Paris (been there lots since 1961) and didn't run into one single unfriendly person the entire month.

Every Parisian we encountered was warm, friendly, helpful, kind, and gracious.

Doesn't mean you couldn't run into an unpleasant one but it's not the norm.

Posted by
88 posts

The French people I've met and spoken with during trips in 1979, 2005 and 2009, where I was both in Paris and the countryside could not have been nicer and more helpful. Sounds like a great trip!