Llafranc/Calella de Palafrugell vs. Tossa de Mar vs. Collioure sur Mer

Hello fellow travelers,
My husband and I are heading to Spain and France with tween girls (12, 13) in July 2014. We'll start in Barcelona and then drive to Paris, with some stops along the way (we want to see the cave art in the Dordogne, for instance). Our first stop out of Barcelona will be the beach for a few days. Our priorities: not too touristy, beach good for swimming, good simple local food, some sightseeing good but we're really looking for relaxation in a safe place that we can walk around or bike around. We would love to rent a little villa or something rather than a hotel. I am having trouble deciding between a few places and wondered if you have input.
Tossa de Mar: Love the look of the old town, nice sandy beach, and snorkeling. Con: looks like it would be really crowded in July.
Llafranc/Calella de Palafrugell: Nice that there are a few towns within walking distance, looks lovely. Is it really crowded in July?
Collioure sur mer: French Catalan expérience, lovely small town, maybe a better stopping point on the drive north in terms of putting some distance between us and Barcelona on our way. Con: pebble beaches.

I am sorry if this is too broad of a question, but any guidance would be appreciated. We will be renting a car in Barcelona and driving it to Paris.

Susan

Posted by Janet
Colorado, USA
561 posts

I'm guessing you'll have a hard time finding a beach town that isn't really crowded in July. We were in Collioure the very end of October and it seemed pretty full to us then. It is a lovely town which we enjoyed very much otherwise.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
3991 posts

"We will be renting a car in Barcelona and driving it to Paris."

Be sure you find out about the extra charge for renting in one country and dropping off in another. It varies, and I've seen quotes on this board as high as €600.

If the drop charge is too high for you, you can take a train across the border from Barcelona (for example to Collioure) adn pick up your car in France. There is usually no extra charge for returning a car in the same country, even if you picked it up in a different city (of course you have to double check).