Here's the itinerary I'm considering for my wife and I for September 4-20 of 2014.
1 : Paris, France - 5 days
2 : Beaune, France - 1 day
3 : Lyon, France - 1 day
4 : Nice, France - 2 days
5 : Arles, France - 1 day
6 : Barcelona, Spain - 3 days
7 : San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa, Spain - 1 day
8 : Bilbao, Biscay, Spain - 2 days
We're considering removing a couple stops because we would rather not have to spend so many days on trains and planes. Any recommendations? I should mention that Paris and Barcelona are my favorite cities, I've spent 5 days in Barcelona with my wife and 2 days in Paris by myself. Barcelona is my wife's favorite city but she's never been to Paris. Neither of us has been to any of the other cities on the list. We'd like to get some beach time in before or after Barcelona. I don't drink wine so I'm thinking of removing Beaune, but we do want a couple smaller towns on the list.
[ Edit: Edited on 01-May-2014, at 10:35 by influent ]
Paris you can get a fast TGV train to Lyon. A day will probably do for Nice and a morning or afternoon for Arles.
Why San Sebastián and Bilbao? Port cities so not the best of Spain.
From Barcelona you can go see Montserrat, pop into Andorra, see the Roman ruins at Empuries, go north along the coast from Barcelona and there are beach places like: Malgrat, Blanes, Lloret, Tossa, etc
Hi I would recommend taking a train from Barcelona to Madrid. Madrid is a wonderful city full of amazing, rich, history. You can see the Puerta Del Sol, visit the Prado, see the amazing El Escorial, and visit Toledo if you have a chance. I would go straight from Barcelona to Madrid and finish there. While in Paris, I would take some excursion trips to obviously Versaille, also visiting the Loire Valley is a must! In Loire Valley you can see Chambord and Chenonceau chateaux as well as visit Amboise (where Da Vinci once held the Mona Lisa at his house). Hope this helps!
Shame to lose Beaune as it's a nice area - even without the wine! If you were travelling to Lyon though then Grenoble on the edge of the Alps is worth a stay not being so far from there. Have a good trip.
I liked San Sebastian. Loved eating pintxos (their tapas) and the beaches there are very nice. If you want more beaches and a fun night life, I recommend a night or two in Sitges. It's a quick train trip from Barcelona. It's known as a hot spot for gays but as a single straight woman, I enjoyed lying on the beach during the day and enjoying the lively nightlife in town. The town is small so a well-placed hotel means you can easily walk to everything. When I did these cities, I went Paris/Bordeaux/San Sebastian/Madrid/Barcelona/Sitges, all by train. I just got back from a trip that was Amsterdam 3 days-train to Paris, 5 days-plane to Barcelona, 5 days. While in Paris, I did a Loire Valley castles day trip and saw Chambord, Chenonceau and Cheverny. Very interesting day!
I would recommand 2 possible itineraries to cross France from Paris to Spain considering you would have to take trains. (TGV -high speed train- in most cases)
1. Paris - Dijon - Beaune - Lyon (or go directly from Paris to Lyon) - Avignon (here rent a car to visit Avignon, Orange, Nîmes, Arles, Pont du Gard, all wonders of Provence) - Perpignan - Barcelona
2. Paris - Tours (rent a car to visit Loire Castles: Chambord, Chenonceaux, Blois, Chinon, Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau and so much more) - Bordeaux - Biarritz - San Sebastian
And the best would be to cross twice France and combine the 2 !
As you see, I would skip Nice which is not on the road to Spain: keep it for a future trip from Paris to Italy.
[ Edit: Edited on 15-May-2014, at 02:13 by Alain13 ]