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1st Time Traveler!Winter in Europe: Destinations

Travel Forums Europe 1st Time Traveler!Winter in Europe: Destinations

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11. Posted by SofiaQui (Budding Member 6 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

Quoting harbinger

Happy to be of help!
The route you take really depends on the way you intend to travel. We hired a car for the week and based ourselves in Carcassonne, as the major focus of our trip was to explore the fabulous Cathar castles in the surrounding region (a Christian sect who were persecuted by the Catholic Church in the 13th centuries). I've seen a lot of castles in my time, but Peyrepertuse is the most impressive fortification I have ever experienced, and is perched on a dragon's back ridge high above the surrounding region.
We also visited the enchantingly pretty coastal town of Collioure - home to many Impressionist artists around the turn of the 20th century and famous for its delicious local anchovies (thanks for that tip, beausoleil). There are also very pleasant 'second division' cities towns such as Narbonne with interesting history and good bird spotting in the lagoon, and Cite de l'Espace in Toulouse will allow you to rediscover your inner child (you get to experience what a moonwalk would feel like, clamber through a relica of the Mir space station, and after 7 hours, we still hadn't experienced it all).
If you don't hire a car, then both France and Spain are both well served by buses and trains. On a previous trip, I based myself in gorgeous Avignon and explored the surrounding region by public transport. That entire area is steeped in Roman history - Orange, Nimes and Pont du Gard are just three stunning examples - as well as fascinating Papal history (Avignon was the seat of the Antipope during the Papal Schism that bizarrely gave rise to two popes). I even went swimming (if not snorkelling) under at iconic aqueduct at Pont du Gard ... but then that was early October :)
Barcelona is a vibey, feel good city that's proudly Catalan, and feels very different to most other Spanish cities. I think you could spend months there without running out of interesting things to do, and visiting out of season, you wouldn't have to contend with the crowds that besiege it in warmer months - I visited in early November, and it was lovely. It's worth visiting for Gaudi's architecture alone, and the Sagrada Famiglia cathedral is truly one of the wonders of the world.
At the time of year you are planning to visit, I would stay south for the majority of the time, because the weather will be better, but in my opinion, you really can't visit France and miss out on visiting Paris. Keep an eye out on the SNCF rail site, which offers regular special fares that are terrific value.
Hope that's enough to get you started, and feel free to revert with further queries. Researching and planning is part of the joy of the travel experience :)

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a helpful experience!I appreciate all your advices and will take what you've said and plan ahead with lots of fantastic information!

12. Posted by SofiaQui (Budding Member 6 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Daisymarshall

South of France can have lovely weather in March around 60-70 degrees. Having said that, France is beautiful in the winter too. I've only visited Spain in the summer so can't really comment on that.

Have you considered Italy?

Hello! The thing is that I have family in Spain that I want to visit, and I'm learnign french, so I want to take advantage and practice the lenguage too! Probably will plan a trip to Italy next year :) Thank you for your comment, If you like to recommend some places to visit it's welcome too.

13. Posted by SofiaQui (Budding Member 6 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Beausoleil

If you like books and are near Carcassonne, take at least a half day to explore Montolieu, the city of books. Don't take the word "city" too literally. It's a small village about 15 miles northwest of Carcassonne. The streets are lined with bookstores (every language with French predominant) and most have a place to sit and look through the books. There is also a very nice, though small, Museum of Printing that we enjoyed.
http://www.discover-carcassonne.com/en/montolieu-village-books-9
http://www.montolieu-livre.fr/le-musee

These two web sites give more information. The second one is in French but if you right click, you should be able to choose to translate the web site. If not, use Google Translate or something similar. The hours are obvious even in French.

We ate at Les Anges au plafond (The Angels on the Ceiling) so be sure to check out the ceiling. There are, indeed, angels up there. They make their own bread and the place is welcoming and the food very good. It is also quite reasonable. http://www.lesangesauplafond.com/

You could spend a month just in that area. We did and never ran out of things to do. The area is beautiful and there is a lot to visit. BTW, I'll second a visit to Collioure. It is stunning. We first discovered it when our daughter asked to see colorful fishing boats. We were hooked and have been back many times.

It you go as far as Collioure, hop on the D81a and visit the Village of Fishers (Le Village de Pecheurs) between Canet-Plage and Saint-Cyprien-Plage. It is fascinating and also a gorgeous drive. When the weather is clear (usually), you can see Mt. Canigou in the distance covered with snow and also wind surfers (in wet suits) in the Mediterranean on the other side of the road. Lots of free parking.
http://www.ot-canet.fr/articles-1/39-7-le-village-de-pecheurs/

Have a great trip.
http://www.ot-canet.fr/articles-1/39-7-le-village-de-pecheurs/

That is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and advices!

[ Edit: Be cautious quoting links as the system flagged this as probable spam, being from a new user. ]

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