Trip feedback? France - Spain

Travel Forums Europe Trip feedback? France - Spain

Last Post This thread is marked as being about France
1. Posted by ThuyNguyenThanh (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Dear All,

I'm planning to travel with my family and friends by car from Paris to Spain and then come back to Marseille to return rental car in France and fly back to my country.

Please kindly help me to choose the best cities to stop over and the best routing.

Many thanks,

Thuy

2. Posted by ExRanger49 (Budding Member 23 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

It would be of great help to those who would like to respond to your question if you indicated -'
How many people will be travelling?
Any children - if so their ages?
How many days allocated to the trip?
Any special interests -
history, art & culture/
major cities/
countryside and small towns/
beaches?
and so on.

3. Posted by ThuyNguyenThanh (Budding Member 2 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Quoting ExRanger49

It would be of great help to those who would like to respond to your question if you indicated -'
How many people will be travelling?
Any children - if so their ages?
How many days allocated to the trip?
Any special interests -
history, art & culture/
major cities/
countryside and small towns/
beaches?
and so on.

Many thanks for your suggestion:

We are 7 adults and 5 kids from 5 to 12 yrs old. We are planning to travel from 15 to 20 days, We love history/ culture/ art/ countryside/small town and beaches.

4. Posted by ExRanger49 (Budding Member 23 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for that info - you will be a much larger group than I thought so apologies for more questions.

What time of year will you travel?
Do you have any thoughts about the type of accommodation you would need en route?
How will you travel - public transport ? private cars or min-buses?

These things are important for planning as for 12 people advance bookings will be necessary particularly if your travel dates fall during the busiest times of the year.

5. Posted by zzlangerhans (Respected Member 60 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

It's hard to know what route you will be taking without knowing where you are going in Spain. If I were you, I would minimize the area you cover because there is an enormous amount to see between Paris and even northern Spain, you only have 15-20 days, and driving long distances with kids sucks.

I'll assume you are determined to see Paris and Madrid because you live far from Europe and not sure when you will be able to return. Those are both great cities, and you will hardly experience them if you spend less than four days in Paris (including Versailles) and less than three days in Madrid. That leaves you 8 to 13 days in between. Marseille is also wonderful, so I would try and spend at least a full day there if you need to return the car anyway.

On the way from Paris to Madrid, I would recommend a night and part of a day in Orleans, a stop at the Chateau Chambord and maybe Chenonceaux or Cheverny. Between there and Toulouse I haven't been, but Toulouse is a beautiful city to spend a couple of days. I would then suggest detouring east to see La Cite at Carcassonne and then cross into Spain in Catalunya to visit Girona and Barcelona. I would then proceed coastally to Valencia and then inland to Madrid. Toledo, which is close to Madrid, is great as well. On the way back to Marseille, you could take a different route and stop in Zaragoza. In France, both Beziers and Montpellier are beautiful cities on the way to Marseille.

If you can see Paris, Orleans, Toulouse, Girona, Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, Toledo, Montpellier, and Marseille then you will have seen the majority of my favorite cities in France and Spain combined. Of course, there are countless beautiful villages and wonderful sights along the way that you will not have time to visit. Speaking from experience traveling with many children, I believe you will have a better time if you reduce the area you plan to cover and take as much time for your vacation as possible.

I have blogged about Catalunya and Southern France quite a bit http://zzlangerhans.travellerspoint.com/200/

6. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 941 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

You have listed on your map:

  • Paris, France
  • Mont Saint-Michel, France 03 Jul-05 Jun
  • Clermont-Ferrand, France 05 Jul-07 Jul
  • Avignon, France
  • Marseille, France
  • Nice, France
  • Andorra la Vella, Andorra
  • Burgos, Spain
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Marseille, France

That is quite a full itinerary for 15 to 20 days. First, I'll recommend you plan the full 20 days because you will need it. Second, I'm going to suggest you eliminate Nice, France from your list because it is so far out of the way of any of the other places you want to visit.

The advice above to have reservations is excellent. With a group of 12, you can't just walk into any restaurant or hotel and expect to stay together. Make reservations for accommodations and for as many meals as possible. You may also want to think about picnics as often as the weather cooperates and in July, that should be often.

If you drive to Mont Saint-Michel, you can continue south from there. Stop at Fougeres to see the marvelous castle there. They usually have lots of activities for the kids so they will enjoy it.

I'd make the next stop at Amboise (or Tours if you like big cities). Plan a couple days at Amboise, a beautiful small French town with a famous castle (chateau) and also Clos Luce of Leonardo da Vinci fame. The reason Amboise is a good base is it is small enough to be easy to get in and out to visit a few other beautiful chateaux in the area. The most famous nearby are probably Chenonceau, Chaumont with a fun Garden Festival and lots of activities for kids, and Azay-le-Rideau.

As you continue to Clermont-Ferrand, there is a wonderful zoo at St. Aignan. Don't know if you want to spend the time there but the kids might like it. They do have a white tiger. For those who like history in your group, there is a wonderful Cathedral in Bourges and a small, but nice, Old Town area. The stained glass in the Cathedral is spectacular.

You will probably want to cut over to the A7 down to Avignon along the Rhone River. Avignon is marvelous as is the area but you won't have enough time to explore outside the city. The major must-see is the Palace of the Popes (Palais des Papes) and beside it, just up a walkway is a wonderful park with all sorts of rides and attractions for the kids. Look for signs to Rocher des Domes. At the top is a place where the small ones can rent Roman chariots (pedal cars) and zip around the viewing platform. The adults and older children can enjoy views over the Rhone to a fort and gorgeous scenery. There is an ice cream shop up there too.

Personally, I would skip the trip to Nice as being too far out of the way. Go directly from Avignon toward Spain. You will pass Nimes (Roman arena) and Montpellier (beautiful university city) but continue to the beaches past there. From Gruissan to Perpignan are lovely sand beaches. Our favorite (and it's free) is Canet-Plage. The sand is wonderful; there is lots of free parking; you often get great views of Mt. Canigou from the beach and its very family friendly.

Andorra would be next on your list; however, you might consider skipping Andorra and instead visiting Collioure. It's a beautiful and very colorful fishing village with a chateau, marvelous church, an art galler, several excellent beaches and lots of cafes, gelato shops and stands and fun things to do. It's a favorite in our family and is another good place for kids.

Go from Collioure to Barcelona. I'm not familiar with Spain so will let someone else here advise on that.

From Barcelona, per your plan, you will go to Burgos and then you have a choice. You can retrace your steps back to Marseille, visit the city and return your car for the trip home. Or . . . you could head further into Spain up to San Sebastian and then cross back into France near Biarritz and go back through Tarbes (side trip to Lourdes if you are interested) and on to Toulouse, the pink city. From Toulouse, you are headed back to Marseille and will go past a wonderful place called Carcassonne. There is a double-walled castle there that looks like it came right out of a story book. You see if from afar and then to walk through it is magic. Lots of things for kids there including a couple museums, carriage ride between the castle walls and ice cream shops.

Your next stop will be Marseille and your trip will be over. Very busy trip and some very tired children but it should be lots of fun.

Enjoy yourselves . . . and don't forget to make those reservations.