Mediterranean island? Family-run hotel? Who knows the place?

Travel Forums Europe Mediterranean island? Family-run hotel? Who knows the place?

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1. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5323 posts) 27w Star this if you like it!

We find ourselves in need of downtime, but still 2+ months away from realistically able to take any (so: October, maybe even November). When we do, we'd for once like to not fly to a different continent, but stay relatively close to home. We'd like reasonably - but not too - warm temperatures (around 20 degrees would be perfect), not too touristy (but touristy enough that there's infrastructure, and since we'll be going in the off-season, it can even be in the vicinity of the beaten path), interesting enough to spend 3-4 weeks in the region without being bored, but boring enough that we can just spend many of our days lounging about without feeling like we're missing out on everything (that lounging should be pleasant outside (hence the temperature), where I have this ideal vision of a small family run hotel with a shady / leafy courtyard with some hammocks and lazy chairs). We're not looking for luxury, but definitely appreciate being comfortable (I don't expect budget to be a constraint); with food and accommodation being low hassle. Some variety in restaurant options would be good. We've done a lot of Andalucia, which is pretty much our default for when we feel like this, but each time we go, we end up hating the dining culture a bit more (specifically that restaurants effectively don't open until 21:00), so we're looking for alternatives. We like hiking, but this definitely won't be a hiking vacation. We like exploring towns and small cities with some interesting history to them, but don't really want to be staying in anything resembling a big city. We'd like, when we're "there", not to have to rent a car to explore, but for the immediate surroundings to be accessible by foot or public transport, and offer enough to see/do that we don't need more than that for a week, before possibly moving on to some other location that'll be less than an hour away. Oh, and if we can get there in 1-2 hours from a major airport, that'd be very welcome, too.

The temperature and distance requirements basically mean somewhere Mediterranean, and then the realization hits of just how much there is over there. I've looked at Malta (major plus: English language, super low hassle communication), I've looked at Sicily, I've looked at Sardinia, and I'm completely overwhelmed with what all to look at with regards to the Greek Islands. I have no experience with any of those places. I'd like someplace "green", not overwhelmingly rocky or sandy/dusty, which in my know-nothing mind rules out islands like Crete (and makes me doubt about Malta), but maybe I'm doing these places a complete injustice.

What I'm hoping for in this thread is some direction from people who know (parts of) the region, and can paint me in broad strokes where to possibly direct my attention, so that I can stop looking at everything in complete wild abandon, but instead can do specific researching.

Even better would be someone who recognizes the feeling and the desires I've tried to describe, and knows exactly that one family run and family-friendly hotel that I'm envisioning. (It'll have a variety of homecooked meals and breakfast with fresh orange juice, be on the edge of a town with an old historic fortification and a couple of restaurants for the odd night out, and will have hiking trails leading off into the forest right around the back. The owners will know you by name, and they'll offer you a ride to the next town over so you can do the hike back along the coastline. There'll be a small playground with a slide and a swing, and a cabinet with boardgames for a rainy day. You know the place, right?!) :)

[ Edit: Edited on 08-Aug-2018, at 14:16 by Sander ]

2. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 935 posts) 27w Star this if you like it!

You might look at Collioure in France. If you go much inland along the coast, it can get pretty chilly in late October and early November. We ran into frost inland southern France Nov. 11 one year. Less common these days, but it can happen. The coast is pretty safe for weather though. Even with frost inland, we were in shirtsleeves in Nice.

Collioure is beautiful, has lots to do, has a train station and bus service. We've always rented a gite so I can't recommend a resort or hotel but you could also check the Logis de France web site. These are family-owned small hotels and nearly all of them have very nice restaurants. They are also very friendly. When we're between gites, we try to find a Logis and we often look for a Logis for lunch.

3. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5323 posts) 27w Star this if you like it!

Thanks! Not an area of the world I'd ever considered, but looks like a definite option! That Logis de France chain looks very hopeful, too. Immediately found a hotel in the 'area' (well, y'know, over the border in Spain, and not on the coast) which appealed (look at that courtyard! *g*)
A gite might be an option, too, if there's a decent supermarket nearby and some restaurants so we don't have to self-cater all the time. Might even be preferable over the hotel, given the child. Any recommendations for specific sites to book those?)

4. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 935 posts) 27w Star this if you like it!

Try Gites de France. It's our favorite place to book gites. We've also used VRBO (vacation rental by owner) and HomeAway but really like Gites de France. TP member ExRanger49 has rented a gite right in downtown Collioure so you might message her and ask for information. There is a grocery right downtown. It's very small, like a Petit Casino, but would have everything you needed. There are several very nice restaurants and a wonderful ice cream place unless it's too cold.

5. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5323 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

Quoting Beausoleil

You might look at Collioure in France. If you go much inland along the coast, it can get pretty chilly in late October and early November. We ran into frost inland southern France Nov. 11 one year. Less common these days, but it can happen. The coast is pretty safe for weather though. Even with frost inland, we were in shirtsleeves in Nice.

Collioure is beautiful, has lots to do, has a train station and bus service.

So we just returned from our trip, where Girona and Collioure were the main destinations, thanks to this recommendation of yours. Girona was an unexpected treat (helped a lot by us staying near the edge of the old city, with the hiking trails into the hills easily accessible), but Collioure was probably the highlight. Restaurants still opened too late for our taste (just not doable with a small child), but they were completely vegetarian unfriendly anyway, so we just stuck to cooking our own meals, which was easy to do with a very decent supermarket nearby. Really liked the ambiance of the town (though I imagine I'd hate it during high season), had temperatures just below 20, with storms only racing through at night, appreciated the options public transport gave us, and almost wish we had gone there with the purpose of it being a hiking holiday, as the trails ever deeper into the hills kept looking very inviting indeed. (Really glad we stuck to Collioure, too, as we also considered Port Vendres, which in real life turned out to be significantly less to our tastes.)

So yeah, anyway, thanks once again for this recommendation! It wouldn't surprise me if we'll end up returning for more one of these years! :)

6. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 935 posts) 13w Star this if you like it!

So glad you enjoyed it. Definitely agree about Port Vendres. It's just a place we occasionally drive through on the way to somewhere else. Collioure is very busy in season, but we've been there in July and enjoyed it. It's far enough out of the way that it doesn't get the number of tourists places farther east get.

Hiking throughout the Pyrenees is fabulous. You can put that on your to-do list. BTW, did you try La Cuisine Comptoir at 2 Rue Colbert in Collioure. It isn't completely vegetarian but they have vegetarian and vegan options and are always willing to work with you. Don't know if they are still in business, but suspect they are.

Do you have happycow.net on your phone/computer? It is great for finding vegetarian restaurants and shops. Finding any food between 14:00 and 19:00 is difficult but the occasional brasserie is open. Out of season it is really difficult. During tourist season, places do stay open all day.

Glad you enjoyed your vacation. It's a favorite spot of ours.