🇪🇸 🇫🇷 Spain France | Two weeks in Spain, France? Help here

IF hypothetically I were looking at the possibility of a two-person trip to Spain and France (I will say no more), does anyone have any useful input, at all, for two people who have never been to Europe? We would spend up to a week in Paris because I can wrangle free accommodations here thanks to connections… The real mystery for me is Spain.

I’d really appreciate tips on: the cheapest way to travel between Taiwan and Paris (or any city in Spain), and between Paris and Madrid/Barcelona. Also, would a 3/4 day split between Barcelona and Madrid make sense?

Sorry for the lame questions, but I’m really lost in the sheer volume of info available on the Internet. :cactus:

I’m travelling from Malaga to Paris in July, and I found the cheapest way to get from Barcelona to Paris is to fly. I think we’re going by Easyjet. There is a train that now goes direct from one city to the other but it’s more expensive than flying. I found the same is true of traveling long distance in Spain as well, or at least it was when I booked a little while ago. Flying from Seville to Barcelona was about 1/3 the cost of the high speed rail when I booked with Vueling a couple of months ago.

I’ve never been to either Barcelona or Madrid but I would have thought you could find plenty to occupy yourselves for three or four days. I’m not sure there’s enough fill a week in Paris, but I’ve never really liked it so I’m biased.

http://www.skyscanner.net/ I find pretty good at throwing up budget flights within Europe.

1 Like

Indeed, Skyscanner is the best for Europe connections.
Barecelona is a must do! Last time I went there, Easyjet was indeed the cheapest. I spent 4 days there and it was amazing. Good food, cheap, nice people, nice city, …
Way better than Madrid in my opinion (Although Madrid is a good city too, but if you don’t have much time to do both, go to Barcelona only)

For a week in Paris, you could go a bit outside the city like visiting Versailles too.

I’m spending two weeks in France in September. Been to Paris a number of times and also spent some time outside of La Rochelle but this time I’m with my wife (not single) :laughing: and she wants to spend some time in castle hotels (in the 200 to 300 euro a night range). Any recommendations on must-see cities to visit outside of Paris and castle accommodation recommendations?

Montpellier, Carcassonne, Sete. No recommendations for accommodation: I lived there. Maybe a bit farther from Paris than you wanted to go.

Barcelona makes me want to commit ultraviolence, Madrid’s just a city. Get a car and drive: that’s the best of Spain.

+1 to the skyscanner recommendations. Taipei to Paris is very popular and inexpensive, what with CDG being a major European hub. You can occasionally get good business class deals on that route, although I haven’t seen any lately.

KLM is a shite airline, btw.

Personally I don’t like Paris one bit. For various reasons (mostly female ones) I spent a fair bit of time in France in my paunch-free days, mostly around Paris and Haute Normandie. Once you’ve seen the tourist spots, Paris is just another city. I had a few off-putting experiences with people who simply hated English people, and weren’t shy about saying so, as well as a lot of stereotypically rude, boorish plebs (the French version of chavs). Anyway, you’ll be bored after a week. Either make full use of the cheap airlines (which are awesome) or get out there and drive. Or do both. With the exception of Paris, French drivers are nowhere near as awful as people make out - just watch out for priorité a droite, which is simply a formal version of what Taiwanese drivers do.

Anyway, point is, the South of France is utterly different from the North. Go there. Nicer food, nicer atmosphere, not as filthy, ignorant and depressing. I generalise of course; just my impression. Free accomodation is not a valid excuse to stay in Paris! If you get an Easyjet flight to Nice, you could do what we did: drive through Monaco and Northern Italy, back again to their airport to drop the car, and then off to (in your case) Spain.

Never been to mainland Spain, unfortunately.

Check also edreams.com and easyjet.com (for flights within Europe).

I would recommend you to stay a bit longer in Barcelona than Madrid, I have to recognize that for tourists is more interesting… . There are other places that are worth visiting in Spain, but I’m not sure if you have time. Toledo, Salamanca, Segovia, Granada, San Sebastian all have nice streets and architecture. Food is good in Madrid, you will find lots of tapas bars. In Madrid bar tenders usually give you some small tapas for free with your beer (this does NOT happen in Barcelona), but food in north of Spain is awesome (Asturias, Galicia, Pais Vasco, Santander).

Landscapes are beautiful, although Spain is becoming a desert… :S . You will look like a tourist for sure, so you might end up being the prey of pickpockets and thieves… so look out. Generally Spain is safe, but do take care when you are in crowdy touristic areas, specially in Barcelona (where even Spanish people are stolen or scammed). Las Ramblas de Barcelona are terrible. I’m not racist, so don’t get me wrong… but be aware of eastern Europe people, Romanian gypsies and immigrant from Magreb, because most of the pickpockets are originally from these places. In Madrid, Puerta del Sol and around are places where to take care of your belongings.

There are high speed trains and flights that if you book in advance are kinda cheap. I’m more of a backpacker guy, so nigh buses are a good option for me (you save a night of hotel and also the time to go to another place).

Spend a lot of money in Spain, we definitively need it xD

I’d spent more time in Barcelona,and less in France (especially if you’re planning on doing Paris - I personally hated that hell hole;-)
In Barcelona, don’t forget to do a day trip to Montserrat (make sure the choir is performing: montserrat-tourist-guide.com … choir.html). What I enjoyed best about Barcelona is wandering around the old district at night, and enjoying the extremely talented street musicians, I was happy to just sit down on the steps or cobblestones and enjoy a few hours of amazing guitar performances. I would also avoid Las Ramblas de Barcelona, nothing but an over priced nightmarket. For restaurants, do your research and find out where the locals go. Anything along Las Ramblas and surrounding areas is a tourist trap.

Between Taiwan and Paris, the quickest route is Eva Air wich is direct.
I do NOT recommand to take Air France. Bad service and safety issues.
Check Skyscanner for non direct alternatives (i took Cathay last time and it was great).

For cheap flights in EUrope, i’d also recommand Easyjet (but i never hurts to check skyscanner of course)
You can sometimes get good rates with trains but you have to book those in advance.

For castles in France, i’d recommand to check the ‘Chateaux de la Loire’ wich are beautiful (and the Loire has beautiful landscapes).

I live in Paris so if you need any advice, drop a message.

For plane tickets to Paris:

  • My experience is the cheapest are with China Eastern through Shanghai but it’s not confortable AND you’ll have a loooong layover in Shanghai, plus (probably) a change of airport.
  • The fastest is to take a direct flight with EVA.
  • There are also direct flights Nice-Taipei (so there must be Taipei-Nice as well I guess) with Aeroflot.

Europe has two major low-cost airlines:

  • Easyjet
  • Ryanair

Ryanair is generally cheaper and I find them slightly less annoying on luggages policies. However, you must always check in online (they charge you 40 euros otherwise).
It is always cheaper to book directly from the company’s website (wether it’s one or the other). Otherwise, I find Edreams to have the best prices.

That’s a matter of taste, but I wouldn’t spend an entire week in Paris. It’s super expensive and 4 days are enough to see most touristic places if you’re well organized.
Visit a city in the south instead. You could visit, and see lavender cultivations along, girls love this thing! :laughing:
“Chateaux de la Loire” is a very good advice, It’s more time consuming and harder to get around there though.
Also, I think Spetember is the best time. Not too many tourists anymore, less pricey, but still warm.

Another option you want to consider to get from Paris to the south of France/Spain is night train. It has several advantages:

  • If you book long enough in advance, it’s cheap (tickets can be as low as 35 EUR for a bed and about 25 EUR for a seat if you book two months ahead, for Paris-Nice)
  • You save one night of hotel
  • You will save a lot of time
  • You won’t have to face low cost airlines’ luggage policies, which can be very tricky.

The website to check train fares is: http://www.voyages-sncf.com
If you’re under 25 y/o (or your gf is), you might consider buying a 12-25 fidelity card, as it gives a systematic 25% discount going to up to 50%. It often worth it even for one trip only. Under 25 get discounts even without the card though.

Lastly, if you need to book hotel, the cheapest chain we have is F1: http://www.hotelf1.com
It costs around 40EUR/room regardless of the number of ppl.

I did Taipei/Paris recently then on to Spain and returned via Paris… I agree EVA is most convenient and direct flight to Paris…problem is Orly is a fair distance from CDG , where you arrive on EVA. Orly has airlines like Vueling and Iberia going to Spain at pretty low fares. Still worth transfer from CDG to Orly then on to Spain .
There are airlines like Ryanair from further north of Paris but I would prefer to stick a red hot poker up my arse than use Ryanair…and it would be far less painful.

My experience with “low cost” anything is that you must read up on their (often bizarre) “policies” and stick to them to the letter. God help you if through oversight or uncontrolled circumstances you do not, because they will then [strike]stick a red hot poker up your arse[/strike]rip you off for whatever they can get away with. They probably make 10 cents profit on their regular customers and then make up for it bigstyle on a couple of unfortunate dolts.

Just got back from 10 days in Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla. In case you are still looking for tips…

  1. DO NOT keep your wallet in your pocket (either front or back) unless you are wearing super duper tight jeans. Put your wallet in your bag and try to lock the zipper if possible or hide your wallet at the bottom of your bag. Always have your bag around your chest and try to hold on to a strap. Be extra wary of people and your surroundings in the metro especially if you are standing near the doors.
    (case and point: my wallet got lifted from my front pocket without me noticing…haha----> lost 1100NT + 28EUROs and my id and cc’s. luckily 400euros+passport was in my “travel neck wallet”—> thanks Mom!)

  2. Madrid-- like most people have said, Barcelona deserves the most attention but we spent 3 days in Madrid and only 1 full day was inside the city. The other two days we took a bus to Toledo and Segovia (~40mins- 1 hr away). Both are very pretty. If you go to Toledo, take the 40min tour “train / on wheels” of the city. They take you outside the city walls over to the opposite mountain to take amazing photos of the city and skyline.

  3. Barcelona-- amazing city, so much to see, so little time. Spent 4 days here but probably would have liked 5 days better. Side trip to Montserrat was beautiful going up the cable car and we heard the tail end of the boy’s choir singing at their church.

I missed the Dali museum which is way, way, outside of Barcelona : ( my high school art history teacher would have been disappointed.

Antoni Gaudí is a genius and loved all of the spots for his major Casas and cathedral, but the “Gaudí Crypt” which is a bit outside of the city was not that interesting. I might skip that as it is annoying to get there and with all the time and walking felt disappointing, sorry Gaudi.

  1. Sevilla-- great city to walk around and we spent 2 days here. I feel two days is enough if you have limited time, but there seems to be so much more to explore.

  2. Take the train between madrid and Barcelona and madrid to Sevilla. From Barcelona to Sevilla we took Vueling Air (1 hr 45mins) and the service was good but the price was 90euros with one checked bag per person, one way.

  3. Check out airbnb.com to rent an apartment or room. Tried it for Barcelona (whole apartment, 2 bedrooms, 1 bath for about 3000NT per night) and was a great stay and saved a bunch of money cooking breakfast and dinner for ourselves. Stay in the Gracia neighborhood which is a nice residential area and has lots of restaurants and supermarkets.

  4. Go see some flamenco! kinda sorta touristy but actually if you find a highly rated one on tripadvisor you will see some great guitar work and dancing. Try to spend under 20euros as there are plenty of good ones that are not super expensive.

  5. Use the bus system! In all the cities the bus system was great and each stop has a list of the stops in a very straightforward manner and my Spanish skills are horrible. using the bus saves money and also extra time and energy going up and down the metro stairs.

  6. If you have the time (and the funds). I think minimum 14 days would be perfect. I feel 18-21 days would have been amazing. Our 10 full days felt a bit rushed.

  7. early June had the daylight until past 9PM so that added an extra 3 hours each day to check out more of the city which is great for your eyes but really tough on your feet!

  8. End of May and early June seems to be a really nice time to go. Most kids are still in school, the weather is not too hot and it is not super crowded.

I too would say use EVA to Paris. I managed to get a Business seat in september last year but they are a bit pricey. the only issue is that you land at CDG and most of the cheaper ways to get to Spain are from Orly, which is an hour and a quarter bus ride away. Worth checking Vueling, who do many flights at very cheap rates from there to Spain.

DO NOT USE RYANAIR :astonished: ( Their airport facility is miles North anyway)
Have a great time.

Let’s see… I’m from Barcelona and my honeymoon was spent on a route by southern France, jump to Paris and then Venice, so I might be able to help you here.

I don’t know exactly which kinds of things do you enjoy, so I’m going to just lay out some of the possible attractions. If you need more information, please PM me and I’ll try to answer any possible questions you might have.

  1. Barcelona is a city where it’s really easy to orient yourself. It’s between the mountain (the Tibidabo) and the Mediterranean sea, and has a river on each side (looking to the mountain, the Llobregat in the left, and the Besós on the right). The Eixample district (the biggest one in Barcelona) is really easy to navigate, because the streets are perpendicular, with beveled corners. To give a taxi directions, you just need to remember the names of the two streets that cross and you’re set up. You can When you have to meet in a corner in the Eixample district, people usually say mention two of this landmarks (Sea-Besòs, Sea-Llobregat, Mountain-Besòs, Mountain-Llobregat).

  2. When looking for a hotel, I’d recommend the Eixample district. It’s one of the safest ones, well lit, really broad sidewalks, and easy to orient in. It also has lots of public transportation going in and out of it.

  3. If you enjoy architecture, make sure you visit Gaudí’s buildings in the city, specially the Sagrada Familia, the Casa Milà (the famous “Pedrera”), the Casa Batlló and the Park Güell. Next to the Casa Batlló is the Casa Ametller, by the architect Ramon Puig i Cadafalch, which is also a great example of the “Modernisme” Architectural movement (akin to the Art Nouveau in France). When you visit the Sagrada Familia, walk up the Avinguda Gaudí (north side of the temple) up to the old Hospital de Sant Pau, a huge old hospital all in the Modernisme architectonical style, which has been recently refurbished and can be visited.

  4. If you want to visit the gothic quarter, I recommend to do it in the late morning/early afternoon. You’ll be able to take nice pictures then, and you’ll avoid most of the problems there. The police put dozens of thieves out of the streets every week, but since it’s such a touristic place, they feel a little bit like Hydra agents, if you know what I mean. To minimize risk, wear your backpack up front, and make sure all your valuables are inside pockets with zippers (the point is, they don’t open accidentally and you notice when someone tries to open them). If you wear a huge DSLR camera, don’t flash it around… take it out, shoot the pictures, put it back in the bag. A huge DSLR camera is like an advertisement looking for trouble: “Hey! I’m a tourist with money! rob me!”

  5. If you visit the gothic quarter, you might want to visit the restaurant Can Culleretes, really close to the Ramblas and Ferran street. It is unlikely that you would find it if a local doesn’t tells you about it, and it’s one of the places I usually take all the visiting Taiwanese: culleretes.com/en/home

  6. If you want to have drinks at night, I strongly suggest you go to the Gracia district (Metro stop Fontana in the green line, or Joanic in the yellow line) or to the Born district (Jaume I on the yellow Metro line, then walk the Argenteria street up to the Santa Maria del Mar cathedral). They’re great places. Born is more trendy, and Gracia is more hipster-y, but both are really nice places.

  7. Another totally awesome place to visit, specially if you enjoy tapas, is the bar “La Esquinica” bcnrestaurantes.com/eng/barc … -esquinica . It’s really really good, but you have to make sure you go early, or it’ll be awfully crowded and you’ll have to pick a number and wait outside. Totally worth the wait. A good alternative is one of the “Tasca i Vins” restaurants that are in different locations of the city… the tapas aren’t so good, but the Torradas (huge toasts with lots of stuff on top) are incredible.

  8. As other people have said, a visit to Montserrat is a good idea. You can get there easily for Barcelona, the cheapest way is probably a combo ticket bought in the FGC in Plaça d’Espanya station.

  9. The Collserola tower it’s also a nice place for visiting, if the day is clear, you have really nice views from there (you can even see Mallorca). It’s on top of the Tibidabo mountain (which is roughly the same height as the Taipei 101).

  10. Depending on how many days will you be staying, you might want to take a bus or a train up to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. There are many wineries and cavas there that can be visited to see how the wines and cavas are made (and you can buy their products much cheaper than in the typical tourist stores in Barcelona) and there are also many good restaurants around to grab something for lunch (all of which serve local wine). Makes for an excellent morning tour, and you can head back to BCN after lunch (and take a nap on the way back). The Penedès Region is really close to Barcelona (less than an hour drive) and it’s packed with wineries and cavas… Sant Sadurní d’anoia and Vilafranca del Penedès are the biggest villages in the region, but if you can take a rental car, you can explore around and visit some of the smallest wineries around. They make for an excellent visit. I think there are also wine tours departing from the center of Barcelona, you can ask in the Information Booths in Plaça Catalunya (or in many other places on the city).

  11. Another recommended tour, if you have the time, is Girona + Figueres. Girona has a beautiful gothic quarter and cathedral that’s totally worth the visit, and Figueres has the Dalí museum, which is quite interesting. Or, if you’re not so into art, you can go to Girona and then go towards the sea to visit the Costa Brava… You can go to Empúries to visit the old greek settlement ruins, then go down to l’Estartit or l’Escala to have lunch. Worth it.

  12. Madrid interesting places are few (mainly museums: El Prado and the Thyssen museum are my personal favourites), and the city itself is a modern pastiche without much history (it has less than 500 years). The really interesting places are all around it: Toledo (south), Segovia (north), San Lorenzo del Escorial (also north), La granja de San Ildefonso (also north)… Not worth a trip just to sightsee around the city. If you plan a trip to Madrid and then move around it, it might be worth the time, but look out if you take a rental car, because Madrid is reputedly the city with the worst traffic in Spain (think Taipei with less motorcycles and more cars).

As for France… If you’re doing southern France, Carcassone is a must. You won’t regret it. Toulouse, Montpellier and Avignon are also nice (no pun intended), as is Cannes. Paris… well, you can’t “finish” it in a week. A week is what might take you to visit the whole Louvre museum, for example. If you enjoy art, when in Paris, don’t miss the Musèe d’Orsay, next to the river Seine. I actually enjoyed it more than the Louvre, and it’s much smaller, so you can visit it spending a morning or afternoon on it. Other “must visit” places are the Ile de la cité (with Notredame and all the other buildings around it), the Tour Eiffel, the Rodin Museum (if you’re into sculpture), Les Invalides… You won’t finish Paris, even if you stayed for a month.

If you’re Catholic, I’d also recommend doing mass at the Valle de los Caídos. :thumbsup: :2cents:

We are spending almost 4 weeks in England/Northern and Southern France in September. So far, our France itinerary is Paris (been here loads of times but wife wants to see museums and I want to see old friends), Normandy/Brittany (some old castles, history), Colmar/Strasbourg (Alsace food and wine), Lyon (solely food), Avignon (history), and Carcassone (history). Would appreciate any hotel recommendations in these places for budget as well as extravagant (we usually do 50/50 on our trips). Any info on castles/historical hotels would be greatly appreciated. Any info on must-go restaurants would also be appreciated.

Well, el valle de los caídos is usually included in the tours if you want to go see the San Lorenzo del Escorial monastery. I’ve been there three times (none of them to go to mass). It’s one clear example of fascist architecture, and it’s worth to see at least once.

As for the hotels, Usually when visiting Carcassone and other similar cities, we’ve chosen to sleep in nice hotels outside those cities (except for Toulouse), because you can find much better hotels for the same price. Hotels in Carcassone are awfully expensive, and unless you’re staying at the hotel INSIDE the walled city, it’s probably not worth it. I’m not familiar with any chateâu hotels, but I guess that the tourism offices for the Occitaine region have lots of information about that.

Well, I will recognize that Madrid is not worth visiting many days, but is a city with lot of enchant. I love its streets. Yeah, nothing to do with Barcelona, which was planned in a very smart way. In the case of Madrid, you can take a street, follow it… and end up in pretty much the same place where you started to walk xD

Madrid has some beautiful walks like El parque del Buen Retiro, El barrio de Las Letras, or El templo de Debod. It has also many bars and restaurants where you can eat and drink awesome food and drink, cheaper than in Barcelona :slight_smile:. Overall Madrid is safer than Barcelona, although I totally understand that Barcelona is a much more appealing city for the tourist. I have visited it twice and yeah, I liked it much. What I did not like was that my friend, who lived there, got his wallet stolen, and that they do not give you tapas when drinking, and that horrible smell in the Barrio G’otico. In the other hand the architecture is quite interesting, the city has beautiful surroundings and I had a lot of fun bargain a nikon lens in a local shop. The guy ended up saying “and I’m the one who is Catalan!” (people from there are regarded as stingy, hence the lack of bread and tapas for free :smiley:).

I would of course recommend to visit the typical destinations (Barcelona, Sevilla, Granada, Madrid, Toledo, etc), but I would like also to mention that the northernmost part of the country is awesome. I like how life, food, and things in general feel in the north of Spain. Cantabria, Asturias, Pais Vasco are nice, green places with really good food and views. People are a bit different from the typical Spanish stereotype, they are a bit more “cold” and perhaps direct but overall nice and honest people. Houses are beautiful, so landscapes are. If I had time, I’d definitively visit the north of Spain, plus is a little bit more chill than in the south and inner part of the country.

That horrible smell in the gothic quarter is the piss and vomit of hundreds of tourists that go there and think that they can chug sangría down as if they were doing kegstands. Nope. If you want to check it, it’s better on late morning, tue-fri, after the cleaning brigades have been there.