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General Suggestions for Week in Southern France w/ teenagers

Raleigh, North...
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General Suggestions for Week in Southern France w/ teenagers

I am just starting planning for our first family trip to Europe with my wife and 2 teenage daughters (18/16) after my eldest graduates this summer (ie. mid june). Was thinking about starting in Paris and ending up in Madrid with a few stops along the way that would allow us to soak up some of the culture and see a few sites.

I have only done business travel to either country so have limited knowledge but was thinking about a couple days in Paris, a few days working my way thru southern France to the Barcelona area and on to Madrid.

I know this is a bit general but any thought on best approach for this is appreciated? Ie. could we do this via train vs driving?

Areas/town suggestions? etc.

Thanks for any ideas/suggestions.

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1. Re: General Suggestions for Week in Southern France w/ teenagers

In order for us to make valid recommendations, we really need to know the duration of your trip, and what sort of things you want to see and do.

While it will be possible to do the trip via train, doing so will not allow you to explore much of the beautiful French countryside, and the lovely small towns and villages.

Raleigh, North...
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2. Re: General Suggestions for Week in Southern France w/ teenagers

I am trying for 2 weeks but using "miles", for some reason it seems to be a challenge getting anything past 6/20 so may need to shorten to 10 days or so. My thinking would be 2 days in Paris, 4 days in southern france (maybe 2 at the beach and 2 in another part of Provence), 2 in Barcelona area, and 2 in madrid.....something like that.

I am guessing we can probably catch a train from paris to southern france, rent a car between there and barcelona and then train again from barcelona to madrid....does that make sense?

In terms of things to do, we can see the usual sites in Paris, Barcelona, and Madrid - I'll research those once we get an itinerary. I would like southern France to be more about absorbing the culture, food, wine, maybe some beach, castles, hiking. This group isn't too big on museums and churches and will get plenty of that between Paris and Madrid.

If anyone has suggestions on alternatives to Barcelona for another stop in Spain on the way to Madrid, i would be open to that too....(will also post in spain forum)

thanks,

Guildford, England
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3. Re: General Suggestions for Week in Southern France w/ teenagers

There are very expensive drop off charges for the car if you rent in France and leave in Spain because basically the car hire company has to pay somebody to travel to Spain to bring the car back.

I would stick with Barcelona. I just got back from there and it is far cheaper than France. There is lots to see plus it has a sandy beach which Nice sadly lacks.

4. Re: General Suggestions for Week in Southern France w/ teenagers

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5. Re: General Suggestions for Week in Southern France w/ teenagers

I urge you to seriously reconsider attempting to visit both France and Spain this trip, especially if you will only have a total of 10 days. Instead, I urge you to think in terms of just visiting France. If you choose to do so, you might also want to consider spending more time in Paris, and not constantly relocating while you are in the South, since virtually all of Western Provence is easily explored via a series of daytrips, if you choose a well centered location. You might want to consider someplace in or near St. Remy, as its' location will allow you to visit both the beach (lovely sandy beaches down along the Mediterranean in the Camargue) and a castle (Tarascon), plus there are some very picturesque hiking trails in the Alpilles, the lovely picturesque chain of craggy limestone hills that sit just behind St. Remy. It's also a town blessed with a number of really good dining opportunities, both in-town itself, as well as in nearby communities including Les-Baux-de-Provence, Maussane-les-Alpilles, and Paradou.

As has been previously stated, you will incur horrific charges if you rent a car in France and drop it off in another country.

Raleigh, North...
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6. Re: General Suggestions for Week in Southern France w/ teenagers

HMMM - I knew it was a little aggressive but my girls have taken 4 years of spanish and will want to do an international study abroad stint someday so wanted to provide some exposure to Spain. Really good points on the drop off charges though - (what happened to the EU? :)).

What about 10 days in France skipping Barcelona and a train ride from S. France to Madrid (I can't use miles from Barcelona unfortunately) and fewer miles out of Madrid than CDG for whatever reason....is that doable and still be able to salvage a little of seeing spain?

thanks

Tampa, Florida
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7. Re: General Suggestions for Week in Southern France w/ teenagers

Keep these things in mind as you plan:

-- your first day will be largely lost to getting from the airport to your hotel, and you'll be very foggy from the jet lag. You won't be settled and leaving your hotel until nearly noon, and you need to plan to take it easy and stay outdoors and mobile.

-- you need two nights in any given location to get one full day of sightseeing.

-- you lose at least a half a day, and usually more than that, every time you change cities. You can salvage a few hours, but it's a long way from being a whole day.

-- your last day tends to be pretty much a loss, too, as getting to the airport so that you're at the airport 3 hours before departure (necessary for North American-bound flights) pretty much eats the morning. Again, you might manage an hour or two, but it's mostly shot.

With all of this in mind, you're now down to just 8 days -- take out one more day for travel, and you have just 7 days to visit Europe. (Not trying to be a wet blanket, just realistic)

Choose two places -- Paris and Provence -- Paris and Barcelona -- Paris and Madrid -- but that's all you have time for.

Then book your tickets for an open-jaw trip -- into Paris and out of wherever you end up -- this will eliminate losing another day backtracking to Paris, which will just eat another already-too-precious day.

If you choose to go to Spain, fly from Paris to Barcelona or Madrid...If you go to Avignon or Nice, the trains are good (and just as fast, if not faster, than flying, when you consider the trip to the airport, check-in time, flight time, collecting your bags and shuttling back into the city -- as compared to a train, where you step aboard in the center of the city, and step off with your bags in the middle of the next city). Trains between Paris and Spain are too long to consider for a short trip.

Have a great trip.

Washington state
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8. Re: General Suggestions for Week in Southern France w/ teenagers

Give that its your first family trip to Europe, I wouldn't give up completely on the plan of seeing both countries even though 10 days is not much time. After all, you all might find you like one country much more than the other and can plan to target that for a return trip. Also, your girls having a chance to speak the language in Spain (even if they only do a little) will add more to their travel experience.

But I would strongly second Sunshine's advice about just focusing on two bases, such as Paris and Barcelona and a connecting flight between the two. I think you'll have a great experience know matter where you go getting a chance to travel with your girls at their age.

9. Re: General Suggestions for Week in Southern France w/ teenagers

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Removed on: 18 November 2015, 18:09
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Washington state
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10. Re: General Suggestions for Week in Southern France w/ teenagers

You also might keep in mind that with a short trip, every extra day you can manage to add to the total time can give you much more flexibility in your planning. For a 10-day trip, even if you include your arrival day as a day "in" Europe (which many would suggest is also a lost day), that still only gives you 8 days, and then subtract another day for the transit b/t countries. So maybe 4 days in one area (say Paris including a day trip beyond the city, and then 3 somewhere in Spain). If, like my family, you like the experience of traveling itself, you could maybe squeeze to make it 3 plus 3 and 2 days of travel in between. But most experienced TA folks would argue against doing the latter. it can really help to write our a trip calendar, then you can really see where your time will be used and how much is left to see your high points and also to relax.

Then Enjoy!