Jump aboard this unforgettable trip through France and Spain

From the romantic capital of France to magnificent Madrid, this adventure is packed with art, nature, culture and history. Enjoy the sparkling lights of Paris, visit the royal Chateau at Villandry and hike among the towering peaks of the Pyrenees. Cross into Spain and kick back on a sunny beach to recharge before perhaps embarking on a big night out. Finally, hit the Spanish capital to discover a multitude of chic boutiques or lose yourself in the wonder of the world-famous Prado and Reina Sofia museums.


Start
Paris, France
Finish
Madrid, Spain
Countries
France, Spain
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
AMSF
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Be romanced by Paris, the City of Love. The Eiffel Tower and Champs-Elysees are unforgettable when lit up at night

  • Enjoy a day of cycling through the Loire Valley, and tour the exquisite 16th-century ornamental gardens of the Chateau Villandry

  • There's nothing like tasting wine from the source. Visit a wine museum in Bordeaux to gain insight into the wine-trading process and to taste some of the best products in town.

  • Canoe down a calm river in the unspoiled Dordogne region of southwestern France

  • Hike through the forests and slopes of the Pyrenees Mountains. This mighty range separates the Iberian peninsula from the rest of Europe

  • Experience the Basque way of life on the sandy shores of San Sebastian. Indulge at the local pinxtos bars and throw yourself into northern Spanish nightlife

  • The Art Walk in Madrid is every art lover's dream. In one small stretch you can browse the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the Reina Sofia and the Prado, one of the world's most celebrated galleries

Is this trip right for you?

  • European trains are comfortable and often decked out with air-conditioning. Toilets are always available. Some of the trains have snack bars (or vending machines) and power points next to the seats but that cannot be guaranteed on every journey. Train travel is a fast way to traverse long distances, allowing you to avoid traffic jams and arrive right into the city centre. Please note that you will have to carry your own luggage on and off the train, and also up or down few flights of stairs as unfortunately some of the stations may not have lifts. In that case it is recommended to bring a backpack instead of rigid wheelie suitcase. Make sure the luggage doesn’t exceed our weight and size recommendations. You can find this information in the 'What to Take' section of the trip notes.

  • Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat and drink plenty of water. Please also note that not all hotels in Europe would have Air Conditioning system, but only fans. It may be uncomfortable for some in summer heat. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.

  • As accommodation on this trip is twin-share, single travellers will share a room with another traveller of the same sex. If you’d prefer not to share, a single room supplement is available at an additional charge. Please ask your travel consultant for more details. Also, hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together and rooms in Europe can seem rather small by American or Australian standards..

  • This trip is designed to give you a fair amount of free time so you can explore each destination at your own pace. We will, however, take you on regular orientation walks, so you'll be on your feet quite a lot. While this may be tiring for some, it’s the best way to get your head around a place and to set yourself up for further discoveries.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Bonjour! Welcome to Paris. Your adventure begins with a welcome
meeting which is usually around 6 pm. Please look for a note in the
hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If
you're going to be late, please inform the hotel. We'll be collecting
your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so
ensure you have all these to provide to your leader. After the
meeting we will head out for an optional group dinner for you to get
to know your fellow travellers. If you arrive early, get out and
explore this 'City of Light'. Perhaps go for a wander around the
Champs-Elysees, the student-filled Latin Quarter and the bohemian
Montmartre. This will give you a good feel for the city. Arriving
earlier to see Paris' iconic sights is highly recommended.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may
wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend the meeting. We'll
be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to
availability).
Today get out on an orientation walk and explore this romantic city further. With free time afterwards to discover as you please, perhaps go for a wander around Notre Dame de Paris, a famous cathedral and one of the most iconic examples of French Gothic architecture. The City of Light has also a great cuisine scene to discover. A selection of Urban Adventures taking you to the secrets sites of food often combined with art is a great way to discover the local way of living. Before moving on, perhaps end the day with glass of wine in one of the famous and trendy wine bars Paris has on offer.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Eiffel Tower - EUR17
  • Louvre Museum - EUR15
  • Musee d'Orsay - EUR14
  • Palace of Versailles - EUR18
  • Palace of Versailles gardens - Free
  • Paradis Latin cabaret show - EUR65
  • Arc de Triomphe - EUR12
  • Catacombs - EUR12
  • Centre Pompidou - EUR14
  • Napoleon's Tomb - Les Invalides Army Museum - EUR11
  • Notre Dame Towers - EUR10
  • Picasso Museum - EUR12
  • Rodin Museum - EUR10
  • Sainte Chapelle & Conciergerie - EUR15
  • Da Vinci Code walking tour - EUR25
  • Fat Tires bike tour - EUR32
  • Urban Adventures - Secret Paris: Cheese, Art, and Local Life - EUR59
  • Urban Adventures - Experience Bohemian Paris - EUR59
  • Fragonard Perfume Museum - Free
  • Urban Adventures - Gourmet Marais - EUR78
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Say au revoir to Paris this morning and travel by train to Tours (approximately 3 hours). On arrival, the day is yours to spend as you please. This city is based on the lower reaches of the River Loire. Being a crucial frontier between northern and southern France, it held many feudal strongholds, country seats and even some of the posh playhouses of many of the French nobles. You'll soon see why the city of Tours is acclaimed as a town of art and history. Explore the narrow streets, the outdoor cafes and bars in the main square, and the Rue Colbert and Rue Grand Marche, lined with half-timbered houses. This is also a great place for a tipple, as the city is well known for its wines.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Cathedrale St-Gatien - Free
  • Hot air balloon - EUR250
  • Musee des Beaux-Arts - EUR5
  • Hotel Gouin Museum - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There are many ways to discover the beauty of Loire Valley, but cycling is perhaps best for exploring this rolling countryside and its historic chateaux. Enjoy a day's cycling and tour the Chateau Villandry, which has a beautiful ornamental garden dating back to the 16th century. This is where French and English kings used to discuss peace. It was brought to today's shape by Joachim Carvallo in the 20th century. You'll see just by looking at it what an enormous amount of money and time it took. It's known to many as one of the most beautiful set of gardens in the world. you'll be back in the late afternoon or early evening, the rest of your day is then free.

Notes: The cycling trip is a mostly flat 35 kilometres, but you will need appropriate footwear (no flip-flops) to cycle in. Bring a day pack for your essentials such as water, sunglasses, sun cream and a camera.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chateaux Villandry & Gardens
  • Cycling tour - Tours
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Journey south by train to the small medieval town of Sarlat, located in the Dordogne region (approximately 6 hours). This is a great area to enjoy a more relaxed pace of life, known for its rich cuisine and prehistoric history. Time seems to have stood still in Sarlat-la-Caneda itself, with a slow winding river and a town so impeccably preserved that it still resembles its 14th-century state. On arrival, check into your hotel and use your free time getting to know the town. Simply enjoy the atmosphere of Sarlat by sitting in one of the roadside cafes and watching locals going about their everyday tasks.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Gabarre tour - EUR8
  • Domme Caves - EUR9
  • Ste Marie Panoramic Glass Lift - EUR5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today's a fun, active day. Head out on the Dordogne River, where you'll paddle a canoe down the river for around 15 kilometres. This is a picturesque setting, and you'll be able to take in sights such as the gorgeous Chateau de Beynac. It sits atop a limestone cliff, dominating the townscape and north bank of the Dordogne River. Another option for later in the day is to hire a bike, which is the ideal way to get around in this pretty region. Check with your leader for timings, though, as often it may be difficult to fit both canoeing and cycling on the same day. The evening is yours to spend as you please.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Canoeing - Sarlat
Optional Activities
  • Bike hire per day - EUR25
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by train to the capital of the Gascony region, Bordeaux (approximately 3 hours). On arrival, drop your luggage off at the hotel and start to get a feel for the place. Famed for its wine, this region has some fascinating history, and most of the architecture visible today in Bordeaux dates from the 18th century (which is considered its golden age). Perhaps scale the Gothic bell tower of the Tour Pey-Berland for great views of the city. Visit famous Cathédrale St-André, as well as its many fine and contemporary art museums and 18th- and 19th-century mansions. Public gardens line the curving river quays, and grand Place de la Bourse opens to the water, with the Three Graces fountain at its centre. The rest of your day is then free to do as you wish.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Wine Museum Bordeaux
Optional Activities
  • Musee des Beaux-Arts - EUR4
  • Pey Berland Tower - EUR6
  • CAPC Musee d'Art Contemporain - EUR5
  • Cathedrale St Andre - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel by train and bus to the French Pyrenees and the spa town of Bagneres de Luchon (approximately 6 hours). The French Pyrenees stretch from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and form a natural 450-kilometre barrier between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe. As well as their spectacular natural beauty, they are also famous for their thermal springs; curistes (those seeking a cure) have been coming here for centuries. Luchon is one of the spa towns, and a great base for exploring the surrounding trails. There won't be too much time to explore today, so perhaps take a brief walk around town before you head out for dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Thermes de Luchon - EUR15
  • Luchon Cable Car - EUR9
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is another active day. Kick things off nice and early as you take to the hills for a day of hiking in the Pyrenees. Be prepared for some steep ascents through the forest. You'll arrive at a fantastic vantage. If the weather is clear, you'll see some incredible mountainous vistas from up here. These surrounds are well and truly alpine, so try not to forget your camera! The terrain can be quite unpredictable, so remember to bring appropriate footwear. Sturdy trainers or light hiking boots will suffice. Pack your waterproof items, plenty of water, and energy bar or two so you can be in peak condition to enjoy the beautiful hills.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Hiking in the Pyrenees
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take a private transfer across the border to Spain and continue to the coastal town of San Sebastian (approximately 5 hours). With its family friendly beaches, innovative gastronomy and vibrant old city, San Sebastian is an ideal place to take it easy. Stroll along the promenade, shop, feast on pintxos (Basque-style tapas) or simply laze on the sand and soak up the sun. If you’re up for a different perspective of La Concha (the most central beach), climb or catch a cable car to Monte Igueldo. The panoramic views form the summit makes one feel like a hawk.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Grab Your Pintxo UA - EUR65
  • St. James Way Adventure - EUR55
  • Royals, Stars and Surfers - San Sebastian UA - EUR41
  • Basque by Bike- San Sebastian UA - EUR43
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
You have a full free day to explore San Sebastian today. Perhaps catch the one-hour local bus to Bilbao. If you do decide to head there, the world-famous and architecturally sublime Guggenheim Museum is well worth your time. If you have enough time in the afternoon, the San Telmo Museum displays a good collection of history, art and photography of the Basque country. Otherwise, San Sebastian has still plenty on offer. An interesting thing to see is the well-known Aquarium, which is proud to be the first natural science museum founded in Spain. Since opening in 1928 it has hosted 12 million visitors, and though it has undergone some remodelling over the years its original character and principles has remained true. In the evening, it might be a good idea to enjoy one more night of pinxtos in San Sebastian.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Aquarium - EUR13
  • Catedral del Buen Pastor - Free
  • Guggenheim Museum - EUR16
  • Monte Igueldo Cable Car - San Sebastian - EUR3
  • San Telmo Museum - EUR6
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Say goodbye to San Sebastian and head to the remarkable walled town of Segovia. You'll get there by train and bus (approximately 6 hours). There's plenty to do and see in this town, which is located in the heart of mountainous Castilla. There's stunning scenery, twisting alleyways and delicious local cuisine, not to mention the world's highest concentration of Romanesque churches. Check out the aqueduct – the largest and best-preserved of its kind. For something different, there are two rivers bordering the medieval walls, and an extensive green belt park with miles of shaded walks. Enjoy your evening relaxing and taking in the atmosphere.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Alcazar Segovia
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Journey by train to Madrid this morning (approximately 1 hour). On arrival, perhaps while away the hours on the Paseo del Arte (Art Walk) for a panoramic perspective of western art history. Perhaps wander through the pristine gardens of Real Jardin Botanico and then delve deeper into the art of the city at Museo Reina Sofia and Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Sports fans, if you're lucky enough for your trip to fall on match day, you can don a white t-shirt and head to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to watch the mighty Real Madrid.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Abono Paseo del Arte (3 museum combo voucher) - EUR27
  • Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - EUR12
  • Museo del Prado - EUR15
  • Real Jardín Botánico - EUR4
  • Museo Reina Sofia - EUR8
  • Madrid Tapas Adventure - Urban Adventure - EUR82
  • Markets of Madrid - Urban Adventure - EUR47
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Notes: As there's limited time for sightseeing in Madrid, staying longer is highly recommended. Our reservations team can help with booking accommodation (subject to availability).
Your adventure ends after breakfast today. There are no more activities planned and you're free to leave your accommodation at any time.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

3 breakfasts

Transport

Bicycle, Bus, Canoe, Metro, Private vehicle, Public bus, Train, Tram, Taxi

Accommodation

Hotel (13 nights)

Included activities

  • Chateaux Villandry & Gardens
  • Cycling tour - Tours
  • Canoeing - Sarlat
  • Wine Museum Bordeaux
  • Hiking in the Pyrenees
  • Alcazar Segovia

Dates & availability

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Important notes

A single supplement is available on this trip throughout. Please ask your travel consultant for more information.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our Paris to Madrid trips score an average of 4.8 out of 5 based on 15 reviews in the last year.

Paris to Madrid, September 2017

Sarah Carter

Paris to Madrid, September 2017

Rachael Lingard