Enjoy a unique travel experience through the unforgettable France and Spain

Join this adventure from romantic Paris to cosmopolitan Barcelona and be captivated by the culture and history of France and Spain. Visit castles, cycle through the Loire Valley and hike in the majestic mountains of the Pyrenees. Peruse paintings, admire Gaudi's quirky architecture and marvel at an illustrious Moorish past in Spain's byways and boulevards before partying the night away. This trip will make sure you come away with the best memories of two of Europe's most-visited countries.

Start
Paris, France
Finish
Barcelona, Spain
Countries
France,
Spain
Themes
Explorer
Code
AMSQC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
413kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • 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 one of the many wineries in Bordeaux to gain insight into the wine-making process
  • 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 pintos 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
  • Experience the fiery passion and rhythm of a traditional flamenco dance performance in Seville
  • It's a pretty special thing to chill out on a beach in Andalusian Spain, knowing North Africa is just across the water. Explore the scenic Costa de la Luz, and kick back with some tapas and sangria in Tarifa
  • The town of Ronda is split in two by a deep rocky chasm. Follow in the path of the Romans, as you cross from one side to the other along an ancient bridge
  • Discover Cordoba's great mosque - the Mezquita, one of the most accomplished examples of Moorish architecture in the world. The lavish gardens and opulent rooms of Granada's spectacular Alhambra Palace aren't bad either
  • Witness a spectacular Spanish sunset on a beach in Valencia, while feasting on a bowl of the world's best paella.
  • The cosmopolitan city of Barcelona pulses with culture, art and an outstanding drinking and dining scene. Discover the eccentric modernist architecture of Antonio Gaudi, who made Barcelona his artistic playground. The unfinished masterpiece of La Sagrada Familia is particularly mind-blowing

Itinerary

Bonjour! Welcome to France.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.

You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Rich in museums, art galleries, monuments, fashion and fabulous food, Paris offers a wealth of major sights and hidden treasures to discover.
As there is limited time for sightseeing in Paris we recommend you make arrangements to arrive a few days early to see the highlights of this beautiful city.
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.
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. 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.
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 Sarat-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.
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.
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.
Today you will find out for yourself why Bordeaux wines are so popular all over the globe. Venture out on a day tour to a nearby vineyard for a tasting of some of the region's vintages. Perfect your palate as you're taken through some of France's most celebrated grapes. In the evening, enjoy some free time. Perhaps pop out for dinner with the group to spoil your taste buds even more. Bordeaux has a long list of excellent places to dine. Ask your leader for the best recommendation; or, if you’re adventurous, take a chance on one that looks promising.
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.
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.
Travel using a private transfer to San Sebastian (approx 5 hrs).
With its great beaches and vibrant old city, San Sebastian is a fantastic place to stroll along the promenade, shop and consume pintos (Basque-style tapas) to your heart's content, or just soak up the sun.
For a different perspective of the most central beach, La Concha, why not climb or catch a cable car to Monte Igueldo.
If you crave more culture, there's plenty of time to catch a local bus (approx 1 hr) down the road to Bilbao to visit the world-famous and architecturally awesome Guggenheim Museum.
You have a full 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 tapas in San Sebastian.
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 Castile. 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.
Today you'll take a sightseeing walk of the World Heritage-listed old town, visiting the spectacular fortified castle of Alcazar. As an inspiration to the iconic Walt Disney structure, this is where Queen Isabel met with Columbus before he set sail on the epic journey that led to the discovery of the Americas. Alcazar rises out on a rocky crag above the river and, due to its interesting shape, looks a bit like the bow of a ship. You'll have plenty of time to explore this most distinctive Spanish landmark, so make sure you take comfortable footwear for your walk. Rest of the afternoon is free for you to relax.
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.
Today is free for you to enjoy as you please. Set out to discover Madrid in more detail.With great restaurants, art galleries, shopping and nightlife on offer, Madrid is a world-class city exuding confidence and style through every pore.

As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Today take a four-and-a-half hour bus to Granada. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada is packed with Moorish architecture, great tapas bars and natural beauty.

Take a walk around the old Arab quarter of the Albaicin, a labyrinth of crooked alleys, fountains, plazas and whitewashed houses. If you're feeling energetic, climb the steep streets up to the Mirador de San Nicolas for sunset views over the famous Alhambra. If you have time, perhaps check out the historic Renaissance Catedral and Capilla Real, or get geeky at the city's extensive Science Park.

As many suggests, Granada is a city where you should leave your guidebook behind and trust your intuition. Discovering the narrow streets if Albaicin and the white-walled house garden of Realejo quarter may lead your adventurous spirit to find something that you have long been looking for.
Today make a visit to Granada's impressive Alhambra Palace. An entrance ticket is included in the trip and grants you the visit of Nasrid Palace and the Gardens. Audio guides in multiple languages are available on the day for EUR 4. The Alhambra was first built by the Moors as a fortress during the Muslim rule of Spain. A walk through the compound's luxurious rooms and gardens gives you an idea of the decadent lifestyle of the Moorish kings. The Alhambra is made up of three parts: the Alcazaba, the 11th-century Muslim wing which features spectacular views from its towers; the Palacio Nazaries, the centre of the complex; and Generalife, the summer palace of the sultans.

Note: If you would like to take an in-depth guided tour of the Alhambra or enter the gardens and palace at night time, we strongly recommend you book tickets in advance. You can reserve these online at alhambra-tickets.es. To collect your tickets you will need to present the credit card that was used to make the booking. A maximum of 10 tickets may be bought for the same day on the same card. Please book any tickets for your second day in Granada only. Included ticket is usually booked for the morning but that depends on availability. Entrance to Nasrid Palace is booked for particular time (please enquire 3 weeks before your departure if you would like to know the time). Apart from that you are free to spend as much time within the whole complex including gardens as you wish.
Travel two-and-a-half hour by bus and train to the vibrant city of Seville.

If we would believe the legends, Seville was founded by Hercules and its origins are linked with the Tartessian civilisation. By the Romans, it was called Hispalis, Moors named it Isbiliya. Now, the capital of Andalucia, was one of the first conquests of the Moors. After the Christian reconquest, it became thought of as the portal to the 'New World'. Known for all its important monuments and fascinating history, Sevilla is universally famous for being a joyous town. Sevillians are well known for their wit and sparkle and the city itself is striking for its vitality. Seville is the largest city in Southern Spain, the city of Carmen, Don Juan and Figaro.

Seville is famous for its oranges, tapas and flamenco, all three of which are ingrained in the fabric of the city and its proud people. As the balance of the day is free for you to explore, why not go and experience it all in person?
Today is a free day to discover Seville. Checking out the world's largest Gothic cathedral is a must. You can also climb the cathedral's adjoining Moorish tower, known as La Giralda. While you might have to line up, it's well worth it for the views over the city. In the afternoon visit the magnificent Real Alcazar, a complex of palaces used by Moorish and Christian rulers through the ages. Wander through the fragrant gardens and examine the Mudejar architecture.

As Seville is the tapas capital of Spain, be sure to sample some of the tasty treats on offer in one of the city's many tapas bars. In the evening, catch a local flamenco performance with the group (it is included; your tour leader will pass all details on the day). Charged with emotion and drama, this powerful, fiery show is a real highlight.
Today travel south by three-hour bus to the Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light). On the western side of Andalusia, the coast faces the Mediterranean and North Africa. Your base for the next two nights is Tarifa, a laid-back beach town endowed with spectacular rocky scenery, a sea fortress, a lighthouse and plenty of character.

The afternoon is free to relax. Perhaps catch a bus to the 10 kilometre-long Playa de Los Lances or hole up at a beach bar on Playa de Valdevaqueros. In the evening, why not grab some dinner in town and join in Tarifa's vibrant nightlife?
Today there are plenty of optional activities to choose from. Perhaps head out on a whale and dolphin watching expedition on the Iberian Peninsula. At this unique place, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean and where Europe meets Africa, you will get the chance to see 7 different species of whales and dolphins. Alternatively, take a day trip to Northern Africa and the town of Tangier in Morocco, just 45 minutes away by ferry. Once a hotspot for artists, secret agents and millionaires, Tangier has been going through something of a renaissance of late. The city's medina and kasbah are well worth exploring, as are the cafes and patisseries around the Place de la France in the Ville Nouvelle. Other intresting option is to go on day tour across the border to the British territory of Gibraltar, home to the famous Rock of Gibraltar.
Leave the coast and head inland by bus and train to the town of Ronda in the Andalucian hills (approximately four hours altogether).

Ronda is the birthplace of bullfighting in Spain. The highlight of the town is the spectacular Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), one of the most photographed structures the country. Built in 1751, it bridges the 100-metre deep gorge that splits the town in two. Check out the old Moorish town on one side, home to many historic buildings including the House of the Moorish King, and the newer El Mercadillo on the other side. East of the town are well-preserved Arab Baths and of course, the famous Plaza de Toros.

In the evening find a spot form which you could enjoy a scenic sunset; this won’t be a problem in Ronda.
The Plaza de Toros is one of the oldest bullfighting rings in the country. Adjoining the bullring is the Bullfighting Museum, which displays relics of Ronda's bullfighting history. The gardens behind offer panoramic views over the surrounding mountains, which once proved a perfect hideout for bandits and smugglers. A visit to the Museum of Bandits gives an entertaining insight into their history.

Note: While bullfighting is a significant part of Spanish culture and history, its practice is contrary to our Responsible Travel philosophy. Intrepid does not support or attend bullfights, as the bulls are subject to torment and fear and are often killed inhumanely. Long a controversial issue in Spain, a landmark decision in July 2010 banned bullfighting in the state of Catalonia from January 2012.
Today our new destination is Cordoba. We will reach it by train.

Muslim, Jewish and Christian influences are present in Cordoba's architecture, culture and cuisine. The group will visit the famous Mezquita - once the third largest mosque in the world and one of the most beautiful. It was consecrated into a Roman Catholic cathedral in the 13th century when the Christians reconquered Cordoba. Time permitting, you might also like to visit the castle, gardens and 10th-century Moorish bathhouse of the city's Alcazar.

The evening is free to sample more delicious Spanish cuisine. Salmorejo (a cold soup made of tomatoes, bread and olive oil served with chopped up boiled egg and cured ham) is a specialty of Cordoba, as is rabo de toro (oxtail soup). There are also plenty of good-value eateries in the Juderia (Jewish Quarter).
Today take a five-hour train to Valencia. Long the Spanish gateway to the Mediterranean, Valencia has the special charm of a sea port city. Busy markets, clean beaches, spectacular mountains and a fascinating mix of old town and new town makes up the best of Valencia. Perhaps rent a bike from one of the many bike stations that are dotted around the city. Cycle through the park that runs through the centre of the city and to the impressively designed Museu de les Ciencies Príncipe Felipe (Arts and Science Museum).

Over the next couple of days, you have a lot of free time to wander around the city and see the sights. Valencia is also built with separate cycle paths, so it's really easy to get around the city.
Spend the day discovering Valencia. Visit the Cathedral, housing what is claimed to be the Holy Grail, the chalice Jesus drank from at the Last Supper. For something a little more quirky, head to the Museum of the Fallas, which contains a history of the Valencia fire festival and giant papier mache figures that have been spared from the burning. Perhaps visit the gothic Miguelete Bell Tower or the Valencian Institute of Modern Art. There are many fine parks and gardens to explore in the city, or you might prefer to head to Playa de la Malvarrosa to soak up some sun. For lunch, do as the locals do and head to Las Arenas for a delicious and affordable paella.
Board a five-hour train to your final destination of Barcelona. Spain's cosmopolitan second city, Barcelona offers ground-breaking art and architecture, stylish shopping, superb dining and non-stop nightlife. There are plenty of things to keep you busy while you're here. Wander the labyrinthine streets of the old Gothic Quarter and navigate your way through the throngs of tourists along La Rambla, Barcelona's famous tree-lined boulevard. Grab a fresh juice at the colourful La Boqueria market while you're there. Perhaps pay a visit to the Picasso Museum, the National Art Museum of Catalonia or the Museum of City History to brush up on your local knowledge. In the evening, feast on delicious tapas in the funky neighbourhood of El Born.
We strongly recommend that you book the entrance tickets to all main attractions in Barcelona beforehand to secure availability.
Join your leader on an orientation walk around Barcelona today. See some of the city's main sights, including a visit to Antonio Gaudi's incredible La Sagrada Familia Cathedral. The architect worked on this hugely ambitious project for decades until his death, and it remains in constant construction. Gaudi was the master of the unique Catalan Modernista architecture for which Barcelona is famous, and his work is dotted all over the city. Perhaps check out the Neo-Gothic mansion of Guell Palace or the wave-inspired structure of Casa Batlo. For more insight into the artist himself, head to the Gaudi House Museum inside Parc Guell, which is home to more colourful sculptures including a long mosaic-covered bench overlooking the city. For something a little different, perhaps have a poke around the Old Santa Creu Hospital.
Today your adventure comes to an end. As there are no activities planned, you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
10 breakfasts
Transport
Bicycle, Bus, Kayak, Metro, Private vehicle, Public bus, Taxi, Train
Accommodation
Hotel (16 nights)
Included activities
  • Chateaux Villandry & Gardens
  • Cycling tour
  • Canoeing - Sarlat
  • Wine tasting Bordeaux
  • Hiking in the Pyrenees
  • Alcazar Segovia
  • Alhambra entrance
  • Flamenco performance
  • Gorge Walk
  • Mezquita
  • Picnic
  • Bike rental - Valencia
  • La Sagrada Familia - Barcelona

Dates

There are currently no departures for this trip.

{{departure_day.departure_date | date:'EEE d MMMM yyyy'}} {{departure_day.arrival_date | date:'EEE d MMMM yyyy'}}

Style: {{departure.style}}

Boat/Ship: {{departure.vehicle_name}}
On sale Hot deal Departure guaranteed On request
{{product.currency_code}} {{room.base_price | noFractionCurrency:product.currency_symbol}}
{{product.currency_code}} {{room.discount_price | noFractionCurrency:product.currency_symbol}}
Fully booked Bookings closed

Total price per person {{room.room_type | lowercase}}
Includes {{departure.kitty_currency_code}} {{departure.kitty | noFractionCurrency:departure.kitty_currency_symbol}} kitty
Includes {{extra.extras_code}} {{extra.extras_symbol}}{{extra.extras_value}} in local payments Single supplement available from {{product.currency_code}} {{departure.single_supp | noFractionCurrency:product.currency_symbol}}

Contact us to arrange an alternative departure for you

Book {{departure.places_left}} spaces left! space left!


Important notes

A single supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide 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.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our France & Spain trips score an average of 4.5 out of 5 based on 2 reviews in the last year.

France & Spain , July 2015

France & Spain , July 2015

Was this page helpful?