France & Spain Trip Notes

France & Spain

Last Modified: 01 Sep 2015
France & Spain
Trip code: AMSQC
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Table of Contents
StyleGroup sizeJoining point instructions
ThemesAccommodationFinish point
MapMealsFinish point description
ItineraryTransportFinish point instructions
Culture shock rating Joining point Carbon offset
Physical ratingJoining point description
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
Style
Original
  • Our Original style trips have a great balance of included activities with your group and free time to explore independently. Where we stay ensures we keep our travellers firmly entrenched in a region’s people and culture, and provides them with unique local experiences that benefits the community too. In most locations we stay in simple tourist-class hotels (i.e. 2-3 stars), plus on many trips you'll also get to experience a night with a local family on a homestay or something a little different like a Bedouin camp in the Sahara. Original style trips come with all manner of transport modes and use a mixture of local and private transport. You might find yourself sailing in a dhow in Zanzibar, jumping on a rickshaw in Sri Lanka or sailing on a yacht through the Galapagos. No matter the mode, it's all about minimising our environmental impact and making getting around part of the adventure.
Themes
Explorer
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Paris
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.
Optional Activities
  • Eiffel Tower - EUR17
  • Louvre Museum - EUR15
  • Musee d'Orsay - EUR14
  • Palace of Versailles - EUR15
  • Palace of Versailles gardens - Free
  • Paradis Latin cabaret show - EUR65
  • Arc de Triomphe - EUR10
  • Catacombs - EUR10
  • Centre Pompidou - EUR14
  • Napoleon's tomb - EUR10
  • Notre Dame Towers - EUR8
  • Picasso Museum - EUR11
  • Rodin Museum - EUR10
  • Sainte Chapelle & Conciergerie - EUR9
  • Da Vinci Code walking tour - EUR25
  • Fat Tires bike tour - EUR32
  • Urban Adventures - Secret Paris: Cheese, Art, and Local Life - EUR49
  • Urban Adventures - Experience Bohemian Paris - EUR49
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 2-3 Tours
Travel by train to Tours in the Loire Valley (approx 3 hrs).
Located between the Loire and Cher rivers, Tours is acclaimed as a 'town of art and history'. It's easy to see why as you explore the narrow streets, the outdoor cafes and bars in the main square, and the Rue Colbert and Rue Grand Marche, lined with gorgeous half-timbered houses.
Bicycles are a great way to explore the gentle countryside of the Loire and its magnificent historic chateaux. Enjoy a day's cycling and tour the Chateau Villandry with its beautiful 16th-century ornamental garden. The trip is a mostly flat 36 km. Please note that you'll need appropriate footwear (no flip-flops) to cycle in.
Included Activities
  • Chateaux Villandry & Gardens
  • Cycling tour
Optional Activities
  • Cathedrale St-Gatien - Free
  • Hot air balloon - EUR250
  • Musee des Beaux-Arts - EUR5
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 4-5 Dordogne Region
Journey south by train to the small medieval town of Sarlat in the Dordogne region (approx 6 hrs), known for its rich cuisine, prehistoric history and relaxed pace of life.
Time seems to have stood still in Sarat-la-Caneda with a slow winding river and a town so impeccably preserved that it still resembles its charming 14th-century self.
Ensure to indulge in some of the many tasty local delicacies at a streetside cafe. Ask for a 'degustation' of truffles, Confit de Canard or a host of other seasonal specialities.
Paddle kayaks on the Dordogne River (approx 15km) and take in sights such as the Chateau de Beynac.
Included Activities
  • Kayaking, Sarlat
Optional Activities
  • La Roque-Gageac Troglodyte Fort - EUR5
  • Canoeing/Kayaking - EUR20
  • Gabarre tour - EUR8
  • Domme Caves - EUR9
  • Bike hire per day - EUR20
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 6-7 Bordeaux
Travel by train to Bordeaux (approx 3 hrs).
The capital of the Gascony region, Bordeaux was once an important port and trading centre dating back to pre-Roman times. However, most of the architecture visible today dates from the 18th century, considered the golden age of Bordeaux. In fact, so harmonious and successful was the large-scale remodelling of Bordeaux in the 18th century that it was later used as the model for Baron Hausmann's architectural transformation of Paris in the Napoleonic era. Wandering round the graceful, carefully-planned streets is a delight.
Included Activities
  • Wine tasting Bordeaux
Optional Activities
  • Musee des Beaux-Arts - Free
  • Pey Berland Tower - Cathedale St Andre - EUR6
  • CAPC Musee d'Art Contemporain - Free
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 8-9 Pyrenees
Head for the French Pyrenees and the spa town of Bagneres de Luchon by train and bus (approx 6 hrs).
The French Pyrenees stretch from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and form a natural 450 km long barrier between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe. As well as their spectacular natural beauty, the Pyrenees are also famous for their thermal springs, where curistes (those seeking a cure) have been coming for hundreds of years. Luchon is one such spa town, and a great base for exploring the surrounding trails.
Located at the foot of the Pyrenees in a gorgeous valley, Luchon is a spa town with celebrated thermal springs and wonderful hikes up into the mountains.
Take to the hills for a day of hiking in the Pyrenees. Be prepared for some steep ascents, climbing up through the forest to a fantastic viewpoint of the mountain peaks (weather permitting). The scenery is truly alpine and absolutely breathtaking - don't forget your camera! Please note that you'll need appropriate footwear (sturdy trainers or light hiking boots) for this.
Included Activities
  • Hiking in the Pyrenees
Days 10-11 San Sebastian
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.
Optional Activities
  • Grab Your Pintxo - EUR50
  • Hondarribi Town and Basque Sports Tour - EUR49
  • St. James Way Adventure - Free
  • Aquarium - EUR13
  • Catedral del Buen Pastor - Free
  • Guggenheim Museum - EUR11
  • Monte Igueldo Cable Car - San Sebastian - EUR3
  • San Telmo Museum - EUR6
Days 12-13 Segovia
Travel by train and bus to the remarkable walled town of Segovia in the heart of mountainous Castile (approx 5.5 hrs).
With its stunning backdrop of mountains, twisting alleyways, the highest concentration of Romanesque churches in the world and delicious local cuisine, Segovia is atmospheric, photogenic and memorable.
Take a sightseeing walk of the World Heritage-listed old town, taking in the breathtaking and romantic Alcazar castle, an inspiration to Walt Disney, and where Queen Isabel met with Columbus before he set sail on the epic journey that lead to the discovery of the Americas.
With the largest and best preserved Roman aqueduct of its kind anywhere in the world and a towering 16th century cathedral, there's plenty of history to discover during free time in Segovia. For something different, there are two rivers bordering the medieval walls, and an extensive green belt park with miles of shaded walks.
Included Activities
  • Alcazar
Optional Activities
  • Casa de los Picos - Free
  • City walls - EUR2
  • Esteban Vicente Museum - EUR3
  • Segovia Fortress - EUR5
  • Segovia Museum - EUR2
  • Zuloaga Museum - EUR2
Days 14-15 Madrid
Journey by train to Madrid (approx 1 hr).
With incredible restaurants, art galleries, shopping and nightlife on offer, Madrid is a truly world-class city that exudes confidence and style through every pore.
While away hours on the Paseo del Arte, or Art Walk, for a panoramic perspective of Western art history. Start with the Museo del Prado, one of the world's finest collections of European art from the 12th-19th centuries and an unmissable stop on any art tour. Discover modern Spanish masters, including Picasso and Dali, in the Museo Reina Sofia's 20th century collection. Finish with the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, which spans eight centuries of European painting.
Optional Activities
  • Abono Paseo del Arte (3 museum combo voucher) - EUR26
  • Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - EUR10
  • Museo del Prado - EUR14
  • Real Jardín Botánico - EUR3
  • Museo Reina Sofia - EUR8
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 16-17 Granada
Travel by bus or train to Granada (approximately 4.5hrs)
The Andaluz city of Granada is home to the magnificent Alhambra.
Take a walk around the Albaicin, the old Arab quarter, a labyrinth of crooked streets with alleyways, fountains, plazas, whitewashed houses and villas. If you are feeling energetic continue on and watch the spectacular sunset from the most famous viewpoint in Granada - the Mirador de San Nicolas, located at the top of Albaicin's steep streets.
Visit the Renaissance cathedral with its ornate facade and gold-and-white interior, dating from the 16th century.
Explore the Alhambra Palace, which was first built by the Moors as a fortress. Its instantly recognisable exterior hides richly decorated rooms and luxurious gardens with bubbling fountains, and a walk through the compound gives us an idea of the decadent lifestyle the Moorish kings used to enjoyed.
Granada was one of the region's most important cities during the Muslim rule of Spain and the Alhambra is a very good example of this period. The Alhambra is made up of three parts: the Alcazaba, the 11th-century Muslim wing where you can get spectacular aerial views from the tops of its towers; the Palacio Nazaries, the centre of the complex; and Generalife, the summer palace of the sultans.
Included Activities
  • Alhambra entrance
Optional Activities
  • Alhambra Gardens - EUR6
  • Jose Guerrero Centre - Free
  • Mirador de San Nicolas - Free
  • Renaissance Catedral and Capilla Real - EUR4
  • Science Park Planetarium - EUR2
  • Science Park - EUR5
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 18-19 Seville
Travel by train to Seville, one of the most vibrant cities in Spain (approx 2.5 hrs).
Now the capital of Andalucia, Seville was one of the first conquests of the Moors. After the fall of the Cordoba Caliphate in the 11th century, under whose direction it previously lay, it became the most powerful city in 'Al Andalus'. Near the centre of the city is the evocative 'Giralda', an architectural masterpiece dating from the 12th century. Originally built as a minaret for the central Mosque in Seville, this Mosque was later destroyed, and it is now the bell-tower for the enormous cathedral. Close by is the magnificent 'Alcazar', a complex of palaces dating back from Roman times and later used by both Moorish and Christian rulers. It has fine examples of Moorish and 'Mudejar' architecture, rivalling Granada's 'Alhambra', and some lovely gardens. After the Christian re-conquest Seville became famed as the gateway to the 'New World'. Christopher Columbus negotiated here with Queen Isabella to fund his epic voyage to the Americas, bringing her back untold riches and making Seville one of the wealthiest cities in Europe.
Seville is renowned for its oranges, tapas and flamenco - all three are ingrained in the fabric of the city and its proud people.
Explore the world's largest Gothic cathedral. You can also the climb the cathedral's adjoining 76-metre Moorish tower, known as La Giralda, well worth it for the excellent views of the city and surrounding area (be prepared for a line-up).
Visit the Alcazar - a magnificent palace dating from Moorish times.
Seville is the tapas capital of Spain, so jump in and try some of the many tasty treats on offer in the evenings.
Catch a glimpse of true, local flamenco - filled with emotion and drama, it's a real highlight.
Included Activities
  • Flamenco performance
Optional Activities
  • Alcazar - EUR14
  • Archeological Museum - EUR2
  • Art and Popular Customs Museum - EUR2
  • Catedral and Giralda Tower - EUR9
  • Museum of Fine Arts - EUR2
  • Andalusian Contemporary Art Centre - EUR3
  • Casa de Pilatos - EUR8
  • Indias Archive - Free
  • Real Maestranza Bullring - EUR4
  • Santa Paula Convent - EUR3
  • Torre del Oro - EUR3
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 20-21 Costa de la Luz
Travel south by bus to the Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light) on the western side of the Andalucian coastline, which faces the Mediterranean and North Africa (approx 3 hrs).
Our base is Tarifa, a laid-back and highly photogenic beach town endowed with spectacular rocky scenery, a sea fortress, a lighthouse and plenty of character.
You have a free day to explore the beautiful coastline and beaches. There are plenty of options:
Go whale and dolphin watching.
Take a day trip to Northern Africa and the cosmopolitan town of Tangier in Morocco, just 45 minutes away by ferry.
Enjoy a day tour across the border to the British territory of Gibraltar, home to the famous Rock of Gibraltar.
Optional Activities
  • Morocco day trip - EUR60
  • Whale watching - EUR30
  • Gibraltar day trip - EUR48
Days 22-23 Ronda
Leave the coast and head inland by bus and train to the Andalucian hills and the charming town of Ronda (approx 4 hrs).
Ronda is the birthplace of bullfighting in Spain. The highlight here is the spectacular Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), one of the most photographed structures in all of Spain. Built in 1751, it bridges the 100-metre deep gorge that splits the town in two. On one side of the bridge is the old Moorish town with many historic buildings including the House of the Moorish King, on the other side is the much newer El Mercadillo, and to the east of the town are well-preserved Arab Baths and of course the famous Plaza de Toros.
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 the bullring offer the best panoramic views over the mountains.
Please note that while bullfighting is significant in 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 has banned bullfighting in the state of Catalonia from January 1, 2012.
The surrounding mountains once proved a perfect hideout for bandits and smugglers and a visit to the Museum of Bandits gives an entertaining insight into their history.
Included Activities
  • Gorge Walk
Optional Activities
  • Bandits Museum - EUR4
  • La Ronda Bullring - EUR8
  • Santa Maria la Mayor Church - EUR2
Meals Included
2 Breakfasts
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 24 Cordoba
Travel by train to Cordoba
Cordoba has a mix of influences with Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths combining in architecture, cuisine and culture.
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.
The evening is free to sample more delicious Spanish cuisine. Gazpacho with boiled eggs on top is a speciality of Cordoba, as is rabo de toro (oxtail soup). There are also plenty of good-value eateries in the Juderia (Jewish Quarter).
Included Activities
  • Mezquita
Optional Activities
  • Alcazar - EUR5
  • Palacio Museo de Viana - EUR8
Days 25-26 Valencia
Travel by train to Valencia, a journey which will take approximately 5 hours.
Long the Spanish gateway to the Mediterranean, Valencia has the special charm of a sea port city. Busy markets, beautiful beaches, spectacular mountains and a fascinating mix of old and new await us.
Visit the Cathedral, which houses what is claimed to be the Holy Grail, the chalice Jesus drank from at the Last Supper.
For something a little more quirky, visit the Museum of the Fallas, which contains a history of the Valencia fire festival in the form of giant papier mache figures that over the years have been spared from the burning.
There are many fine parks and gardens, or you may want to head to the beach of Playa de la Malvarrosa to soak up some sun. To try the paella that Valencia is famous for, do as the locals do and head to the restaurant area of Las Arenas for a hearty and reasonably priced lunch.
Included Activities
  • Picnic
  • Bike rental - Valencia
Optional Activities
  • Fallas Museum - EUR2
  • Gonzalez Marti Museum - EUR3
  • Miguelete Tower - EUR2
  • Principe Filipe Science Museum - EUR8
  • The Silk Exchange - EUR2
  • Valencian Institute of Modern Art - EUR2
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 27-29 Barcelona
Travel by train to Barcelona (approx 5 hrs).
Spain's cosmopolitan second city, Barcelona offers ground-breaking art and architecture, stylish shopping, superb dining and non-stop nightlife.
Join your leader on a orientation walk past some of the main sights including a visit to Gaudi's bizarre La Sagrada Familia Cathedral.
There may be some free time to spend visiting the city's museums and cathedrals, or shopping. Visit the old Gothic Quarter with its labyrinth of streets, the Picasso Museum, wander the Rambla, the tree-lined pedestrian boulevard, or take the funicular to the top of Montjuic or Tibidabo for panoramic views of Barcelona and the harbour.
Come the evening regroup for your final night and say adiós to your new friends.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Included Activities
  • La Sagrada Familia - Barcelona
Optional Activities
  • Andean-Amazonian Ethnographic Museum - Free
  • Casa Batllo - EUR22
  • Guell Palace - EUR12
  • Museum of City History - EUR7
  • Museum of Gaudi - EUR6
  • National Art Museum of Catalonia - EUR12
  • Old Santa Creu Hospital - Free
  • Picasso Museum - EUR14
  • Cathedral visit - EUR6
  • Barcelona Tapas Tour - EUR52
  • Snapshots of Barcelona - EUR45
Meals Included
2 Breakfasts
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
  • France & Spain - Single Supplement (AMSQC)
  • Paris to Madrid (AMSF)
  • Highlights of Spain (ZMRS)
  • Barcelona to Rome (ZMSC)
  • Best of Spain (ZMSG)
  • Highlights of France (AMKF)
Culture shock rating

At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
Physical rating

This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
Group size
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Accommodation
Hotel (18 nts)
Meals
7 Breakfasts
EUR 950.00
Transport
Train, Bus, Public bus, Bicycle, Kayak, Metro, Private vehicle, Taxi
Joining point
Hotel Des Arts - Bastille
2 Rue Godefroy Cavaignac
Paris
75011
FRANCE
Phone: 33 143797257
Fax: 33 143790660
Joining point description
Hotel des Arts is a small boutique-style property ideally located in the district of la Bastille.
Rooms offer a safe, free WiFi, direct dial telephone, satellite TV and a small en-suite bathroom.
The hotel also offers a 24hr front desk, elevator and luggage storage facilities.
Joining point instructions
Take the metro to Charonne, line 9. Take the rue de Charonne exit. Walk down the street with the green boulanger and red Brasserie L’ngenu on either corner. Walk 250 metres to Rue Godefroy Cavaignac on your right. Hotel des Arts is the first building on the right.
Pre booked arrival transfer from the airport: If you have pre booked an arrival transfer, your transfer driver will be holding a board with the Intrepid Logo or your name at the arrivals hall.
In case of flight cancellations, changes, if you experience severe delays at immigration, baggage collection or customs, or if you are not able find the driver, please contact the emergency phone number: + 33 (0)6 15 035 427
Finish point
Hotel Catalonia Sagrada Familia
Calle Aragon, 569 BIS 08026
Barcelona
SPAIN
Phone: +34 932 45 89 05
Finish point description
The Catalonia Sagrada Familia Hotel is located on Aragon Street, at the heart of Barcelona. It is ideal for cultural and gastronomic trips to the Condal City, as it lies close to the Hispanidad and Gaudi squares, the area of El Clot, Els Encants and Glories square.
The 18-square-metre double rooms of the Catalonia Sagrada Familia Hotel are the ideal accommodation for a cultural trip to Barcelona as a couple: comfortable, elegant and fully equipped accommodation with bathroom with shower and hairdryer, TV, Channel+, telephone, room services, safe deposit box, free WiFi, heating and air conditioning.
Finish point instructions
If you are making your own way to the airport the hotel will be able to help book you an airport shuttle or taxi. Please ask at reception.
Pre booked departure transfer to the airport:
You will be collected at your accommodation 3 hours before your flight departure time.
In case of flight cancellations, changes or if you are not able find the driver, please contact the emergency phone number: +34 91 747 7570
Carbon offset
Carbon Offset C02-e 413.00 kgs per pax.