I’m currently based in Andalucía, Spain, teaching English for the school year, and am planning to visit neighboring France during Christmas vacation. France fascinates me and will be the first country I visit outside of Spain during my time in Europe, but to be honest: I know nothing. I have approximately 13 days to spend in the country, I would like to see Paris and a few other sites in the northwest, and I will probably enter the country on the Mediterranean coast (from Spain) and leave via the Basque Country (to return to Spain). What should I see?
So, this year I’m teaching English in the town of Úbeda
, east of Córdoba and north of Granada. Buses run from here to Valencia & Barcelona and the nearby Linares-Baeza train station goes north to Madrid on the “slow” Talgo train and northeast to Barcelona on the overnight Trenhotel.
Christmas vacation starts (for me, at least) on Friday, December 21st (or the night of Thursday the 20th), and I have to be back in town by Tuesday, January 8th. However, I’d like to return no later than Saturday the 5th so I can crash, unwind, sleep, do laundry, etc. before going back to work. Budgeting a good day on both sides just to get out of Spain
, that leaves me with 13 days around France.
I’m probably going to take the Trenhotel to Barcelona, but I’m at a loss of what to do next, mainly because I have no idea what to see in France, or how to get there from Spain.
Ok, ok, I do know that I want to see Paris (& Versailles) for ~4 days, the Bayeux tapestry, Mont-St-Michel, and Fontevraud Abbey (where Eleanor of Aquitaine & Henry II were *once* buried). Maybe Pau in the Pyrenees. Don’t care about the WWII beaches of Normandy (nothing against veterans…I’m just not interested). I just don’t want to take the overnight train to Paris from Barcelona if something in Provence or Burgundy stands out. I don’t have any preference about staying in Paris over Christmas or New Year’s Day (and would probably rather not be there then ha!).
TL;DR — help me plan a 13-day trip in France, entering the country in the south from Barcelona, making a circuit up to Paris and back down again, leaving through the Basque Country (or thereabouts). Budget travel style, four days in Paris, Rick Steves’ guidebook in tow, beginner’s level of French.
Thank you all so much for your help!!! I can’t wait to finally set foot in this beautiful country.