Catalonia feels distinct from the rest of Spain, and its four provinces enclose an impressive wealth of natural splendour. Pyrenean peaks loom above meadows and fertile vineyards, plains are pock-marked with volcanic cones, and rocky coves punctuate sandy beaches. The Costa Brava’s shores are its biggest lure, though travellers will also discover medieval architecture and history as well as Salvador Dalí's gloriously surreal 'theatre-museum' in Figueres. Languedoc is across the French border and extends from the Pyrenees to Provence, this sun-baked region feels like a country in its own right. It’s been a strategic border since Roman times and is awash with historical reminders, from Roman aqueducts to hilltop Cathar castles. These days it’s best known for its vineyards, and the busy beaches sprawling along its Mediterranean shore. Catalonia and the Languedoc of France offer all this and so much more; so add in the rare treat of touring the countryside by train, and this turns from a vacation into something very special.
This itinerary has been crafted by our Local Agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and your interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.
You have arrived in Barcelona…Bondia! You land this morning on the outskirts of beautiful Barcelona, one of the most fascinating and fantastic cities in Europe. A private driver will be waiting at the airport to pick you up and transport you to the beautiful Gothic Quarter.The Gothic quarter is packed with historical treasures – relics of ancient Rome, 14th-century Gothic churches and atmospheric cobblestone lanes lined with shops, bars and restaurants.You will visit the SagradaFamilia(tickets included) one of the most recognized landmarks of the city.
The city remains vibrant until the early hours of the morning. The church bells ring in the mid-morning and the sunlight casts a charm over the city once more. Spend the day as you desire, exploring the treasures of the city with your partner. Dig your toes into the immaculate sandy beach or relax in a plaza with a rich, steaming coffee. La Boqueria is a celebrated public market that dates back to the 13th century. The pavilion encompasses an entire city block. Candied fruits are displayed like stripes on a rainbow. Fresh fruits and vegetables create an ambiance of tropical décor. The sweet aromas of kumquat and pomegranate surround you. The luscious sounds of simmering onions and garlic emanate from the local restaurants.
There is so much for you to discover together, from the succulent flavors of BacallaneriesGomá to the variety of egg dishes at El Quim de la Boqueria. We would recommend hanging neart the El Born - Bypass the lines at the nearby Picasso museum and stop in at the El Born Cultural Center for a unique look at Catalan history. Enter the massive 19th century market hall to find the archeological remains of 16th century Barcelona. You can admire the vast excavation site for free or take in a guided tour, one of their exhibits or concerts, all highlighting Catalan’s distinct history and culture. Before leaving grab a coffee at its café abuzz with the local hipsters.
A leisurely train greets you as you turn north and make your way to Figueres, the home of Salvador Dali and now the host to one of the most incredible museums in the world, a Surrealist masterstroke that is known as the Dali Theatre and Museum (tickets included). Here, you’ll find some of the artist’s best and most famous works, from paintings to sculptures to collages, and revel in his unconventional and inescapable vision, as the building baffles you with its idiosyncrasies.
You next head to Cadaques by private transfer, a village on the tip of the Cap de Crues Peninsula, surrounded by the bosom of the Mediterranean and the site of scenery that has inspired artists for years. Should you have the time, you can even visit Dali’s home(tickets included) in Port Lligat, mere minutes from Cadaques.
Private transfer to nearby station. Train ride to Collioure. As your Spain tour portion ends, board a train and prepare for an incredible trip as you cross through the Pyrenees into the heart of France, bound for the sienna sands of Cote Vermeille, where the very best of this noteworthy nation awaits your arrival. Your first stop is Collioure, a French town with a Catalan flair and the home base for some of the most famous Fauvists in the world, artists such as Derain, Braque or the incomparable Henri Matisse. You can soak in the structures that served as inspiration for these artistic legends – like the royal castle of Collioure and the lighthouse-cum-church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges – before checking out more than 90 reproductions of some of Matisse’s and Derain’s best works at the Chemin du Fauvisme, where you can stand exactly where the two geniuses stood as they composed their most famous pieces.
The best place to enjoy the calm of the seais the Restaurant Le Neptuneas is perfectly perched next to a pebbled beach. This little town epitomises the beauty of the Languedoc coast and should be enjoyed at the boutique accommodation spot near the sea. We would suggest sunbathing, and eating all afternoon.
After breakfast you’ll take the train to Carcassonne. On arrival at the station you’ll be picked up by a private driver and transferred to the old city.
Carcassonne, a 12th-century city that retains much of its medieval heritage, most readily apparent in the impeccably maintained fortified city that has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. You can walk the expansive city walls and man the battlements, visit some of the many towers and even explore the exhibits at the enclosed Musée de la Torture, featuring examples of some of the torture equipment used by the Catholic Church during the area’s more antagonistic eras.You meet a local guide (English speaking of course)for a detailed visit and private walking tour. The guide will show you through the Carcassonne Cathedral, the impressive Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse, allegedly constructed by the Visigothic King Theodoric the Great in the early sixth century.
After breakfast you’ll be picked up by a guide for a small group tour of the Cathar Castles. This will be a full day out on the trail of the Pays Cathare (lands of the Cathare) (8-hours private tour) through at least three castles (tickets included), of the so called Five Sons of Carcassone, were the castles of Peyrepertuse, Queribus, Termes, Puilaurens, and Aguilar, sworn to defend the Southern Borders, against the Spanish (at that time, the border was roughly speaking the border we know today as the dividing line between Aude and the Pyrenees Orientales) Following the conclusion of the Crusades, Peyrepertuse, never shy of an intrigue, provided safe refuge to Henri de Trastamare - no French dignitary - but the heir apparent and claimant to the throne of Castille ! Following the re-drawing of the borders in 1659, Peyrepertuse's key stragic important declined, and following the French Revolution, it was abandoned completely.
After breakfast you’ll be picked up by a guide for a private tour of the best gastronomy has to offer in Languedoc.
Visit the largest town in the department of the Aude, Narbonne. This tour is based around the fabulous Les Halles, the covered market where you will meet some of the essential people producing the exquisite products in the region. Michel's fabulous fruit and veg or Didier's incredible free-range poultry or Magali's sensational seafood from the Med. This market is a food lover's delight. Your guide never tires of visiting here, as the best fresh seasonal produce combined with a glass of Muscat shared with the locals, makes a sublime moment! After all you will want to taste some of the produce, no better place than the restaurant L'Estagnol close by, where everything is purchased from the Market (lunch is included).
Then after lunch you’ll stroll around this wonderful town which will include a visit to one of the gastronomic temples of the region: La FermeNarbonnaise, a beautiful boutique shop with such delights as Foie Gras, Iranian Caviar, Honey from the hills of the region, truffle oil and many other gourmet products. To finish the day, we visit the abbey of Fontfroide or the Cathar village of Minerve.
Private transfer to station. Train to Montpellier. Greeting at the station and private transfer to Hotel. Montpellier is a stylish metropolis with elegant buildings, grand hôtelsparticuliers (private mansions), stately boulevards and shady backstreets, and gorgeous white-sand beaches on its doorstep. You will have a Segway tour of the old city.
After a hearty breakfast we will organise an onward transfer to the train station for your departure. From the old city of Barcelona along the shores of the Costa Brava to the fortified jagged ridges above Carcassonne, and through to the lush vineyards of Languedoc-Roussillon, this is sure to be one vacation that stirs your senses and sets your imagination a flame. Continue onwards on your journey, or prepare to return home.
The price reflects this specific itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.
|Price per person||$2,340|