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Barcelona to Lyon or to Nice
Old 02-06-2015, 10:20 AM   #1
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Barcelona to Lyon or to Nice

We are going to take a 1 week vacation and fly into Barcelona, spend two days there and then drive north to France. We are unsure whether to head towards Nice or Lyon. We have not been to either place but have been to France twice before. Have not retired yet so we only have 1 week. Going in late March early April this year.

Does anyone have any thoughts and /or suggestions whether to head towards Lyon or Nice and where to stop on the way.

Thank you.
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Old 02-06-2015, 10:39 AM   #2
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We're doing a big trip this summer and had the same dilemma of Lyon or Nice. (We end our trip with a week in Barcelona.)

We chose Nice since this is towards the end of our trip and we might want some beach lounging time.

I have to say I don't know if I could do just a week in Europe with more than one city. Although when I lived in Philly I did some shorter trips. Now that I'm back on the west coast it's 16+ hours of travel each way... and that's hard to justify for 1 week vacation. And days spent changing locations are not really vacations either. I've become a big fan of slow travel - spending a week (or more) per location.
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Old 02-06-2015, 10:46 AM   #3
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Haven't been to Barcelona, but reliable sources tell me you can easily spend a week there without being bored. Same for Lyon. My recollection of Nice from my youth is that a week is way too much unless you're spending a lot of time on the beach, and then there are better places to spend time on the beach. I'm with Rodi - one week is not enough time for me to want to spend the better part of a day travelling between two cities. I'd pick one and enjoy it well.
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Old 02-06-2015, 10:59 AM   #4
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Choice between sea and rivers, though there are nearby mountains in Nice as well.

Where are you flying out of? Would you be returning to Barcelona? Both cities are kind of far from Barcelona so if you have to return to Barcelona, you might consider some closer destinations.

I haven't seen the part of France just across from the French border, or the Costa Brava north of Barcelona either. Some people swear by Carcassonne and nearby coastal cities in France.

Lyon looks like a longer drive than Nice. Before you get to either destination, there are other destinations worth visiting. For instance, before turning north towards Lyon, there are Nimes, Avignon and the mountain villages just to the East, as well as Arles, Aix in Provence.

And long before you reach Nice, you'd be hitting parts of Provence as well as other coastal cities like St. Raphael, Cannes and others.

Car adds a lot of flexibility, especially to visit smaller towns but traffic and parking are brutal.
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Old 02-06-2015, 11:19 AM   #5
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Thank you for responses. We will fly home through Lyon or Nice (not returning to Barcelona) depending which we choose. Figured out the FI part, but because I own my own business have not yet figured out the RE part. Hope to finalize that this year. Working on it............ but only have one week to travel.

Also, because we are traveling in late March beach time is not an option. It really comes down to which end destination has more sites on the way. We are very interested in history (not so much regarding Roman times) during the 17th and 18th centuries. Don't know if there are places of interest along the way from that time period.
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Old 02-06-2015, 11:59 AM   #6
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I'd look into the weather for those places at that time of the year, on sites like besttimetogo.com or holiday-weather.com, specifically average rainfall.

Yeah there are a lot of Roman ruins around Barcelona as well as when you get to Provence. Lyon has some beautifully preserved architecture (especially well lit at night) but I'm not sure they're 17th or 18th century. May be more 19th century. It's also well known for traboules, which date from medieval times.

Nice and the French Riviera is more 19th and early 20th century. Especially like Villa Rothschild, which is spectacular on a bright, sunny day.

I like architecture but the ocean views around Nice are unbeatable, especially up in Eze and other parts of the corniche. Then there are smaller coastal towns between Nice and Monaco and Nice and Cannes to the west which are all worth exploring, if you get sunny weather.

If you only have a week though, you might consider flying rather than driving, which would use up a lot t of time.
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Old 02-06-2015, 12:41 PM   #7
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March and April are great but can be a bit chilly sometimes.

Cannes, Nice and Monte Carlo make for a great drive. Summers however are extremely crowded and it can take hours to get just a few miles down the main thoroughfares around Nice.

Have a great trip!
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Old 02-06-2015, 01:03 PM   #8
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In October 2014 we did the following trip -

3 nights Nice area
2 nights Luberon
3 nights St. Remy
3 nights Barcelona

I haven't been to Lyon but we really liked the Nice area. That said, we actually stayed in Villefranches-sur-mur which is a small coastal town just to the east of Nice. Vacation rental had an amazing view of the harbor and we loved walking and eating in that little town at night.

For us 1 full day in Nice doing walking tour which was plenty but there was lots of interesting things to go do outside of Nice. Spent a full day exploring Eze and the Corniche roads which provided great scenery and history.
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Old 02-06-2015, 02:09 PM   #9
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Barcelona is wonderful. Nice was ok. Rocky beach but won't matter in March. Expensive.
Haven't visited Lyon but think that might be the better choice based on my experience.
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Old 02-06-2015, 02:12 PM   #10
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You might also post a proposed itinerary, day by day, on a more travel-related forum.

I think people would point out that you're trying to cover too much ground in one week (which could be only 5 full days on the ground between the international flights going to and returning from Europe).

You would often land in Europe in the morning or to a final destination like Barcelona (after going through a hub like Paris or London or Frankfurt) in the afternoon. So you lose half a day there and then you typically return on a flight which takes off early in the morning.

So if you fly Saturday to Saturday, you really only have 5 full days, Monday through Friday, in Europe.

You can find plenty to do just around Barcelona itself, like day trips to Montserrat and towns up and down the coast, though a place like Tarragona is mainly known for the Roman ruins, which you said you're not interested in.

If you drive to Lyon or Nice nonstop from Barcelona, you'd use up one of your days just in transit, which is why a flight or maybe even a high-speed train would make more sense.

Or even other parts of Spain, perhaps take the AVE to Barcelona and spend a day or two there, if you've never been or go to Andorra.

Pairing Nice or Lyon with Barcelona would make more sense if you had 2 weeks instead of one.
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Old 02-06-2015, 02:18 PM   #11
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If you like food and wine, Lyon is hard to beat. The city is regarded as the gastronomic center of France. It's also a UNESCO site and was an administrative center of the Nazi occupation. We took a walking tour while we were there and came away quite impressed. We also came away with a bunch of delicious French chocolates.

We haven't been to Nice, but I give Lyon a big thumbs-up.
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Old 02-06-2015, 02:57 PM   #12
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You probably know this already, but the gas stations in France are often unmanned and the pumps only take the newer credit cards with pins. (...remembering asking some poor French lady to put our gas bill on her card and then take our Euros…)
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Old 02-06-2015, 06:20 PM   #13
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There are some manned stations but at night and on some days on weekends, they may not be manned.
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Old 02-06-2015, 07:54 PM   #14
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I second the recommendation for Carcassonne. What history buff doesn't love a walled city?
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Old 02-06-2015, 10:18 PM   #15
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We did a 17 day trip thru Spain and Portugal last Fall. If you have not been to Seville, you might consider it, with a couple days in Madrid on the way.
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Old 02-07-2015, 06:41 AM   #16
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Quote:
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Haven't been to Barcelona, but reliable sources tell me you can easily spend a week there without being bored.
Love Barcelona! We'll be there again, (before heading to Lisboa), this April...(catching a French repositioning ship from Santo Domingo); there are numerous day trips that can be enjoyed from a Barcelona base, (Girona, Montserrat, etc).
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Old 02-07-2015, 08:09 AM   #17
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We usually travel to Europe every other year. Since my first visit in 1970, I have not been to all regions of Western Europe. We go for 2 weeks and 3 weekends whenever we go.

I would like to see Nice, however the 400+ mile drive from Barcelona is not easy. Lyon's about the same distance, but inland. Barcelona is worthy of a 1 week stay by itself. To take on a 400 mile drive and tour either alternative city is too much for your time allotted.

For a quick trip to France, Paris is just hard to avoid, especially when time's so short. There's a very popular new high speed train service from Barcelona to Paris--6 1/2 hours.

Another great option to European travel is to take in a great city like Barcelona, and then jump on a budget European airline to take in another great city. Vueling, Wizz Air, Ryanair, and EasyJet go to virtually every city in Europe for $100-150 each way out of Barcelona. It's a way to go to a completely different destination without breaking the bank.

Earlier this year, we hit Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna and Prague. Three of the four are destination cities worthy of seeing.
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Old 02-07-2015, 08:17 AM   #18
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I would say there are less things to see on the way to Nice. This could be a good thing given your limited time. But Arles, Aix en Provence are worth a visit.
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Old 02-08-2015, 07:39 AM   #19
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We Love Barcalona. I think you could spend a week there easy. I don't know anything about Lyon. We did a Med Cruise out of Barcelona and spent one day on both ends there.
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Old 02-08-2015, 08:24 AM   #20
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Count this as another vote for an extended Barcelona stay. We did almost two weeks there with plans to venture out to southern France if/when we got bored. Never happened -- never left Barcelona except for day trips to places nearby. Avoid the touristy area around Las Ramblas if you can although Sagrada is worth a visit. Barcelona's now our favorite big city in the world, including US cities SF/NYC/Chicago.

If you do end up going into France, I believe there are trains (some of them high speed) from Barcelona.
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