Australia's Leading Specialists in French Barge Cruises

Northern Spain & Corsica

 

northern spain & corsica

Tour Summary

PASSIONATE, SOPHISTICATED AND DEVOTED TO LIVING THE GOOD LIFE, SPAIN IS AT ONCE A STEREOTYPE COME TO LIFE AND A COUNTRY MORE DIVERSE THAN YOU EVER IMAGINED.

THE MEDITERRANEAN ISLAND OF CORSICA IS FIERCELY INDEPENDENT, STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL AND BOASTS A FASCINATING HISTORY.

This unique tour celebrates the diversity and beauty of two of Europe’s most entrancing Mediterranean countries – Spain and France – while staying in exclusive accommodation chosen carefully for ambience and style.

Food and wine are national obsessions in Spain, and with good reason. The touchstones of Spanish cooking are deceptively simple: incalculable variety, traditional recipes handed down through the generations, and an innate willingness to experiment and see what comes out of the kitchen-laboratory. You may experience the best meal ever over tapas in an earthy bar where everyone’s shouting, or over a meal prepared by a celebrity chef in the refined surrounds of a Michelin-starred restaurant. Either way, the breadth of gastronomic experience that awaits you is breathtaking.

San Sebastian is a superb picturesque town that for many years has been a Royal retreat from the summer heat of Madrid, set around the bay of “La Concha” and surrounded by dramatic green hills with lush vegetation. The old part of the town is crammed with lively cobbled streets that are bursting with shops, café and bars and these lead down to the fishing port where you can sample freshly caught shell fish from the street vendors. San Sebastian is famous for its Pintxos (tapas) and warm, friendly welcome!

Barcelona is a city unique in Spain known for its strong sense of identity, culture and fascinating buildings. Just step outside the front door of your hotel and you are in one of the most fashionable and historic areas of the city; a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with cafe bars and restaurants. While in Barcelona we will discover the architectural wonders of Gaudi, exceptional dining experiences and plenty of free time for shopping and wandering in our favourite Spanish city!

From the Greeks to the Romans, Pisans, Genovese and French (and even, briefly, the Brits), the foreign forces that have variously occupied the Mediterranean island of Corsica have been entranced by its magnificent natural drama. Which is why the French have given it the soubriquet l’Ile de Beauté – Corsica is truly unlike any part of France you have seen before!

In Corsica you will discover wild French beauty in the Mediterranean. Stunning pink cliffs drop sharply down to clear turquoise waters which elsewhere are fringed with sandy beaches. Inland, high granite peaks tower majestically while kites and buzzards circle the aromatic vegetation. We stay in the north-west corner of the island, in Calvi, in a beautiful Relais & Chateaux hotel while taking time each day to explore this fascinating, fiercely independent region.

*Please note: you may choose to join us on the Spain portion of the tour only, or the Corsica portion of the tour only. Optional prices below.

2018 TOUR DATES:
16th September – 2nd October, 2018

TOUR PRICE NORTHERN SPAIN & CORSICA:

Double/Twin share: €9860 euros per person

Single Supplement: €4450 euros (please note, we can offer a lower single supplement based on different room categories – please ask us!)

 SPAIN ONLY:

Double/Twin share: €6100 euros per person

Single Supplement: €2640 euros (please note, we can offer a lower single supplement based on different room categories – please ask us!)

CORSICA ONLY:

Double/Twin share: €3890 euros per person

Single Supplement: €1850 euros (please note, we can offer a lower single supplement based on different room categories – please ask us!)

TOUR INCLUSIONS:

Tour Inclusions: Meals as per itinerary (including premium wines), private air conditioned buses on day tours, expert local guides, accommodation in exclusive luxury hotels throughout the tour, all entries and excursions, train fares, flights and the full time services of your tour director.

Deposit for the tour is 25% at time of booking and a further 25% 180 days prior to departure. Final balance will be due 120 days prior to departure. Due to currency fluctuations, currency conversion from euros to Australian dollars will be made at time of each payment.

Detailed Itinerary

Detailed Itinerary

Sunday 16th September – San Sebastian
This evening we meet at our beautiful beachfront hotel in San Sebastian and enjoy a welcome drink on the hotel terrace facing the sea.

For the next four nights we will enjoy walking tours of the old town, a day trip to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim Museum (Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum has been described as “the greatest building of our time” and holds an unparalleled collection of 20th Century Modern and Contemporary Art), a beautiful coastal walk and an unforgettable Pintxos tour through the old town, stopping at different bars and tasting the most superb tapas you will ever find! (B)

 

Monday 17th September – San Sebastian – History & Pintxos
We begin our stay in San Sebastien with a beautiful walk, discovering why aristocrats and royal families chose Donostia – San Sebastian – as summer resort at the end of the XIXth century. The lovely Bay of La Concha, the Igueldo Mountain with its centenary funicular, the outstanding Peine del Viento by Eduardo Chillida, the Miramar Royal Palace, La Bretxa central market, the Romantic Area with its prestigious Old Casino and Buen Pastor Cathedral, the pretty Victoria Eugenia Theater and the elegant Maria Cristina Hotel, the Old Quarter with its Pintxos Bars, fantastic Restaurants and Gastronomic Clubs. In San Sebastian we are very lucky to have the most engaging and interesting expert guides in the region!

This evening two of these guides will take us “Going Pintxos” – one of the most authentic experiences in San Sebastian. Walking around the city while enjoying the best specialities of each bar, they will guide us through this gastronomic way to discover the city, bringing us to the most mouth-watering places, from really traditional taverns to the most modern bars. Get ready to EAT! (B, D)

 

Tuesday 18th September – San Sebastian – Bilbao
Today a full day tour to amazing Bilbao. The Guggenheim Museum, built by Frank O. Gehry, the Isosaki Towers, the Euskalduna Convention Center, the Zubizuri by Santiago Calatrava, the Casco Viejo, the new Alhondiga by Philippe Starck have all transformed Bilbao in one of the biggest attractions of Spain. (B, L)

 

Wednesday 19th September – San Sebastian – Local villages
The Basque Coast covers more than 155 miles facing the Bay of Biscay. This relationship with the sea, sometimes cheerful, other times stormy, has contributed to sculpt a very diverse coastal profile.

From urban beaches, wild sandy spots, lonely isles, marshes with a rich biological wealth, estuaries with a bottomless beauty, to dramatic cliffs, fishing villages and unique rocky formations – today we enjoy a coastal walk to discover some of these views. (B, L)

 

Thursday 20th September – San Sebastian to Barcelona
Today we take a train ride east across northern Spain to Barcelona. Our hotel in Barcelona is a beautiful & historic five star boutique hotel in the Gothic Quarter.

During 5 days our exploration in Barcelona and its environs will be historic, contemporary and gourmet – we will discover the wonderful architecture of Gaudi, Catalan traditions and history, some of the loveliest squares in Europe, and several exceptional local restaurants. In addition we will be shown some great local shopping areas, cafes and bars by locals who live here in Barcelona and have all the latest local knowledge! (B)

 

Friday 21st September – Barcelona – the many varied Quarters
Today we enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town and Gothic Quarter. This includes La Rambla (the most famous street in Barcelona), the Jewish section, Cathedral and the Born area, as well as the tiny narrow and fascinating cobblestone streets of the Gothic quarter!

Each of our tours is half a day, ensuring you have plenty of time to relax and enjoy our beautiful hotel and its surrounds. Dinner out at a local restaurant this evening. (B, D)

 

Saturday 22nd September – Barcelona – Gaudi
Today we will embark on a “Gaudi” voyage of discovery! Barcelona is renowned the world over for its works by the architect Antoni Gaudi – and they must be seen to be believed! Gaudí left his heritage in the city transforming forever the city’s urban landscape with his touches of genius, colour and forward thinking. During this tour you will get acquainted with his masterpieces, learn about his life and personality, and understand his interest in nature and his exceptional command of engineering – all in an informative but fun way with our exceptionally talented guides! (B, L)

 

Sunday 23rd September – Barcelona – Girona and Figueres
Today we enjoy a day outside of Barcelona, heading north to Girona and Figueres. Girona is a charming medieval town, famous for its Cathedral and its old Jewish Quarter, and a beautiful drive along the way. Figueres is the hometown of Salvador Dalí, and home to a unique & spectacular museum showcasing his works – it is truly incredible! The short distance between these two towns makes it easy to explore Girona and Figueres in one day trip. This is our favourite day trip out of town: A great combination of art, history and architecture! (B, L)

 

Monday 24th September – Barcelona – Gastronomy
Today a “foodie tour” – all of Spain and especially Barcelona, is now leading the world in innovative dining. On this tour you will visit the famous Boqueria Market, visit some of the best gourmet stores in the old town, and as is a must in Barcelona, taste some Tapas!

Tonight we will celebrate the gastronomic delight that is Barcelona at a renowned local restaurant. (B, D)

 

Tuesday 25th September – Barcelona to Nice
Today we fly to Nice in the south of France. We will spend one night here before flying on to Corsica tomorrow, but during this brief stay we will explore and stay in the historic quarter of the old city and take a beautiful drive through the surrounding coastal areas. (B, D)

For those who are joining us only for the Spain component of the tour, Barcelona is an easy hub from which you can take trains and flights elsewhere in Europe. (B)

 

Wednesday 26th September – Corsica
Today we fly to the stunning island of Corsica. As our flight is in the afternoon however, we will first take a drive through Nice’s chic adjoining towns of Villefranche-sur-Mer and St Jean Cap Ferrat, stopping at the magnificent Villa Ephrussi with its stunning surrounding views of the Mediterranean.

In Corsica our accommodation is at a charming and very beautiful luxury hotel located just outside Calvi with views over the bay and the ancient citadel. This evening, welcome to Corsica with dinner and drinks at the hotel. (B, L, D)

 

Thursday 27th September – Calvi
This morning, an orientation walk and discover the history of Calvi. Lunch on the harbour and afternoon free to relax and enjoy the hotel. (B, L)

 

Friday 28th September – Calvi – Scandola Nature Reserve
Scandola Nature Reserve is a magnificent UNESCO-certified national park south of Calvi, and making our way there by boat adds to the beauty of the visit.  Nearby Girolata is a beautiful area with a Genoese fort and many great hiking trails.

Lunch locally and on our return home to Calvi, we make our way through through the amazing Les Calanques de Piana to marvel at the red-pink-golden granite cliffs rising magnificently out of the turquoise sea. Free for dinner this evening (the hotel provides a shuttle bus to transport you into the town, 5 minutes’ drive away). (B, L)

 

Saturday 29th September – Calvi – Ajaccio
Today we follow in the footsteps of France’s erstwhile emperor Napoleon, who was born in the capital of Ajaccio. We find his ancestral home at La Maison Bonaparte along Rue Saint-Charles where he spent his first nine years. The house was ransacked by the Corsican nationalists then requisitioned by the English in the 1790s, but was reclaimed and rebuilt by Napoleon’s mother. The place eventually became a place of pilgrimage for the French revolutionaries. It houses well-preserved mementos of the French General and his family.

The Musee des Beaux-Arts in Ajaccio houses one of France’s finest collections of old masters, including the works of Boticelli, Bellini, Titian, Veronese and Fra Bartolomeo. Outside of the Louvre, this place holds the widest array of Italian paintings in France. The museum was established by Bonaparte’s uncle, and inside the Chapelle Imperiale (Imperial Chapel) lies several members of the General’s family, entombed in the crypt.

Corsica is a very large island and we are restricting our visits to within driving distance of Calvi – still, this is a fairly long day. We will stop en-route this evening at the beautiful mountain village of Corte, for dinner. (B, D)

 

Sunday 30th September – Calvi & surrounding villages
Today a relaxing drive along the Artisans’ Route from Lumio to Belgodere. We will stop along the way in Aregno, San Antonino, Pigna, and Belgodere, with the beautiful blues of the Mediterranean in the distance and the smell of the maquis everywhere. The mountains are dotted with historic villages, which all have their own gastronomic specialties: olive oils, cookies, charcuterie, and cheese. We can stop into some of the many studios to see artisans at work crafting ceramics, glassware, baskets, paintings, and knives, and enjoy lunch in a delightful local restaurant. (B, L)

 

Monday 1st October
Today is market day in Calvi and it is fun to experience the atmosphere of this vibrant gathering of local producers, different to the Provencal markets all together with a more Mediterranean flavour! You can then enjoy your final day in Corsica shopping, wandering and enjoying the local ambience. Final dinner this evening at the hotel’s beautiful restaurant. (B, D)

 

Tuesday 2nd October
Today we fly back to Nice, from where you can take trains or international flights to your next destination. (B)

 

TOUR INCLUSIONS:

Meals as per itinerary (including premium wines), private air conditioned buses on day tours, expert local guides, accommodation in exclusive luxury hotels throughout the tour, all entries and excursions, train fares, flights and the full time services of your tour director.


Northern Spain & Corsica Photo Gallery