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Roadtrips aren’t all about going from A to B and they’re certainly not just about driving to your final destination. Head out on a proper roadtrip spending six-weeks experiencing France and Spain, whilst witnessing some of the best scenery the continent can offer.
Once you arrive in Le Harve, it’s time to start your adventure. You’ll find coast, countryside, and culture aplenty as you make your way through France, across the breath-taking Pyrenees and into beautiful Catalonia to start the Spanish leg of your journey. Just over two weeks will take you around the country, from sea to sky, from north to south and from tapas to food coma!
After just over two-weeks, it’s time to swap Bilbao for Bordeaux and “hola” for “bonjour” as France welcomes you back for the second stint of your journey.
We’ve tried to ease you gently back to reality with a night in the Peak District on the way back to Leeds. Stretch your legs, work off a bit of that cheese and wine and reminisce on the best bits of your adventure.
Leeds > Portsmouth >(1 night) Le Harve > Nantes (3 nights) > Limoges (4 night) > Toulouse (3 nights) > Barcelona (4 nights) > Valencia (3 nights) > Granada (4 nights) > Seville (4 nights) > Salamanca (4 nights) > Bilbao (4 nights) > Bordeaux (4 nights) > Saint Malo (4 nights) > Caen > (4 night) Portsmouth > Peak District (1 night) > Leeds
Leave your car securely parked at our depot in Leeds or have it delivered locally for an extra fee.
Enjoy the drive down to Oxford and explore this quaint student town with its beautiful colleges, hard-working students and amazing architecture. The drive down to Portsmouth is nice and short so visit the port, stock up on snacks for the journey, and embark on your overnight ferry.
Nantes is a diverse city home to older buildings such as Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Nantes as well as a newly developed side of town in the Île de Nantes. Don’t spend all your time in the city though, the surroundings are every bit as worthwhile. With the Loire Valley right on your doorstep, you’re just a short drive away from some of France’s most spectacular chateaux. When you’re finished marvelling at magical castles, head to Noirmoutier-en-Île, take a step back and just appreciate the nature around you.
There’s certainly more to Limoges than simply its decorative porcelain. Visit the Gothic styled Saint-Etienne Cathedral and relax in the peaceful gardens of the Bishop’s Palace or the immaculate botanical gardens. Situated between the Perigord-Limousin and Millevaches nature parks, you’ve also got plenty of choice if you’d prefer to head out of the city for the day.
The chances are you’ve heard of Toulouse for its links to rugby – but not for a whole lot else. It remains a bit of a mystery why one of the most vibrant cities in France doesn’t garner the same attention as some of its famous neighbours. With one of the largest universities in the country, Toulouse, also know as La Ville Rose, emits a lively and youthful feel alongside its medieval heritage and impressive Romanesque architecture. If you’re into history, make sure to check out the World Heritage listed Basilica of Saint Sernin.
The Catalan capital and one of Europe’s most popular destinations; there’s so much to love about Barcelona, a city with everything from sandy beaches to vibrant nightlife. You could spend days wandering around the city’s many neighbourhoods and the hundreds of cafes and bars on offer, sampling the locals’ favourite of vermouth and accompanying tapas. Don’t neglect Catalonia’s natural beauty that surrounds Barcelona. Head North to one of the many nature reserves or set those alarms nice and early and make a day of visiting the spectacular Aigüestortes National Park. A bit closer to the city lies the unique and distinctive mountain range of Montserrat – about an hours drive from the city, but a journey you certainly won’t regret.
Next up, it’s the beautiful city of Valencia. A gorgeous region that will leave you tempted to spend all your time at the Blue Flag beaches. Make sure you venture into the city though! Awaiting you will be breath-taking architecture, from La Lonja de la Seda in the old town to the modern Oceanogràfic. Don’t leave Valencia before sampling an authentic paella valenciana – trust us, you’ll soon see what all the fuss is about!
Make the short trip to Granada, where another city bestowed in history and beauty is certain to capture your heart. Without a doubt, Alhambra is the most famous attraction here and rightly so. Built under Moorish rule over 800 years ago, this captivating place is home to a town, a castle, and a palace all in one place. The architecture in the city is to be admired and leaves you wandering around for hours on end – only stopping of course for the seemingly never-ending choices of tapas on offer. Ensure you look beyond the city too and venture towards Sierra Nevada where you’ll find the highest point in Spain at Mulhacén. Here, you’ll find unrivalled views of the surrounding landscape – and the chance to hit the slopes on Europe’s most southerly ski resort, if you time it right.
Next up on your Spanish road trip is the bustling city of Seville. Filled with stunning historical landmarks, such as Plaza de Espana and Seville Cathedral, Seville is one of Spain’s most iconic cities. The highlight of the city is the Real Alcazar and it’s stunning gardens, which are still used as a residence for the Spanish Royal family. From Seville, you’re a stone’s throw from several incredible national parks, such as Donana and Los Alcorncales. The most notable though is Hornachuelos national park, where you can take an amazing walk along the banks of the Bembezzar river. In summer, the whole area will be quite arid, but for most of the year you’ll be treated to some lush, green countryside. From Seville, you’re also only a couple of hours away from Gibraltar, so it’s easy to do as a day trip.
Located close to the Portuguese border in Western Spain, Salamanca is a pretty little town home to a number of historical sites, earning it it’s title as a UNESCO world heritage site. The Plaza Mayor, the Roman bridge, and a number of 17th century churches and cathedrals make this town very Instagram friendly. An hour’s drive towards the Portuguese border will take you to the Nature Park Arribes del Duero. The stunning Pozo de las Homos waterfall and amazing hiking trails through the mountains make this area a must see for any nature enthusiasts!
The area of the Basque country along Spain’s northern coastline is one of the most beautiful areas of the country and has something for everyone. As a city, Bilbao is most famous for being home to the Guggenheim museum. Each neighbourhood in the city has its own unique vibe, and Basque culture is still very prominent here. Traditional tapas isn’t particularly popular and, you’ll find a lot more places selling pintxos instead. For anyone looking for a break outside the city, Bilbao is in an ideal location close to the coast and some incredible mountain hikes. Playa de Gorilz is a stunning little beach just outside the city and a 30 minute drive along the coast will take you to the equally pretty Arimune Hondartza beach, lined with dozens of bars and restaurants. Just an hour south is the incredible Urkiola National Park, popular with hikers and mountain bikers thanks to its Lord of the Rings-esque landscapes.
With the fifth highest population of France and a major port, Bordeaux is an important city to the French economy, and a major tourist hub. The old town has incredible architecture, fascinating museums, a beautiful cathedral, and a famous theatre. What more can you ask for? Admire the Place de la Bourse, built in the mid-18th-century by the King’s architects. The Pey Berland Tower, the cathedral’s bell tower, is also worth a visit. Climb the 200-odd steps for a stunning view over the old town. If you enjoy a day on the beach, drive for an hour to visit Arcachon, a seaside town famous for its architecture and oysters. If you prefer hiking, the National Parc of the Gascogne is just south of Bordeaux and offers amazing walks.
If you’re a Cognac amateur, take a small detour on your way up to St Malo, and visit one of the many distilleries – we recommend Hennessy or Remy Martin.
Saint-Malo boasts some of the most beautiful beaches on the Emerald Coast. The Grand Plage with its assortment of hotels and bars is the main beach in the area. From here, you can walk to the islands of Grand Be and Petit Be and explore some of the regions more rural beaches. Venture inside the ancient city walls and explore the charming markets and cafes of this seaside town. You’ll be spoilt for choice by the range of Breton delicacies on offer. Why not sample a galette, crepe or even an oyster if you’re feeling brave? Saint-Malo is the perfect base for a daytrip to Mont St Michel where you can visit the famous island home to the Abbey of Mont-St Michel, once one of Europe’s most important pilgrimage destinations.
From Saint-Malo, it’s a 2 hour drive to Caen, from which you’ll take the night ferry to Portsmouth. If you leave early enough, you’ll have time to visit this pretty town, with its castle built by William the Conqueror around 1060. If you have some extra time on your hands, make a quick detour to Bayeux, 30 minutes from Caen, to visit the world-famous tapestry depicting the Norman Conquest by William the Conqueror. The origins of this 70-metre-long embroidered cloth are still unknown, though it is likely that it was created in England a few years after the Battle of Hastings. Return to Caen in time for your ferry and admire the French coastline as it slowly disappears.
Welcome back to England! With some luck, you’ve managed to sleep on the ferry and are ready to take on the 4 hour drive to the Peak District. A night in the Peak district should give you enough time to recover from your long journey before heading home. Start off in a quaint village such as Bakewell or Bamford and take a walking trail starting from there. The journey back to Leeds isn’t too far, so we’d recommend the 20-minute detour going via Snake Pass, famous for being one of the most scenic roads in the UK.