San Feliu de Guixols, Girona, Olot, Banyoles, Cadaques, Collioure, Le Boulou, Cucugnan, Lagrasse, Carcassonne
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Dreamlike sunsets and enchanting medieval towns. The glories of the past and the stirring beauty of nature. The craggy reaches of the Costa Brava and the fecund fields and valleys of gorgeous Provence. Catalonia and the southern provinces of France offer all this, and so much more; add in the rare treat of touring the countryside by bicycle, and this turns from a vacation into something much, much more.
San Feliu de Guixols – An Incredible Introduction
You land this morning on the outskirts of beautiful Barcelona, the cultural and political center of Catalonia and one of the most fascinating and fantastic cities in Europe. A car will be waiting at the airport to pick you up and transport you to the inimitable shores of the Costa Brava, where the blue-green waters rise into craggy coasts and tree-lined shores, perfectly encapsulating the rugged beauty of this part of Spain. Your final destination for today is the port town of San Feliu de Guixols and a hotel offering incredible amenities and access to some of the city’s best sights, from the former mansions of the Spanish economic elite to the calming sands that fringe the Mediterranean Sea. Dinner this evening is a group affair, where you’ll sample the finest Catalan cuisine and meet your fellow riders.
Girona – A Ride on Spain’s Trails-for-Rails
Today, you set out for your first ride through this incredible country, cruising on Spain’s famed Rails to Trails. You’ll have the chance to marvel at the landscape that surrounds you, offering the best of Spanish scenery as the tree-capped peaks of ochre and earth blend into the endless blue of the majestic Mediterranean. Your final stop is gorgeous Girona, a new-found haven for the world’s best cyclists and the home of some of the most stunning architecture and stirring history in the region.
The afternoon gives you plenty of time to see the best of this classic Catalonian city, from the former walls and towers that served as Girona’s fortifications in the Middle Ages to the fascinating Jewish quarter, “El Call,” where you’ll find the Catalan Jewish Museum and some of the best-preserved edifices of their kind in the country. You can also check out the ornate façade of the city’s cathedral and the unique spire of the Collegiate Church of Sant Feliu before enjoying a group dinner by the banks of the river that winds its way through Girona.
Olot – Through One of Spain’s Most Scenic National Parks
Get out into nature as you ride from Girona to Olot, winding your way through the Parc Natural de la Zona Volcanica de la Garrotxa (Garrotxa Volcanic Zone National Park), where dozens of extinct volcanoes dot the landscape, their ash and other debris fostering a fecund environment of beautiful Spanish flora. The beech and oak trees surround you with primeval splendor, as the scenery envelops you with its lush and vibrant wildlife.
Your final destination is Olot, the home of four volcanoes, a number of beautiful parks, and the captivating Giants of Olot, two brightly-colored statues of a mythical king and queen that serve as unofficial mascots for the town. Dine this evening as a group in view of some of Olot’s notable volcanoes.
Banyoles – Ancient Volcanoes and Medieval Villages
The day begins with a hike through Garrotxa Volcanic Zone National Park, as an expert guide leads you into the eerie and otherworldly forest that covers the volcanoes and fills you with a sense of awe and wonder. Your ultimate goal is the 15th-century hermitage that lies at the base of a great crater – the remnant of these once-powerful natural forces that breathed their last fire millennia ago – where you can ride a train over hardened magma deep into the heart of the area’s largest volcano.
The afternoon sees you back on the bike and ready to ride, headed for the scenic region of Banyoles, where Olympians rowed during the 1992 games hosted by neighboring Barcelona. This evening, you’ll be greeted by the spell-binding town of Besalu, whose 12th-century drawbridge and restored mikveh (a ritual Jewish bath) are sure to inspire and amaze.
Cadaques – The Home of Dali and the Costa Brava
A leisurely cruise greets you as you turn east 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. Here, you’ll find some of the artist’s best and best-known 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, a village on the tip of the Cap de Creus 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 in Port Lligat, mere minutes from Cadaques. Dinner this evening is with your group.
Collioure – Leaving Spain, Entering France
As your Spain tour portion ends, board a train and prepare for an incredible ride 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 final stop is Collioure, a French town with a Catalan flair and the home base for some of the most famous Fauvists in the world, from Derain to Braque to 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-Agnes – 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.
Le Boulou – The Fascinating Art Scene of Southern France
Hop on your bike for the first time in France as you leave Collioure, bound for the quaint and delightful town of Le Boulou. Stop for a brief respite in Ceret, home to one of the best art museums in the region, which was created in 1950 by the Cubist painter Haviland with considerable help from some of his more famous friends, such as Picasso and Matisse. Inside is a truly magnificent collection, with works from almost all the major artists of the Fauvist and Cubist movements, including Dali, Gris, Chagall, and George Braque.
After lunch, you’ll cross the Devil’s Bridge of Ceret, renowned at the time of its construction for being the largest single-arch bridge in the world. Completed in 1341 and spanning nearly 50 meters, it is truly a marvel of engineering in the Middle Ages, and it is one of the most beautiful bridges of its kind on the planet. The evening sees you in Le Boulou, a crossroads village that retains much of its ancient charm, where you’ll enjoy delicious French cuisine with your fellow riders.
Cucugnan – An Unforgettable Ride Through France’s Wine Country
Make sure that you’re well rested and well prepared as today you take the longest ride of your trip, rolling past the French countryside and into the environs of some of the area’s most attractive villages. Start at the impeccably preserved town of Castelnou, where artists have stopped and stayed for years, attracting fine craftsmen and artisans to join them in their aesthetic pursuits. You can enjoy lunch at one of the darling cafes that can be found in the town and check out some of the wares of Castelnou’s handicraftsmen before making your way through the incomparable Languedoc-Rousillon region, the southernmost region in mainland France and the home to the country’s largest collection of vineyards, covering a span more than three times larger than that of Bordeaux.
Your journey ends at Cucugnan, a tiny commune that lies at the feet of the inspiring Chateau de Queribus. A wine tasting begins your fantastic dinner, treating you to the best vintages and varietals of this famed viticultural region before you enjoy the delicacies of southern France.
Lagrasse – A Journey Through Time
As you pedal along the winding roads and past the spectacular scenery, pause to reflect on this history of this turbulent region in France, where local customs and languages died hard, and where the scorn and brunt of the Catholic Church were directed for years during the 14th century. You’ll cruise through historic meadows and fertile fields until you reach Villerouge-Termenes, the final Cathar stronghold that eventually fell to the French and the Holy See in 1321.
Embrace the environment that envelops you, the lands that saw the rise of a language called Occitan and a lifestyle that remained somewhat apart from the rest of France for centuries, and revel in the incredible uniqueness of this fascinating area. Make your way to Lagrasse, where your comfortable and elegant lodgings offer the perfect jumping-off point to explore the town, especially the Abbey of St. Mary of Lagrasse, a structure that dates from at least the ninth century and which is rumored to have been founded by Charlemagne himself. Dinner this evening is a true treat, as you’ll enjoy a medieval meal in the confines of an authentic castle.
Carcassonne – Arriving in the Cathar Capital
You end your European excursion at the captivating city of 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.
The Carcassonne Cathedral is also worth a visit, as is the impressive Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse, allegedly constructed by the Visigothic King Theodoric the Great in the early sixth century. Dinner this evening is a gala affair, as you channel your inner nobility in this incredible town, one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the entire world.
Carcassonne – The End of Your Adventure
A morning shuttle will take you to the airport in plenty of time for you to board the flight that will take you home. From the shores of the Costa Brava to the crenellations of Carcassonne, from the sun-baked shores of Girona to the lush vineyards of Languedoc-Rousillon, this is sure to be one vacation that stirs your senses and sets your imagination aflame.
If you're interested in exploring more of France, please visit our France tours section for additional trip ideas.
- See the best coastal towns along the incomparable Costa Brava, from the monastery of San Feliu de Guixols to the multi-colored facades of the buildings in Girona
- Explore one of Spain’s best national parks as you cycle through its incredible landscapes in the heart of the Garrotxa Volcanic Zone National Park
- Engage your cultural side as you visit some of the hidden gems of the art world, like the Dali Theatre and Museum in Figueres to the marvelous Museum of Modern Art in Ceret
- Experience the best of southern France’s inestimable scenery, making your way through the country’s largest wine region and along the ridges of some of her most spectacular river gorges
- Immerse yourself in the history of the area, from the Cathar strongholds in Carcassonne and Lagrasse to the ancient abbeys that dot the area, supposedly founded by legendary leaders like Charlemagne and Theodoric the Goth
Northern Spain and Southern France share more than just a border: they share a culture that is rich in history and filled with legends, a staggering natural setting that has driven many artists to dazzling heights, and a spirit of individuality that is as infectious as it is romantic. This 11-day trip will introduce you to all of the peculiarities of this delightful and spellbinding region as you make your way through the sterling countryside by bike, train, and automobile.
Make your way up and down Spain’s charming Costa Brava, where you’ll find sensational cities like Girona, Figueres, and San Feliu de Guixols. Cross the Pyrenees, and ogle at the beautiful, bountiful borderlands between Spain and France. Then, make your way south to the rebellious region of Provence, and revel in the finer things in life, from great art to great food to great company. And do it all in unforgettable style as you pedal through some of the world’s most picturesque countryside.
From the ancient splendor of Garrotxa to the serenity of the Cucugnan, from Spain’s rugged coastal region to the fertile fields of Languedoc-Rousillon, this is sure to be a trip that takes you to new heights and opens your imagination to the marvels of the world. Whatever your desires or wishes or dreams may be, you can be sure that all of them will be satisfied in this truly unparalleled part of the planet.
$2,822 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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