If you love a road trip and only have 10 days consider a route through France and Spain.
But there is a catch.
When you only have 10 days, you want to make the most of them.
A France Spain trip itinerary for a 10-day road trip could include stays at these four travel destinations:
So instead of trying to see everything, make the most of a few places for an authentic journey.
10-day road trip France and Spain
For us, we had a housesitting assignment in Montpellier but had 10 days to fill in before it started. Looking at the map, we calculated we could see Barcelona and Perpignan.
Barcelona is only four hours from Montpellier. Perpignan is between the two. And Andorra was an afterthought as a “why not” add on a visit to this new country for us.
So following the dramas of our car troubles in January, we hoped for better fortune in February.
We left our housesit in Felines-Minervois and now had 10 days until our housesitting assignment in Montpellier.
We started our 10-day 1200km road trip from Montpellier.
Check for Tolls for a Road Trip of Spain
The road trip calculator from Montpellier to Barcelona is 350km, just under four hours with no stops.
We had planned to spend four nights in Barcelona, it would only turn out to be two nights. Find out later why we cut our trip short.
Spain has three Road Systems
It appears rather than upgrading a motorway, Spain just builds another one.
It means you can plan your road trip to use either the:
- Autopistas (AP) which are tolled or
- Autovias free motorways
We chose to drove on both types of motorways, only because we may a stop at Girona on the way to Barcelona. And we spent longer than we expected.
Explore Montpellier for food, wine, and architecture
The apartment was accessed by entering a courtyard and climbing a majestic staircase to the apartment.
In the evening we wandered the streets of Montpellier finding the quaint bars, excellent restaurants the meeting point for locals of Montpellier.
You can read more about Montpellier and why it is an amazing French city to visit.
Stay the weekend at Perpignan
Visiting Perpignan in the region of Occitanie has the best of it all:
- Spain to the south
- Mediterranean sea only 13kms away
- an hour to the nearest skifield
- Under two hours to Montpellier
The city was once the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca in the 13th century so it has a strong Catalan identity.
The highlight of any visit to Perpignan would have to be:
- The Palace of the Kings of Majorca built in 1309 by King James II of Majorca
- Le Castellet
Where to Stay in Perpignan
We chose an Airbnb with a lovely couple, Christiane and Philippe.
The room for our three-night stay was spacious with an ensuite, private garden, and sharing the kitchen was not a problem.
With a small supermarket and a local market, a few doors down dotted with cafes and restaurants made it an ideal location to stay. And it was only an 8-minute walk to the old town.
Enjoy lunch at Collioure
On the recommendation of our Airbnb hosts, we drove 20km to the town of Collioure on the south coast of France.
Collioure was such a surprise, a place completely off our radar was so stunning.
We love to discover places like this, wandering the narrow streets and lanes so typical of many European towns. And climbing hills to take advantage of the viewpoints.
The Église Notre-Dame-des-Anges (Our Lady of the Angels) is an extraordinary building. The foundations of the church were built in the sea between 1684-1691. The belfry was built during the Middle- Ages and was a warning tower for the harbor of Collioure. The seagull doesn’t look as impressed as we were.
The Chateau Royal de Collioure is actually two castles built in the 12th-13th centuries. Today you can visit the castle to learn more about its history.
Make a stop at Girona
The first stop on our road trip to Barcelona was a lunch stop at Girona, a Catalonia city.
So it was no surprise when we noticed all the yellow ribbons (the color of Catalan) flying in the breeze from the windows and buildings. Proudly flying the Catalan flags.
This is a region that is pro Catalan independence, seeking to split from Spain.
River Onyar of Girona
The colored houses of the River Onyar is a pretty picture and a little different from what we expected to find across the bridge.
The old city of Girona has many beautiful medieval buildings, a walled Old Quarter (Barri Vell) and the Roman remains of the Força Vella fortress.
One of the things to do in Girona is to walk part of the 14th-century walls known as the Passeig de la Muralla.
The views from here over the old town, Cathedral, the Pyrenees, and beyond were spectacular.
Lap up the vibrancy of Barcelona
We have to admit, our visit to Barcelona 30 years ago is a bit of a blur. It could be because the ex-convent hostel we stayed in, was still being run by an ex Mother Superior. Or so it felt.
We had to be up early, and at 20 years old that was a little hard after a night out, as the convent, sorry hostel was shut for the whole day.
So as you did back then, you would find a nice patch of grass for a siesta.
But in Barcelona, definitely not.
We had only just decided on a perfect patch of grass when a policeman or soldier started blowing his whistle. Indicating to us to “Get off the Grass.”
Coming from New Zealand where the grass is in abundance, we did find this a little odd.
So what did we end up seeing a way back then in Barcelona? Well, not a lot actually.
Let’s show you some highlights of the places we did see this time.
The Magnificent (and unfinished) Sagrada Familia
Of course, we couldn’t wait to see the Sagrada Familia even though it isn’t due to be finished until 2026.
The building of the church started in 1882 by the architect Gaudi and is a stunning construction both inside and out.
After being wowed by the exterior of Sagrada Familia, we paid the €18 entrance fee (€15 if you book ahead online) to have a look inside.
Well someone has to pay to finish the building.
It is fair to say that there is no other church like it. There is so much height, so much light, and so much color, it really is stunning.
Location: Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona
Tickets: At the Cathedral
Swing from the Barcelona Port Cable Car
A walk down along Barcelona’s waterfront to the beach and swimming pools, even in winter, always lifts the spirits.
So it was an unexpected find of the Barcelona Port Cable Car running between the Port and Torre de Miramar on Montjuïc Hill.
The ride takes 10 minutes over 1.3km at 101metres above sea level.
The views over the port and city are spectacular and worth the €11 price for one way, or €16 return.
You have the option of using your Metro card to take the funicular further up Montjuic Hill if walking isn’t your thing.
Or you can just stay in the Costa I Llobera Gardens where you alight, for views across Barcelona city.
Location: Passeig Don Joan Borbó Comte Barcelona
Tickets: Purchase at the cable car
Find the unusual at Park Guell
A visit to Park Guell is one of the things to do in Barcelona to see the creation of Gaudí’s work in the many examples in the park.
Gaudi’s style for the park was inspired by organic shapes, so different from anything else we had seen so far on our travels.
The park is interesting and it is best to book online for an entry time/
Location: 08024 Barcelona
Online Tickets: Park Guell
Wander the Old Quarter Barcelona
We always love wandering the narrow old streets of medieval towns, finding a free entry to a museum and just admiring the architecture.
When we did finally emerge from the old quarter, it was into a large open square to the Cathedral of Barcelona.
Location: Pla de la Seu, s/n, 08002 Barcelona
The vibe of the large square was great so we decided to return in the evening for a fabulous meal and drinks at Tantarantana.
Try saying that when you have had a few. The restaurant staff help with menu choices and the meal delicious.
Location: Carrer de’n Tantarantana, 24
See the Roman Ruins of Tarragona
Our road trip from Barcelona to Tarragona rained heavily the whole time. The 100km journey along the motorway, Tarragona was originally a Roman colony.
What makes it a special place to visit is the number of Roman ruins, a UNESCO heritage site.
Tarragona on the coast of Spain is a port city. And on its coastline, you can find the roman ruins of an amphitheater and forum.
Where to Stay in Tarragona
Hotel Pigal is one of the friendliest hotels we have stayed on our travels. The girls at the front desk were so helpful and interested in us as guests.
Breakfast is provided, tea and coffee are available, and the hotel has a warm feel.
Location: Carrer del Cardenal Cervantes, 6,
Play in the snow at Andorra
Andorra is a small independent principality in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain.
For us, our drive would be about four hours, from Tarragona to Andorra. So we had time to take the odd detour from the main road to see more of the local villages in Spain.
What we hadn’t planned on was a 50km drive through heavy snow to get to Andorra la Vella, the capital city of Andorra.
When we emerged from a tunnel on the Spanish side of Andorra, we encountered heavy snowfall. The snowflakes were massive and the queue of cars in front of us, long and at a standstill.
We almost turned back several times.
We were feeling confident having our winter tires and felt sorry for other drivers out in the snow trying to fix chains and plastic covers to their wheels. But still, driving in snow isn’t easy.
So, when the Police directed a snowplow back in front of the vehicle queue, we managed to follow the snowplow all the way to the border of Andorra.
You can check out a snowfall clip here on YouTube.
Things to Do in Andorra
So how was Andorra?
Well, Andorra is obviously used to snowfalls with the streets easy to navigate.
And as we walked, we couldn’t help but notice the 4.5% VAT rate was making shopping more appealing.
But if shopping is not your thing, and you love the snow, then the ski fields are only a bus ride. Otherwise, you can visit:
1. The church of Esglesia Sant Esteve built in the 11th-12th century with the snow clouds blocking the mountain view.
2. The Salvador Dali sculpture, the ‘Nobility of Time’ placed in a square in Andorra la Vella. It was donated to Andorra by Dali’s agent.
The stunning 4.9-meter high 1400kg bronze sculpture is one of the ‘melted watch’ series of sculptures created by Dali to symbolize the passing of time.
3. The Pont d’Engordany crosses the Riu Valira d’Orient in the urban center of Les Escaldes that merges with the Andorra la Vella.
The stone bridge was built in 1785, where you can see the snowmelt feeding the flow.
Drive the Parc Natural des Pyrenees Catalanes
One of the best road trips you can take is the route through Parc Natural des Pyrenees Catalanes.
The route from Andorra to Perpignan via the Parc Natural des Pyrenees Catalanes was one of the most spectacular we have ever driven.
However, we were nervous about the drive from Andorra to France due to the recent snowfall. But when we awoke, the day was perfect with stunning blue skies and no snow in the forecast.
It meant we were treated to some magnificent sights.
The recent snowfall had dumped more than a meter of the white stuff on farmlands, buildings, and vehicles. Even the icicles formed from the roofs and rocks were huge.
We stopped for coffee at Mont-Louis a fortress town designed by Vauban for photos of the snowfall.
See the Roman road of Narbonne
Between Montpellier and Perpignan is the city of Narbonne.
Even though it is 15km from the Mediterranean Sea, Narbonne was an important port close to the Aude River.
The gothic cathedral is central to the old town of Narbonne. But so is the Canal de la Robine which runs through the city with the Pont des Marchands spanning the canal. This historic bridge is unique for its shops and houses.
Take time to visit the:
- Gothic Cathedral Saint-Just and Saint-Pasteur
- Archbishops Palace
- Roman road
- Les Halles de Narbonne
- Pont des Marchands
See the Nine Locks of Beziers
Beziers is one of the oldest cities in France and a historical city of the Cathars.
The city makes a great day trip from Montpellier, or as a stop on a road trip to Spain.
Things to do in Beziers are:
- Walk the Puente Viejo de Béziers
- Visit the Beziers Cathedral of Saint-Nazaire and Saint Celse
- See the Orb Aqueduct – a 240 meters long continuation of the Canal du Midi over the Orb river
- Picnic near the Canal du Midi UNESCO world heritage site, a 240 km canal from Toulouse to the Mediterranean
- Fonserannes Locks – a nine gate lock (like a staircase) on the Canal du Midi
For us to enjoy traveling longer, house sitting has become our way to maintain our travel budget. We get to stay in some great cities and regions, looking after some wonderful pets in their own home. And Montpellier was our destination at the end of our 10-day road trip.
Trusted Housesitters is one of the main sites we use to find, or be found, for our house sits. This site is international with housesits in UK, Europe, Canada, America, Australia, and even New Zealand.
If you click on the display ad below you can learn more about Trusted Housesitters. And if you decide to sign up, this link will give you a discount on your subscription.
Planning your 10 Day Road Trip to France and Spain
Exploring more of France, Spain, and a new country Andorra on a 10-day road trip allows time to enjoy the trip.
Planning two or more nights in Perpignan, Barcelona, Andorra, and Montepellier is an ideal break from the driving. It gives you time to explore each place without feeling rushed.
When you plan a 10-day road trip, remember to factor in stopping times for new places you find on the journey.
Keep the road trip simple with slow travel to enjoy the travel experience.
And when booking hotels and Airbnbs, remember to check there is car parking.
Now you are set to go.
Let us know if you need help with taking away the overwhelm out of your travel planning.
We can help with travel destinations, where to stay, for how long and best ways to travel between travel destinations.