Ancient villages nestled among rugged mountain landscapes: the Pyrenees are a world of their own between the Mediterranean and Atlantic
Rental car pick-up
Type: Opel Astra or similar
Pick-up location: Barcelona Airport
The charming 17th century manor house is situated in the valley of the River Tech just above Ceret. Most of the 10 guest rooms have a patio with a small garden. A heated swimming pool is available, and a good selection of restaurants and boutiques can be found in nearby Ceret.
Located in a picturesque village, the hotel is a stone building surrounded by a large garden. The cheerful red dining room has a large fireplace and a parquet floor. The antique furniture and modern artworks give the hotel a special charm. What the host, Mme Guerre, lacks in foreign language skills is more than offset by her friendliness and hospitality.
The central Pyrenees between Col de Puymorens and Col du Somprot represent the highest and most rugged section of the mountain chain. The highest peak at 3,404 m (11,170 ft) is the Pico d'Aneto on the Spanish side of the border. The mountain landscapes south of Lourdes are particularly scenic. A cable car can be taken to the top of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre, the most famous landmark in the central Pyrenees. The views from the top are overwhelming. The Col du Tourmalet is one of the most feared stages of the Tour de France. Farther south along the Spanish border is another natural famous attraction: the Cirque de Gavarnie, a group of three natural glacial amphitheatres that have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
This 19th century mansion is a listed historical building in the centre of the city, only five minutes from Zurriola beach. Originally an engagement present from Don Ramon Londaiz to his daughter, the property is now a boutique hotel with 25 rooms following careful restoration. Some of the rooms are located in the former carriage house with its facade of English-style bricks. Guests can enjoy a stroll in the adjacent garden, which was created by a French landscaper in 1898. A number of good restaurants can be found in the area around the hotel. Free parking is available.
The hotel with rustic charm and modern comforts is located in the medieval town of Ainsa, within sight of Monte Perdido and the Odesa National Park. The Bergua family purchased the historical mansion on the market square a few years ago, carefully renovated it and converted it into an exclusive hotel with just five bedrooms. While almost nothing has changed on the outside, the bedrooms offer spacious, modern bathrooms along with air-conditioning and heating, thus providing a harmonious blend of historical architecture and modern interior design.
The Rio Aragon Valley leads east from Pamplona into the Aragon Pyrenees, which extend all the way to Andorra. Narrow side roads connect remote, picturesque mountain villages in this thinly populated region. The most beautiful section of the route lies within the Parque Nacional de Ordes y Monte Perdido. The park's countless gorges are home to a wide variety of indigenous plants and rare species of animals, such as the Pyrenean Goat, the Bearded Vulture and the Snow Partridge. Sparkling waterfalls cascade down the Monte Perdido, the 3rd highest mountain in Spain. The park entrance near Torla includes a Visitors Centre, where maps of hiking routes and other useful information is available.
The historical hotel enjoys one of the best locations in Barcelona: in the Gothic quarter, close to the Ramblas and the harbour. The panoramic views range from Montjuic Mountain to Christopher Columbus monument to the Olympic Port. While the present exterior was completed in neo-classical style in 1850, the interior has been thoroughly renovated to meet the standards of a modern luxury hotel. Guests can relax on the terrace or take a dip in the plunge pool on the roof. Sites within a 5-10 minute walk include, in addition to the Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter, the Cathedral, Borne quarter, Beaches, Old Port (fish and seafood restaurants), Museum Picasso, Real Square, Museum of History of Barcelona, Maritime Museum, Museum of History of Catalonia, Music Palace and Catalunya Square.
The capital of Catalonia is situated on the Mediterranean Sea, about 120 km south of the border to France. With a population of around 1.6 million, it is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid. Much of the avant-garde architecture in the downtown area stems from the 1992 Olympics. Madrid and Barcelona are bitter rivals, a tension that is reflected in fierce encounters between the two cities' football (soccer) teams.
The Romans built a massive wall around the city originally founded by the Carthaginians in 300 BC. Remnants of the Roman wall still exist today. Major attractions in the Gothic quarter, Barri Gòtic, and the historical city center include the Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia, the Plaça del Rei (King's Square), and the city hall (Ajuntament). Much of the city life takes places on the "Rambles", the principal thoroughfare in the downtown area which includes a wide pedestrian zone.
Rental car drop off
Drop off location: Barcelona Airport
Climate Compensation Contribution
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Rental car company: AVIS (Spain)
Type: Opel Astra or similar (Group C)
Air-conditioning, power steering, radio