On the French-Spanish Frontier: The Pyrenees

Ancient villages nestled among rugged mountain landscapes: the Pyrenees are a world of their own between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

This trip will be customized according to your wishes.

From Barcelona to Céret

Rental car pick-up

Rental car pick-up

Rental car pick-up
Broker: Sunny Cars GmbH
Company: Keddy by Europcar
Vehicle: Seat Leon or similar (CDMR)
Loca­tion: Barcelona Airport (Desk at Airport)

From Barcelona to Céret

193 km | 2:30 h
Just before reaching the border, a detour to the cliffs of the Cap de Creus is worthwhile. The views from the eastern-most point of the Iberian Peninsula are magnif­i­cent.

Cathar Country

Refuge for perse­cuted heretics
The term Cathars (from the Greek: Katharos – pure) refers to the largest Chris­tian faith move­ment of the late Middle Ages, with its origin in Occi­tania, what is now the south of France. They called them­selves veri chris­tiani (true Chris­tians) or boni homines (good people). Their doctrine was char­ac­ter­ized by the dualism of the wicked world and the good that could only be found in God. While the Roman Catholic Church held Latin masses, they were preaching in local languages, which earned them great popu­larity. As the move­ment grew, the Roman Catholic Church reacted to the unwanted compe­ti­tion with inqui­si­tion and perse­cu­tion. As a result the Cathars retreated to the secluded area on the edge of the Pyre­nees. During the so-called Albi­gensian Crusade, which was lead out of the fortress of Carcassonne, the Cathars were finally destroyed completely. What remains is only their name which has entered the German language: the word “Ketzer” (heretic) still refers to someone who has deviated from the pure doctrine.

Languedoc Rous­sillon

Versa­tile coast between Pyre­nees and Rhône
The region along the Mediterranean coast between Rhône and the Pyre­nees is partic­u­larly diverse: The coast offers endless sandy beaches, Cathar castles can be found inland, often located on spectac­ular hill tops. Charming cities such as Bezier, the capital of wine, or the lively univer­sity town of Montpellier lie between France's oldest vine­yards.

Catalo­nian Pyre­nees

Vine­yards and olive groves at the base of a mountain wilder­ness
The eastern Pyre­nees in Catalonia are a sparsely popu­lated and untamed mountain range extending all the way to Andorra. The highest mountain is the Pica d'Estas at 3,143 meters, which is near the French border. Andorra is situ­ated between France and Catalonia. This inde­pen­dent mountain principality is located at the head­wa­ters of the Serge, which flows south towards Ebro. To the east, the mountains drop down to the Mediterranean and their foothills are covered with olive groves, vine­yards and cork trees.


Artists' town in the eastern Pyrenees

The east Pyre­nean town popular among artists and Bohemians lies south of Perpignan near the border to Spain. The ancient region of Languedoc Rous­sillon with its rich cultural heritage appeals to lovers of both nature and culture.

To the west is the towering Pic de Cannigou (2.785 m), which affords splendid views of the surrounding country­side on clear days. Further south the Tech flows through the idyllic Gorge de la Fou, which reaches a dept of 100 m in places. The town of Céret itself, once home to such famous painters as Gris, Braque, Picasso and Chagall, is mainly known for its excel­lent Museum of Modern Art featuring over 50 works by Picasso.

Accommodation: A Catalonian manor house

2 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast

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.

From Céret to Saint-Paul-d'Oueil

378 km | 4:30 h
The pano­ramic-view route leads through the Pyre­nees from east to west. Along the way you will pass Andorra, the tiny principality tucked in the mountains between France and Spain.


Europe's most important medieval fortress
The forti­fied city of Carcassonne lies at the crossing of two major traffic routes in use since Antiq­uity: the north-south gap between the Pyre­nees and the Massif Central, and the east-west route from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. Carcassonne was founded by the Romans, and each succes­sive conqueror – Visigoths, Arabs, Franco­nians, Cathars – added to the immense fortifica­tion. Boasting a double ring of ramparts and 53 towers, Europe's greatest fortress was completed by Philip the Bold in 1280. We commend visiting the site in the early morning or in the evening in order to avoid the large numbers of tourists drawn there every day.


Port commu­nity on the Canal du Midi
In the heart of the Midi and not far from the Lac de Jouarres lies the commune of Homps. It orig­inated as a Roman settle­ment on the route between Corbières and the Miner­vois. With the comple­tion of the Canal du Midi in the late 17th century, Homps achieved economic pros­perity. The port was of great importance for the ship­ment of wines from the region.


Southern French flair and space technology
The “Ville Rose” combines the flair of southern France with the spirit of technology and science. Toulouse is the main center of the Euro­pean aerospace industry. Hub of the city is the atmo­spheric Place du Capitole, with its arcades and the magnif­i­cent town hall. Not far is the roma­nesque Cathedral of St. Sernin, which is one of the most important pilgrimage churches on the Way of St. James.

Haut Pyrenees

Wild mountains between France and Spain

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 summit 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. Further south, just before the Spanish border is another natural wonder: the Cirque de Gavarnie, a group of three natural glacial amphithe­a­tres that have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Accommodation: A country estate near Luchon

2 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast

Located in a picturesque village, this 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 art give the hotel a special charm. Patricia and Robert will welcome you with their friend­li­ness and hospitality.


Spa with hot springs
The elegant thermal bath is surrounded by 3,000 meter high mountains. Already the Romans bathed in the hot springs. The sulphurous and radioac­tive springs reach temper­a­tures of up to 72° C. They are said to have a healing effect, partic­u­larly on those suffering from respi­ratory tract disease. A cable car runs from the village to the ski resort of Superbag­nères.

From Saint-Paul-d'Oueil to San Sebas­tian

292 km | 3:30 h
We recom­mend taking side roads through the hilly Basque region. You can follow the Route des Pyrénées from Lourdes to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port just north of the Spanish border.


Diverse nature and 40,000 years of human settle­ment
The region in the extreme southwest of France has been settled for over 40,000 years. The rock carv­ings of Lasceaux bear witness to the early hunter-gatherers. Nature is remark­ably diverse: the lovely Dordogne Valley, the snowy peaks of the Pyre­nees and the largest fir forest in Europe are close together. Hikers have two huge nature parks at their disposal. The 270 km long Atlantic coast­line is lined with magnif­i­cent sandy beaches and renowned seaside resorts: Arca­chon, Hossegor, Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz. The charm of the towns of Aquitaine enchants visitors: Scarlat, located in the heart of the Périgord, Bayonne with its typical Basque houses, the thermal spa of Dax and Pau with its medieval castle are worth a visit.

Pyrenées Occi­dentales

Gentle low mountain range between the Atlantic and the Central Pyre­nees
The western portion of the Pyre­nees is also called Pyrenées Basque or Pyrenées Atlan­tiques. Its highest point, the Pic d'Anie at 2504 meters above sea level, lies in the far east. From there, the mountains drop to the west towards to the Cote Basque. For the most part it is a gentle low mountain range, which is dominated by decid­uous forests and meadows. From this area stems the Frenchest of all French garments, the Basque beret. It was worn by the shep­herds around Oloron-Sainte-Marie as protec­tion from the sun.


Occitan culture and Armagnac
Gascony is a histor­ical province with its own language. Gascon is a subspecies of Occitan. The inhab­i­tants of the triangle between Bordeaux, Biarritz and Toulouse live mainly from fishing and wine growing. Well known is the Armagnac, which can only be produced in Gascony. Brandy is consid­ered the oldest French spirit. It is related to Cognac, but is distilled differ­ently and must be stored in oak barrels for at least 20 years.


A historic Basque coastal city

The seaside commu­nity near the border to France is one of the oldest resorts in Spain. The city's rise began in the 19th century, when the queen of Spain chose it as the site of her summer resi­dence.

Large numbers of Castil­ians still flee to the fash­ion­able resort every year to escape the heat of the cities, as evidenced by the stately villas that line the roads below the Monte Igueldo, from the top of which the best views can be had of the ocean, harbor, beaches and country­side of San Sebas­tian. The idyllic fishing village of Pasaia Doni­bane is only

Accommodation: A villa in downtown San Sebastian

2 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast

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.

Côte Basque

Beaches, cliffs and powerful surf
Although only 30 kilome­ters long, it is full of wild beauty: the Côte Basque stretches all the way down to the Spanish border. With its steep cliffs and jagged rocks that defy the powerful surf, it is a delightful contrast to the endless sandy strips of its northern neighbor, the Cote d'Argent. Until the middle of the 17th century the Basque coastal popu­la­tion was living from whaling. Then the giant mammals moved away from the coast further and further, forcing the fish­ermen to switch to sardines, anchovies and tuna. At the same time, the fishing villages on the Côte Basque were discov­ered as seaside resorts – first and foremost Biarritz.

Pasaia Doni­bane

Tradi­tional fishing village with a medieval town center and good restau­rants
This tradi­tional fishing village has a harbor at the mouth of the Oiartzun river. The town's main thor­ough­fare leads from the Bizkaia quarter to the Bay of Alabortza. The historic town center features numerous medieval build­ings, as well as shops, cafés and good seafood restau­rants.

From San Sebas­tian to Pamplona

155 km | 2:30 h


Birthplace of Ignatius de Loyola
The ances­tral seat of the Loyola family (“Loiola” in the Basque language) is located between Azpeitia and Azkoitia in the Basque province of Gipuzkoa. Saint Ignatius de Loyola, the family's most famous member, was born in the resi­den­tial tower in the valley of Urola. As founder of the Jesuit order, Ignatius de Loyola is still one of the most famous Spaniards and was espe­cially noto­rious among Protestants.


Pamplona Catedral Hotel

1 Night | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast | 1x Parking


Charming town along the Way of St. James
This small town is surrounded by hills at a bend in the river Ega. The Way of St. James played an important role in the town's history. The king of Aragón invited immigrants from southwestern France to settle in this previ­ously uninhabited area. Accommo­d­a­tions for pilgrims were built in Estella and tradesmen and merchants settled here, making the town a bustling and popular station along the pilgrimage route. Its repu­ta­tion was enhanced by several legends surrounding the town. For example, a Greek bishop is said to have died here as an anony­mous pilgrim. His body was later mirac­u­lously discov­ered with a relic of the apostle Andrew, which the bishop had intended to donate once in Santiago. His remains were laid to rest in the cloister of the Church of San Pedro de la Rúa.

Puerto de Ibañeta

Modern chapel where several routes of St. James meet
This mountain pass in the Spanish Pyre­nees reaches an eleva­tion of 1,057 meters and connects Valcarlos with Roncesvalles via the N 135 freeway. At the highest point in the pass stands the chapel of San Salvador, where three of the four French pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela meet. One of the routes starts in Puy and Conques, another in Paris and the third in Vezelay. The pass has been used since prehistoric times. The Romans built an outpost there, which was later joined by an abbey with accommo­d­a­tions for pilgrims. Charle­magne crossed the pass twice in the year 778 as part of his military campaign in Spain, during which his rear­guard was ambushed while retreating. This clash came to be known as the battle of Roncesvalles.

From Pamplona to Ainsa

186 km | 3:00 h

Aragon Pyrenees

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.

Accommodation: A former family residence in Ainsa

2 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast

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.

Parque Nacional de Ordes y Monte Perdido

Wilder­ness in the Arago­nese Pyre­nees
The Parque Nacional de Ordes y Monte Perdido is true outdoor high­light. Its count­less gorges are home to a thriving diver­sity of plants. The park also provides a habitat for rare animals such as the Pyre­nean mountain goat, the bearded vulture and the snow partridge. Crystal-clear waterfalls adorn the Monte Perdido, which is the third-highest mountain in Spain. The park entrance is located in Torla, where there is also an informa­tion center. Here you can obtain maps and informa­tion about the park's numerous hiking trails.

From Ainsa to Barcelona

Rental car drop-off

From Ainsa to Barcelona

276 km | 3:30 h


Abbey with a view built on the side of a cliff
The “serrated mountain” rises like a giant stone castle over the hilly landscape of Catalonia. One of Spain's most important abbeys is perched precar­i­ously on a rocky promontory along the edge of a gap in the mountain. An image of the Madonna, which attracts Catholic pilgrims from around the world, hangs above the alter in the 16th-century basilica. The mountain can be reached via a cable railway and the upper station of Sant Joan is the starting point for a hiking trail that will lead you to the highest summit, Sant Jeroni (1237 m). Here you will be rewarded with a magnif­i­cent pano­ramic view.

Rental car drop-off

Rental car drop-off
Loca­tion: Barcelona Airport (Desk at Airport)

From the rental car station to the hotel

16 km | 20 minutes


Catalonia's glittering capital

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 “Ramblas”, the principal thor­ough­fare in the downtown area which includes a wide pede­s­trian zone.

Accommodation: A 16th century hotel in the Gothic Quarter

2 Nights | 1x Double Occupancy | Bed & Breakfast

This historic hotel enjoys one of the best loca­tions in Barcelona – in the Gothic quarter, close to the Ramblas and the harbor.

The pano­ramic views reach from Montjuic Mountain to the Christo­pher Columbus monu­ment to the Olympic Port. While the current 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 pool on the roof. Attrac­tions located within a 5-10 minute walk include not only the Ramblas and the Gothic Quarter, but also the Cathedral, the Borne quarter, various Beaches, the Old Port (fish and seafood restau­rants), the Museum Picasso, the Real Square, the Museum of History of Barcelona, the Mari­time Museum, the Museum of History of Catalonia, the Music Palace and the Catalunya Square.



17 km | 20 minutes
12 days
from € 1,829.00
per person based on two people sharing a double room
  • Accommodation in a double room
  • Meals (as listed above)
  • Sunny Cars Permit for France (payable on site)

An- und Abreise: Flüge zum Selberbuchen finden Sie im Internet. Falls Sie mit der Bahn anreisen möchten, buchen wir gern das Ticket für Sie.
You can start this tour on any date.
Best Travel Time: April–October

The prices can vary depending on the season.
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Alina Frielingsdorf

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