Our 1st visit to Barcelona was many years ago now, a short one day car trip from Montpelier, the south of France. During that 1st visit, we found ourselves falling in love with this beautiful and cosmopolitan city. Since then, we have made several more visits to this beautiful city and our last trip to Barcelona was in April this year, 2017. Barcelona is packed with things to do and to see, and it is also great place for weekend destination. We are based in London, so the journey here is fairly short, if you are flying, and if you are happened to be exploring Southern Europe, you can combine your trip to visit other places nearby. We spent 5 days in Barcelona on this visit, so we did see a lot of the city.
Here are a few of the major Barcelona attractions we visited on this trip and truly enjoyed:
The Las Ramblas
Lets start by sharing our experience at the Las Ramblas. We stayed locally to this area, so we spent a lot time hanging around the place. Around here, there are so many things to do and to see, the area is vibrant, bustling with excitement. Here you can go shopping, visit la Boqueria market, enjoy a glass of sangria, be entertained by street performers, or treat yourself to some of the most amazing food on this planet. There are so many affordable accommodations here, make sure you stay in the one with good reviews.
La Boqueria Market
This is a fairly large local market just off Las Ramblas. La Boqueria market is one of Barcelona’s most visited location, a must visit place when in Barcelona. You will find so many varieties of food and drink here. The seafood selections is just to die for. Try some local delicacies here, you won’t be disappointed. The market is located not far from the opera house and Liceo, so you in in the most central part of the city here.
La Sagrada Família, the grandest of Gaudi’s Architecture
Apparently, the foundation of this church was laid in the 19th century, and the church is designed by Antoni Gaudi. Sadly in 1926, Antoni Gaudi (the architect) passed away, then everything came to a halt for a while. They building of this church is still on going today, and apparently will be going on for sometime (not sure how long it will take to complete). I am not sure how to describe this church, very quirky or a bit spooky in some corners. A very modern statues of “naked Jesus” on the cross, how cool is that :-). You can also enjoy other buildings designed by Gaudi here in Barcelona such as the Casa Milà, Park Güell (designed in partnership with Josep Maria Jujol), and the Casa Batlló, two very grand and quirky buildings indeed.
Whilst touring the outskirt of the city, don’t miss this gorgeous park. It is a little off-the-beaten-track, you will need a lot of walking going up here, but it is truly worth the effort. You can see the whole of Barcelona city from the top, really breath taking. There are part of the park which is free but there are sections which are ticketed. Do take your time to enjoy the scenery and don’t forget to take load of photos.
This 14th century cathedral is located in the Gothic Quarter. This cathedral is officially named the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, but more commonly known as the Barcelona Cathedral, a truly grand church which holds a lot of history. Join a group tour from the tourist office, to get the most of Barcelona’s history, particularly on their historical buildings like this one.
Santa Maria Del Mar
An outstanding example of the Catalan Gothic architecture with magnificent architecture. The church was built around 1300’s and was built using the slender stone built columns in the world. Entrance to this Cathedral is free, don’t miss it.
Gignac is a small town in the South of France situated in the Herault, Languedoc-Roussillon region (now part of the Occitanie region). It is located about 27 km from Montpelier, the capital city of this region and . about 586 km from Paris. We come to Gignac almost every year, as one of my sister-in-law lives here. The place is so beautiful, tranquil and full of amazing things to do. If we visit this place during the hot season, we usually hang out on the river l’Herault, swimming or canoeing with friends and family. Most of the times we will be staying at Terri’s place at Mas de Villetelle – a Self-catering B&B barn runs by Terri and Bernard (my sister in law and her husband). For more details on Mas de Viletelle, check out this link: https://www.sawdays.co.uk/france/languedoc-roussillon/herault/mas-de-villetelle. There are so many things to do around here, but on the other hand, you would probably love to relax on the hammock and catch up with some readings, or just listen to some gentle music. Hanging around Mas de Villetelle is truly special. September is definitely the best time of the year to visit this region, where most of the tourists have gone home and the fig season has just started. Fig picking in the wild is one of my favourite things to do here. Finding wild fig trees and collect as much as you want, eat as much as you want too (psssttt…. do go easy on the fig though, it can get you into trouble if you eat too much). Hanging around Mas del Villetelle is great. Terri and Bernard often organise things around the land and we always have the opportunity to make and to cook our own pizza and cook them inside an earth oven, how cool is that. Check out the photo gallery for our pizza making photos.
When in Languedoc-Roussillon, here are a few places we recommend for you to visit nearby:
A beautiful village on top of the hill. There has been blogs and stories written about this place. Here is a good one, http://www.francethisway.com/places/stguilhem.php , clear information about the place, history, how to get there, etc.
Cirque de Moureze
Great info about this rocky place here, http://www.francethisway.com/places/cirquedemoureze.php
Great information about Villeneuvette can be found here http://www.francethisway.com/places/villeneuvette.php
To be honest, there are so many amazing places off the beaten track, just explore as you go along. Stop in places that you like and just explore it. Everywhere is truly beautiful. The food is great, the beaches are fantastic, people are good looking, so what more do you want? :-). Happy holiday.
The Languedoc is one of my favourite destinations in France. The region is so beautiful an area with such an amazing history naturally, offers a huge amount to see and do for tourists. It is also a bonus that one of my sister in law lives in this region, and we get so much in the package when we visited the place.
There are so much to do in this region, a real family holiday destination. We visit this region almost every year, normally during the summer month. I must admit that summer is not the best time to visit, as the place is crowded with tourists and the temperature soars up to 45 C during this time. The best time to visit is at the end of August and Sept, where the temperature has cooled down slightly and school kids have gone back to schools during this time, so much more peaceful.
Visiting this region can be reached by car, train or flying. The biggest international airport would be Montpellier and if you do take the train, would also be destined for Montpellier. Once you get there, it would probably good to hire a car to explore the region.
Our favourite place is the river Hérault where we hang out a lot. Here you can swim, the water is very clear and clean. You can do one-day canoeing, this will take up to 6 hours adventure, but you will enjoy it tremendously. There are beautiful beaches not far from Montpellier or visit nearby lakes for a more relaxing rest.
Don’t miss the market, the are truly amazing, full of interesting things, particularly special herbs and vegetables. You can get some lovely food and wine in markets, and so much more interesting than just buying them in the Supermarket.