Struggling to find the perfect place to spend those oh-so-precious vacation days? Look no further and travel with Renfe-SNCF en Coopération’s high-speed trains through Paris, Lyon, Barcelona and Madrid with these great tips of ways to spend your special time in each city!
Views from Paris
Paris is one of those cities that should be on everybody’s bucket list, no matter who you are or where you are from. And although Paris’ must-sees such as the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées and the Louvre are, in fact, must-sees, do not be fooled into thinking that that is all this city has to offer. Bursting with hidden treasures and stories in every street and building, Paris will enchant you with its charm. So once you have crossed all the mandatory sights off your list, try a couple more to keep exploring this beautiful city.
There is nothing as satisfying and exciting than randomly stumbling across a foreign city’s hidden gem, one with true Parisian magic and unknown to most tourists. So clear an afternoon on your itinerary, choose an area or arrondissement, and ditch Google Maps. Turn left or right when you feel like it, get lost and let the magic of the city’s labyrinth of streets draw you in, you never know what you might find!
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica, or the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, actually does make the short list of mandatory sightseeing sites. And although it is beautiful during the day, when you also have the chance to marvel at it from the inside, the true magic rises as the sunsets. With one of the best views over Paris from its steps, the Sacré-Cœur is illuminated at night, and groups of people from all over come together and spend hours sitting on its steps playing music, laughing, drinking and being merry.
Though perhaps not the best option for the faint-hearted, or for those travelling with young children, Paris’ Catacombes are quite unlike anything you will ever see. Made up of maze of tunnels that run underneath the city, the Catacombes are underground ossuaries that hold the bones of around 6 million people. Stretching out for roughly 2km and 20m under the ground, they were built in 1810, with the purpose of solving health and space issues in Paris’ cemeteries. An eerie experience it may be, but it is one that will blow you away and that you are sure not to come across anywhere else.
One of the biggest cities in France after Paris, Lyon is a perfect destination for a few days off from your busy life. With over 2000 years of history to explore, Lyon is considered the capital of gastronomy of France, and known for its architectural and historical landmarks, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here are three things in particular you definitely do not want to miss out on while there!
Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière.
Built privately in the late 18th century, the Basilica is beautiful both inside and out, and has, with good reason, become one of the iconic symbols of this city. While you’re up there, be sure not only to visit the amazingly built and decorated inside of the basilica, but also be the crypt below, and the ancient roman ruins that lie nearby. For those who have enough energy, you can climb the 280 steps up to the observatory for an amazing view over Lyon.
Speaking of amazing views, the Basilica sits majestically atop of Fourvière Hill, offering some of the most amazing views of the city. Perfect for those who have a soft spot for photography, and for anyone who enjoys a great vantage point to gaze over the buildings, monuments, people and rivers that make this city what it is. On a clear day, you might even be able to see the snow-covered tops of the Alps. When you trek up the hill to visit the Basilica, remember to pack some fantastic French and wine, and have a picnic while marveling over the amazing view from up high. You can reach the hill on foot if your up for a hike, or with the funiculars or trams that go up.
Parc de la Tete d’Or.
The largest urban park in all of France, the “Park of the Golden Head” is 289 acres large, and located on the shores of the river Rhône, which runs through the city. The park features a small zoo, and several other activities such as mini-golf, boules, a botanical garden, horse-riding, a miniature train and many others, making it the perfect place to spend a beautiful day with friends and family of all ages and tastes. Not to leave out one of the nicest features of the park, a lovely lake located right in its center, where you can go boatingin the summer months.
Wrap up your time in France by buying some nice French pastries and baguette to snack on while speeding your way on Renfe-SNCF en Coopération’s trains, past the mountains and into Spain, connecting the two countries like never before!
Views from Barcelona
Parc de Labertinto de Horta
Located slightly outside of the center of Barcelona, the Horta Labyrinth Park is one of Barcelona’s semi-secret gardens, and just off most tourists’ radars. It is filled with statues, fountains, rosebeds and other gardens. Inside the park is a maze made of 750 meters perfectly trimmed Cyprus trees, a great place to spend a fun day exploring. If your navigational skills are on cue enough to find the center of the maze, you will come a across a statue of Greek mythology god Eros, god of love.
La Fuente Mágica de Montjuïc
Located in front of Catalonia’s national art museum, and behind one of Barcelona’s biggest squares, Plaza d’Espanya, the Magic Fountain is a beautifully built work of art, and you will feel you have stepped right into a fairytale. Time it right and you be able to attend on of the light and water shows, half an hour of a spectacular show that combines different pieces of music, amazing colors and water tricks, which is, as the name would suggest, magical. Make sure to arrive earlier than the starting time of the show, as it will fill up and be tricky to find a spot with a great view of the fountain.
Castell de Montjuïc
With roots dating back to the 16th century, the Montjuïc Castle was previously used as a military fortress, but is now one of the nicest landmarks of Barcelona. Located on top of the Montjuïc mountain (with extremely easy access from central Barcelona, with a funicular, cable cars and different buses to take up), the castle offers amazing views over Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea, and is the perfect place to spend a fun-filled day on your own or with your travel buddies.
Views from Madrid
Mercado de San Miguel. The market of San Miguel is located in central Madrid, and is the perfect place to taste all the gastronomical wonders this city has to offer.
Built originally in 1918 but renovated in 2009, this market is not so much your everyday grocery market, but more of a gourmet tapas market. It holds over 30 different vendors selling tapas of every type and kind that will take you to culinary heaven, so you will be sure to find something that caters to everyone’s taste with its astonishing variety.
Artebar La Latina. Finish off your food filled evening after San Miguel Market at Artebar La Latina for a couple drinks, which is located conveniently close to the market. Featuring typical Spanish Flamenco music and dancing, this bar is known for its excellent cocktails and drinks (with a special recommendation to try the Mojitos). Its cozy environment, and nicely deocarted space and walls, mixed with the magic of the music and dancing will be the perfect cherry on top of your lovely day in Madrid.
Palacio Real de Madrid. Careful not to have a Mojito too many though, as the next day will be action-packed visiting the Royal Palace of Madrid! Although it is the official residence of the Spanish royal family, it is mainly used for ceremonies and celebrations. This however, is great news, as it leaves the palace open for visitors to explore it halls and chambers. Beautifully built and exquisitely decorated, you cannot miss this site on your trip to Madrid!
So waste not a minute longer and book your trip through France and Spain, visiting these amazing cities with Renfe-SNCF en Coopération’s trains. Book your tickets now!