Impromptu “Boy’s Trip” to Spain/France with my Son - Recos?

We just did this on a whim over the weekend. Nick is in Portugal with his good friend until May 3, and said he wanted to extend a week or so to tour the the Spanish and French Rivieras starting in Barcelona. Of course my wife was mortified that our little 24 year old snowflake - now mind you, Nick is a big muscular kid - is all alone in the dangers of the world. So perhaps a bit tipsy at dinner, she cornered me to go join him. With that kind of hall pass, and a shockingly open calendar that week, I booked it. So we are starting in Barcelona May 4 for 3 days, renting a car and then exploring. My flight back is from Nice on May 14. No specific agenda, but Nick does want to tour the entire Riviera to Monaco. I’ve been there before, so want to show him neat places like Nimes and Arles, Roman ruins, etc.

Would love some recommendations on:

  • a couple Michelin or comparable restaurants
  • must see museums (will hit Picasso in Cadaques)
  • a unique hotel (saw a lot of Relais v Chateaux properties)
  • some cool outdoor stuff to do, physical, like a bike tour
  • a couple wineries to hit

Nick is young but is a foodie and is a budding wine affocionada. But, he’s also a 24-year old dude, so I cannot overwhelm him just on cultural stuff.

Oh, any recommendations on rental car companies so I can go from Barcelona to Monaco? Would love to find a fun convertible.

Thanks, all!

barcelona…besta was my best meal there last summer. not really spanish or catalan but a great night out and others have agreed. id also highly recommend bar seats at bar canete…its a must every time we’re in town. bar mut is another option (they also have a private jazz bar called mutis after dinner). my favorite hotel in barcelona is grand hotel central. you will not find a nicer place in the heart of the best part of town. bar brutal i found to be very enjoyable for drinks and a small bite.

ive stayed in begur 3x over the last decade and if it appeals to you, its about a 90 - 100 minute drive north and east of barcelona. stay at sa rascassa, a perfect seaside restaurant with 5 rooms in the back. if not, hostal sa tuna. just dont stay in begur town…stay by the beach. this is an ideal base if you want to stay 1-2 nights…

since you road bike, you can also consider staying in girona instead and get a ride in. rent a bike at eat sleep bike or service course but only rent a carbon bike. i made the mistake of renting a steel bike on a 8000+ feet day of climbing…no bueno.

you can conceivably stay in begur for 2-3 nights and drive into girona to bike for the day and have dinner there. i prefer staying by the beach than in girona though it is a 45 minute drive. you can also use begur as a base to visit cadaques. if you do it, have dinner at compartir…same owners as disfrutar in barcelona (ex el bulli chefs). make sure you drive to cap de creus…a bit of a rustic alternative to the seaside town).

i cant recommend much until you drive to provence. we love staying in st remy de provence but that may be too inland for your trip. if it isnt, stay at hotel de tourrel…its perfect. in arles, we liked lunch at le galoubet. if you stay in st remy, you must have dinner at l’oustalet in gigondas (outdoors at sunset) and you will want to rent a bike to ride up mont ventoux.

i love nice but never stay in nice. i highly recommend you stay in eze or a beach town like menton or st jean cap ferrat. eden plage at mala beach is a must if you are looking for a beach option. paloma beach is another option but more of a scene.

in nice proper, i highly recommend jan for dinner. its a 1 star by a south african chef and we just loved it.

I just want to know who was pouring the wine.

Wow, really tremendous recommendations they are. I will check some of these places out, in particular those in Spain. A lot of the places to visit on your list for France are quite memorable to me, my wife and I crashed with my parents in St Remy de Provence when they rented a small villa there for about six weeks. We stayed with them for about 10 days, and used it as the base to explore the entire region. Chris and I were only 26 or 27 at the time, so not that much older than Nick, we had just gotten married, and had just taken a trip to Paris, Bordeaux and Loire Valley about six months earlier. At the time we could not afford to stay at the Château in Eze, but we actually did eat there two nights in a row. The second night was a layover, because our flight back got snowed in. It was a blizzard in New York, yet the weather on the Riviera was perfect. Hard to beat that, we got two extra days on the Riviera. Although by the end of that trip, I was dead broke.

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Oh…I’ve never been but look into hiking in the calanques…beach coves near cassis.

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In Nice;

Chagall Musuem

Outside Nice
Villa Ephrussi de Rothchild (they outbid the King of Belgium for this most amazing property). Make a reservation at the cafe (for the view, although the food is fine - I usually just have a cappucino, but need a reservation).

Villa Kyrylos - right near Villa Ephrussi

Drive the Grand Corniche in the mountains above Nice and make like James Bond (or better yet, take it slow)

Chevre d’Or in Eze for lunch (request a table with a view; luxe restaurant); Eze very cool town

Cafe de Turin for shellfish in Nice (casual restaurant)
Get some Socca at the market (chickpea flatbread)

Just so many things to eat and do in Nice!

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Well, you know who is paying

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We loved the Boscolo Exedra in Nice.

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I’ve done that and it is awesome.

Very nice St Remy restaurant… I was there last summer and would recommend…

Le Bistrot du Paradou
+33 4 90 54 32 70

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Robert - Did you rent the car in Barcelona (Spain) and drop it off in Nice (France)?

Yes, on both start and finish. Was quite pricy given the one way transfer.

Yeah, the drop off in another country is $$$$. Decisions, decisions. By the way, your Boy’s Trip inspired me to do a 1 week road trip this December with my son, who is studying abroad in Valencia. I am really excited to connect with him!

That’s awesome, definitely do it! Really one of the better things I have done in a very long time. Yeah I think I paid like 1200 bucks for my rental car for the week. It was one of those volkswagon, small SUV things.

Yeah - I’m gonna fly from BCN to anywhere in France and rent from there.

Seriously, though, I am so stoked to reconnect with my son. He recently had a late night “moment of reflection” and kinda sorta thinks his parents aren’t horrible after all. :slight_smile: I’m going to strike while the iron is hot.

I did a Paris to Zurich drive once- but would up returning the car to Basel airport. That airport straddled the border, so I returned the car to Mulhouse side, which is in France. Saved $1300 on the rental vs returning at the Zurich airport (and it’s only 96 kilometers).

I also fell in love with Swiss cheeses do much that I brought a kilo with me to the South of France.

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Your son sounds like Mark Twain.

“When I was 17, my father was so stupid, I didn’t want to be seen with him in public. When I was 24, I was amazed at how much the old man had learned in just 7 years.”

He continues to be the most interesting man I have ever met. Not to get all sappy, but Ann and I are so happy for him. My heart is full. I cannot wait to see him!

On a related note, I cannot wait to drink all the Cava in Penedes and eat all the tapas in Barcelona. :slight_smile:

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