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My Quick Taste of Andorra and France During 12-hour Tour from Barcelona

  1. Idiots Abroad (the Sequel)
  2. Barcelona: Russians, Strikes, Lingerie Billboards and Man Buns
  3. Welcome to Mallorca! OK, Time to Leave

After our crazy whirlwind tour of Mallorca, you would think we would relax and kick back for a day or two, right? Wrong. My sister-in-law booked us an all-day excursion from Barcelona, with stops in Andorra and France. She paid for all of us, so there was no way I could back out. Plus, as tired as I was, the idea of visiting France seemed kind of cool.

You can find more tour info and booking details by clicking this link: Three countries in one day: France, Andorra and Spain ($139 for adult ticket, $104 per child)

Friends, this tour is incredible and I highly recommend you splurge on it. Sure, for a family of four or more, we are talking a significant chunk of money. Plus, not everyone is into this type of travel, aka “follow the leader” arrangement. But I can honestly say that  it was one of the highlights of our visit to Spain.

Sure, it’s a lot of time to spend on a bus. But all the logistics are taken care of (aside from food, which you can easily find at a local cafe). The stops are fairly short, but you see a lot in one day.

Surprisingly, the kids did very well and appeared to have fun. Here is a brief description of the tour, taken directly  from website:

Let me share few highlights and photos of our busy, yet exciting day.

Village of Baga

This was our first stop on the tour and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Baga is a picturesque Spanish village that was built during medieval times. I seriously doubt the population has grown much since then, but that’s part of its charm.

We had about an hour to wonder around, so we went to a local cafe and picked up some fresh pastries. They were delicious! There were no famous sights to worry about, so we just walked down the quiet main street that seemed to be stuck in a  time warp. It was quintessential Europe you see on the postcards.

Visiting France at last

France has eluded me for some reason. We’ve been to many countries in Europe and I just never got a chance to check it off my list. Untill now. Sure, Ax Les Thermes town isn’t exactly Paris, but I was still excited to officially add France to my country count. Well, I don’t technically count the countries I’ve visited so far, but you get the point.

When  I found out that we would be going on an all-day bus tour, I decided that rather than looking presentable, I would wear my stretchy exercise pants. No regrets. 

Even though Ax Les Thermes is located only few hours from Barcelona, there is something unmistakably  “French” about the city.

Of course, being in France, I just had to try real French food or as they refer to it here, simply food. Finding a place where they spoke English was a challenge, though. We’ve stumbled upon a cute cafe, but the owner only spoke French. Once it became clear that serving us will be a challenge, she simply walked away. Ok then.

We took the hint and moved on, eventually coming across a restaurant where the owner spoke a little bit of English. He had to translate everything to the waitress, so dealing with us was a bit of a nuisance for them. But they did their best, even though it was clear we were an annoyance. Service was very slow, but according to many travelers, that’s very normal in French culture. People usually linger for hours in a restaurant and nobody finds it  odd.

Unfortunately, we were on a schedule and had to forgo the dessert in order to be back on time. The prices at this restaurant  were fairly reasonable. If I remember correctly,  we spent about 50 euros on five of us, which isn’t  bad for Europe. Bread and water were complimentary.

The food wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was pretty good. All the ingredients were fresh,  typical in French cuisine (from what I’ve heard)

Some sort of polenta dish

Just being in a French restaurant in France got me feeling all giddy. I know it sounds lame, but as my husband always says,  I’m an easily excitable person. Apparently, that’s what he loves about me. Travel and new discoveries still make me feel giddy, in a child-like way.

Welcome to Andorra: a Poor Man’s Switzerland

Andorra is not part of EU, so before crossing the border, our tour guide went around the bus and collected everyone’s passports. As a result, I added an Andorran stamp to my collection.

Before the tour, I didn’t really know a whole lot about this tiny country. Rick Steves didn’t seem to care for it a whole lot, but his disdain mostly had to do with bland architecture and lack of unique cultural identity. I can relate to this sentiment based on few towns we have passed along the way:

But Andorra has so much more to offer. It truly is a hiker’s paradise.

Above: My daughter is walking through the valley and picking flowers along the way

When I look at that photo, I start singing “The hills are alive with the sound of music” in my head. You know, the one from the movie “The sound of music.”

Stretchy pants…again

Who needs Switzerland with the views like that, right?

My husband and his sister

After spending few hours in Andorra, it was  time to head back to Barcelona.

Scenic lake views along the way

Our wonderful tour guide who went out of her way for all in the group to enjoy the experience. Thumbs up!

Using points to offset the cost of this tour (and others like it) purchase should code under “travel” category. As such, it would be reimbursable if you get Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard or Capital One Venture Rewards Visa. Those bonuses  give you flat rebate against travel purchases.

This tour is listed in Ultimate Rewards travel portal, so you can use your UR points to cover the cost:

If you don’t have any UR points, you can sign up for cards like  Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred. You will be able to redeem points at 1.25 cents apiece towards travel, including tours. If you happen to have Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can redeem your UR points  at 1.5 cents apiece which, in my opinion, represents excellent value. Here is Nancy’s personal referral application link if you choose to apply

Read more on all these offers in my Hot Deals page. Consider supporting the site, thanks in advance!

Bottom line

This type of tour isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and I totally get it. If you like to do your own thing without being tied to a  schedule, you probably won’t enjoy it. But if you are in Barcelona and want to experience beautiful mountain scenery while taking a quick look at French life, definitely consider it. I don’t recommend it if you have very small kids, though. Ours are 6 and 9, and they did very well (with the help of  electronic devices).

All in all, I’ve enjoyed the trip tremendously. This tour was fast-paced, but it lacked the stress and complicated logistics of our day-trip to Mallorca. Highly recommended.

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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9 thoughts on “My Quick Taste of Andorra and France During 12-hour Tour from Barcelona

  1. We were in Spain/France for two weeks over fall break. We had quite the adventure ordering food, especially in the Loire Valley. The city we stayed in, Amboise, has a very nice selection of fine dining restaurants. We used our phones to google translate the food on all menus, but it was still quite the surprise when our food arrived. My kid’s “steak” and mashed potatoes was really a hamburger with a fried egg on top, for example. We also did brunch at one place and ordered pancaked with sides. When our food arrived, the pancakes were actually “stuffed.” So I got pancakes stuffed with vegetables and my kids got pancakes stuffed with ham and cheese. They were good sports and ate everything, so it worked out fine.

    • @Holly Haha! All of the food you’ve mentioned sounds delicious. I was surprised by how hard it was to find people who speak English in that little French town. My sister-in-law also had a fancy app on her phone that translated the menu to English, but the first restaurant owner just didn’t want to bother with us, period. She could have made decent money, but oh well. I suppose I should have learned a bit of French besides “merci” etc. My brother-in-law speaks French, but he wasn’t with us, unfortunately.
      I’m glad you enjoyed your trip. I really want to someday visit France for more than few hours. Loire Valley is definitely on my list.

    • @Holly My husband and I spent a few days at a bed and breakfast in Amboise on our honeymoon. I love that town! We also had some surprises when we ordered food. My husband thought he ordered salmon, but what came was pizza with salmon on top, LOL. Our burgers always seemed to have fried eggs on them, which I grew to love.

    • @Russ You are most certainly welcome! I enjoyed our brief visit to Andorra more than I thought I would. It’s a hard country to get to, as I don’t believe there are any airports in the vicinity. That’s why tours from nearby cities can make a lot of sense. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Wow, that’s an expensive day tour for a family! Did you consider just renting a car? That said, I’m just back from the same part of the world. I did rent a car from Barcelona and spent a few days just on the French side of the Pyrenees. And I have to say, this is my new favorite part of France (well, maybe just behind the Loire). But then I really like history and hiking. I had a ball exploring ancient castle ruins, caveman caves, and just enjoying the area, with its tree-lined lanes, unbelievable gorge scenery, and the trees and vineyards with some fall colors glowing. So you picked a great place for your intro to France!

    • @Contextman You are absolutely correct. It’s a ton of money to shell out, especially when you have four or five people. That’s why I probably wouldn’t book it if it wasn’t for my SIL. As I’ve mentioned in the post, she paid for all of us. However, knowing what I know now, I do believe the tour is worth the $. It depends, of course. If you’ve previously been to Switzerland and France, I seriously doubt it would be all that impressive. But we go to Europe every 2-3 years, so who knows when we’ll get a chance to get to those places.
      As far as renting a car vs. tour, the former is definitely the way to go if you want to save money. That’s especially true if you have four or more people in the party. That said, my husband hates driving, especially in Europe. Before this tour we went to Mallorca and did rent a car. It was stressful and we spent several hours just trying to find parking.
      In this case, I really doubt we would see half on our own compared to what we got to see via this tour. So, basically, the extra money my SIL paid assured us a richer, more relaxed experience. Then again, she paid for it, not me. LOL
      As I’ve said previously, organized tours are not for everyone. But for those who are unfamiliar with European driving, I do think the extra cost is worth it. YMMV, as they say.
      I do hope to someday come back to that area of France and spend a few nights.

  3. Thank you for sharing! I had no idea you can book tours through the Chase portal! I’ve always gone straight to the airfare section.

    Btw, stretchy pants for the win! I practically live in them now 😀 and plan on packing only two stretchy yoga-legging-type pants for our 4 months in Barcelona/Split/Prague/Budapest (mostly because I’ll only be taking a small 35L bag).

    I totally agree that shelling out the cash for a tour could be worth it if you hate driving. I think we’ll definitely look into doing some of the tours when we’re in Barcelona – would love an Andorra stamp in my passport 😉

    • @Army @ ClimberMonkeysAbroad Stretchy pants rule! I pretty much live in them these days. They are a lifesaver on the road. I’m always amazed when I see these gals with high heels and mini skirts on the long haul flights. What?
      I hope you look into this tour. For two people I honestly think it makes more sense than renting a car. You will spend more, but eliminate so much headache as a result. If you have a ton of UR points and CSR card, this is a no-brainer.

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