Things for a Landscape Architect to see/do in France and/or Spain

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums PLACES & SPACES Things for a Landscape Architect to see/do in France and/or Spain

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    I am planning a trip with my sister sometime between mid September and early October. We have not decided which country we will be visiting, although the weather looks more promising in Spain. Regardless, I was hoping to hear from the Landscape Architecture community what places and events are worth seeing or should be skipped, as I will only have 8 days. All recommendations are appreciated, whether landscape related or not!

    Stephen Lovering

    Barcelona is king, loads of new landscape related structures being built there as well as a cathedral that Architecturally puts all other to shame, also one of the most beautiful cities in the world!!


    Paris, France is beyond amazing. The Architecture there is like nothing you have ever seen and the Champs Elysees is one of the most awesome streets on the planet. Early Landscape Architecture at its best!!!. The palace and gardens of Versaille (outskirts of paris) are very good if you really feel like geeking it up. The gardens are a Landscape historians paradise.


    Obviously you will have to do both spain and france to fit these two in but i would highly recommend them and they are both doable in 8 days. Trains can get you anywhere in relatively no time over there. Good luck




    I was in Paris a couple of years ago in early September.  We signed up for a couple of different bike tours not being familiar with the city.  I found the bike tour of Paris and the tour of Versailes to be very entertaining.  The trip out to Versailes was nice because you are able to bike through the town of Versailes out toward the Palace and will be able to enjoy your lunch on the ground along the banks of the Grand Canal.  Check out Fat Tire Bike Tours.  They also offer Tours in Barcelona.  Although not specifically Landscape Architecture related you certainly see great examples of landscape architecture along the way.  By the way I also noticed they do a tour of the Claude Monet Gardens in Normandy.  I haven’t been but it sounds intriguing.  Perhaps I need to schedule another trip across the pond.  Have fun.

    Rob Halpern

    Paris is great both for the traditional formal French landscapes and for more contemporary ones such as the Musée du Quai Branly,(

    Tosh K

    Vaux le Vicomte (short train ride to Melun, then a cab from the station to the chateau) Canal du Midi (before they finish cutting all those plane trees down), Parc des Buttes Chaumont (Paris – read Beth Meyer’s essay ‘The Public Park as Avant Garde’ comparing Buttes-Chaumont and de la Villette before going), Parc de la Villette.  Alhambra (Grenada, if you’re down there).

    I’ll second Barcelona (Parc Diagonal del Mar, Trinitat, Guell, botanical gardens, baths by the convention center -north end of the Diagonal-, Placa de ca N’Enseya – Nou Barris park).  It helps to know the history (there’s a good book titled ‘Barcelona’ I think…)

    Trace One

    Paris is great for just the Tuileries, the Champs Elysee, Notre Dame and the Louvre, the Rodin Museum and the Sant Chapelle, most stained glass ever attempted and stayed standing. Stay at small hotels close to the Champs Elysee, and you can walk to it all, get a lovely cafe au lait for breakfast, and walk walk walk all day..

    Then head to Sevilla by train, and get some sun!

    Just IMIHO.

    Jeff Maxwell

    I visited Spain earlier this summer.  In Madrid, I enjoyed the Royal Botanical Garden (near the Prado Museum) and Retiro Park.  There are many great little squares and parks through out the city, take a bike tour.  I liked the art center called Matadero Madrid–a complex of buildings with contemporary arts, film, dance, with art installations in the courtyards I found cool as a landscape architect.    

    If you can go to Lisbon, Portugal, I highly recommend that.  A one-hour flight from Madrid costs around $75 each way.  Check out the airline Easy Jet.  Lisbon is a wonderful city, and just a bit more off the “beaten path.” There is a texture there that is inspiring. I stayed in the neighborhood called Bairro Alto. 

    Good Luck!  Please check-in again and tell how your travel went!

    Rob Halpern

    I was there last summer and my feet haven’t recovered yet!


    Hello Theresa;

    A lot of people will recommend BARCELONA…..I have been there and very much enjoyed it.  However, MY recommendation to you is…………….PALMA DE MALLORCA.  Palma is an island located approx. 150 miles due South of Barcelona (in the Mediterranean Sea).  You can reach it via yacht (for about $100.00 ea. way – a 3 hour trip) OR via Air…Palma’s airport is the 3rd largest airport in Spain (Madrid & Barcelona’s airports are 1 & 2).

    It’s been many years since I first visited PALMA…..I was 21 and in the U.S. Navy onboard an Aircraft Carrier.  Our ship was too large to dock, so we anchored about 5 miles off the coast of Palma de Mallorca and took small boats ashore.

    I liked Palma de Mallorca the BEST……beautiful city (approx. 400,000 pop.), very picturesque, great beaches, restaurants, night life, shopping, architecture……GREAT destination for a Landscape Architect.

    Before I enlisted in the U.S. Navy @ age 20….I didn’t know “which” design profession I wanted to pursue.  But, after visiting (mostly – the Southern part of Europe) – Spain, France, Monaco, Italy & Greece….it was AFTER I was Honorably Discharged from the Navy….I realized that all those months I spent in EUROPE…..I was being exposed to “Landscape Architectural History”.  So, all of that influenced my decision to become a Landscape Architect.

    Just some advise….be sure to do a LOT of “research” on which ever destination you and your Sister choose…you know, so you can sort of hit the ground running.  To know where to stay, what to do, what you wish to see.  AND, with the unemployment rate in Spain now extremely high…about 29%….could mean cost of things are lower, but crime may be higher.  But, no matter WHERE you go, you always have to be SAFE…stick together…don’t be very trusting.


    Kind Regards,

    J. Robert (Bob) Wainner


    P.S……..Recommend you Google “Pac Safe Bags”.  When travelling overseas, this type of “anti-theft” bag – they have many different products – would be a wise purchase.  Tourists are “targets”…I know I was even when I was wearing “civilian” clothing as a U.S. Navy personnel liberty in various European cities – Barcelona, Rome, Italy, etc.  Pick-pockets & muggings.  There are some very good websites that discuss SAFETY issues when travelling in specific European cities.


    Mark Warriner

    If in France:
    1. Monet’s Garden
    2. Parc de la Villette
    3. The Loire Vally chateauxs

    1. la alhambra
    2. Barcelona
    3. bilbao guggenheim museum

    If your open to Italy there is too much to see to list here…so just go.

    Trace One

    I second that with the Loire Valley – great bike, you can do a chateau a day, and a great fixed price meal for lunch..lovely time, the biking is easy.

    Your list is very good, I think, Mark, but if one has never been to France and Spain, being more “destination – less”, and just getting in the walking spots has a lot of benefits. I’ve never traveled just to see the sights, but that is no doubt a great thing to do also –


    I spent a full 3 months abroad visiting throughout Europe including the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy and I have felt inspired by my presence in each place.  Although I loved Barcelona It is my recommendation that if you only have 8 days that you fly into Paris.

    Paris has an abundance of beautiful parks and spaces to visit and has a very good transportation system (Metro) as well.  I have found that you could easily spend 4-5 days in Paris enjoying all of its beauty!  I would from there recommend a day trip to Caen (Normandy Beach) and visit the D-Day memorials!  It was very inspiring and profound.  Also Versailles and Monet’s Garden are an additional two day trips that you can make out of Paris.

    There are the obvious things to do in Paris, like visit the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees and the Notre Dam, but here are some of the more infamous spots I highly enjoyed myself…

    Must-dos in Paris:

    * Les Catacombs – stacks and stacks of bones buried far the under the city.  You can walk through these cave-like tunnels

    Le Refuge des Fondues – a fabulous and very small fondue restaurant, where they serve you wine in baby bottles! You sit right next to strangers so it makes it easy to meet others and expand on your experience.

    *Parc Andre Citeron – its a great space to explore and you can enjoy seeing the city from the hot air balloon lift.

    *Monparnasse Tower – you can capture a great view (get great pics) of the city and the Eiffel tower with little or no traffic and congestion from tourist!  Go right before dusk and get a great sunset view!

    I think that this again would be the best option for 8 day trip. You will have plenty to see/do, while not over exasperating yourself. 

    Also my stay in Paris was made even more enjoyable because we stayed in a wonderful apartment!  This was the most comfortable bed and was the best shower (multi-head)  I had throughout Europe! It also had a kitchen and was right across from a grocery store, the metro and a park!  It was in a very very nice part of town!  I highly recommend staying here!  Price wise you can get a one bedroom, with a pullout couch for $70 USD a night!  Which if you have looked into hotels is an AMAZING deal!


    I’ve never visited PARIS, so I personally can’t speak with any expertise on a “vacation” in that wonderful city……but, to me, it’s a little over-done.  Seems like everyone goes to Paris.  My Son has visited Paris a couple of times…said the people were not very kind to him…since he is an American.

    Another OPTION, that I believe would be even better for a “Landscape Architect” is ITALY.  Flying into Rome (seeing the Vadican, Sistine Chapel, Trevi Fountain, The Roman Colosseum….and especially the nearby Villas in Tuscany).  You can take an over-night train to Venice (and maybe stop for a visit in Florence on the return trip to Rome).  I guess since I’ve been to all of these places in ITALY…’s easier for me to recommend this location.  My 1st thought (as I posted earlier was Palma de Mallorca), but, after further thought, I’d vote for ITALY.


    John Palisin

    All of the places mentioned are good but you can’t pass up the Alhambra in Granada. I believe it’s the only one of its kind left (still intact). You’ll spend a good 4 hours there and shoot 4 rolls of film.

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