Situated between Barcelona and Madrid in north eastern Spain is a spectacular region largely untouched by tourism. Aragon has three distinct provinces to explore too – Zaragoza (which is also the name of the capital city), Teruel and Huesca. The latter is nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees, its breathtaking scenery ideal for walkers, climbers and adventurers. With access from Las Peñas de Riglos, 45 kilometres from the Huesca town, Los Mallos de Riglos are impressive rock formations which stand 300 metres high.
We’ve always enjoyed adventurous holidays whether it be swimming in the Great Barrier Reef, trekking the Tongariro Crossing or navigating a river to Angel Falls. As parents of course our priorities changed and with it the focus of our holidays. That said, POD has grown up with the same desire to explore that we have. She loves the great outdoors and last year in Cantabria, aged just five, even climbed her first mountain. While we’re family orientated in our travels too, there’s nothing better than making discoveries – especially when they’re unexpected.
Abandoned buildings are fascinating and can often be beautiful too. One such example is Villa Encarnación, or La Gotera, in the town of Arriondas. We drove past it several times during our trip to Asturias, each occasion making it even more mysterious. We asked the manager of the cottage we were staying in about it one day. She remarked it had been derelict for at least thirty years, her entire life as it happens. But what was the story behind it and where did the animals that roamed the estate come from?
Having fallen in love with Cantabria last summer, we were itching to explore more of Northern Spain. First came a press trip to the wonderful region of Aragon in the north east with more recently a family holiday to Asturias. Situated between Galicia in the west, Cantabria in the East and Castilla-Leon in the South, the Principality of Asturias is known for its breathtaking landscapes, spectacular beaches and mouth-watering cuisine.
Quintessentially Parisian, Le Jardin de Luxembourg is a must see when visiting the French capital. Originally created for Queen Marie de Medici, the widow of King Henry the IV, Le Jardin de Luxembourg is in the 6th arrondissement – a chic district situated on the border between Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Latin Quarter. The gardens span over 60 acres and are split into both French and English gardens with a large pond between the two.
Six year old POD was back in a river again recently, this time in the picturesque town of Cangas de Onis, Asturias. You may remember she went wild swimming last summer in Potes, Cantabria. Initially we’d thought this medieval town would be somewhere we visited when we wanted the supermarket. In actual fact, it surprised us all and we regularly found time to stop by even if we’d been exploring much of the day.
Situated in Cantabria, equidistant between Arriondas and Bilbao, is the pretty town of Santillana del Mar. Unbeknown at the time, we’d driven through it last year en route from Potes to Santander. We hadn’t stopped as POD ended up having a pony ride in a field nearby (random but fun) and we were on the lookout for a beach off the beaten track.
Our trip to the Aragon region in north easterly Spain saw us explore three diverse provinces. In Huesca we got to experience breathtaking scenery in the foothills of the Pyrenees. Teruel gave us wonderful Mudéjar architecture and gothic-style buildings. In the Zaragoza province, also home to Aragon’s capital city, we got to discover the spectacular Monasterio de Piedra and its remarkable gardens.
We’ve always believed we can travel to most cities with six year old POD providing we’ve researched what we’re doing and there’s enough to keep the three of us occupied. When we booked a long weekend in Paris with Eurostar, we did consider spending part of it at Disneyland but opted to explore the historical city instead. Although we’ve visited Paris many times before as a couple, the city has a lot on offer for kids too. We had a feeling POD would love the French capital just as much as we did. These are just a few of our top tips when thinking about a city break and how you can make the most of your time away.
Meliá Hotels International is one of the largest hotel groups in the world with 370 hotels in 43 countries offering everything from exclusive luxury through to family holidays. The Meliá Hotels & Resorts brand operates in cities and popular holiday destinations across the globe. In Paris alone we had our pick from of the Champs-Elysées, Notre-Dame, Tour Eiffel, Place Vendome and the Paris Opéra. We opted for the 4* Meliá París La Défense as it’s a bit different. Uniquely designed in the shape of a ship’s hull, it offers panoramic views across the city as well as being family friendly.