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May 24, 2001 05:32 PM

London/France trip of a lifetime!

  • p

We're off on my life-long dream, a 3-week stay in London, Paris and throughout France. Here are some stops we're making. CHOWHOUNDS please help with suggestions?

3 days London, then:
TGV down to Avignon/Aubagne/Beaucaire for 2 days, then:
2 days in Beaune/Burgundy, then:
2 days in Reims, then:
7 days in PARIS!

I've read hundreds of London/Paris messages in threads on this International Chowhounds Board, but figured it couldn't hurt to post a message of our own.

We're looking for at least one or two 3*/blowouts in Paris, but the rest we just want the Chowhound ideal of great value, glorious experience, fun and exploration, and as always, delicious food.

Restrictions: none (not even price!)
Special requests: a chocolatier, patisserie, and your favorite cheese shop.

Thanks and triple thanks for suggestions!

Peter and Gary
Peter Wells
Director, Classical Music, Inc.


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  1. If I were in your shoes, I would spread my 3* experiences beyond just Paris.Around Beaune there are several choices and Reims has Boyer, which should not be missed if you are in that neighborhood.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Jeremy Newel
      Peter and Gary

      Yep, to my surprise and delight we're staying at Chateau Les Crayeres and booked an evening meal there, at Gerard Boyer's wonderful restraunt.

      We chose the place because of the beautiful chateau--we were just looking for a lovely place to stay. After reading the CHOWHOUNDS International Page, though, we realized that restraunt is a 3*!

      I consider it an omen of good fortune.


      1. re: Peter and Gary

        I love the pastries at Peltier, especially the pain au chocolat.

        1. re: Dave Feldman
          Peter and Gary

          Peltier? Do you know where it is, specifically? Sounds wonderful!

          Thanks in advance!

          Peter and Gary

          1. re: Peter and Gary

            Peltier is located at 66 Rue de Sevres (near the Vaneau metro stop in 7th Arrondisement). I believe it is closed both Sunday and Monday. I found out about it from Patricia Wells's FOOD LOVER'S GUIDE TO PARIS, a wonderful book, especially for non-restaurant food options. Unfortunately, the latest edition was published in 1999, so the info is at least three years old.

            For some reason, I've had bad luck with Paris restaurants, but had such success with the boulangeries and patisseries that I started eating a maximum of one restaurant meal a day, and concentrating on bread, cheese, fruit, and desserts.

        2. re: Peter and Gary

          Les Crayeres is a very, very lovely place to stay indeed and the food, when I was there a few years ago , was amazing. A friend in whom I have implicit trust, especially where food and wine are concerned, was there last summer and loved it as well (was a return trip for her). If you are going to be in Reims overnight, you MUST investigate a way to see at least one of the chmpagnes caves. Various producers sometimes allow tours--I can't believe I have no recall of which one it was we saw (could the amount of champagne we'd ingested be the reason?), but I do remember it was fascinating.

          1. re: Martha Gehan
            Peter and Gary

            We'll do our best to find a cave! Thanks for the notice, I hadn't thought about going underground. :)

            Take care, and thanks again!

            Peter and Gary

      2. I would suggest the two following restaurants for when you are in the Beaune/Burgundy area. Both are 3 star Michelin, and both are exceptional experiences.
        Georges Blanc in Vonnas

        Looks like that 57 cents per share went a long way for you. I had to make do with a trip to the indian take-away. Have a great trip.

        1. With so much travel, aren't you going to tire yourselves out? OK, I'll stop sounding like your mother or something. :-)

          Bon voyage et bon appetit!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Pan
            Peter and Gary

            We'll be exhausted, but it's a happy exhaustion. The best kind!

            Thanks, and we'll try to report back!


          2. I just wanted to pass along some personal thoughts; I've just returned from a one week stay in Provence - we made the mistake of planning to spend 3 days in Avignon when one day would have been fine. In the time we were there, we could not find one decent restaurant (partially due to the fact that there was a public holiday on the Monday and everything seemed to be shut all weekend...I did hear that Wooloomooloo is fun for French-North African food). If you are on a tight schedule you will have no problem 'doing' Avignon in one day. We decamped early to Arles which is FAR more interesting and characterful - there is a wonderfully charming hotel there too (Hotel Calendal). The best dinner we had on this trip was at a restaurant called Nord Pinus in Arles (very reasonably priced for what it was - but then again, we are used to extortionate London prices). There is a rail link from Avignon to Arles so if you don't have wheels of your own, it is only a short trip on the train.
            Beaucaire is picturesque but there is really, quite literally nothing to do there. If you can possibly get to a small town just slightly north of there, go (no run) to Uzes - which is jaw droppingly gorgeous (with a number of good restaurants and a 'biscuiterie' aka; a cookie shop in the main square that sells local baked delicacies such as orange flower water and nutmeg cookies).
            As all of this information is very fresh in my mind, I thought I would put it to good use. Enjoy your trip!

            5 Replies
            1. re: Hallie
              Peter and Gary

              This is powerful advice, thanks. We don't really know the character of the places we'll be staying--I know Avignon from the history books and assumed it had to be chock-full of interesting things. But if Arles is the way to go, we're there!

              When we're outside of Paris we have a car of our own (luckily I know how to drive a stick shift!), so even though we'll be staying in Avignon, we can drive anywhere we want. So we're off to Arles!

              We'll also hit Uzes, and we'll try to catch dinner at Nord Pinus in Arles. I'm a huge Van Gogh fan, so Arles would have been a natural destination anyway. Thanks for confirming!

              Peter and Gary

              1. re: Peter and Gary

                We were under exactly the same impression about Avignon (being avid historians) and therefore were disappointed when we actually arrived and found that it was not as good as we had been led to believe. The Papal Palace is very interesting, and depending on how much you like 14th century depictions of the Madonna and child, the Petit Palais Musee is worth a look. Also, we found Avignon very overpriced - the hotels were not very good value for money. The Hotel Calendal in Arles was a dream for us. I believe its run by an American ex-pat and there are so many lovely thoughtful touches about the place - a buffet breakfast, a peaceful walled garden for use by the guests where you can sit by latern light at night, extremely helpful staff, etc. It is also literally across from the Roman arena and right in the heart of everything. All of this for much less than we were paying for a dingy room in Avignon with springs poking through the matress! They have a web site (if you are considering staying in Arles - though I can't remember the web address, I'm sure you could find it on a search engine).
                Also, the best thing we did in the South of France was to rent a car. Having your own transport makes a huge difference, especially as the roads are brilliant and everything seems to be within a 20 - 30 minute drive of everything else. Whatever you do, don't miss Uzes! I also hear they have some fabulous restaurants there (though we didn't stay for dinner).
                We just returned from our trip 2 weeks ago and like any returned traveller I'll use any excuse to ramble at length about our experiences. I'm sure you will have a fantastic time! Best of luck and happy touring to you!

                1. re: Hallie

                  A Hearty Mais Oui to the recommendation of the Hotel Calendal in Arles!

                  My husband and I stayed at the Calendal several years back and found it wonderful. I'm glad to hear it's still true.

                  Bonne Voyage!

                2. re: Peter and Gary

                  Whilst in Avignon there are a couple of decent restaurants, although one of your other replies seemed not to have found any. I would recommend the restaurant La Mirande
                  4 place de la Mirande, Avignon. tel 33-(0)4-90-85-93-93
                  Has an extensive wine list. The Chef is Daniel Hebert who has a solid history behind him working a long time under Ducasse. Food is original and quite experimental. Grand renaissance/baroque style dining room.
                  Take plenty of Francs, it is expensive but worth it.
                  Try to get in at Lunch when they offer a very reasonable Prix Fixe, that way you can get the experience and not have to wash the dishes afterwards.

                3. re: Hallie

                  I can also vouch for the hotel Calendal. Stayed there several years ago it is quite charming and comfortable.

                4. Right, here goes:

                  chocolatier: Denise Acabo - Etoile d'Or - written up everywhere and rightly so, 30 rue Fontaine. The owner is Heidi-meets-One-of-the-Fat-Ladies minus a few pounds

                  Patissier: no idea what it's called but it has also been written up, on rue du Seine, two blocks from Fish/La Boissonerie (also written up herewith). You can't miss the Philip Treacy-esque display and bet you could wear the cakes too.

                  Fromagerie: Cantin - there are at least a couple of them

                  And more of my two cents:

                  Spectacular food at fab prices (we thought they left a zero off our bill): La Regalade, in the 14th - make a reservation for after 21h00 for best crowd, no need to dress up - it's a bistro

                  Best overall place for everything foodish - including a wine department that has some screamers: Bon Marche's food halls at metro Sevres/Babylone

                  Have a great time! I'm VERY envious

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: magnolia
                    Peter and Gary

                    Sounds wonderful, thanks! La Regalade will give us something to look forward to in the 14th. We're trying to have something special in every arrondissement.

                    Peter and Gary

                    1. re: Peter and Gary
                      Caitlin McGrath

                      Not exactly what you're asking about, but related:

                      You no doubt already know about Berthillon, the ice cream shopon the Ile St-Louis. I thought it was very good--nice, clean, intense flavors. Two of us wentand shared two coupes of three flavors each, one ice creams, one sorbets. The cassis (blackcurrent) sorbet was wonderful--something that's hard to find in the US.

                      There's a tiny shop also on Ile St-Louis called L'Epicerie that carries very good confitures, sauces, and mustards.

                      If you are at all tea drinkers, don't miss Mariage Freres in the Marais. It's been discussed here--you could do a dearch. A 150-year-old business selling around 400 varieties of top-quality tea from all over the world. They have a salon de the and a tea museum, as well. There are other locations around town, but this is the original (and a short walk from Ile St-Louis, if you want to combine).