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Foodie Field Trip/Destination Restos Outside of Paris?

My husband & I will be in Paris in February for a week of eating & shopping (we're going to Tallievent, Chez l'Ami Louis, Le Comptoir) and thought a day jaunt outside the city would be fun, probably on a Monday. Any suggestions for amazing destination restaurants outside of Paris (Chartres, the Loire Valley, and Versailles are all places we'd like to go)? Many thanks!

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  1. Les Magnolias in Nogent le Perreux is supposed to be fabulous. I had a reservation there on 30 December but my RER train hit a person and stopped for about 3 hours while they cleaned things up so I missed dinner there.

    Here is a link:
    http://www.lesmagnolias.com It has one star in the Red Guide.

    2 Replies
    1. re: f2dat06

      This looks amazing, and seems like it's not too far outside of Paris. Is it near Versailles? We'd like to find somewhere special to have lunch if/when we go there, and that may satisfy the "outside of Paris field trip" we're looking for. I'm going to lob a separate post about that, just in case...

      1. re: SallyHMcC

        No it is not near Versailles, It is to the east Paris, Versailles is to the southwest of Paris. Go to Gare St Lazare (or Gare du Nord) and take the RER E line to get there. The RER E line branches shortly outside Paris, so make sure you get on the E train that goes through Nogent le Perreux. It think it is about 20 miles outside town. This restaurant is often mentioned as the best one star in the Paris area, wish I could confirm that, did not get to go.

    2. On a trip through the Loire Valley several years ago, we stayed at Jean Bardet, in Tours, for a few nights and had a couple of truly fantastic dinners. It's part of the Relais & Chateaux group. Fabulous inn and unbelievable food, quite expensive. You might want to take a look at their website and see if they're open for lunch on Mondays. Since it's an inn, I'm guessing that they are.

      http://www.jeanbardet.com/gb/index.html

      1. This would require a longer trek, but the best meal of my entire life and the best hotel stay of my entire life was at Michel Bras in Laguiole, which is in central France. You could certainly get there in a day via train plus car, but it's not close to Paris like Versailles or the Loire. It's worth the trip! http://www.michel-bras.com/

        The food at Michel Bras is unlike anything I've had anywhere else. Lots of unusual local herbs are used to flavor everything and it's all scrumptious. The presentation is beautiful, too. The dining room has huge windows that look out over the countryside. The architecture somehow manages to be soaring and intimate at the same time.

        The hotel is a beautiful modern building that hugs the slope below the hotel. The room we had was very private with its own little terrace perfect for enjoying the sunset. We loved the layout of the room, the bed linens, the reading lights, the soaps and shampoos scented with local herbs.

        Some day we will get back there. It was that good!

        1. Versaille hardly feels out of Paris, it's short train ride. If you can't find anywhere to eat there, you can be back in the city in no time.

          another option, about as far is Rungis, the professional chef's market. You'll need to get a guide to be allowed in but it's tres cool.

          1. First decide how you wish to travel. I recomend the train, if you use the TGV you can get out of Paris very quickly. For example the TGV to Avignon takes 2,5 hours to cover approx 650 kms. So first check where the TGV's go, and then decide how long you want to travel and this wil give you a start to look for a great restaurant.

            We went to Avignon and had a very good meal at La Mirande, it has a pretty garden that overlooks the back of the Palaise des Papes, and the service is excellant (one star Michelin). Other destinations could be Bordueax, or Lyon, or Aix-en-Provence. The Loire is good with lovely chateau's but I fear it will be too long a trip for a day.

            A good alternative is to take a slower train to Epernay (approx one and a bit hours from Paris) and spend a few hours visiting Champage hoses (Moet is in the centre of the town). You can then tak a cab out of town to one of the "one or two stars" out in the country - this gets you out of the city (I haven't tried them - others may be able to guide you):
            http://www.assiettechampenoise.com/fr... (24 kms
            )http://www.lescrayeres.com/ (24kms
            )http://www.relaischateaux.com/royalch... (6kms

            )

            Of course Versailles is a must see, but it is almost a Paris suburb so you are not realy getting out of town.

            2 Replies
            1. re: PhilD

              Check your geography! Blois or Amboise, both of which have beautiful châteaux in the Loire Valley, are a much shorter train ride than Avignon. You can be there in an hour or so if you take the TGV. Plenty of restaurants in both towns. The Palais des Papes in Avignon is nowhere near as interesting and beautiful as the châteaux of the Loire. Only advantage in Avignon is that weather might be warmer there in February

              1. re: CJT

                I stand corrected - "Tours" or the station at "St Pierre des Corps" are both just over an hour from Paris. Best to hire a car to then tour some chateaux as Bloise and Amboise are not as accessable by train, and anyway the Chateaux tend to be in the countryside.

                I reiterate my first comment - look at the TGV network, assess how far you want to travel, then decide on a destination. In two years of living and travelling in France finding a good restaurant in all the places we have visited has not been difficult. Once you know wher you are going simple grab the Michelin guide (or search on gourmet section of the via Michelin website) and you will easily find somewhere good.

            2. Many thanks for these great suggestions. I'll do some more research!

              1. But I'll bet there are train stops in both Blois and Amboise. No need to go all the way to Tours. The other towns have nice châteaux within walking distance (Blois is right in the heart of the city and is worth a visit).

                2 Replies
                1. re: CJT

                  You are right they do. It is very much a personal choice, and depends on what you want to do.

                  My preferance is to get the TGV to "St Pierre des Corps" and go from there. Train from Paris is 55 mins and Amboise is 25kms (30 mins) and Blois 65kms (45 mins via the A10) drive. Trains direct to Amboise are 2+ hours and to Blois 1:45 plus.

                  An advantage of picking up a car and driving is that you can then visit other fine Chateux like "Chenonceau" and "Chaumont sur-Loire" on the way and I personaly enjoy touring the Loire. However, this is probably less of a hassle for me as I live and work in Paris therefore I drive a lot.

                  However, if you do drive and enjoy a good lunch beware of the reputed crackdown on drinking and driving. The blood alcohol level of 0.05 (which is quite low). I believe I have seen RBT (random breath testing) in Champagne.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    The TGV to St. Pierre des Corps may be faster, but if one then has to find a car rental place, pick up a car, then drive back to Amboise or Blois, the trip is no shorter than taking the train to either town and walking at leisure, not having to find parking and then reversing the trip to return the car and get the TGV back to Paris from Tours. If there is a train stop in Chenonceaux (doubtful) that would be a better choice for a visit. Also, as you note, taking the train does not subject one to RBTs on the road, so one can imbibe freely if taking the train. My personal opinion is that a "day-trip" to the Loire Valley is not something one should attempt, with all the beauty and fine wines in the area. Chartres instead would be a good day trip by train, the cathedral is worth the visit, and one can eat well in the town.

                2. If you are venturing into the Champagne region, you may want to visit the Château at Fère-en-Tardenois. Great restaurant, where I had perhaps my most memorable meal (lunch on Christmas Eve, 1988, hosted by Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia). See the website:

                  http://www.france.com/hotels/hotel.cf... or

                  http://www.ila-chateau.com/fere/

                  1. Years ago mrs jfood and i were fortunate to stay at the trianon palace in versailles. there was a michelin (i think 2 or 3 star) resto in the palace. it was extraordianary. i am not sure the chef or the resto is still there, but look into it.