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Jan 31, 2013 09:36 AM

5 days in Paris, but then where to go??? Looking for suggestions.

My wife and I are taking our second trip to Paris. We both speak a little French, enough to navigate through the city. We're planning on five days (first day to recover from flight, one day at the French Open, one day off to Giverny; and a couple of days to just walk through the different neighborhoods and eat and drink). But we'd like to go somewhere else for the remaining ~4 days of our vacation. Thought about Lyon, but the food there strikes me as kind of heavy? Thought of Switzerland (Lausanne), but the prices seem ridiculous. Where would you go? We love to walk around and explore; love to eat and drink; don't need to dine out at 3-star restaurants . . .

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  1. I would go to Lyon. The food is heavy-ish but oh so good.

    Option 2 would be to head West or North West to the coast. The north west has you in Normandy/Brittany, where the butter, crepes & seafood are excellent

    Both regions are very walkable places (Nantes & Lyon are both very nice to walk through)

    1. One concept: Train to Lorient or Vannes.

      Car to chambre d'hote Le Talvern in Landevant where you can enjoy an evening meal from the garden and shore. Owner was previoiusly chef at Laperouse. Next day (or two), drive to coastal villages, pack a picnic to enjoy on starkly beautiful St. Cado island in the Etel River, visit Carnac and Quiberon, if you plan ahead enough take the ferry to Belle-Ile.

      Drive to San Joachim, maybe visiting salt beds of Guerande en route, stay and dine at Au Mare aux Oiseaux in the nature preserve.

      Return car in St. Nazaire, train to Paris.

      5 Replies
      1. re: mangeur

        La Mare aux Oiseaux -- this place looks amazing.
        I don't have a great sense of travel time/geogaphy. How long a train ride to Lorient/Vannes?

        1. re: bauskern

          From Paris: 3 hours 15 minutes to Vannes; 3 hours 45 minutes to Lorient; 2 hours 50 minutes to St. Nazaire.

          1. re: mangeur

            There are so many options within easy TGV distance of Paris, but mangeur's rec makes me smile because right now we are planning a trip to this area. Other places (in addiiton to mangeur's) very near Lorient and on our radar:

            Chateau Locguenole, in 56700 Kervignac,

            Le Petit Hôtel du Grand Large, 11 quai St-Ivy F - 56510 Portivy, (According to Michelin: “A remarkable seafood bistro, run by a self-taught chef for whom the sea is a passion and whose fisherman friend supplies him with fresh fish every day. The fish is of an extremely high quality and is cooked to perfection, often with an original twist.”)

            Le Moulin de Rosmadec, Pont-Aven,

            Manoir de Kerledan, Route de Kerlédan, 29270 Carhaix-Plouguer, Finistère. -- table d'hote.

            -- Jake

            1. re: Jake Dear

              OK, since we had 5 days in that part of the world last summer; photos and details elsewhere; I'd heartedly endorse Brittany; esp the Roi Arthur in Ploermel and De La Plage in Sainte Anne le Palud.

              1. re: John Talbott

                John, yes, Hotel Restsurant de la Plage also is one of the places we are considering, a bit farther from our starting base in/ below Lorient. It looks both remote and inviting! -- Jake

      2. I would go to Lyon. In fact, I DO go to Lyon, often. The food is wonderful, and you don't have to eat in the bouchons. There are plenty of places serving ethereal fish and other modern cuisine.

        Imho, it's the most wonderful city in Europe. Older than Paris, and full of history, both food and otherwise.

        1. I would agree with others - don't go to Swtizerland - Lordy no; Lyon? - the food is no heavier than here; Vannes/Nantes, cool.

          TGV an hour or plus; rent a car (SNCF deals are good) and do a walk-about. Colette and I made a great trip to the West in the summer.

          9 Replies
          1. re: John Talbott

            "Lyon? - the food is no heavier than here"
            I beg to differ. Lyon food is heavy with cream and sauces. Not saying they're not good. But light, they are not.

            1. re: Parigi

              <But light, they are not.> Depends upon the restaurant.

              1. re: ChefJune

                " Depends"
                Exactly; places in Les Halles or like those I ate at with my 3 heart-attack/5 bypass buddy from Geneva (it's midway, thinkaboudit) were not heavy.

                1. re: John Talbott

                  John, What do you think about a couple of nights in Reims? Beautiful cathedral . . . seems very accessible from Paris . . . great champagne . . . have you spent much time there?

                  1. re: bauskern

                    It is indeed a nice city, near and there are some great restaurants; We stayed and ate one trip at Les Crayeres overlooking the park and we still remember it fondly - it's quite expensive now however but check it out.
                    We haven't been in the town in quite a while, however, maybe it's time to do a little weekend.

                    1. re: John Talbott

                      Ah John, if you haven't lunched at Assiette Champenoise, you really owe it to yourself!

                      1. re: John Talbott

                        John, You seem tres knowledgeable about Paris and France in general. Our plan right now is Paris for 5-6 days,, and then to Beaune for a couple of nights; then back to CDG to fly home. We are leaning this way b/c I hear the food in Burgundy is magnificent, and of course the wine will be great. Thought Beaune would give us a nice mix of countryside; looking to find a chateau to possibly stay in, as a real change of pace from Paris. Without a car, Dijon would probably be logistically easier, but Beaune sounded lovely. And I didn't want to spend inordinate amount of time travelling across the country . . . .

                        1. re: bauskern

                          I just realized I never responded to this and I apologize bauskern; Colette and I have indeed been fortunate to visit almost every nook and cranny in the hexagon and now it's a struggle to decide where to go back yet again.
                          But you've got a plan - have fun! Wander off the path.

              2. re: John Talbott

                Switzerland is beautiful, particularly Lucerne. It can add up but the alps are amazing.

              3. I'm a big fan of the Marais Poitevin, but it is very much a collection of villages, not city living. It's nickname is The Green Venice. Villages such as Arcais, Coulon, Damvix, Sansais-La Garette, have tiny canal ports that are irresistible.

                Oysters, snails, eel, perch, bream, angelica, ham, white beans, and farcis maraichine (a spinach and pork terrine) are among the specialties along with locally raised lamb, duck, and the regional drink, cognac.

                I adore this short video, so cute:


                4 Replies
                1. re: Steve

                  That video is great. Would we take a train from Paris to Nantes? And then rent a car to get around? It seems pretty rural/agricultural around there. The food looks very "local."

                  1. re: bauskern

                    I rented a car in Paris. It's not a terribly long or difficult drive. Having a Michelin road atlas would be essential for truly enjoying and understanding the area.

                  2. re: Steve

                    Steve, do you have any specific recommendations for food and lodging, preferably maisons d'hotes or small hotels that serve outstanding food?

                    1. re: mangeur

                      No personal recs, unfortunately. I ate at the famous Les Mangeux de Lumas which I first read about in a Patricia Wells book. After 31 years, I believe it went out of business last year. The economy has been difficult in a region which doesn't get a lot of press.

                      Two restaurants were featured in the video.

                      One is Le Central (this is a hotel as well) in Coulon. Coulon is on the list of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. This is an interesting list because, although it is somewhat of a publicity stunt, each village must retain its essentially rural characteristic.

                      the other restaurant featured no longer serves the luxe food seen in the video. They have since simplified their menu. Again, the economy has taken its toll.