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North, East, or West?

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unexpectedly, my husband and I have the opportunity to head to France in early July, as our son is involved with building the Euro Solar Decathalon on the grounds of Versailles in early July. After seeing that and a few days in Paris we are looking to take in an interesting, rural, side trip for a week or so. Before we have built a few trips around a "friend of a friends" terrific rental in Bonnieux, Tureen, or Loire Valley. Now we are looking for another area to explore, probably not south. We love to eat good local food (not Michelien star seekers), hike (bike) and experience small towns - my husband particuarly interested in history and thought of seeking out the roots in Besancon, Reims or even heading to Clermont-Ferand area. I want a place that will feel comfortable, and not crazy crowded with tourists.

I will try and find old threads on the fermes/auberges, but if anyone has a suggestion that would help focus our plans that would be great. I know you aren't travel agents but your lively discussions on all things relating to the joys of French food and life made me think you might have some ideas to throw out. Had a great week in Paris last November with highlights helped by your restaurant and food suggestions. Thanks in advance!

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  1. "Had a great week in Paris last November with highlights helped by your restaurant and food suggestions."

    Wonderful. Did you report back to share with us what had worked and what had not worked?

    If you have only a few days, why not somewhere between Paris and Bonnieux, like the Burgundy and ardèche, neither of which is crazy with tourists ?
    My fave ferme/auberge on the route from Paris to Provence, - for food, charm, location, surroundings, - is Mas de la Madeleine is the medieval town of Largentière.
    This magnum opus thread, my fave thread on the France board, may be useful.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7593...
    Don't forget to report back.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      We can take a full week outside Paris, and are happy to take a TVG train and then set off.

      I did post from last November and will definintely do the same

      Thanks for idea and link. You all are the best.

      1. re: dogood

        A whole week? You can divide it between Burgundy, with Cluny as one base. Nobody ever visits that breathtaking abbey.
        Then Ardèche as the other base. 3-4 days each.

    2. With a week to travel, I would suggest the Franche-Comte and either Alsace or Bourgogne. Since you mention Besancon, this is a nice small city, definitely meriting a visit, but I really enjoyed our 3-night stay in Arbois, taking day trips and returning for a wonderful dinner each night. For a small town it has a number of excellent places to eat.

      I would spend 3 days there and 3 in either Beaune, Dijon or Colmar.