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Weekend trip from Paris


Christopher Haatuft
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So we've lived in Paris since September and only first now feel that it would be nice to get out of the city for a day or two. We have a car so we could drive, but it would be just as nice to take a train. The only thing is that we don't want to spend to much time on the road, mayby around three-four hours at most. We have been to Loire before, and find that very nice but today I've spent all looking at various hotel sites for the Jura, but I cant seem to find a wine chateau that has rooms. But the only reason I'm looking at Jura is that I love the wine from there. So basically I'm looking for something like this:

  • A hotel/winery that is within four hours of Paris.
  • Near a good restaurant that is worth travveling for.
  • Good value.
  • Nice in winter.
  • Small town for walking around.

Please feel free to come with advice. I'm more on a Logis de France budget than a Relais & Chateaux, but mayby a room in one and a dinner at the other?

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If you want to stick to the trains, I think Beaune would be a good destination; the TGV goes from Gare de Lyon to Dijon in less than 2 hours, and a 20 minute connection through some of the storied towns of Burgundy will drop you a few blocks or a quick taxi ride from the center of Beaune. Beaune is a nice, compact walking town with lots of good restaurants and hotels -- you're sure to find one in your price range, but I can't help recommending Hotel le Cep. Let us know what you do!

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Bordeaux via TGV. Can't go wrong, Great food, great wine & probably better weather than Burgundy this time of year.

The Beaune suggestion is also a good one as is Dijon.

Strasbourg it you like those kind of wines or Rheims supposedly has a bit of bubbly around it.

Now's not the season, but later in the year you'll have more fun just meandering in your car. Make a dash somewhere on the Autoroute(s) then get off and just potter around. Amazing things are there to be found.

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TGV to Besançon.

Car (maybe 50km) to Arbois.

Château de Chavaneschambre d'hote in a vineyard just out of town.

or in town,

Le Closerie les Capucineschambre d'hote in

Arbois.

Dine or stay at Jean-Paul Jeunet in Arbois.

Visit neighboring famed hilltop village of Chateau Chalon, the vineyards shown here: chateau chalon.jpg

This is God's country.

Edited by Margaret Pilgrim (log)

eGullet member #80.

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I second (or third?) the Beaune area.

One château vineyard b&b near there that may fit your bill is Château de Mélin in Auxey-Duresses. The rooms start at 95 euro for a double with breakfast. (There are only about 4 rooms, if I remember correctly.) The grounds are enchanting, and so is the entire area, with vines as far as the eye can see...

http://chateaumelin.free.fr/en/index.htm

Edited by Parigi (log)
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Should have included this link in my first response.

Silence Hotels. Typical French name, but this is an independent group of hotels located all over France. They tend to be better than the Logis, but cheaper than the Chateau et ...

We've stayed at them for years and never been disappointed.

edited to correct typo

Edited by Dave Hatfield (log)
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The immediate vicinity of Mont St Michel is not known for having nice hotels or b&b's.

One nice base, not far, and with good eats, is pretty Cancale.

What a thrill to eat standing on the beach oysters that have just come in from fishing boats,

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We used Chateau Mont Dol as our base for visiting Mont St. Michel. It is a chambre d'hote between Cancale and MSM, within convenient range for also isiting Dinan and St. Malo. The owner is the ex chef at the French Embassy in London and offers a superb evening meal besides a copious breakfast, all local produce and specialties. Lovely people, and very nice rooms. Difficult to reserve but worth the planning.

eGullet member #80.

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Thanks for all the great replies! While I was working, my girlfriend set her mind on Mont St. Michel. How is that for a destination?

I found Mont St. Michel to be overrated and coach tourist hell, but it is probably worth the trip...just not the first trip.

Better to follow Margaret's advice and head south. We found that Burgundy was an OK car drive as was Alsace but we tended to do these on long weekends in order to get some quality time there. A good train trip is Avignon or Aix, both good stop off points for Provence and the villages, but hire a car and get out of the towns to get the best out of a trip. It should be a lot nicer weather this time of year. The TGV usually has really special deals/discounts: get on their web mailing list. If heading North (although in winter is is grey and desolate) a good short trip is Honfleur, lots of tourists but still cute and it has Sa.Qua.Na. a must try restaurant.

One other tip, we picked up a book from the Brittany tourist office in Paris called "France de l"Ouest: Bienvenue au Chateau" it is a book with lots B&B options in old chateau's. The places are spectacular and rates reasonable, and your host is the owner which is wonderful (and at times quirky) i.e. home made cider served by the Comte et Contess de Kermel in Brittany.

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I second Margaret and cannot recommend the Jura vineyard region and Jean-Paul Jeunet's restaurant too strongly.

I also recommend Normandy, minus Sa.qua.na — no need to go to one of the most fascinating regions of France, products-wise, to find yourself at a restaurant that could be located anywhere in the world, serving food that does not reflect the region in any way. It all depends whether you want to experience a region or visit high-end contemporary restaurants. Sa.qua.na in that respect is certainly a good reason to go to Honfleur, but is not particularly located in Normandy AFAIC.

I'd enjoy a good-natured meal of moules in cream and frites at Les Vapeurs in Trouville or even at a roadside café near Courseulles, or a plain dinner of simply cooked fish and shellfish in Le Tréport far more than a contemporary, a-local ten-course at Sa.qua.na.

About Mont-Saint-Michel: the Spring is the right period to go there. I also recommend staying at chambres d'hôtes and do your own cooking from local products if you want to do that. Pré-salé lamb is so hard to get by, though, and the quality is so irregular when you find some, that it is not a recommendation of mine. Since the time when pré-salé was highly prized but lamb from other regions was overlooked, the latter have been making themselves known and improving their quality tremendously (Aveyron, Limousin, Poitou-Charentes...) so you might actually get better lamb in Paris than around the Mont.

Edited by Ptipois (log)
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I also recommend Normandy, minus Sa.qua.na — no need to go to one of the most fascinating regions of France, products-wise, to find yourself at a restaurant that could be located anywhere in the world, serving food that does not reflect the region in any way.

A rather extreme view. Isn't it sensible to try and eat at the best restaurants in a location and also eat in restaurants that are representative of the region? If they are one and the same great, if they are different then that is fine as well. If there for one night it can be a tough call, but if you go for a few nights isn't variety a good thing?

I see Sa.Qua.Na is tipped for a second Michelin star in March, it seems to be an up and coming restaurant. I missed it when I was last in Honfleur and have regretted it. Alexandre Bourdas is starting to get a pretty good global reputation.

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I'll agree that Burgundy is an excellent choice, particularly enjoyed the area around Beaune, but my vote would be for the Alsace. The wine route is excellent, many picturesque villages and at the top there is the impeccable Hotel K and l'Arnsbourg, a restaurant that is truly worth traveling many miles.

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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Thanks for all the wonderful replies! After a long and tiresome bout of indecision, we landed on Chateau d’Etoges, by Eparnay. We are mainly looking to get out of the city, and its was close, had a moat and was affordable. As soon as the weather permits walking about, we will go to Burgundy, the north coast and Jura.

So, now that we have found a place to stay, were should we eat? And is there a champange producer that is more interesting than others to visit? Here at the embassy, we buy a lot of Philipponnat, so maybe we visit them.

Thanks again for all the input. You all made it so much harder to choose were to go :P

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A rather extreme view.

I don't think it is an extreme view. Rather the expression of my deep weariness of disembodied cuisine. I like a restaurant that pays, be it through one slight detail, a tribute to the place in the world where it is located and to its products. Adria does it. Bras does it. Molecular guys I've tried in the Basque country and whose food I haven't liked at least do it and I respect them for that. Sa.qua.na is the only restaurant I've experienced where nothing of the sort was noticeable whatsoever. Even the butter is not from Normandy. Many people don't mind. I do.

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A quick glance at their menu makes mee less interested in their food, and I think Ptipois has a valid point. But if the food is very good, then that matters more, no?

Needless to say, if I found the food to be very good, I wouldn't worry about other aspects. Out of ten courses I had, only two were memorable.

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Bayeux? If you are interested in the WW2 beaches, Bayeux is a good base. Otherwise it is not the most charming spot.

-- Wait. Before we go further, you are not going to tell us you have finally chosen Johannesberg, are you? Then when we share with you addresses in Johannesberge, you reply: "Coucou from Bougainville, wish you were here. Btw anyone knows good restos here?"

:cool:

Edited by Parigi (log)
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Well he didn't when we ate there in August - the menu had a definite Japanese influence.

He does as a rule. Maybe not this particular time (I did not go last year), but every time I went there, several courses were clearly based on local products and preparations. Besides, it would be pointless to claim that the Catalan touch is absent from Adria's cooking. While it is blatant that Sa.qua.na lacks the slightest hint to its geographical location. Except perhaps a remarkable calvados I happened to spot on a table on the way out (and took the time to smell), but that really felt like a concession.

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