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Day Trips Out of Paris


magnolia
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I'd pick Rouen as a great day trip close to Paris. 100 miles West, 1 hour 10 min by train, incredibly beautiful city center. As for restaurants, you will have a chance to try the original recipe of canard au sang (canard à la rouennaise) made famous by La Tour d'Argent in Paris. Either at the Hôtel de Dieppe or at La Couronne (one of the oldest restaurants in France). Of course there is more contemporary cuisine but I need to know more about this.

I recommend that you rent a car in Paris and leave early in the morning so you have a chance to see the beautiful Norman countryside (I believe the apple-trees must be beginning to bloom) and circle around Rouen to see Jumièges, Boscherville and the pays de Bray.

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One more vote for Lyon. In the city you don't need a car, but if you want to you can rent one to visit the nearby Beaujolais! Beautiful villages and of course vineyards. Of course this will be a weekend trip then, not a one day one.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

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Disclaimer: I normally choose what I want to see and then check out places to eat that are more or less convenient to those sights; I do not make purely gastronomical major trips.

I do the same thing only the places I want to see are the great restaurants and food markets. Any sights convenient to those beget greater interest as a result. :laugh:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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Disclaimer: I normally choose what I want to see and then check out places to eat that are more or less convenient to those sights; I do not make purely gastronomical major trips.

I do the same thing only the places I want to see are the great restaurants and food markets. Any sights convenient to those beget greater interest as a result. :laugh:

Doc, you know there are people who consider you and I to be somewhere between obsessive and just plain crazy, but I think we're safe here. :biggrin:

Variety is the spice of life and Rouen and Lyon should both be tempting. There are other destinations that would be equally as tempting perhaps, but with the subtopic of Tho' my eyes are bigger than my budget, I'd question the value of spending time or money on travel with Paris at your feet for free and well worth the week's attention. I think a one day rental of a car for a solo traveler would not be a particularly economical thing to do. I've generally found you can rent a car for several days, if you book in advance, for no more than the cost of a one day rental.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Variety is the spice of life and Rouen and Lyon should both be tempting. There are other destinations that would be equally as tempting perhaps, but with the subtopic of Tho' my eyes are bigger than my budget, I'd question the value of spending time or money on travel with Paris at your feet for free and well worth the week's attention. I think a one day rental of a car for a solo traveler would not be a particularly economical thing to do. I've generally found you can rent a car for several days, if you book in advance, for no more than the cost of a one day rental.

Great idea if car's an option: renting one for 2 or 3 days and do the whole Normandy-in-Spring thing. Apple orchards all snowy, fluffy cows, camembert, livarot, pont-l'évêque, calvados, cider, Easter lamb, milk-fed veal, butter pastry, poulet vallée-d'auge, duck with apples, Dover sole and outstanding seafood between Honfleur and Le Mont-Saint-Michel (and that's quite a bit of coastline). Unforgettable.

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I would also second Normandie as a one or two day trip option. As ptipois mentionned, there is a lot there to keep you busy and it is a relatively short drive from Paris. Be prepared to see lots of cows and apple orchards!! A new stretch of highway was actually built i think 5 or 6 years ago which allows you to reach the coast from Paris in less than two hours.

Paris in the spring is great, but the countryside and this side of the atlantic coast at this time of the year is surely not to be missed!!

"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler
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Remember, she doesn't have a car, and she'd be on her own. Not as much fun when you're alone. You have to stop the car to look at the map. And half the fun's navigating through the little back roads.

It's pretty up there. That salt fed lamb, the seafood...

Scanning my memory, I recall that when I was a student in Paris I was simply floored the first time I went out of Paris on a circuit of the ancient Chateaux of the Loire. All that lore and history. It was not too far from Paris at all. But what is there to eat there? I have no memory of the food that day.

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My 2 cents is that 1/ I assume it's your first time in Paris; and 2/ You are only spending a week.

Paris is fabulous!! A week is not even close to enough time there, you should forget leaving town and spend your time exploring all the different sides of Paris. It is a diverse city, spreading out into 20 different districts ("arrondisements") There are scores of different types of restaurants and cuisines, certainly enough variety for a week! Paris also has one of the world's best public transportation systems, including the bus system and the Métro.

I think the choices of restaurant guides you mentioned above are quite lacking, you will get mostly the tourist traps from them, or, worse, Rick Steves choices always seem like he is a shill. The best English guide to Paris restaurants is probably the Gault-Milau; in French, you can get the Pudlo. You should also ask your sister for some places, I assume she is living there for a while and knows some "secret" places.

STAY IN PARIS!! It's the greatest city in the world!! (And the most beautiful!)

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Remember, she doesn't have a car, and she'd be on her own.  Not as much fun when you're alone.  You have to stop the car to look at the map.  And half the fun's navigating through the little back roads. 

Then you're right, you certainly make a good case for Lyon if car is no option. Nothing beats the short ride in TGV and the reward is certainly as great, plus it is a radical change in terms of scenery and food culture.

Everyone else also has a point that Paris alone has so much to offer and one week is certainly not enough to explore everything, especially if this is your first time there.

"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler
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It is true that I won't have a car. It's also true that this will be my third trip to Paris, and a whole week is more than I've had before. So I think one day out will still leave me plenty of time in the city.

Oh, I knew this was the place to come! Thank you all for these great suggestions. In my naivete, I was thinking, "oh, maybe I should go to Dijon for the mustard" or some such thing. Lyon? Rouen? Hmm. They both sound delicious :cool:

I will definitely keep the driving options in mind in case my crazy-let's-drive-anywhere-at-the-drop-of-a-hat acquaintance ends up staying in Paris instead of being in NYC that weekend. Bad timing it seems.

Again, I am finding that eGullet is really the best place for restaurant recommendations for me right now. (Menton1, I agree that Rick Steves has major limitations, but he is at least budget-oriented.) I am poring over the threads as much as I can. But trying to absorb any one forum, whoo, is that a challenge in itself! One day in the future I look forward to lots of driving and Michelin star-gazing. This time I'm going to see the best things I can from an everyday-foodie perspective.

To hell with poverty! We'll get drunk on cheap wine - Gang of Four

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I wouldn't recommend driving by yourself. One thing I've learned is that driving in a foreign country while on vacation unless absolutely necessary is usually not worth it.

I've driven in France, it makes sense if you live there or if you will be a regular visitor or if you are with someone who knows the roads or if you have more time otherwise I see it as a recipe for frustration.

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. . . .

I think the choices of restaurant guides you mentioned above are quite lacking, you will get mostly the tourist traps from them, or, worse, Rick Steves choices always seem like he is a shill.  The best English guide to Paris restaurants is probably the Gault-Milau; in French, you can get the Pudlo.  You should also ask your sister for some places, I assume she is living there for a while and knows some "secret" places. 

. . . .

The problem with those guides is not so much that they steer you to the wrong place, but that the year they're published, they tend to ruin the very places they name because of the influx of tourists. You're always much better off with a guide used by a larger cross section of diners, particularly native diners. As for GualtMillau in English, is there still an English language edition being published? I haven't seen one in a while and when I did, they were a translation of the previous year's guide in Frence. Thus not particularly up to date. One of the best guides to budget restaurants in France has always been and still is the Michelin Guide Rouge. Sure it's known for its listing of starred restaurants, but these restaurants are a minority of those listed. Any restaurant listed in the guide is generally a decent value for its price and location. The prices are fairly accurate and the best values at low prices are marked for your attention. France is wonderful in that all restaurants are required to post a menu outside the restaurant, so you always know if you can find something you like and if the price is within your budget.

Don't always assume a student in Paris has discovered secret places, but of course ask anyway. Some of the best budget restaurants have been well covered here in these pages. It will take some reading to ferret out the ones most interesting to you and one man's budget may be another's splurge.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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What kind of budget are you on for this trip? Lyon is a wonderful place to visit, but if you are on a strict budget and have only a week, I would also suggest you stay in Paris and save the $100 plus you are going to spend on the TGV. Likewise, renting a car is expensive if you are watching expenses, especially with one person paying it all.

I wouldn't use Rick Steves' books as restaurant guides, but he does have some good practical information on how to get around and on day-trips closer to Paris. You can really only scratch the surface in a week in Paris anyway. If you keep your transportation costs down, you can add the money to your food budget. Give us an idea of the places that you are considering, how much you want to spend, and what type of food and ambiance you are looking for.

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As for GualtMillau in English, is there still an English language edition being published? I haven't seen one in a while and when I did, they were a translation of the previous year's guide in Frence.

Well, of course that's true; Gayot (the puiblisher of Gault-Millau) also has a pretty good website in English with a lot of info about Paris restaurants. (www.gayot.com). Lastly, I also remember that Petit Fute has a restaurant guide in English that is from 2004; it is a bit hard to find, but it is available on Amazon/UK and might also be available in WHSmith or Shakespeare & Co in Paris.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you all so much for your suggestions. Between all of you plus bleudavergne's lovely blogs, I was very close to buying a TGV ticket to Lyon.

Yesterday was my last day of work for a couple of weeks, and I was taking advantage of my high-speed connection. I must've had nine different Internet Explorer windows open. I was reading about Paris, finalizing my last weekend in London with my sister (didn't mention that did I) and looking up information about Lyon. Before my head blew off I finally said to myself, "hey! this is supposed to be a vacation!"

I am often guilty of trying to do too much on a city holiday. But I think I'm going to focus my foodie endeavors on Paris and just relax. Go to the movies. Maybe Versailles. Be realistic.

Aside from my bistro research I am also interested in Moroccan food – my French friend in Washington DC tells me it's one of the things she misses most. Any ideas there?

I'm so grateful eGullet's around. You guys are great!

To hell with poverty! We'll get drunk on cheap wine - Gang of Four

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Aside from my bistro research I am also interested in Moroccan food – my French friend in Washington DC tells me it's one of the things she misses most. Any ideas there?

Moroccan? What's that? Is it anything like Algerian? If so it must be really great. Because Algerian cuisine is one of the greatest in the world. (I very reluctantly typed "one of" :biggrin: )

I posted a short list of North African places in another thread in this forum. I'll try to find it.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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. . . .

I posted a short list of North African places in another thread in this forum. I'll try to find it.

. . . in the mood for North African cuisine

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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  • 4 years later...

Is there a fantastic restaurant that you could recommend that one could build a day trip out of Paris around (for lunch)that can be reached without a car? Train and then a reasonable taxi ride would be OK.

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A very easy train trip from Gare de Lyon will take you to Dijon, which has a compact centre ville area, walkable from the train station. We had several enjoyable meals there, probably topped by Stephan Debord. You should also have plenty of time to visit the historic Palais des Ducs, the covered market and other sites on the easy to follow "Owl Trail".

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Dijon it is for sure. Stephan Debord looks worth traveling for, particularly for the special lunch menu, and the town itself interesting and walkable enough to want to spend a day exploring. Thanks for the rec!

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This is a wonderful thread. The TGV can take you to so many fine destinations. As already suggested, Maison Pic, certainly Lyon and Dijon. Let's not forget Avignon to the south and delightful Bistrot Yopala in St. Brieuc (Britany). Then there's Strasbourg and even Lille.

I would also consider taking a rental car instead of a cab. SNCF has a relationship with Avis that provides the cheapest car rental that one picks up at the depot, often just asking for the key from the ticket agent and returning the same to the same. For a day's rental, you have a slightly larger range than a cab and the freedom it provides.

eGullet member #80.

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