Please sign in to post.

Arriving in Paris, staying 3 days. I don't care for Paris - where should I go?

I am landing in Paris alone, and meeting some Friends in Belgium 3 days later (end of October). I am somewhat embarrassed to say, I have visited Paris before and really didn't care much for it. I guess the thousands of tourists and the big city feel turned me off.

Anyway, I thought about heading to another near by destination the same day I arrive. I am considering Normandy, Nantes and Lyon, but I would love some other suggestions.

What I am looking for :

  • Places accessible by train/public transportation
  • Within 2 hours or so from Paris
  • The least amount of tourists possible, to the level of attractions, but still good for people watching. My french is not very good but I would love to embarrass myself trying to carry deep conversations in French with strangers.
  • Preferably small towns ( I loved St Jean de Luz, for example)
  • I am not too interested in attractions like the WWII museums, but would enjoy if the town meets most of the above criteria.

Am I asking too much? :)

Thanks for your kindness and for not hating me for not liking Paris as much as so many travelers do. I am an odd duck.

Posted by
10288 posts

It's difficult to think of small towns with enough attractions for three days, but perhaps some regional capitals--Strasbourg, Rennes, Dijon, Reims--or, the second largest city in France, Lyon, or a bit on the smaller but touristic side--St. Malo, Amboise.

Posted by
252 posts

Unless I missed it...Where in Belgium? You can also practice your French there :)
Do you absolutely want to spend your time in France?
Ghent and Antwerp are great cities to visit...probably not over crowded in late October.

Sadly I would have said Bordeaux maybe...I am more familiar with the South. I hear good things about Strasbourgh like other poster said.

p.s. Paris is far from my favorite...shhhhhh. We can form a club or something.
''Tous les goûts sont dans la nature''...

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you so much. There are some towns in your answers that I had not considered not knew about. I will get on with my research :)

Val, I am so glad I am not the only one... It sure appears that way when everyone sheds a little tear saying how wonderful Paris is.

Posted by
1994 posts

Colmar is a lovely small town, beautiful architecture, a wonderful museum, and an interesting mix of French and German culture. It's also a good base for day trips. It's an easy train ride from Paris, although probably more than your preferred 2 hours.

Posted by
2393 posts

Gent is a great place to while away a few days if you are not going there with your friends. It is a working city with some great medieval sites and also a university city so there is a large young population and a great vibe to the city.

Posted by
8293 posts

Dijon is not far from Paris and has enough of interest for 3 days. For myself, I would just go to Bruges in Belgium and be done with it.

Posted by
11613 posts

I liked Rheims very much, also Strasbourg. Not small towns, although Colmar (near Strasbourg) is smaller. Unless you and your friends are going to spend a lot of time in Belgium, why not just go there (Brugge, Gent, Brussels, Antwerp?)? Or Amsterdam? Good rail connections for all of the above.

Posted by
10288 posts

Flemish-speaking Belgium is not the ideal place to practice your French. It's not their preferred language.

Posted by
2145 posts

Hi Gustavo, I think you'd enjoy a few days in Bruges. It's lovely and very quiet outside of the town square. You might want to rent a bike and explore the canals and countryside. Agree that you won't need your French but the people are very friendly and I bet you could strike up a few good conversations.

Posted by
11 posts

I am so glad you took the time away from your lives to gave me your suggestions! Thank you!

I think I should have explained a bit better my constraints. My friends are joining me in Paris 3 days after I land, so that we can go to Belgium together. We are going to Bruges too, so I would like to save that destination for when they come. That is the reason I would like to be somewhere in France.

At this point I think I am leaning towards St. Malo/Dinard, Rennes or Reims.
Thanks!!! :)

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi,

You don't like Paris because the noise, heat, ie, everything in a big city got to you? I can understand that, has happened to me once (and only once) in Paris too. And you want to bail out of the place for three days given a max 2 hr radius by train (TGV and regional)?

You can go to Alsace-Lorraine, Paris Est to Strasbourg or Metz on the TGV. Other towns...Reims, Amiens on the Somme, Arras (Paris Nord to Arras on the TGV), Soissons, Chateau-Thierry, Lisieux, Fontainebleau, Beauvais (to escape the mases of tourists, even French tourists). take the regional train from Paris Nord to Beauvais.

Posted by
1487 posts

I'm in the "paris is not my favorite" club:) Colmar is wonderful, but the wrong direction if you are heading to Belgium. Ghent and Bruge are both wonderful small towns. I could definitely hang out there for a few days on my own:)

Posted by
891 posts

I would go to Reims. Cute town, very walkable and some sights to see. Also, some Champagne houses that you can tour and taste.
We found the restaurants good and great champagne to go along!

Enjoy,
Mimi

Posted by
11 posts

Fred, that's it. I am in the mood of people watching in a quieter place, enjoy a pastis and pretending to be french in a place without lots of tourists. Perhaps after I read some Hemingway I will try to do these things in Paris :) Thanks!

Jill, what's wrong with you?!?!?!? :) I would love to be in these Belgium town on my own and might still do that, and meet my friends in Belgium and not in Paris. Thanks!

Mim, I casted one more vote for Reims and all you mentioned are things I would love to do! thanks!!!!

Posted by
14580 posts

@ Gustavo....Then Beauvais is your place, you'll like it there

Posted by
2004 posts

Senlis with nearby Chantilly is also nice. About 1hour from railwaystation Paris Nord with RER+Bus

Posted by
1 posts

Bonjour,

Who don't you try St. Malo in Brittany . The whole area is amazing to visit. You have costal paths all around the sea and medieval towns like Dinan and the seaside town of Dinard and Cancale. Actually Brittany has it all good air, nice people ready to help,nature ,history and Sun! Plus the prices of restaurants are half of Paris and better food!

Check out what my friends from California said when they came over to stay this summer.
www.Les-Trauchandieres.com

Agnes

P. S. I too, have a hard time with Paris, since I moved to Brittany!

Posted by
10288 posts

Agnesfrancois' advertisement for her rental aptly describes a lovely area of France, but it's more than two hours away.

Posted by
359 posts

I loved the town of Bayeux when we went to Normandy this past June. Great small town feel and locals are so friendly. 2 hour train ride from Paris. Close to the WWII beaches, yes, but the town itself has the Bayeux tapistry, some lovely canals, the amazing Bayeux cathedral, and a cute little art museum, plus you could take the train to other places in Normandy to fill more time or go to Mt St Michel. Try the Hotel le Bayeux, on a quiet little street just a block from the cathedral.

Posted by
1 posts

We spent 2 weeks in France last year with our then 16 year old son. After several days in Paris and Normandy doing the expected touristy things, we began a week long adventure outside the hustle and bustle. First, we visited Metz for 2 days to include a college tour. It was the perfect small town with a feel that is vastly different from Paris. After Metz, our family in Niederbronn-les-Bains (another perfect small town) introduced us to several beautiful villages on the Alsace Wine Road that fit perfectly into what you describe. For example, in the Village of Obernai - we spent over an hour just roaming through one shop that had hardware, cooking utensils, etc. where I purchased a wooden mandoline that has become my favorite kitchen tool. We also had the BEST pretzels I have ever eaten. The cathedral of Ste. Richarde at Andlau, also on the Wine Road, is beautiful and I had a great time doing a photo study of the doors in the village. An hour or so outside of Niederbronn, we visited Wingen-sur-Moder and the Lalique Museum. It had incredible works of art and the strangest hairy cows in the back pasture. Another day trip covered the pottery towns of Betschdorf and Soufflenheim where I purchased incredible Kugelhopf pans. These picturesque villages are beautiful from the trains that speed past them, but having family show us some of them up close made the last week of our trip the most memorable. Get off the beaten path to discover the charm of the real Alsace and you'll never go back to Paris again!

Posted by
11 posts

@darlenesanders:
Thank you so much for such a thorough recount of your trip. I could almost see what you described. It sure sounds like a lovely place! I feel the northeast, closer to Germany, must be wonderful.
Thanks!!! :)

Posted by
137 posts

Gustavo,
Head out to Bayeux and/or Rouen beautiful cities and great history.