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Early October: Where To Settle In (French-Speaking), Using Paris Airport, 5 days?

Early October: Where To Settle In (French-Speaking), Using Paris Airport, 5 days?

Old Mar 14, 17, 5:27 pm
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Early October: Where To Settle In (French-Speaking), Using Paris Airport, 5 days?

I think I might jump on an award sale to Paris with a family member who wants to practice French.

Short enough turnaround that we want to get to a particular city, settle in, and only see that city (apart from getting to/from that city).

We're going to use Paris as the airport because it's easy to get to on this award sale and we know it's a great fallback -- if we can't find somewhere easy to go instead of Paris, 5-6 days in Paris will be awesome.

However, we're both thinking, "Hmmmm ... TGV ..."

Looks like the weather all over France / French-speaking-Belgium / French-speaking-Switzerland is fall-like and generally "grab your jacket" (with mere variations on how thick a jacket), so weather doesn't seem to make much of a difference.

If we were to use Paris only as an airport and actually properly "visit" some other city, where should we go? (No more than 4-ish hours by train, please.) I see Strasbourg, Lyon, Brussels / towns-of-Wallonia, Geneva, Bordeaux, and, well, really just about everything except the big cities of the southern coast.

Great hivemind ... what should we actually do?

(Bonus secondary question: Is anywhere outside of Paris, but within a 4-hour train ride, known as a fresh-produce foodie kind of place in that part of the fall? Like, is there a San Francisco of Francophone Europe? I'm a bit of a locavore-foodie, and it strikes me that tomatoes shouldn't yet have died on the vine...)
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Old Mar 15, 17, 6:14 pm
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I like the idea of Alsace. I would imagine that harvest season should fit the bill pretty nicely, and you can get to Strasbourg from CDG in less than two hours on a direct train.
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Old Mar 16, 17, 3:25 am
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Originally Posted by kitkatft View Post
(Bonus secondary question: Is anywhere outside of Paris, but within a 4-hour train ride, known as a fresh-produce foodie kind of place in that part of the fall? Like, is there a San Francisco of Francophone Europe? I'm a bit of a locavore-foodie, and it strikes me that tomatoes shouldn't yet have died on the vine...)
You can almost throw a dart at a map of France and have a great time wherever the dart hits. But I guess from a foodie perspective, and certainly from a wine perspective, Burgundy would be best. About half of the trains to Lyon stop at Le Creusot which and from there you can rent a car or take a bus to several towns where you can find the best markets and restaurants. Or there are many direct trains from Paris to Dijon, the capital of Burgundy. You could make that your base too. There is even a direct train from the airport to Dijon, but I think only once per day. But if you choose Lyon that would be good too. There are direct trains from the airport to Lyon, or you could book your flight to connect at CDG to take you to LYS. From there take a tram into the city.

Oh and San Francisco wishes they had markets as good as tiny towns in Burgundy.
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Old Mar 18, 17, 7:19 am
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Originally Posted by kitkatft View Post
However, we're both thinking, "Hmmmm ... TGV ..."
Here's a map indicating travel time by train from Paris


It's obviously only an approximation, but it is quite useful for major destination. In about 4 hours you can get about anywhere in France that is connected to Paris via high speed rail (do note that TGVs operate on older tracks (and hence lower speeds as well).

Originally Posted by kitkatft View Post
Looks like the weather all over France / French-speaking-Belgium / French-speaking-Switzerland is fall-like and generally "grab your jacket" (with mere variations on how thick a jacket), so weather doesn't seem to make much of a difference.
Early October, it's definitely more rainy. Further South the weather can actually be still very nice, but I would definitely expect rain & grey skies. The South is however less affected. October/November as well as March/April can be very mixed: Sometimes you get splendid weather with only occasional heavy rainfalls. Sometimes it's very cold and raining all the time.

Originally Posted by kitkatft View Post
If we were to use Paris only as an airport and actually properly "visit" some other city, where should we go? (No more than 4-ish hours by train, please.) I see Strasbourg, Lyon, Brussels / towns-of-Wallonia, Geneva, Bordeaux, and, well, really just about everything except the big cities of the southern coast.
Yes, you could even travel to Southern France with 4-ish hours of train.

Originally Posted by kitkatft View Post
(Bonus secondary question: Is anywhere outside of Paris, but within a 4-hour train ride, known as a fresh-produce foodie kind of place in that part of the fall? Like, is there a San Francisco of Francophone Europe? I'm a bit of a locavore-foodie, and it strikes me that tomatoes shouldn't yet have died on the vine...)
Depends on what you're looking for. Local, fresh food can be found all over France. Vegan food may be a little more restricted outside large cities. Products from major regions can be bought all over France.

To my knowledge, all regions have a large variety of local food and beverages. Sheer endless cheese variations, hundreds of local wine, great fruit and veggies (In early October, you should be able to still get fresh french fruits). IIRC it's mirabelle plum season around that time.
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Old Mar 20, 17, 4:19 am
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Lyon, most definitely. Very easy to get to from CDG (90 minutes?). The city is lovely and the food and wine are superb. Plenty of things to do both on dull days and bright days.

I would not bother flying CDG-LYS, LYS airport is so far out of town (and the tram so expensive per person) you might as well deplane at CDG and take a TGV right to the centre of Lyon. It would probably end up being quicker door to door as well.
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