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Looking for small town for a few days

Scottsdale, Arizona
Level Contributor
220 posts
55 reviews
50 helpful votes
Looking for small town for a few days

My wife and I will be travelling in July of this year, to France and we are looking for a few small towns to spend a few nights each.

It had been mentioned in another post that Auxerre would be a possibility.

So, the question is: Would you recommend Auxerre for a middle aged couple that likes a vacation with only 20% tourist related items. For the most part (80%) we enjoy eating and drinking our way through towns we visit. A combination of good food and company is what we seek.

Is Auxerre for us?

Beaune, France
Level Contributor
476 posts
16 reviews
12 helpful votes
1. Re: Looking for small town for a few days

Definitely, it is a beautiful town with a cathedral, a church and an abbey all in really good condition and of great historic interest. Auxerre is cut in two by a river so great for strolling around, load of charming restaurants and shops and hardly any tourists for some reason. There are loads of things to do within driving distance too, Chablis, Fontenay Abbey, Grottes d'Arcy, Guedalon Castle, Flavigny. My brother lived there for several years and I also worked on the hotel barges there so know it fairly well.

Paris, France
Level Contributor
14,253 posts
4 reviews
8 helpful votes
2. Re: Looking for small town for a few days

Also near Auxerre are Vézelay, Avallon, Semur-en-Auxois, Noyers-sur-Serein, Guédelon (a medieval castle being built using medieval techniques http://www.guedelon.fr/en/ ) the châteaux of Tanlay and Ancy-le-Franc, Pontigny Abbey, Abbey of Fontenay and more. You can look at this thread to get links to the tourist office websites for these and other places:


And if you want you can look at this photo report I wrote about exploring the area between Noyers-sur-Serien and Semur-en-Auxois, which is near to Auxerre: http://tinyurl.com/6dkeozh

If you want to really explore the region you need good maps and I recommend Michelin maps. Here is my standard advice about how to use Michelin maps to explore:

Get your hands on the Michelin maps. You want the ones of the scale 1:200,000 (regional maps) or 1:150,000 (departmental maps, more detailed, cover slightly less area) for whatever regions you visit. A nice feature of the 1:150,000 maps is they show the starred attractions in the corresponding Michelin Green guidebooks. The Michelin maps have icons for all kinds of historically/touristically interesting things such as châteaux, ruins, churches, abbeys, scenic view points, caves, Roman sites, megaliths, designated scenic roads and many other things. Usually when I'm exploring various regions in France I just look at the map and I am able to plan interesting and scenic drives just reading the map. For instance, I usually look for a designated scenic road, which are highlighted in green, and I especially look for towns with the historic church and/or château icon. I also try to make sure the route goes through as many small villages as possible. Usually putting all these things together I find interesting and scenic drives without even knowing where I am going and with no assistance from a guide book. Often these places are never mentioned in guidebooks and remain completely unknown to many tourists.

You can buy the Michelin maps from their website and here is a link to the page that shows you the 1:200,000 scale maps of France: http://tinyurl.com/4bt96ev

And here is a link to the page that shows you the 1:150,000 scale maps of France:


You could also buy them here but then you can't do research beforehand. The maps can be bought in many places such as bookstores, news stands, magazine stores, larger supermarkets, department stores, hypermarkets and in the full service rest areas on the autoroutes, just to name a few.

You need good guidebooks for whatever region in France in which you will be traveling. I like The Michelin Green Guides. If you need restaurant info then get The Michelin Red Guides, which cover restaurants.

And speaking of Michelin, you can go to the website viamichelin.com and get info on drive times and distances, toll and fuel costs and suggested routes (i.e. scenic routes). The drive times given do not consider stops (fuel, food, bathrooms) nor do they consider bad weather and bad traffic. I find the drive times very accurate when these factors are accounted for. The time estimates can break down when you are driving in congested urban areas, like in or near Paris, due to the unpredictability of heavy traffic or traffic jams. They can also be affected on peak travel days, specifically on autoroutes leading to/from popular destinations.

Scottsdale, Arizona
Level Contributor
220 posts
55 reviews
50 helpful votes
3. Re: Looking for small town for a few days

Thank you both for some great information and suggestions.

4. Re: Looking for small town for a few days

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