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Cute town near Paris?

Texas
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Cute town near Paris?

Several of us will be traveling to France this summer and have rented a house (for a week) in the Champagne region just south of Reims. After that, we'll spend almost a week in Paris. We arrive at CDG airport one full day and night before we can check in to our house. Four of our party of six have never been to France, and I would like for their first night to be spent in a charming, small town. Beaune is really too far to drive, I'm afraid, being almost four hours away, but that is my ideal. Any ideas for a picturesque small town to spend one night in the vicinity?

Paris, France
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1. Re: Cute town near Paris?

Have a look at Provins (there are some threads on TA about it) to see if it corresponds to what you want. And it won't be too far from your way to Reims. The official website: provins.net/index.php/english-version.html

Edited: 05 January 2012, 21:27
Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: Cute town near Paris?

Chartres? It's only an hour away. The cathedral is of course spectacular to see, but the rest of the village is very charming.

Chicago, Illinois
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3. Re: Cute town near Paris?

Rouen? -- cute town -- about an hour's train ride, maybe a bit more, from Paris -- it is however in the opposite direction from your house -- will you have a car during your week in the country? perhaps you could pick it up in Rouen and drive there.

Tampa, Florida
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4. Re: Cute town near Paris?

Chartres is also 180 degrees the wrong direction from someone arriving at CDG and headed for Reims. Chartres is an hour to the southwest of Paris, CDG 45 minutes to the northeast of Paris, and Reims is 2 hours east of Paris.

Provins isn't really on the way, but it's at least in the rough general direction. You might also consider Crecy-la-Chapelle -- lovely little town referred to as the Venice of the Ile-de-France.

Tampa, Florida
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5. Re: Cute town near Paris?

Provins is absolutely worth a visit -- just don't know how much backroads driving you want to do the day you arrive.

There's also the lovely little village of Chantilly -- it works out quite nicely to get to CDG, pick up your car, drive the half-hour to Chantilly to gather things for a picnic on the expansive lawn next to the parking area for the chateau of Chantilly.

Spend a few hours wandering the chateau, admiring the extensive art collection, gasping at the ostentatious stables, then finding a place to get a really good night's sleep before heading for Reims.

Only just past Chantilly is Pierrefonds - a fully-restored castle (not terribly historically accurate, but very fairy-tale perfect) with a charming small village that's touristed, but not heavily so. Another nice place for a short drive, something to keep busy in the afternoon, and getting a good night's sleep before driving to Reims.

Edited: 05 January 2012, 22:13
Paris, France
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6. Re: Cute town near Paris?

Are you getting a car from the airport and driving yourselves to wherever for the first night? I can think of loads of charming small towns not too far from CDG that wouldn't be a long drive and would be reasonably close to Reims.

About 15km or so east of Disneyland is the charming artists village of Crécy-la-Chapelle, known as the Little Venice of the Brie region due to its canals and location on the Morin river. Not far east of there is another charming little town called Coulommiers. I've written about both these places in a trip report that has loads of photos so you can see what they look like. Here is the link to that report:

http://tinyurl.com/dx8kr39

In Crécy you might stay at a lovely chambre d'hôte in an old mill building on the river. It's called Le Moulin de Saint-Martin. Here is a weblink I found for it:

http://tinyurl.com/73ezk2o

In my report I took a picture of the sign with the phone number if you need to call them.

Another charming little village not far from CDG would be Crépy-en-Valois and you can see some pictures of it in this trip report:

http://tinyurl.com/6snrf3q

In this same report I cover the town and château of Pierrefonds and that could be a great place for the first night too.

Here is the website of the tourist office in Crépy if you want to check for accommodation:

http://www.valois-tourisme.fr/

And Pierrefonds:

pierrefonds-tourisme.net/ot/Bienvenue.html

If you went a little further north you could stay at the gorgeous medieval hill-top town of Laon, which boasts a spectacular cathedral. It's about 35km northwest of Reims. You can see some pictures in this trip report:

http://tinyurl.com/298tppr

Here is the link to the Laon tourist office website for accommodation:

http://www.tourisme-paysdelaon.com/

I can think of other places not too far from Reims and CDG if the places I mentioned don't do it for you.

Paris, France
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7. Re: Cute town near Paris?

Let me add I was posting at the same time as Sunshine so didn't see she already recommended Crécy-la-Chapelle and Pierrefonds.

Tampa, Florida
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8. Re: Cute town near Paris?

I was just going to say -- we really have to quit posting from a common mind! Your details are better, though.

Texas
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9. Re: Cute town near Paris?

My goodness...I've gone from no ideas to many possibilities. This is going to be fun looking at them all. We will be renting a car at CDG and just didn't want to drive too far or too long on our first day in France. I'd much rather be on foot exploring. Thanks for all the responses. These will keep me busy for a while.

Paris, France
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10. Re: Cute town near Paris?

I've got some details but I think you've been exploring that area a lot longer than I have Sunshine. One of these days I'm going to pick your brain for some info about the area near Château-Thierry.

To the OP. I should also add that in my report about Crépy-en-Valois and Pierrefonds there are a few other places you could consider. Compiègne is a largish town but it has a wonderful, lovely and lively old downtown (half-timbered buildings, cobbled streets etc.) and an elegant royal château. Plenty of restos and options for lodging too.

http://www.compiegne-tourisme.fr/

And if you were looking for a totally tiny (a few dozen households) but totally charming village/hamlet in that same report you'll learn about Saint-Jean-aux-Bois and Vieux Moulin. Each one of these villages has one auberge and one or two places to eat. You'll see photos of these places in my report and I took pictures of the signs of the auberges so you can get all the contact info. The restaurants in the auberges seem to get good reviews.