Six Weekend Getaways From Paris

Six Weekend Getaways From Paris

You’ve no doubt been to Paris, but what about the surrounding countryside? The capital’s large train stations, extensive transport network and high-speed TGV mean the Loire Valley and vineyards of Champagne are no more than a very manageable two hours away. So pack your bags and catch a train; these are six of the best weekend getaways from Paris.

Le Mans, Sarthe

This Pays de la Loire city is famous for its annual 24-hour car
race, Les 24 Heures du Mans, which sees more than 300,000 fans
descend for a boozy weekend. But delve a little deeper and you’ll
find Le Mans has a lot more to offer than Porsches and Peroni,
including an expansive nature park and several extraordinary
restaurants. Don’t miss Auberge
des 7 Plats
, tucked away in the heart of the old town and
offering a daily changing menu always consisting of seven starters,
seven mains and 12 desserts. You’ll also find charming cafés,
cramped but curious art galleries and the city’s crown jewel, the
cathedral. The huge structure towers over the town and is one of
the most impressive examples of gothic architecture in France
(better than Notre-Dame de Paris, they say). On sunny days, laze by
the river (which splits the city in two) or head out to L’Arche de
la Nature to rent bikes and wander through the fields. And only
then, if you have time, should you check out the Musée des 24
Heures du Mans

Connelles, Eure

Switch off and follow the Seine northwest to Connelles, where
nature and indulgent French cooking await. Moulin
de Connelles
is the ultimate Normandy sanctuary; a converted
mill that will quickly begin to feel like your own private castle.
The four-star establishment has everything you need for a weekend
retreat. Think rowing boats by weeping willows, open-air swimming
pools and acres of leafy walking ground. The outdoor terrace where
foliage sprouts from every angle is the best spot for an evening
kir. The restaurant has a strictly seasonal menu, reworked daily
depending on what market produce is available. Magret de canard for
mains and double-cream apple tatin for dessert are de rigueur. This
exclusive yet relaxed and absurdly pretty countryside spot makes
leaving Paris behind all too easy – but with only 12 rooms, advance
booking is almost essential. For a day trip away from the Moulin,
head to Giverny to scope out Claude Monet’s famous house and
Japanese gardens pictured in his Water Lilies series.

Condeau, Orne

There’s only one place to stay here – no bad thing when the
quirky charm of Domaine de Villeray is akin to an artist’s
retreat, or perhaps the inspiration behind a Fitzgerald novel. This
hotel and spa is situated over two buildings – an old mill and a
castle – and offers the ultimate escape. While warm weather lingers
lazing by the pool goes without saying, but mountain biking, hiking
and running are there for the actively inclined. Lost in the depths
of the Parc Naturel Régional du Perche, the countryside stretches
on and on. Aperitifs are best taken outdoors with a bottle selected
from the 400 or so varieties that fill the cellar. Villeray’s
fine-dining restaurant is rustic, seasonal and artistic, adding to
the property’s peculiar charm. Don’t leave without making the most
of the spa and wellness centre, which includes a 14-metre
hydromassage swimming pool, as well as a sauna, hammam and tea

Tours, Loire Valley

Once a Gallic-Roman settlement, today Tours is a buzzing
university city surrounded by nature. It’s known as the gateway to
the famous Châteaux de la Loire, most notably the fairytale
castle Château de Chenonceau. Set in the waters of the Cher river
and with beautiful gardens and an acclaimed restaurant , it’s a
must-visit. Back in town, the place to feast is BarJu, a
Michelin-recommended seafood restaurant. This “brasserie ‘presque’
traditionnelle” only has 25 seats and serves good food at
reasonable prices. Drinking happens at Place Plumereau (“Place
Plume” to locals), a square in the heart of the old town that comes
alive at night, when the crowds from the surrounding bars blend
into one. This is where the Tours set socialise and you’re bound to
pick up new friends. Shake off the hangover the next morning by
taking a walk or run down the Loire river, which stretches as far
as you care to go.

Versailles, Île-de-France

Just half an hour from Paris you’ll find one of France’s most
famous landmarks, Chateau de Versailles. The hype is justified;
it’s phenomenally large and opulent. Containing over five centuries
of history – it became France’s official royal residence in 1682 –
spending an entire weekend nosing around the palace and its
fountain-dotted grounds is entirely feasible. At its epicentre is
the hall of mirrors; a grand golden stretch, lined with statues,
chandeliers and 357 mirrors, which together create a kaleidoscopic
effect. This hall is also where the Treaty of Versailles was signed
in 1919, bringing an end to World War One. If you can prise
yourself away from the gilded chateau, make the most of Versailles’
markets, where you can pick up some of the best organic produce in
the region. But don’t stray too far; the palatial Waldorf Astoria Hotel is a stone’s throw from
the palace. Pricey it may be, but when in Versailles…

Reims, Champagne

Just 46 minutes from Gare de l’Est is Reims, one of the most
famous cities in the Champagne region. Home to many of the greats –
Taittinger, Pommery and Ruinart – it’s an ideal escape for both
fizz and food. Sprawling vineyards spill out from the city, and we
seriously advise scoping out guided tours and tastings,
particularly chez Ruinart. But at over 2,000 years old, Reims is
laced with a history that goes far beyond the bubbles. The
cathedral, Notre Dame de Reims, is a impressive gothic structure
where the kings of France were once crowned and the Archbishop of
Reims now sits. To stay? Les Crayères, sans question. This calming castle
(which translates to “champagne cellars”) is just outside the city
centre is and has everything you need for a relaxed weekend. Tucked
away behind the trees with a huge garden backing onto the vineyards
and a spacious terrace that lights up by night, this old building
is a contemporary bourgeois retreat. With two Michelin stars, the
restaurant is equally unforgettable; expect lobster, foie gras and


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