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Question re Amiens, Rouen, and Chartres—which one as a 3 night trip with the others as day trips from Paris?

Question re Amiens, Rouen, and Chartres—which one as a 3 night trip with the others as day trips from Paris?

Feb 7th, 2008, 04:46 PM
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Question re Amiens, Rouen, and Chartres—which one as a 3 night trip with the others as day trips from Paris?

We plan to visit cathedral towns in April and are trying to decide which one to spend 3 nights in and which to do as day trips from Paris. We would like a town with a lovely medieval pedestrian area to wander around in for our lengthier visit, with our day trips primarily focused on the cathedrals themselves. My current thought is perhaps to do Rouen as the longer visit, with Chartres and Amiens as daytrips from Paris, but I’d appreciate any suggestions.

Before reaching the above locations, we are planning 3 nights in Laon and 2 in Reims which both sound like they would be very attractive both for their cathedrals and their local pedestrian areas. We will be traveling exclusively by train. Thanks for any suggestions.

curious123 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 06:57 AM
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Well, I'll take a stab...I can't imagine 3 days in Laon. What all were you planning on seeing? Or is it to lay around and relax?

But to answer your question, of the three I would say Rouen. You could always take a side trip to Caen or somewhere else if you felt like you had seen enough of the actual city during that time, and there is more to see and do.
klondike is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 07:45 AM
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Curious, my reaction to the idea of three days in Laon is similar to Klondike's. I was there for half a day in October. I foolishly forgot that it was a Monday and that many things would be closed, and it was cold, which didn't help. However,I wasn't moved by either the cathedral or the city. (By the way, the west end of the cathedral was covered in scaffolding when I was there. Not sure how long that will last, though.)

But one person's aversion may be someone else's attraction, so you might find it more appealing than I did. I would, though, recommend that you reconsider spending as much as three days there; a day ought to do it.

By contrast, I felt instantly more comfortable in Reims. Lots more to see and the cathedral is ... well, I visited it twice in the space of eight hours. It is beautifully proportioned and the stained glass is stunning, especially the work by Chagall.

Sorry, can't help on Amiens, Rouen, or Chartres ... haven't gotten there yet, although they're all on the list.

AnselmAdorne is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 08:26 AM
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Rouen has lots of big-city things to do. We could have easily added another day to our 2-night stay there a few years ago. Chartres is fine as just a day trip.
SemiMike is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 08:28 AM
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All destinations are roughly a little over one hour from Paris. I know them all. Here my opinion:

- Amiens has the most spectacular cathedral - it is Gothic flamboyant style which is unique in France.

- Chartres has the fantastic Chagall windows.

- Reims has a grand cathedral and champagne caves to visit.

- Rouen is a wonderful medieval town with quaint houses, lots of history and interesting surroundings: the Seine valley, Abbaye de Jumieges..

- Laon is IMO least interesting.

I would probably stay for two days in Rouen. It is the most beautiful town and the surrounding countryside is nicest. The main attractions of Chartres and Amiens are the cathedrals.

I have recently been to Laon. IMO, one day is enough.

traveller1959 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 08:33 AM
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"We would like a town with a lovely medieval pedestrian area to wander around in for our lengthier visit"

dO note that all these towns have suffered extensive war damage :

Reims was heavily shelled in WWI, the cathedral and the St.Remi basilica survived with significant restoration. The town centre was largely rebuilt in the 1920's and now boasts an interesting art deco heritage with is part of the city's attractiveness.

The centre of Amiens was flattened in WWII, the cathedral also survived but much of the town is a testimony of post-war 1950's reconstruction style, not unpleasant by the way. Amiens is in my opinion one if not the most beautiful gothic cathedrals in France, all the more moving as it was spared by the bombings.

Rouen, including its cathedral, was also badly dammaged, but more of the ancient structures have subsisted.
Trudaine is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 08:43 AM
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I'm curious about this itinerary, also -- if I had to stay three days in any of those places, it would have been Reims. Why would you decide up-front to spend 3 days in a place you haven't picked, but definitely only 2 in Reims?

I liked Rouen, but I don't know if I'd want to spend 3 days there. I'd personally choose Amiens, as it's a real city so there is something to do -- and mainly because I haven't been there and it sounds interesting from what I've read. I think both Amiens and Rouen are about the same size. Rouen's cathedrals weren't in very good shape last time I was there, although I enjoyed visiting the city for the Joan of Arc connections, and there is a nice main square and old quarter. I don't know about 3 days, though.
Christina is offline  
Feb 8th, 2008, 09:51 PM
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Dear All,

Thanks so much for these thoughts. From our last trip in Italy where we stayed just 1 or 2 nights in some stops and 3 or 4 in others, the stops with 3 nights were so much more relaxing than the places where we spent just one night, and I felt we got a much better sense of a place just from hanging out there that I wanted to spend longer in each place on this trip. Of course the small Tuscan towns we stayed in on that trip tended to all have so much history and were not war damaged, so just hanging out there was enjoyable.

I was thinking of Laon as the first stop for 3 nights because it will be upon arriving in France, we'll get there late and I’ll be suffering from jetlag and Laon sounded like it has a nice medieval atmosphere, not damaged by bombing the way the other towns have been. Because Reims is an easy 45 minute train ride from Laon I thought it would be easy to arrive early in the day the first day there and have what will feel like a longer time there because of the very little travel involved in getting there, but we might change and stay there 3 nights if Reims sounds more interesting than Rouen or Amiens. Again, thanks for these thoughts and any others on these topics.

curious123 is offline  
Feb 9th, 2008, 03:55 AM
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I understand what you are saying about not wanting to move around every few days because the process of relocating, packing, unpacking, etc. can take time even if the travel time is short. When my husband and I lived in Europe and spent time visiting different Gothic cathedrals, we stayed overnight in Rheims, Rouen and Chartres and enjoyed all of them for 2 days. Two or three nights might have been a little long for us. Laon is one cathedral we have not (yet) visited)
Rheims does have the champagne-related activities, too , if that is of interest to you.

I hope in Paris you are planning a day trip (half day?) to St. Denis if you have not been there. Also near Notre Dame, the small archeological museum is very interesting.
Vttraveler is offline  
Feb 9th, 2008, 04:32 AM
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I would take a couple of days from Laon and spend them in Strasbourg.

As to Amiens, Rouen and Chartes, I agree with your plan for a longer stay in Rouen.
laverendrye is offline  
Feb 9th, 2008, 04:34 AM
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One further thought. At the beginning or end of your trip, you might want to spend a night in Senlis with its wonderful mediaeval centre and cathedral. It's only a 20 minute drive from CDG.
laverendrye is offline  
Feb 10th, 2008, 08:22 AM
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A big thank you to all who posted comments here. These helped me rethink our itinerary. New plan: start our trip in Senlis for one night after landing at CDG, then go to Metz for 4 nights (thinking of Strasbourg made me look at other alternatives. Metz can now be reached in 80 minutes with the new very fast TGV trains from Paris Gare de Est), then Reims for 3 nights from which we’ll do a side trip to Laon. We then go to Paris for 10 nights, part of which time my husband is in a conference and, as time allows, we can do day trips to Rouen, Amiens and Chartres as well as St. Denis. Although we may consider a separate visit to Rouen another time.

Thanks again to all who made comments as these all helped me come up with a much better trip!

curious123 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2008, 08:32 AM
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I have been to all those places, some many times. My thoughts:

Amiens: Go see the cathedral and then leave.

Chartres: I'd actually spend a night at Chartres, though apart from the cathedral there's not a huge amount to see. It's a pleasant town, though.

Laon: Go see the cathedral and then leave.

Rouen: I'd spend two nights, possibly even three, in Roeun. Wonderful town with all those Jeanne d'Arc sites as well as the cathedral - and some really good restaurants, too.

Reims: I'd spend two nights there as well, particularly if champagne interests you as well as cathedrals.
StCirq is online now  
Feb 10th, 2008, 09:39 AM
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I like StCirq's suggestions, though I am partial to spending a night in Chartres if you have that luxury. I find it has much more to offer than just the Cathedral and the other treats get glossed over at best.

There is the Tourist Train which is very worthwhile as it meanders through the old town, along the Eure River, with its old lavoirs-turned into restaurants to the oldest house and to Eglises St Pierre and St-André. There is the Musée des Beaux Arts and the Stained Glass Workshop Museum just around the corner from the Cathedral. My favorite (a short easy drive to a suburb) is the house/garden that Pic-Assiette built entirely out of glass/potter shards...fascinating and quite relaxing as you are left on your own to meander as you want.

If it's in your budget, Best Western Le Grand Monarque is very nice with a Gastronomic Restaurant should you spend a night. Several Fodorites swear by the restaurant, "La Vieille Maison", which I've not yet had the pleasure of trying.

Lastly, regarding Senlis, be sure man an hotel reservation in plenty of time. Since it is so close to CDG, I've had a heck of a time find a room on short/no notice.
klondike is offline  
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