Small but lively French city?

Apr 30th, 2015, 07:23 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,664
>>I much prefer to sit at outdoor cafes in nice weather and walk the human comedy go by - hard to do in northern France IME <<

I've sat at many cafes in Paris & watched the world go by. Even in December!!

Stu Dudley
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Apr 30th, 2015, 07:26 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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All of these pictures were taken in December. Note picture #2.

Stu Dudley
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Apr 30th, 2015, 07:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Yes some Paris cafes even have heating outdoors - but it would be more enjoyable to me at least in warmer weather and December and winter can be surprisingly warm in northern France or can be dark dank and dull - but rarely really cold so you can sit outside in covered areas all year round - but to me better in sunny warmer weather.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 30th, 2015, 07:28 AM
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Angers and Nancy are two of my favorite French cities. Both have good local transport links. From Angers, it's an easy train ride to Nantes (just over 30 mins) and Saumur (30 mins), Le Mans (40 mins) and a pleasant 2 hour ride to Chenonceau (or rather, the village where the chateau is located). Of course, only part of Angers is "north of the Loire" ;-)

Nancy has good links to Metz and Strasbourg.

Of course, both cities have their own delights. Angers, with its imposing castle, lively historic district and pleasant gardens; Nancy with its gorgeous Place Stanislas (stunning just after dusk when the lights go on) and its Art Nouveau heritage.

Both are moderately prices with lots of good non-chain restaurants and pleasant cafes. IMO, Angers is the more attractive overall of the two, but both are good choices.
WeisserTee is online now  
Apr 30th, 2015, 07:42 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
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Just for the sake of being different how about Compiègne north of Paris? It's a lovely and quite posh small city (population 42,000) and has a beautiful medieval downtown with lots of stores, restos, cafés etc. It has a royal château with a lovely park and huge grounds and several other museums and interesting places to visit nearby. The forest nearby is lovely for hiking and there is a paved bike trail (fairly flat) of 14km leading to the magnificent château of Pierrefonds, which can also easily be accessed by taxi.

There are bus connections (though sometimes limited) to Soissons, Senlis, Chantilly, and Crépy-en-Valois among other places and by train you can access Amiens, Noyon, Beauvais and Laon or even take one of the non-stop trains to Paris (40 minutes). For Laon it might be easier to bus to Soissons and then train from there to Laon.

Here's a link to a map of the bus network in the region:

The local transport website has an excellent English language version to plan your journeys and here is the link:

Here's a link to the map of the train network for Picardy:

I haven't looked into it but I'm sure Compiègne has major car rental agencies and there is lots to see and do within a 1 hour or so driving radius.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Apr 30th, 2015, 09:20 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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WeisserTee, art nouveau buildings appeal to me, so Nancy is high on my list. My husband has a slight interest in going to Angers, but I think we saw all there was to see the time our VW was being inspected there. We were there for several days, not just for the VW checkup.

We liked Compiegne, but I had not thought of going there this time, FMT, so thanks. Lovely and posh sounds good to me.

I asked for cities north of the Loire because most of our travel will be in the Orne, Sarthe, and Mayenne. We don't want to drive very far south of that. In September the weather has usually been pretty comfortable in that area.

Stu, thanks for sharing the photos. You two have travel down to a fine art.
Coquelicot is offline  
Apr 30th, 2015, 09:31 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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I've made a number of reports about Nancy and one of them was devoted just to the art nouveau homes there. I have all of the photos of the art nouveau buildings in the business district, but I have not managed to consolidate them into a report yet.
kerouac is offline  

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