Ah, the City of Lights. There’s no place in the world quite like Paris. In fact, there are enough things to do in the city center alone to occupy a lifetime of vacation days. However, maximizing your vacation in Paris with day trips outside of the city is a great way to see more of what La Belle France has to offer. Not sure where to begin? Set your way to Angers, just two hours away by fast train from various Parisian train stations.
Chateau and Cider
For your first stop of the day, hit the Chateau d’Angers. Just a short ten minute walk from the train, marvel in the medieval beauty of this stunning castle, dating back to 1230 A.D. For a small entrance fee, explore the insides of the castle, complete with tapestries and lush gardens. Post castle exploration, feast like a king across the street at La Creperie du Chateau for an authentic Loire Valley experience. Snack on hearty crepes stuffed with goat cheese and nuts, washed down with true Breton cider to really feel like a local.
Head five minutes east from the Chateau and you’ll find yourself outside Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d’Angers, situated near a quaint little piazza for people watching and apéro sipping. The little square bursts with various colored umbrellas set against the backdrop of classic French architecture, speckled with potted green shrubs and trees. Head to The Kent, right in the heart of the plaza, just outside of the cathedral for a quick glass in the sun. Although better known for their incredible whisky selection, local wines and draft beers are also available. Outdoor terrace seating recommended for ideal people-watching.
Not everyone will have the opportunity to rent a car, though if you do, hit the road for a short twenty minute ride south and find yourself in Savennières, one of the most renowned appellations for Chenin Blanc production in the entire world. Small family wineries dot the the tiny, swirling roads of this charming village, eager to welcome tourists and wine-lovers abound for a petit dégustacion of their wines. A bit of French knowledge may aid in conversing with smaller, more traditional producers, but hey, there’s always wine to bridge that language gap (and delicious wine, while we’re at it.)
Didn’t grab enough bottles for the road at your wine tasting? Back in Angers, a short walk from the Gare St. Laud, discover a traditional French wine shop at Le Pifometre. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly in helping with wine recommendations and ready to answer any questions about the selection. Though other French regions are represented in the store, there’s a strong focus on locally produced wines of the Loire Valley, specifically Anjou. Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc? We’re not complaining.
M. Humbert Patrick
Ready to soak up all that wine you’ve consumed throughout the day? Claiming to have discovered the best boulangerie in France is a rather large statement to make, however, this one might actually be accurate. Entering into M. Humbert Patrick is an olfactory paradise, with aromas of freshly baked bread and melty cheese wafting through the air. At the entrance of the boulangerie, a small table laden with miniature baskets of various bread samples sits, waiting to be tasted by eager, bread-seeking individuals. Sandwiches and hand decorated patisseries line the display cases, along with the traditional croissants, pains aux chocolats, and the other usual suspects. Most are available in miniature sizes, thankfully, for optimum bread and chocolate sampling.