Table of Contents
- 1 A Culinary Journey, from France to Belgium by Car
- 2 Flying there from the U.S.
- 2.1 Drive Paris to Belgium
- 2.2 Map out your journey before driving from France to Belgium
- 2.3 Plan arrival and departure times and things to do in the car
- 2.4 How to rent a car for road trips from Paris
- 2.5 Get more details & book your Auto Europe Car Rental
- 2.6 Make a packing list for your road trip
- 3 Below, find our proposed itinerary from France to Belgium by car, and our story.
- 4 Reims Travel – What to do, where to eat & stay in Reims for 2 nights
- 5 From Reims to Brussels, it was like Narnia
- 6 What to do, where to eat and stay in Brussels for 3 nights
- 6.1 Brussels by car
- 6.2 Famous Grand Place
- 6.3 Food to eat when in Brussels
- 6.4 Where to stay in Brussels:
- 6.5 If you prefer staying in Hotels in Brussels:
- 7 Family road trip from Belgium to France
- 7.1 Durbuy for 1 night – a stop on our Belgium road trip
- 7.1.1 Winter in Belgium
- 7.1.2 Hotel Victoria in Durbuy, Belgium is where we stayed
- 7.1.3 Where to eat in Durbuy, Belgium
- 18.104.22.168 L’incontournable in Durbuy
- 22.214.171.124 We found a quaint place with a menu of comforting dishes that are French-Belgian interpretations of Italian cuisine. Exemplified by dishes such as, Macaroni Jambon Fromage, which is a hybrid of a baked lasagna dish and the best ham and cheese crepe you’d ever had.
- 126.96.36.199 L’atelier du Boucher
- 7.2 Best country to gas up is Luxembourg during our family road trip.
- 7.1 Durbuy for 1 night – a stop on our Belgium road trip
- 8 One of our favorite stops when driving back to Paris by car was Strasbourg for 3 nights.
- 9 A family trip to France – Next Stop, Lyon
- 10 3 days in Lyon
- 10.1 La Croix Rousse Market in Lyon
- 10.2 Lyon is a UNESCO heritage site
- 10.3 Where to stay in Lyon:
- 11 Lyon Back to Paris
- 11.1 Our three favorite neighborhoods in Paris for 3 nights
- 11.2 Montparnasse:
- 11.3 Bastille
A Culinary Journey, from France to Belgium by Car
Updated October 2018
France to Belgium by Car
Though we have done our share of travel throughout the years, we never saw the advantages of renting a car. This all changed when we traveled from France to Belgium by car, in search of the countries’ culinary treasures. It was a trip we continue to refer to as setting the standard of how to really engage with a country.
Through this experience, we were able to observe towns less traversed and made able to really understand the people and cuisines of the regions. In some way, that trip exemplified everything our website is about.
If such a trip is in your future, the following story and route may interest you.
Flying there from the U.S.
Most Main U.S. airlines have direct stops to Paris from NYC and all major American cities. Our favorite is Air France. We’ve also flown with Iberia. The cost of our flight is usually about $1200 round-trip during summer. We’ve also flown at only $300 round trip with a stopover in Madrid . We usually start shopping around 6 months before we plan our vacation.
Drive Paris to Belgium
The first step, renting a car. Starting a drive Paris to Belgium seems a natural choice as there are countless car rental companies available in the City of Lights.
However, finding the fairest price and/or the vehicle you require isn’t always easy, even in a big city. For example, we always prefer a compact car with an automatic transmission. Finding a compact car is an easy task in Europe, but finding an available automatic is a bit harder.
Auto Europe Car Rentals
To facilitate the process, we use Auto Europe. This company facilitates finding the best options for the kind of car you’d want, for the kind of trip you are likely to take.
This company is the best-kept secret in the travel industry. For 60 years, Auto Europe has been helping travelers like us find the best rental car rates around the world.
They have relationships with car rental companies internationally and a deep understanding of the complexities of renting abroad, along with their 24/7 availability of rental experts, the somewhat daunting process of finding a car is made easy.
Map out your journey before driving from France to Belgium
Driving from France to Belgium isn’t a complicated journey, it’s always advisable to map out your route. Such as the driving time from point to point, places to stay, sites to see, where to eat, and what to pack.
Plan arrival and departure times and things to do in the car
Download an app called MAPS.me, which is free to use and is available for ios and android. It’s also great because you can download all the maps ahead of time to use offline. I’ve also heard good things about an app called Here We Go, which does the same thing. There is, of course, Google maps, a personal favorite.
During the winter, most of Europe gets dark early. When not familiar with routes and a foreign language, driving in daylight has its advantages. We highly recommend this strategy of driving when the sun is out. Especially when passengers include children.
Make a playlist, this is always fun on the road and usually ends up being the soundtrack for the trip per se. It’s moments in the car, singing together, talking, looking out the window at the ever-changing topography is what makes travel memorable.
How to rent a car for road trips from Paris
To rent a car for road trips from Paris, we highly recommend our partners, Auto Europe Car Rentals for the best rates and customer service. We picked up our car right at the Gare De Nord Train Station, in the basement where you will find all the rental cars.
Auto Europe arranged for a compact Peugeot for us and is the best because remember that street in Europe is very small. We opted for the automatic because it was easier and more comfortable for Brenda, the driver. Although, we have also rented a manual car in Europe in the past, which tends to be less expensive. Here are some of the Auto Europe Advantages:
- Compare Rental Companies with the Best Rates
- Free Cancellation Up To 48 Hours Before Pickup
- Ready-to-Go Pickup Guarantee Or It’s On Us
- 24/7 Service Hotline from Pickup to Drop-off
Make a packing list for your road trip
When traveling to Belgium from France, make sure to pack correct clothing for the locations you will be. For example, in Northern France, it may be a bit colder during the winter months, and a bit less casual than the likes of Paris.
Pack the correct clothes for your trip
In the same breath, one should look presentable in a fashionable town like Paris. I can go through a few options, but I will leave you with one tried and true, which is to pack scarves. It will keep everyone warm, and a good one dresses just about anything up. This goes for both genders. Here’s our packing guide and another one.
Don’t forget all your equipment
Another important thing to remember is to have all the right converters and plugs for your devices. Nothing more annoying than having to buy yet another one. Most importantly, to have all devices charged for the trips, for emergency reasons and when using the device as a GPS.
Here are some books you may enjoy during your European road trip.
Below, find our proposed itinerary from France to Belgium by car, and our story.
From champagne to beer, driving from Paris to Brussels – a family road trip
First, we drove from Paris to Reims
We had picked up our car from Paris’ Gare du Nord and drove North on the A6. In having a car, we deemed it a good idea to stop at one of the northern cities on the way. I chose Reims (pronounced “rance” rhymes with France, with a rolling “r” and soft the rest of the way).
I had visited Reims as a young man over twenty years ago and have held fond memories ever since. Having only been to Paris, I wanted to introduce my wife and child to the town where the Kings of France were once crowned and appropriately where one of the greatest libations, champagne, was created- Reims.
I also chose it as our first stop because Paris to Reims is less than a 90-mile distance and an easy 1.5-hour drive. A good distance in which to get comfortable on foreign roads.
Reims Travel – What to do, where to eat & stay in Reims for 2 nights
Taittinger Caves in Reims
I did mention champagne. Just about every champagne house you can roll off your tongue have caves here in Reims. The bubbly nectar, like most things that takes a lot of time and ends up great, was created by monks. The most famous of them all, Dom Perignon a Benedictine monk.
We opted instead to visit the Taittinger caves. We had our daughter with us and we were told that the tours given were the most entertaining to those under drinking age.
The site bears a lot of history, with the grounds being where the former Basilica once stood before it was burned down during the Revolution. Family owned since the 1700s, the Maison continues to house a lot of very expensive bottles of some of the finest champagnes produced in the region.
Reims was demolished during World War I due to its proximity to Germany. The same caves that now house some of the most exclusive bottles of champagne are not only a treasure left by the Monks and the Romans before them but also served as a shelter for the citizens of the town during the great wars. As the people of the town resurfaced, they rebuilt the town brick by brick.
Taittinger Address and Information:
9 Rue Saint-Nicaise, 51100 Reims, France
Price for a tasting starts at 17 euros.
Students are 13 euros.
Ages 13 – 17 starts are 8 euros.
Children under 12 are free.
Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Reims
One of the prominent structures that were rebuilt after the war is the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims. It was commissioned as a hospital and took quite a few hits, which just about demolished the original structure.
Every town in France has a Notre Dame, and this one is a beauty. The rebuild is still going until this day. We were amazed at how they preserved the integrity of Gothic Architecture in this 20th Century structure. Almost hard to believe it was ever destroyed. It’s easy to imagine the kings of France having been crowned on this site.
Au Bureau in Reims
Facing the cathedral is a pub named, Au Bureau which is a great place for some good French fare. On the menu is a dish we love to have in France called, Andouillette. Also, due to Reims’ proximity to Belgium, there is the offering of Flammekeuche, which is the Belgian rendition of pizza.
Bistrot du Forum
Place du Forum is a pocket of the town that has some real charm. We sat at a corner table near the bar at a place aptly named, Bistrot du Forum. At the time we were there, it was quite cold and we were welcomed warmly by the staff.
There are many good restaurants on or near this square from which to choose. What makes Northern France such special food destinations is the diverse offering, due to its position on the map. Along with French classics, on most menus, you will also find Germanic and Flemish cuisine.
What’s not to miss is the selection of some high-level champagne offered by the glass at just about every restaurant. This cannot found anywhere else on earth. If you like a good glass of champagne but don’t want to put out for an expensive bottle every time you want to have one, Reims is your place.
Reims is the birthplace of biscuits?
Don’t leave Reims without purchasing a box of their famous biscuits. It is claimed to be the birthplace of biscuits. You’ll find these biscuits hard to stop eating, which makes it was easy to accept the claim to be true.
Accommodations in Reims
Being sentimental fools, we like to think we can travel like those of yore, with Michelin guides in hand and finding Bed and Breakfast accommodations and Boutique Hotels along the road. This storyline is facilitated by Airbnb. With the simple use of the app, one can find a charming stay at just about every stop.
Where to stay in Reims:
This was Andrew’s review of it on Airbnb: Marie was a very welcoming host. She made sure we felt at home and started us off with some biscuits that are made famous the town. She was responsive in a quick manner with any questions. The apartment was larger than I imagined and even nicer than the photos. The place was spotless and she had all the bathroom amenities you would need for a stay. Wifi was quite good as well. It is very charming and centralized. Everything you would want out of a stay in the Champagne region of France. The only concern for some people may be that there’s no elevator. It was not an issue with us because we did not have lots of luggage and we’re fine with stairs.
Here are some photos of the flat in Reims. Mind you that I was the one that did the bed that day so it’s not as nice as when our host welcomed us with, not one of my strengths.
From Reims to Brussels, it was like Narnia
We traveled in the winter and the road from Reims to Brussels was nothing short of a scene from C.S. Lewis’ Narnia. Frosted trees and fields of white made for serene views. It’s important, however, to have your playlist playing loudly as it is pretty easy to get caught up and enter a dreamlike state. The ride remains the most haunting and beautiful we have ever experienced.
The French Highway (SANEF) is beautiful, and the tolls are easy to manage. Credit cards, as long as it has a chip, are accepted at all the machines. Cash, of course, is accepted; and when in doubt there are booths in which there are attendants.
Driving in France and Belgium.
In approximately an hour and a half, we saw the sign that read, Belgique. We were in Belgium! Since the European Union, there is no longer an actual border control, you simply cross country lines. Driving in France and Belgium marks a stark difference, and an allegory also to the differences in cultures. Not a bad thing, by the way.
What to do, where to eat and stay in Brussels for 3 nights
Brussels by car
DO NOT drive into the center of Brussels by car. Many roads are closed and almost impossible to even get near Grand Place (the center). It is best to park right outside the center and walk over.
Famous Grand Place
Few plazas are as breathtaking as the famous Grand Place of Brussels. Gilded in gold, it makes one feel like royalty just stepping foot in the square. A whole day can be enjoyed shopping and eating in this area.
Come in the evening when a light show is on display along with the beautiful classical music. Grand is the only word that fits.
Along a small street right off the Grand Place is the world-famous Mannequin de Pis. This diminutive statue is Brussels’ answer to Rome ’s Trevi Fountain. Like its Italian counterpart, millions have taken photos in front of this structure.
The little guy always puts a smile on people’s faces. Depending on the time of year, you may actually see him dressed in traditional Belgian clothing or in very ornate regal garb. I think he’s best in his own skin which goes best with that mischievous look in his eyes.
Food to eat when in Brussels
Frites, commonly known to us as french fries are actually a Belgian creation. In Brussels, the whole experience in having these delectably fried potatoes is taken up to another level.
First, they are prepared crispier than any you have probably had. Second, and here is where the fun comes, is that there are endless toppings from which to choose, ranging from simple mayonnaise to all sorts of curries. The combinations are endless.
Fritland, a popular destination near the Grand Place is the place to have your frites. Purchase a bag and stroll through cobbled stone streets and enjoy the square at night when most of the tourists have gone
Moules Frites is probably the most quintessential Brussels dish, if not in all of Belgium. Few meals are as satisfying especially when prepared simply. We usually prefer ours “Au Vin Blanc” style (steamed in a butter, leek, and wine broth) and served with fries. It’s the subtleness from the use of the best mussels and simple ingredients (usually served in a cast iron pot) makes the dish the perfect hybrid of poor man’s food and sophistication.
Our recommendation for the best place to have Moules Frites is a traditional Belgian Restaurant named, La Maree. They also have very good fish dishes, we ordered the Flounder Meuniere.
You may not find it on every “best of” list, but it is where our Airbnb host recommended. When we sat, we were definitely the only “non-locals’ there. It made for an unequaled authentic experience.
Chocolate plays an important role in the Belgian culture. The country is historically (since the 17th Century) one of the most important producers of the confection.
With over 2,000 chocolatiers both large and small, there is no shortage of excellent chocolate. The Belgian appreciation for chocolate is something unique.
Mind you, experiencing a chocolate shop and its services in Brussels is not to be equaled to an M&M’s store, per se. Nothing against the mega chocolate producer, but the chocolate boutiques in Brussels are of a different breed.
Try Mary of Brussels, where the most luxurious, mouthwatering treats have been made since 1919.
One can choose from a large array offered. The best part, no matter what the price, or how much you purchase, you will be treated with the same white glove service. Which make anyone feel quite special.
Belgian Waffles are probably an item we have all enjoyed at some point of our lives. The ones we had eaten in Brussels were the best we ever had. There is something to be said when having a dish that a country has been perfecting for centuries.
There are many waffle stands in Brussels, and most of them offer an excellent plain waffle with some powdered sugar for just 1 euro. A little more if you want whipped cream, chocolate, or ice cream.
If your kids are just like mine, you’ll definitely be paying more than 1 euro, but according to my kid, it was worth the extra.
For the parents: Poechenellekelder for Belgian Beers
Now that the kids have had their share of sweets, treat yourself to a Belgian Beer. The Belgian monks have made some of the best beers through the centuries. One of the best places to enjoy a drink with the family in tow is, Poechenellekelder.
It’s a wonderful puppet theater bar. Our daughter explored the place, filled with vintage marionettes, while my wife and I sipped away on some excellent raspberry lambic ale. Those damn monks!
Carbonnade Flamande at Fin de Siècle in Brussels
For a robust meal that can keep you warm during the colder months, there is the quintessential Belgian Dish, Carbonnade Flamande, a Flemish beef, and ale stew.
Away from the Grand Place toward the new part of the city is an eatery named, Fin de Siecle. The aesthetic is very Flemish, with bare yellow walls, and beautiful wood furniture.
The menu is also kept simple, with daily offerings handwritten on blackboards, and if you are lucky to have this dish available to you, don’t hesitate, it runs out quickly.
Little Asia in Brussels
There we were, our last night in Brussels, with no plans for the next day. Our friends Matthias and Karen, over some really good Vietnamese noodles at Little Asia, guided us to our next destination. They, being Belgian, and people we trusted to give good advice, we went along with their suggestion.
Noordzee in Brussels
Just off the square in which the St. Catherine Church is erected is another place in which others pay homage. On Rue Sainte-Catherine 45, in Brussels is hands down the best seafood eatery we have ever experienced named, Noordzee.
It’s the unpretentious appearance, combined with seafood at the highest level, which makes this place so special. What most places would consider as white tablecloth cuisine is offered behind a zinc bar that creates a pleasantly rowdy atmosphere and in some way redefines streetfood.
If you are a lover of food, as we are, this is the one place we stand by as to not be missed.
Where to stay in Brussels:
Andrew’s review on Airbnb: Upon arrival, it was very hard to get into the town with our car, but Bruno and Iren went out of their way and made sure that we were able to get situated. They are not only great hosts but also very authentic and very good people. The apartment is the most beautiful we have stayed during our full-time travels. Impeccable taste and clean. They welcomed us with chocolates, drinks in the fridge and great Nespresso coffee. And the building was at the foot of the beautiful Grand Place. It is near everything you need. When we were leaving, Iren, again went out of her way to make sure to direct us and our car safely out of Brussels by leading us through the streets via bike and negotiating the traffic. Excellent, Excellent, Excellent. We will definitely stay here again.
If you prefer staying in Hotels in Brussels:
Brenda’s sister and her family stayed at the Hilton Brussels Gran Place. She would highly recommend it especially if you have points with Hilton. It’s quite a grand hotel and the location is perfect. It’s conveniently located in walking distance of all attractions.
Family road trip from Belgium to France
In having completed our Champagne to Beer road trip, we thought we would take advantage of having a car and take a different road back from Belgium to France.
Durbuy for 1 night – a stop on our Belgium road trip
As per our friends’ suggestions, the next day, all packed and a bit cold, we headed to the Ardenne Region of Belgium to a place that lays claim to being the smallest town in the world, Durbuy. Within an hour and a half from Brussels, it seemed a good distance for our next stop on our Belgium road trip.
Winter in Belgium
The village of Durbuy is naturally blessed, and during the cold months, with its frozen lakes, small wooden bridges, frosted hills, and snow-covered grounds, it’s nothing short of a Christmas postcard.
All the structures in town seem to be built in stone replete with thatched roofs and vines creeping along the sides. With old monastic sites, a Chateau that looks over the town as if it were a castle in a fairytale, and eateries with blazing fireplaces, it is easy to have the clock turned back to the medieval times.
Hotel Victoria in Durbuy, Belgium is where we stayed
Having been captured by its charm, we decided to stay the evening, and it did not disappoint. The room in which we stayed was located up old wooden stairs, on top of a tavern. We needed a skeleton key to open the door to our room.
Though it had the look of a place from another century from the outside, the inside had all the modern amenities one would need for a comfortable stay (such as WiFi and cable television).
As we stepped out, the aroma of smoke from all the chimneys filled the cold night air as we wandered through the dimly lit cobble street town looking for an agreeable place for dinner.
Where to eat in Durbuy, Belgium
L’incontournable in Durbuy
The restaurant looked like someone’s home with wooden-beamed ceiling and wooden tables and chairs set up. The small kitchen was viewable from where we sat, there was a small bar in the back where a group was conviving over coffee and wine, and the service was laid back and yet efficient (a characteristic we grew accustomed to during our stay in Belgium).The place was so welcoming that we really felt as if we were invited to someone’s house for dinner. The table next to us gestured over with a nod and a smile as if to welcome us to their town.
The following day was a Saturday, and we had the opportunity to we walk around in daylight. We found the town to be a bit more lively with some of the small shops which had been closed the day before, opened for business and eating establishments we formerly had not noticed, lifting their gates for an expected crowd.
L’atelier du Boucher
Before moving on to our next destination, we stopped at a butcher shop that had sausages and cheese hanging in the window. We were to pick some things up for the road, but upon walking in, we realized that they had small tables in the corner of the shop for those who wanted to stay and eat. Almost in unison and without a word exchanged between the three of us, we took our seats.
The butcher, with hair, combed to the side, and a chef’s jacket pulling against his healthy tummy was happy to see us. His wife who stood behind him, taller and equally jovial both emotionally and physically greeted us with a healthy, “Bonjour!”.
I asked the butcher for a “carte”. Instead, he waved his hand over the counter. Brenda and I were ecstatic. We had been dreaming of a moment like this to arrive. Without hesitation, we chose our cut of beef, how thick we wanted it, and the cook on the meat. It came out accompanied by the most beautiful fried eggs, with the yolk as orange as the burnt sun, and a heaping salad. It was a dream come true and just the sort of meal we needed for the long 4-hour journey.
Best country to gas up is Luxembourg during our family road trip.
We filled up our tank in Luxembourg, which has the cheapest gas prices in the European Union, as our Belgian friends informed us. It also had the easiest gas pump and pay system to manage. Just fill, go through a toll booth (which is manned) on the way out, and pay (credit accepted). Easy as that. No credit card machines with funny instructions or having to run into the convenience shop to pay.
One of our favorite stops when driving back to Paris by car was Strasbourg for 3 nights.
Since we were returning to Paris by car, we jotted down a route different from the one we had taken when leaving Paris. One of these stops was Strasbourg. A stop worth putting on the itinerary for sure Below is our story to help entice.
The Cathedral in Strasbourg
There was the most beautiful Nativity scene still up for viewing. With an awe-inspiring altar, nave, ceiling as high as the heavens, and beautifully preserved stained glass windows, we found ourselves in one of the most beautiful Gothic Cathedrals we had ever seen. With candles lit and the temperatures inside cold, it was chilling both literally and figuratively.
The Cathedral’s walls had a beautiful red hue, which gave it a sense of regal. We were in Strasbourg, the Alsace Region reigning king. This same hue of regalness seemed to have extended itself throughout the whole town center.
Where and what to eat in Strasbourg
Buy and Eat Galette Des Rois
Being big fans of the Holidays, we were glad to see that it was far from over in these parts. It was easy to still pick up a Galette des Rois, in all sizes for that matter at Boulangerie Woerle. Bailey made it a ritual to pick a petite version whenever we stopped for a coffee. She was happy to find out that even in the smaller versions, there was still a prize to be found in it.
When we asked our host, where we should eat, he replied, “anywhere”. He was confident that every eating establishment in his town dished out good food.
Petit France in Strasbourg
He did guide us to the most charming part of town called, Petit France. Sitting on the River Rhine, with its beautiful bridges and quaint red-roofed houses, with beautiful big swan included, it’s a scene right out of “Hansel and Gretel”. Though we were technically in France, the aesthetic of the town had never really traded hands from its Germanic past.
Au Petit Bois Vert Brasserie in Strasbourg
There are a series of channels which hover over them, beautiful old bridges, connecting small patches of land or neighborhoods together. On one of these patches, where the channel narrows, is a brasserie named, Au Petit Bois Vert. Yes, French in name, but the menu Alsatian through and through. Here’s the address:
2, quai de la Bruche – Strasbourg
La Corde A Linge in Strasbourg – best Spaetzle
With its proximity to Bavaria, spaetzle is offered in just about every restaurant in Strasbourg. It is more often a side dish to the main course. However, in La Corde a Linge, also located in the Petit France neighborhood, spaetzle takes center stage.
The offerings of the humble noodle dish range from Italian inspired (tomato, herb, and parmesan shavings) to Germanic flavors such as one prepared with Munster, grilled onions, and two types of bacon.
The setting is lively and akin to a brightly lit tavern. The service is energetic and friendly. Lastly, the food is delicious. According to my daughter, it’s one of the best places she has eaten in Europe and one of the best dishes she’s ever had. We couldn’t agree more.
The place is hard to pass up, as it oozes with charm from the outside as well. Looking every bit like a gingerbread house.
Where to stay in Strasbourg:
We stayed in another Airbnb in Strasbourg and loved it. Here is Andrew’s review of our stay: Jeremy waited for us to arrive even though we were much later than we first expected. He was very nice to show us around his apartment and tell us where to eat and what to see in town.
The building is very well centralized and everything you need to see in Strasbourg is within walking distance. The apartment was very clean, and for the three of us very comfortably. He equipped the place with everything you need for a nice stay. I recommend it very highly.
Again, here’s a $40 credit you can use for your Airbnb rental.
A family trip to France – Next Stop, Lyon
For food-loving travelers, a trip to France would not be complete without a visit to Lyon. After two days of getting lost in a town that was nothing short of a Christmas Village or a Brothers Grimm novel, it was time to get into our trusty automobile and drive yet another 4 hours to France’s gastronomic capital.
3 days in Lyon
Driving and Parking in Lyon is not challenging by any means, which is a relief for anyone that has been on the road for a few hours. This city is pure French, no doubt about it. For one of the larger cities in the country, English is not as ubiquitously spoken or heard.
Contrary to the stereotype in which the French receive, the residents of the town are the nicest you’ll possibly encounter when exploring the country. For those who have that preconceived notion of the French to be a bit snobbish, will be made to change their position.
La Croix Rousse Market in Lyon
A snippet of a day spent in Lyon would include buying my wine from a merchant with a small shop down the street of whom I had become friendly. Followed by purchasing baguettes from the nicest bunch of ladies at the boulangerie down the street called, Le Banquet. Lastly a visit to our favorite market vendors at Marche de La Croix Rousse on Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse and pick-up some “poulette roti” (roast chicken).
Following this unsaid protocol gives a visitor the feeling of residency.
Lyon is a UNESCO heritage site
Lyon is listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site, and this preserved town is a beauty. Don’t miss taking a stroll along the Rhone River and visit the many beautiful Cathedrals, shops, and Bouchon’s along the way.
A walk with GPSmyCity App
We are New Yorkers who love to eat, therefore we also love to take long walks to discover cities we visit, so we can burn the calories. To help us navigate Lyon, we decided to purchase the GPSmyCity App, which is an app that includes maps with their walking tours. It works completely off-line so it does not accrue roaming charges.
Traboules in Croix Rousse, Lyon
Lyon is a hill town and you better have comfortable shoes on and be in somewhat good shape, because it can be physically challenging. Though, the old ladies with their shopping carts didn’t seem to mind so much as they seemed to have been breathing a lot less hard than me during our visit.
Eating in a Bouchon is a must in Lyon
However, it is a good way of walking off the meals. A must when eating in Lyon is to experience a Bouchon. These unpretentious eateries serve Michelin quality food at a very agreeable price.
The only catch, there is one daily menu. Which includes everything from soup to nuts, and the wine selection is probably limited to house wine (which is always good to great, especially when considering the price). If every meal is as good as the one in which we took part, I don’t mind my menu being picked for me all the time.
Eat at Le Bouchon des Filles in Lyon
One of the better-known bouchons is named, Les Bouchon des Filles. And as it is advertised, run by some really cool sisters who know how their food and are leaders in hospitality.
Where to stay in Lyon:
Once again, we stayed at a fantastic Airbnb in Lyon. It was so close to the Croix Rousse Daily Market that we were so happy to have a great kitchen to prepare and eat delicious food that we purchased fresh at the market, like Choucroute Garnie, stinky and delicious cheeses, roast chickens, charcuterie of all sorts, fresh salads and vegetables and many more.
Here’s Andrew’s review of the above Airbnb we stayed in Lyon and Here’s a $40 credit you can use for your first Airbnb rental.
Though Pierre was unavailable to greet us, due to having been away, he made sure we were in good hands through a friend of his. The welcome, the walkthrough, and the recommendations were well accepted. Both parties replied very quickly to all my questions, stemming from the apartment to parking, to food.
The building is in a great neighborhood, near great eateries, sites and most of all the daily market. Though the first impression of the placement of the building (must walk through a dirt patch) was not great, and the stairwell, quite old.
The apartment did not disappoint. It was spacious and beautiful. Pierre has an artistic eye and has great taste. The place was clean and had everything a guest needs. He was nice enough to stock the refrigerator with some goodies as well. There was plenty of room, and my daughter especially adored the upstairs bedroom which was very charming.
Everything about the apartment was terrific, from WiFi to Dishwasher, to washer/dryer was awesome. If you are lucky enough to book this place when you are in Lyon, you will know what I mean. And I hope you do.
Lyon Back to Paris
The most beautiful stretch visually, amongst all the roads we had driven, was the one from Lyon back to Paris. We passed some of the most renowned wine regions in the world, and the vineyards, sprawling countryside, small towns, and chateaus were above anything I have seen in a book or a movie. Simply breathtaking. So beautiful that we didn’t want our ride to end.
Since you’re in Paris, take advantage of the City of Lights. You already know the sites, but here’s some help with some of our favorite places to stay, neighborhoods to visit, and places we love to eat.
Our three favorite neighborhoods in Paris for 3 nights
Stretching across the 3rd and 4th arrondissements is Le Marais. This former marshland that became an aristocratic neighborhood is as eclectic as its past. Remnants of aristocratic past is best represented by Place des Vosges, one of Paris’ oldest and most elegant squares.
It is also known for its Jewish ghetto past, bohemian vibe, and gay population. Trendy is a monicar put upon this neighborhood, with its excellent offerings of restaurants and boutiques. It’s a great mixture of old and new, luxurious and austere. A neighborhood that best represents the city.
The hotel we to stayed in Marais:
We’ve stayed at the Hotel Saint-Louis in the Marias and enjoyed the simple boutique hotel. It was small, clean and conveniently located to all the attractions. It was also great to have our evening walks in this neighborhood and Ile Saint Louis. We appreciated having Place Des Vosges so close by as well.
Where to eat in Le Marais:
Marche des Enfants Rouge is an outdoor market in the heart of the Marais. Here, there are many food vendors from which to choose. There are tables scattered about, and it’s easy to be convivial is the space. A unique Paris experience.
Hemingway, Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre, and many of the “Lost Generation” crew resided in this neighborhood.
No neighborhood captures that era better than this. One can’t help but find their inner creative side when walking the boulevards which are lined with famous eateries mentioned in novels such as, A Movable Feast.
It’s also a short walk to one of the most beautiful parks in the world, the Luxembourg gardens.
The hotel we stayed in Montparnasse a few years ago:
Hotel De La Paix Montparnasse was conveniently located very close to the Jardin de Luxembourg which was a fantastic garden for families because of all the great playgrounds. It was also very close to big classic French restaurants and very close to metro stops. We requested early check-in because our flight came in at 8 am in the morning and the staff was very accommodating and let us in our room that was ready.
The room was petite but very cute and very clean. At night, we had great sleep because it was so quiet and we had shades that black out the room. The hotel lobby is quiet and really does not have much activity but it did not bother us. Elevator was minute but it works. Overall, it was a fantastic respite from long days of sightseeing, we would highly recommend it.
Where to Eat in Montparnasse
171 Boulevard du Montparnasse 75006 Paris
Head over to the polished oak bar, order a dozen oysters, drink a Bloody Mary, and write your own chapter on Paris.
If you’re looking for a real shabby-chic vibe, and some real nightlife, few places match the energy of the Bastille neighborhood. It’s what the Latin Quarter was, but no longer. Here, you’ll find those small winding streets, lined with some of the most excellent eateries to be found in a town of gastronomy.
Where to eat in Bastille
There are endless choices, but nothing compares to Bistrot Paul Bert (22 Rue Paul Bert, 75011 Paris, France). The most quintessential bistro I have ever experienced having eaten. I have never had a better steak frites better than the one I was served here. It’s a casual atmosphere that offers Michelin quality dishes.
Thank you, Auto Europe for making the trip possible. Some links are affiliate links and if you make a purchase, we will receive a small commission, but prices, as always remain the same. All words and thoughts are purely ours. Thank you to Auto Europe for sponsoring this journey.
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