As a tip for someone who thinks where to travel from Troyes I would like to share where I went to. I didn’t go to as many places as I wanted to but at least I visited some nice places!
Trip to Dijon was the first trip I made. Me and Ronja went there by BlaBla car and stayed in some one or two start hotel in the city center. The city center was quite beautiful but surprisingly small, we thought it would have been bigger. One night stay was definitely enough in Dijon. A bit further away from the center was a shopping mall that had Primark and other nice and cheap stores so we were able to do some shopping. But still we didn’t by the famous mustard.. 😀
Nancy & Strasbourg
To Nancy and Strasbourg we went by car since we were four girls and one of us, Anna, had a car. It was about 2 hours to Nancy from Troyes. We arrived in the evening so all we did was had dinner at the restaurant that our landlord recommended to us. We booked our accommodation through Air BnB which was quite convenient since we didn’t have to pay a lot for the one night we spent in the apartment. The only thing that bothered me a bit was that our landlord was actually living in the apartment too so we had to be quite careful with making not too much noise etc. She was a very sweet person though, but I still would have preferred that there would have been just us sleeping there.
The city itself was small but pretty with its old buildings. We visited a big park in the city center and some buildings surrounding it. It was quite rainy so after lunch we headed to Strasbourg. The drive took about 2,5 hours.
In Strasbourg we also used Air Bnb and this time we had the whole apartment for ourselves. The first evening we were all super tired and all we managed to do was bit of shopping. Next morning we woke up early and took a sightseeing boat to find out something about the history of the city and the beautiful buildings. I usually never go to these tourist tours but it was nice to sit down and enjoy the sunny weather. The city was bigger than the other cities I had visited before (well, not bigger than Paris of course..) and it was clear that it is situated near German border. A lot of German tourists where everywhere and all the menus where translated from French to German instead of English.
We wanted to see what Southern France had to offer so I and Ronja took a TGV from Paris to Montpellier. Anna came by plane the next day. We had booked a mobile home (cottage on wheels) from a camping area that was supposed to be near the tram line to the city center. Well it turned out it was definitely not near and we should have taken a bus after the tram, but since it was Sunday there were no busses. We asked this sweet woman how to get there and luckily she offered to take us to the camping by car.
Montpellier was smaller than I thought it would be but we still did some nice things even when sun wasn’t shining that much. For example we went to walk around the city center, shopping to Odysseum shopping mall, visited a zoo (which was free and really nice!!) and so on. On our last day of the four we spent in Montpellier the sun was really shining and we were able to use the pool area that the camping had. It was so nice to enjoy the sun and swim in the pool. And finally proper tan lines, yey!
Le Havre & Rouen
As our last trip before going home me, Ronja and Finnish Anna wanted to visit the Northern part of France. Well actually we wanted to visit Lyon but the train tickets were super expensive even with Carte Jeune so we decided to buy tickets to Le Havre and Rouen. SNCF (French VR) often has nice offers for the train tickets, like 2 for the price of 1 or 5-10€ for one trip and we managed to find cheap ones to these two cities. I found a very good offer from Booking.com so I booked a room for us from Kyririad hotel in Rouen.
Le Havre was a total disaster. I had a lot of stuff with me because I had been staying in Paris before this trip so I wanted to leave my bags to the train station. Surprise surprise it wasn’t possible and I had to carry all the heavy bags with me. And in addition to that it was raining. A lot. We spent about three hours in Le Havre and didn’t manage to find the seaside area that we were looking for. Instead we found a shopping mall with free wifi and a kebab place near the station. After approximately 3 hours in Le Havre we took the train to Rouen.
Thank God Rouen was a great city and even the rain stopped when we arrived there. Our hotel was a lot nicer than the hotels we have usually stayed in and first we were sure that we had gone to a wrong one. In the evening after the arrival we just headed to the city center to have dinner and we found this nice restaurant with amazing three course menu for 23 euros! The food was so good, especially the dessert was heavenly!
Rouen was in our opinion like Troyes but a lot bigger. It had the same cute houses as Troyes but instead of one main shopping street they had many. And there were many shops that cannot be found from Troyes, like Zara. And luckily for us all the shops had a sale going on!
I visited Paris at least four times so I was able to do and see many things. I saw a lot of tourist attractions but mostly just outside since I’m not a big fan of lining with all the other tourists. I also did a lot of shopping even though I didn’t buy that much stuff. Still it was nice to walk around Paris and go to the shops that we don’t have in Finland.
The best and the most special things I did, and that I really recommend for everyone visiting Paris, are dinner cruise on Seine, Disneyland and Moulin Rouge. Me and my friend Iina went to a dinner cruise by Bateaux Parisiens. It was 2h 30 minutes if I remember correctly and the price was 99€. Quite a high price for students but since I always stay in bad and cheap 1 star hotels I felt like I deserved it. And it was worth it. Service was excellent, food and drinks where delicious and the views from the river where amazing.
Disneyland also gets thumbs up from me, it was a nice place. Specially Hotel of Horror or something like that, not very heart-friendly and I would have never gone there if I knew what it was. Me and Iina screamed so much, I don’t understand how children can go to those kinds of things and not be traumatized for life! 😀 The park was really well executed and very interesting for a tourism student since teachers often use Disneyland as an example when talking about how to create an experience that takes into considerations all the senses and all the little details.
A show in Moulin Rouge was one of the things that I knew I wanted to go to even before I arrived to France. My friend Inka agreed to go with me and we both paid 122 euros for the show and a half a bottle of champagne for each. The price was very high and my expectations were so high I was scared I would be disappointed. After the show, that included dancers, singers, acrobats, snakes, ponies etc., I was so happy that I had paid the money. The experience was fantastic and totally worth the price!
By staying in those 1 star hotels you can save a lot of money for nicer things. After all, all you do in the hotel is sleep and then you spent the rest of the day somewhere else. I stayed in many hotels around Gare du Nord. The train to the airport leaves from Gare du Nord so I found it convenient to stay near it with my guests from Finland. The train to Troyes leaves from Gare de L’Est which is not too far from Gare du Nord, so that location was good for me as well.
Okay so these were the places that I visited in France during my semester. My favorites were Paris (obviously; so many things to do) and Rouen (so cute). And maybe also Montpellier because of the sun and the pool 😀 Hopefully someone will find this helpful when planning where to go or where not to go!