Troyes is one of France’s gems, a well-preserved medieval town with old streets of restored half-timbered houses, their different colored facades creating a delightful patchwork of color. It was the former capital of the Champagne region and is still the capital of Aube, the department that is part of Champagne lying to the south of the better known cities of Epernay and Reims.
Troyes is compact so it’s a good city to visit without a car. It’s easy to get to from Paris and the main sites are all within the small historic center.
6 blvd Carnot
Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 25 82 62 70
Opposite the Church of St Jean
Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 25 73 36 88
Getting to Troyes
Hotels in Troyes
Troyes has a good selection of hotels, including two which are among the prettiest in France. Staying in the outskirts is cheaper, but you will have to walk into the historic center for sightseeing and restaurants.Guide to Hotels in Troyes
Restaurants in Troyes
Troyes has a good range of restaurants at all prices. Many of them cluster together in the little streets around the St. Jean Church and are good for a light bite and drinks in the evening. But they get very crowded and you’ll find that standards vary. If you want to eat well, avoid this area and make for the nearby surrounding streets.
Eating the local speciality
Troyes’ main claim to fame in the culinary stakes is andouillette (a coarsely cut sausage of pork intestines, wine, onions, salt and pepper). It has made Troyes a gourmet destination for those after a genuine French culinary experience. The andouillette’s origins go back to 877 when Louis II was crowned King of France in Troyes cathedral and the whole town celebrated with a massive andouillette feast. By the end of the 15th century there was a guild of charcutiers dedicated to creating andouillette and, over the centuries it became the thing to sample when passing through Troyes. So if you order it, you’re following in the footsteps of the likes of Louis XIV in 1650 and Napoleon I in 1805.
Wherever you taste andouilles, whether in Troyes, or Nice or Paris, you should make sure that the Five A symbol is marked on the menu beside the dish; it means that it's approved by the Association amicable des amateurs d’andouillette authentique (that is the club of its fans and food critics) formed to protect the standards.
Attractions in Troyes
There’s plenty to see in the central area of Troyes, a city which became a vital part of the great trade route between Italy and the cities of Flanders in the Middle Ages. This was the age when the town hosted two huge annual fairs, each of which lasted for three months and brought craftsmen and merchants from all over Europe.
A fire in 1524 destroyed much of the city which by this period was a center for hosiery and cloth making. But the city was wealthy and houses and churches were soon rebuilt in Renaissance style. Much of what you see today came from the 16th and 17th centuries. Today Troyes boasts 10 churches, winding cobbled streets, a cathedral and some excellent museums.
Shopping in and around Troyes
Troyes is famous for its huge discount and factory shopping malls outside the center. It's also a good place for food shopping, either in the covered Marche les Halles or in specialist shops around the town.
What to do in Troyes
In the summer, Troyes organizes Ville en lumieres spectacles from mid July to mid August. It’s a free show on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting around 9.30pm. You gather in the Garden of the old Hotel de Ville for a staged light and sound show. Then, according to the theme, you are guided through the town by costumed characters to different spots where again, light plays across a particular building while a voice tells the story of Troyes. Tickets from the Tourist Office.
It may not be the capital of Champagne (Epernay has that honour), but there are plenty of vineyards to visit nearby. The Tourist Office has good information on the various vineyards that are open to the public. And also check out Vineyard Tours.