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Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world – full of romance, beauty, and intrigue. What’s not to love? However, Paris certainly isn’t the only amazing place to experience in the country, and parts of France might surprise you with their richness of history and landscapes.
If you have more time to spend in France than just a visit to Paris, then plan to book a train ticket or rent a car to explore the surrounding areas as well. Since France is such a small country geographically, it’s easy to reach other parts of the country in just a couple of hours or less. Here are some of our favorite day trips to take from Paris!
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Probably the most well-known day trip from Paris is Versailles, and this city is a must-see destination in France. The underground RER C will take you to Versailles from many different stops in Paris, such as Tour Eiffel and Musee d’Orsay. The castle in Versailles is incredibly popular, but you can buy tickets online before you go to skip the line. An audio guide is included in the cost to visit the interior of the castle. You can also visit the Queen’s Hamlet, which was a getaway for Marie Antoinette. Today, the site is a working farm and vineyard that’s definitely worth checking out. The area worth visiting is very large, so make sure to leave early from Paris so you have plenty of time to explore everything.
Giverny is known for being the inspiration for Claude Monet’s water lily paintings, and this is an ideal place to visit if you’ll be in the Paris area in the spring or summer. You can buy a train ticket from Paris to Vernon and then hop on a bus for about 20 minutes to reach Giverny. Make a point to walk around the Clos Normand garden, Monet’s house, and the beautiful natural scenery of the area.
The city of Reims is in the heart of the Champagne region and a must-visit spot for anyone who loves an occasional glass of bubbly. You can also visit a historic cathedral here as well. Trains leave from Gare de l’Est to get here, and there are direct trains that take you to central Reims. Quite a few of the champagne houses give tours and offer tastings, and one recommended spot is the Mumm and Veuve Clicquot.
The town of Chantilly is north of Paris, and you can catch a train to get here from Gare du Nord. You can reach Chantilly in about 25 minutes by train from Gare du Nord or in about an hour by car if you take the A1. The chateau located here dates back to the Middle Ages, and the chateau has the country’s biggest collection of Renaissance paintings outside of the Louvre. A popular thing to do here is to treat yourself to a bowl of strawberries with whipped cream as an afternoon treat. That’s because Chantilly is known as the home of whipped cream! To get active and see the region up-close and personal, consider renting a bike to explore Chantilly on two wheels.
Fontainebleau is somewhat similar to Versailles as far as day trips go, but you’ll likely experience fewer tourists and an easy journey to get here. It only takes about 45 minutes to get from Paris to Fontainebleau by train. You can reach it in about an hour by car if you take the A6. Come here to see amazing architecture, especially chimneys, staircases, and roofs. The embellished interior has an Italian-style design that was crafted by the designer Andre le Notre. This is where Napoleon gave his famous speech before going into exile. Fontainebleau is also a great place to experience fewer people if you’re getting overwhelmed with sightseeing crowds but with just as amazing and opulent grounds and buildings. There’s also a lovely forest in this area if you want to experience the outdoorsy side of France and go for a hike.
Mont Saint-Michel is an island with a very impressive abbey and a wonderful place to take a day trip from Paris. Parts of the abbey date back to the 1100s and this has become a pilgrimage site with deep religious significance. Therefore, you can expect crowds pretty much any time of the year. Taking a trip to Mont Saint Michel by public transportation takes a little more research and planning, but it’s well worth the trip. You may very well have to take a train and a bus, but you can definitely do this trip in one day if you start early. It will take you about three and a half hours to get here if you are traveling by car. There are a lot of touristy restaurants located along the way to the top of Mont Saint Michel but stick to seafood, omelets, and crepes for the local specialties. One famous place to try the famous omelet of the region is called La Mere Poulard. There is a fee to visit the abbey and other museums nearby that costs an additional fee.
It’s also very easy to get to Lille from Paris from Gare du Nord on a high-speed train. That ride will take you about an hour, or it is about two hours and 20 minutes by car from the A1. You can also reach Lille by car from Paris in about two hours and 20 minutes going north on the A1. This Northern France destination is known for its Flemish architecture and friendly people. Trains depart from Paris from Gare du Nord, and many travel directly to Lille. Make sure to visit the Le Place du General-de-Gaulle and the Le Place du Theatre because these are two lovely squares in the middle of town. You’ll find lots of shops along cobblestone streets in the old part of the city, known as Vieux Lille. For foodies, some of the best culinary treats to try are the fries, Maroilles cheese, and carbonade flammade, which is a beer-cooked beef stew. There are strong Belgian influences in Lille, which is felt in the cuisine and the amazing beer selection. Meert is a confectionery shop that is known for gauffres, which are cream sandwiches made with thin waffles.
Rouen is another fun city to visit when you’re coming from Paris. Here you’ll find a charming vibe, lovely cathedral, clock tower, and fascinating architecture. The cathedral was pained by Claude Monet, and the clock tower offers excellent views of the city. This town is also famous for being the place where Joan of Arc was executed. You can catch a train from the Gare Saint Lazare train station to get here. A great time to visit is during the Normandy Gastronomy Festival, but there are lots of restaurants around the main square if you visit during other times of the year as well. The local cuisine scene is definitely worth checking out, and recommended restaurants are La Couronne and Place du Vieux Marche.
You’ll only need to travel about an hour and a half from Paris to reach Provins, which is a medieval city that’s worth seeing. Trains frequently leave from the Gare de l’Est to get here for a lovely day trip. You can tour the “upper city” and the “lower city” to see the ramparts and tower. The top attractions to see are the watchman’s tower and the underground tunnels. There’s also a museum, the Tithe Barn, and rose-flavored candies and hot chocolate for sale in the area. It’s also fun to grab lunch at a local restaurant in the main square.
Saint-Germain-en-Laye was once a royal town where the ruling monarchs lived. Although it’s considered to be a suburb of Paris today, it’s still worth a visit to experience this charming area. There’s a market square where you can shop, and it’s also a great place to catch a game of football (soccer). You can reach Saint-Germain-en-Laye in about 45 minutes by train from the city center of Paris or by rental car.