Top 5 Day Trips from Paris
Yes, Paris may have it all - romantic walks along the Seine, the glittering Eiffel Tower and the cobbled streets of Montmartre, but at times the endless crowds of tourists and crazy drivers can become too much.
Kiana Salamian was lucky enough to visit a few places around Paris during her time there and below she shares her list of the 5 best recommendations for escaping the city.
Built by the Sun King, Louis XIV, in the 1600s, Versailles (as seen in the image above) is one of the most famous and opulent country estates in the world, so spending a day here living like French royalty is an absolute must!
Highlights here include marvelling at the Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed back in 1920, exploring the Trianon estate, Marie Antoinette’s former home, and if you’re there on a weekend evening in the summer, make sure to check out the Musical Fountain Shows! Both the palace and grounds are free to visit for all EU citizens aged under 26, so this is a great budget day-trip.
How to get there: Like Provins, Versailles can also be reached using the Paris public transport network and the easiest way to get there is to get the RER C (the yellow RER line) from the centre of Paris which will take you directly to Versailles and the journey is only 45 minutes. A return ticket from Paris will cost you €7.
This beautiful medieval town with impressive fortifications is a must-see if you’ve always wanted to know what France looked like in the 1500s.
Must-dos of Provins include exploring the Saint Jean’s Gate Ramparts and roaming the quaint cobbled streets whilst taking in sites, such as Tour Cesar and Saint-Quiriace Collegiate Church. If you want to delve deeper into the town’s history, Les Souterrains de Provins cannot be missed, as tours of these underground tunnels gives you a really unique insight into medieval life in Provins.
How to get there: Trains leave roughly every hour from Gare de l’Est and take 1h15m to get there. As Provins is located in the Isle-de-France region, if you have a Navigo pass you can use it to get there. If not, I’d recommend buying a zones 1-5 Mobilis day pass, these cost €17.80 and give you unlimited travel in all 5 metro zones for the day.
Located to the north of Paris in the Picardy region, Amiens is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Notre Dame d’Amiens Cathedral, and has plenty of original charm, despite a lot of it having to be rebuilt after WWII.
The canal laced old town gives the city a Flemish feel and walking along the Hortillonnages, floating gardens, only enhances that feeling. These gardens are best enjoyed by a guided boat tour, which costs €6 per person. An even quirkier tourist attraction is the home of Jules Verne, the famed French author, and here you can discover the inspiration behind his stories, such as Around the World in Eighty Days and Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
How to get there: Trains leave from Gare du Nord roughly every hour and take between 1h to 1h45m to get to Amiens. Tickets cost between €15-€22.50 one-way.
Monet’s water lily paintings may be at le Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris, but the true source of his inspiration is found in the charming Normandy town of Giverny, where his former home and gardens are located.
In Giverny, you can stroll through the gardens and admire the lily pad pond, which inspired hundreds of Monet’s paintings, visit his former home and wonder at other impressionist works of art at the Giverny Museum of Impressionisms.
It is worth noting that Monet’s house and gardens are only open April to October, so if you are set on visiting Giverny, make sure to be in Paris during those months.
How to get there: Trains leave from Gare Saint-Lazare every 1h-1h30m and take 45 minutes to reach Vernon-Giverny and cost €9-€14.70 one way. From there you can either get a taxi to his house, which will be around €20 and takes 10 minutes or the bus, which is €10 for a round-trip and takes around 20 minutes.
Whilst Giverny offers Normandy’s natural charms, Rouen is all about the region’s medieval past with its colourful wooden houses, charming clock tower and grand gothic cathedral.
However, it’s often better known for its darker past and as the town where Joan of Arc was brought to trial and later burnt at the stake. If you fancy learning more about France’s most famous martyr, make sure to visit the Joan of Arc Historial.
However, if you’re wanting to experience a few more obscure things rather than Rouen’s most famed sites, I’d recommend playing an escape game in Le Donjon de Rouen or visiting the free and fascinating Museum of Wrought Iron.
How to get there: Trains leave from Gare Saint-Lazare every 30-60 minutes and take between 1h10m to 1h40m to get to Rouen. Tickets cost between €10-€22.40 one way.
General Tips for Travel in France
If you’re aged between 12-27 years old and plan on doing a lot of travelling around France by train, consider buying a Carte Jeune, as this will give you discounts of up to 25% on all train travel.
Consider using rail services such as Ouigo, because whilst they often have very strict conditions, such as limited baggage and making you arrive at the station at least 30 minutes before your departure time, you can get bargain tickets, such as Paris to Aix-en-Provence for just €18!
Do check out the UK Foreign Office Travel Advice page for France (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france) before you head out, so you can be up to date on any changes regarding rules for passports, EHIC cards and entry requirements after Brexit occurs.
I’d also recommend having a look at the Travel Aware page too (https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/) for practical tips on staying safe and healthy abroad too.
By Kiana Salamian