Best Day Trips from Paris
Paris, the City of Lights, is undeniably captivating with its art, history, and romance.
However, there's a world of wonders waiting just beyond the city's borders, inviting travelers to delve into a tapestry of experiences that extend far beyond the iconic Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. The magnetic allure of Paris lies not only in its renowned landmarks but also in the promise of discovery that lingers in the air.
If you're ready to venture beyond the Parisian streets and explore the enchanting countryside and neighboring towns, buckle up for a journey through the best day trips from Paris, where every winding road and quaint village unveils a new chapter of France's rich heritage. These day trips aren't just mere excursions; they are portals to a different era, where history echoes in the cobbled streets, where art breathes life into every corner, and where the spirit of romance is woven into the very fabric of the landscape.
Whether you're enchanted by the elegance of royal palaces, the tranquility of blooming gardens, or the charm of medieval castles, the outskirts of Paris promise a symphony of experiences that cater to every traveler's curiosity.
1. Versailles: Where Royalty Beckons
A mere stone's throw from Paris lies the magnificent Palace of Versailles.
Step into the opulent world of French royalty, stroll through the resplendent Hall of Mirrors, and wander in the perfectly manicured gardens that stretch as far as the eye can see. A day trip to Versailles is not just a history lesson; it's a peek into the extravagant life of kings and queens.
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.
2. Giverny: Monet's Living Canvas
Art enthusiasts, this one's for you. Giverny, the muse behind many of Monet's masterpieces, is a picturesque village that feels like stepping into one of the artist's paintings. Visit Monet's colorful house, wander around his gardens adorned with water lilies, and let the serenity of this place inspire your inner artist.
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.
3. Mont Saint-Michel: A Fairytale Island
Prepare to be enchanted by the surreal beauty of Mont Saint-Michel, an island commune seemingly plucked from the pages of a fairytale. With its medieval architecture, narrow streets, and panoramic views of the surrounding bay, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-visit. Climb to the abbey's towering heights and marvel at the mesmerizing blend of history and nature.
4. Loire Valley: Where Castles Come to Life
History buffs and fairy tale enthusiasts will find paradise in the Loire Valley. This region boasts an impressive collection of castles, each with its own unique story. Wander through the halls of Château de Chambord, admire the elegance of Château de Chenonceau, and let the charm of these architectural marvels transport you to a bygone era.
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.
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.
8. Champagne Region: Cheers to Adventure
Indulge your senses in the Champagne region, home to the world's most celebrated sparkling wine. Take a day trip to explore the vineyards, visit renowned champagne houses, and savor the effervescent flavors of this iconic drink. Raise a glass to the scenic landscapes and the craftsmanship that goes into every bubble.
Plan Your Perfect Day Trip from Paris
Yes, there are lots of amazing tourist attractions in Paris and the city 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.
Ready to embark on these unforgettable adventures? Whether you're drawn to history, art, nature, or culinary delights, there's a day trip tailored just for you. Book your tickets, pack your curiosity, and get ready to uncover the hidden gems that surround the City of Lights.
Paris really is just the beginning. The best day trips from Paris promise not just a change of scenery but a transformation of experience. So, go ahead, venture beyond the city limits, and let the wonders of France unfold before your eyes.