Are you looking for a day trip outside of Paris?
With Paris being such a popular destination, it’s likely you’ve already visited the Eiffel Tower, checked out the Moulin Rouge, and swapped smiles with the enigmatic Mona Lisa. What else can you do when you’ve already ticked off all the classic Paris attractions?
Well, you don’t need to worry. We got this issue handled for you. For a change of scene, why not consider some of the amazing sights outside of Paris? Here are our suggestions for the 13 best day trips from Paris!
1. Monet’s House in Giverny
If there’s one thing France is well known for, is its amazing artistic culture. So why not visit the home of one of the most famous French painters of all time? On the tiny picturesque village of Giverny lies the home of one of the founding impressionist painters; Claude Monet. He left his house to the public after his death, and it’s been beautifully preserved to look just as it did when he was still alive.
See his sitting room where Monet worked on some of his most famous paintings, see the private bedroom, his dining room, his kitchen… Get a taste for some of the most influential works of art outside of the famed Louvre! After exploring the beautifully maintained house take a leisurely stroll through the lush grounds and discover how Monet immortalized the surrounding landscapes of Giverny in his impressionistic paintings.
Can you spot some of the subjects he converted into priceless works of art? Even if you can’t, you’ll be able to understand how such a beautiful setting inspired some of the most iconic works in the world.
How to get to Giverny and Monet’s House from Paris?
Giverny is located roughly 75 kilometers from Paris. Trains to the Vernon-Giverny station are available from the Paris Saint Lazare-Station/Gare Saint-Lazare on the Paris to Rouen and Le Havre line. From there you can get a bus shuttle to the Monet House. The round trip bus ticket costs only €10.00
2. The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
A northern region of France, Normandy is as well known for its beautiful coast as it is for its crucial role in World War II. It is no surprise, then, that many visitors take time to pay their respects at the memorials erected in honor of the fallen soldiers. If you too would like to honor those brave memories while learning more about history, then visit the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.
Overlooking Omaha Beach and the English Channel where the allied troops crossed and landed during that historic day, the symmetrically aligned white crosses spread throughout the green fields is a sobering sight. It truly makes the terrible devastation of World War II feel far too real to those of us who were lucky never to witness such horrors. It is something we should all experience at least once in our lifetime.
How to get to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial from Paris?
The train from Paris to the Normandy American Cemetery Memorial takes roughly three hours. You can leave from the Paris Saint Lazare-Station/Gare Saint-Lazare towards the Gare de Bayeux. Taxis and buses are available there and they can take you to the Memorial.
3. The Memorial de Caen
For an informative day trip, look no further than the Memorial de Caen. Located in one of the biggest cities of Normandy, this museum celebrates the Battle for Caen where the British Second Army fought the Germans for control of the city during World War II.
Aiming to show the fragility of peace, there are numerous exhibits focusing on the history of the 20th century. Details about the Cold War, a Berlin Wall exhibit detailing life in Berlin after World War II, a civilians in war time memorial, a 360 circular theatre composed of 9 screens that show archived footage of the Battle of Normandy, strategies used during the war, the history leading up to it… All of these provide for an informative and incredibly powerful trip that could beat any history lesson you get while still at school.
How to get to the Memorial de Caen from Paris?
Trains to the station are available from the Paris Saint Lazare-Station/Gare Saint-Lazare on the Paris to Gare de Caen.
4. Normandy Food Tour
As surprising as it may be, Paris doesn’t have the monopoly on good food and wine. You can bet that when it comes to gourmet cuisine, all of France wants in on the action. Normandy is no exception!
Renowned for its quality agricultural products, this northern French region is well known for its amazing cheeses! Most – if not all – restaurants in Normandy are extremely proud of their traditional dishes made solely with locally grown ingredients. And with such amazing taste, who can blame them?
On this Normandy Food Tour you’ll see the breathtaking views of Côte Fleurie, explore a cheese factory, and discover the most popular Calvados hard cider while eating Normand crepes. This is a true French gourmet experience to leave any foodie satisfied!
How to get to the Normand Food Tour from Paris?
The Normandy Food Tour picks you up at your hotel or some other previously agreed destination between 7:00AM – 7:30AM.
5. Chateau d’Amboise
Have you ever wondered what it felt like to be in a fairy-tale? Well, you don’t have to anymore. Situated right in the mid-stretch of the Loire River, the Loire Valley is a fertile land which, not only grows some of the best vines in Europe, but also features some France’s most beautiful chateaus. Among them is none other than great Chateau d’Amboise.
The setting of a historical meeting between King Clovis of the Francs and King Alaric of the Visigoths, this castle became a favorite royal residency after the monarchy confiscated it in the 15th century. Now it is a remarkable example of French Renaissance architecture. But it’s not the beautiful walls or strategic placement that makes the Chateau d’Amboise so well-known around the world; when you visit this magnificent building, you are also given the opportunity to pay respects to one of the world’s greatest painters, for Leonardo de Vinci’s tomb lies inside the castle’s chapel.
How to get to the Chateau d’Amboise from Paris?
Direct trains are available from the Gare d’Austerlitz/Paris-Austerlitz station to the Amboise station. The journey takes about 2 hours. From there you can walk to Chateau d’Amboise, which should take another 17 minutes or so.
6. Palace of Versailles
There are few sights more iconic than the Palace of Versailles. An opulent and grandiose monument of France’s royal bygone days, this was the residence of King Louis XIV prior to the beginning of the French Revolution. Billowing ball gowns, ruffled shirts and gilt, gold walls, beautiful gardens and the famed Hall of Mirrors; those are but a few of the imageries connected to this famed UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you’re visiting between the months of March and October, make sure to try and catch the extravagant Musical Fountain Show! To avoid the crowds, consider visiting the Palace of Versailles during a weekday, when it’s less likely to be overly crowded.
How to get to the Palace of Versailles from Paris?
To get to the Palace of Versailles from Paris, you can get a train from the Gare d’Austerlitz/Paris-Austerlitz station to the Gare Montparnasse station, and then another train from the Gare Montparnasse to the Gare de Versailles Chantiers.
Reims is a beautiful city in the Grand Est region of France. An important stronghold of the Roman Empire, the traditional site of the anointment and coronation for the old French monarchy, this city is one of the centers of champagne production in France. In other words, there’s something for everyone in this amazing French city!
The Mars Gate and Cryptoporticus – both ancient remains of France’s Gallo-Roman past – are but some of the historical sites you can visit. And while there, don’t just try one of Reims’ great champagne; learn about how they are made, stored, and much more. Reim’s famed biscuit roses, their crumb-covered and broth cooked ham, Dijon mustard’s delicious rival are bound to leave you feeling like you entered food paradise! This is truly a city everyone should visit.
How to get to Reims from Paris?
You can get to Reims-Centre Station by taking either the Lille – Dijon – Mediterranean line or the Paris – Charleville – Sedan line. You can also get the TGV Express to Champagne-Ardenne station, and then get the tram to Reims.
8. Mont St. Michel Island
While France is full of wondrous sights, there are few quite as impressive as the island of Mont St Michel. A UNESCO heritage site that receives over three million visitors a year, this island city is shrouded in myth and French history.
The Bishop of Avranches is said to have built the abbey at the very top of the island by request of angel Michael himself back in 709. Since then the island has held out against a siege for 30 years during the Hundred Years War, became a prison during the days of the French Revolution and French Empire, and more!
If you have the money to spare, make sure to stop by at La Mère Poulard, a restaurant dating back to 1879 well-known for its autographed walls and its giant expensive omelets.
How to get to the Mount St. Michel Island from Paris?
You can get to Mount St. Michel from Paris by taking a train to Gare Montparnasse, and then taking a bus to Mount St. Michel.
9. Chenonceau Castle
Near the tiny village of Chenonceaux and overlooking the River Cher, the Chenonceau Castle is a French chateau which marries the best elements of Gothic and early Renaissance architecture. Today it is one of France’s most visited chateaus, well-known for its arched bridge and gallery.
A garden dedicated to Catherine de Medicis, an Italian maze, and the beautiful Flower Garden are some of the places you can explore while on the grounds of the castle. Dining options at the Chenonceau Castle vary from open air picnics to fine dining restaurants, giving a delightful experience for every budget. And the best part? The Chenonceau Castle is dog friendly!
How to get to the Chenonceau Castle from Paris?
The Chenonceau Castle is located 214 kilometers from Paris. The ride takes only about 1 hour by T.G.V from Paris to Montparnasse.
10. Bruges, Belgium
While we’ve been focusing on locations close to the French capital, one of the wonderful things about Europe is that just because you’re in France, it doesn’t mean you have to stay in France. Popping over to Belgium from Paris isn’t as complicated as it may seem.
The wonderful Flemish town of Bruges, nicknamed the Venice of the North, has an extensive canal system that twists along the well-maintained roads. Cruise around the tranquil waterways on an open top barge or stroll around the central historic quarter, visit some of the city’s museums or buy some of its world-renowned lace. Whatever you do, though, don’t miss the chance to try some of that amazing Belgian chocolate. Maybe you can even take some home as a souvenir!
How to get to the Burges, Belgium from Paris?
The train journey from Paris Gare du Nord to Gare de Bruges by the Euro Rail takes a little over three hours.
11. Chateau de Cheverny
Owned by the exact same family for over six centuries, the Chateau de Cheverny was one of France’s first chateaus to be open to the public. Tapestries dating back to the 17th century, a mystery message game, enchanting tulips, herbs and mazes, and a Tintin exhibit are some of the wonders you can find at this amazing castle.
Why not take a stroll through their English-style park? The giants trees are magnificent, a true sight to behold. Or perhaps you’d prefer to take the environmentally friendly boat and see the swans? If you’re an animal lover, than you’ll love seeing the kennel, with over 100 different dogs that you can play with! The gift shop sells beautiful tapestries, decorations, books, cuddly toys… You name it! Eat at their Café de L’orangiere or The Trophy Room, or if you prefer a breath of fresh air, have a picnic!
How to get to the Chateau de Cheverny from Paris?
The Chateau de Cheverny is situated only 2 hours from Paris. Leaving from Paris Austerlitz station, your stop would be at Blois-Chambord train station. You can also choose to take the Paris Montparnasse station and then stop at Vendôme train station.
See some of your favorite characters speaking French, from the classic Mickey Mouse and Cinderella to Spiderman and even Darth Vader! After experiencing the magic of so many of France’s most beautiful castles, why not experience the first bit of magic that Disney introduced to us? You don’t need to be a kid to marvel at the life size figures, thrill of rides or be enchanted by the glorious parades, after all. Go through the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster or get splashed in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Either way, you’re bound to have a magical time.
How to get to the Disneyland from Paris?
To get to Disneyland Paris you can take the Gare Marne-la-Valle-Chessy station. It is only minutes away from the park’s entrance.
13. Chateau de Chambord
If you really want to see the epitome French Renaissance architecture, then there’s no better place to look than the Chateau de Chambord. The largest castle in Loire Valley, this magnificent castle was abandoned for a while shortly after the French Revolution before attempts to restore it started back in the 19th century. And aren’t we glad they did? Now that the Chateau de Chambord is open to the public you can see beautiful formal French gardens, follow English guided tours, and even see horse and bird of prey shows! Take a boat ride or walk through their trails to watch some wildlife, see the stunning spiral double helix staircase, and marvel at the vaults. With over 60 rooms open to the public, you have tons of space to explore!
How to get to the Chateau de Chambord from Paris?
You can get to the Chateu de Chambord from Paris by departing from the Paris Austerlitz station and heading to Blois-Chambord. The journey is approximately 90 minutes.
Paris is a beautiful and wondrous place. It is not just France’s capital and most populous city, but also a central hub for travellers from around the world. Most of the well known attractions in Paris are definitely worth visiting, but its the destinations nearby that really add value to your next trip. Don’t limit yourself to Paris only!
Have you visited any of these magical places mentioned above? We’d love to hear about your experiences!