Interested in amazing day trips from Paris? You could spend a lifetime exploring Paris and never tire of its charm. It’s a city worthy of its reputation and one that you can’t ever imagine leaving. But beyond Parisian borders lies a world of French history, art and culture that offer something equally as special. Travel a short distance from the capital and you’ll find everything from champagne and chateau to medieval villages and maritime charm.
Here are the top day trips from Paris, most of which are within an hour or two of the city gates. And getting to these destinations is made easy thanks to France’s reliable high-speed train service. Make sure you stay in Paris somewhere closer to the centre to have quick access to the central train station.
Exciting day trips from Paris - Contents
Day trips from Paris (within an hour)
The Palace of Versailles
Situated just 12 miles from Paris, the Palace of Versailles is one of the most remarkable royal residences in Europe. Originally built as a hunting lodge, and later transformed into a grand palace with two enormous wings, 700 lavishly decorated rooms, more than 2,000 windows and 67 staircases, the chateau is a symbol of the royal power and ostentation. All this has earned the palace and its grounds a UNESCO World Heritage status and made it one of the most popular destinations on the planet.
The Hall of Mirrors is one of the most impressive features of the palace, adorned with ornate windows, sparkling chandeliers and 357 mirrors that reflect the spilt blood and jealousies of the roman royals. Stand at the central windows for the best views of the Grand Perspective – a long avenue that stretches across the gardens and the Grand Canal. Marie Antoinette’s chambers, in which 19 royal children were born, and the King’s apartments and Royal Bedchamber, can also be found in the main building.
Your visit to Versailles wouldn’t be complete without a wander through the fountain-filled gardens – a picture made even more magical come spring when the water features dance in musical fountain displays.
Arrive at the chateau for 9 am (opening time) to avoid facing long queues. A passport ticket gives you access to the house, gardens and Trianon and is the best option for your day trip.
Whether you’re a newbie or a novice, nothing will prepare you for the emotion you feel when you step through the gates of Disneyland Paris. It’s not just you, either – you’ll share the warm fuzzy feeling with everyone else in the park. Paris is wonderful, but if you need a reminder of how ridiculously thrilling it is to be a kid again, this fun-filled theme park is the perfect day trip for you. Meet Mickey and his friends in Fantasyland before riding on the adrenaline-inducing rides in Adventureland and Discoveryland. Although, it’s not all about the rides – it’s the whole experience, including the sights and sounds, the performances and parades.
And getting to the magic couldn’t be easier. The commuter train will whisk you directly from Paris to the park in around 40 minutes. The opening hours for both Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios vary throughout the year, so be sure to check the website before you travel.
Monet’s Gardens, Giverny
It’s true that Paris’ museums, including Musée d’Orsay and Musee de l’Orangerie, boast some of Monet’s most impressive paintings. However, much of Monet’s work was painted outdoors (en plein air), therefore to get a glimpse into his colourful life you’ll need to visit the beautiful gardens that inspired some of his masterpieces.
Located 50 miles outside of Paris, in the village of Giverny, Claude Monet’s Gardens are as colourful and inspiring as his paintings. While there are no original Monet paintings on site, the real drawcard is the two gardens; the Japanese-inspired garden with its iconic water-bridge and lily pond; and a flower garden called Clos Normand in front of the beautifully preserved pastel-pink house which served as Monet’s home for 43 years.
To get to Giverny, take the SNCF train from the Gare St-Lazare to Vernon, where a shuttle transports tourists to the gardens.
All that sparkles is not champagne. In fact, for a bottle of sparkling wine to be labelled Champagne, it has to be made in northeastern France. To find champagne worthy of its name, and discover the wine-producing secrets of this prestigious title, you’ll need to go there.
The region’s two major centres – Reims and Épernay – are easily reached from Paris in an hour, thanks to the high-speed train (TGV). However, the two towns are 40 minutes away from each other so you’ll need to choose one or the other.
Reims is considered the Champagne Capital, thanks to its extensive network of UNESCO-recognised underground caves that hold some of the biggest champagne labels in the world. Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin, Taittinger and Ruinart are just a few of the prestigious names ready for you to tour and taste. For those who want to venture beyond the bubbles, Reims is also famed for its gothic architecture and rich history, including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the Palais du Tau.
Quieter, yet no less special, Épernay is a town entirely surrounded by vineyards. Walk the iconic Avenue de Champagne, lined with stately mansions and neoclassical villas occupied by big-name champagne houses including Moet and Chandon, Pol Roger and Boizel.
Château de Fontainebleau
Just 40 minutes from Paris, Château de Fontainebleau can proudly claim to be the only château to have been continuously inhabited for almost eight centuries. Every monarch from Louis VII to Napoleon III has left their mark on the royal residence, which predates the Louvres by 50 years and Versailles by five centuries. Yet, despite its UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and its close proximity to Paris, it draws far less visitors than Versailles, making it a somewhat hidden gem. With 1,500 richly-furnished rooms, including Marie Antoinette's Turkish Boudoir and Napoleon’s Throne Room, you could spend the best part of a day exploring the castle, before you’ve even considered the extensive grounds. But, trust me, the impressive sculptures, water features and rare flora and fauna of the Palace’s three spectacular gardens – the Grand Parterre, the Jardin Anglais and the Garden of Diana – are not to be missed.
To get there, jump on the train from Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau station where buses run regularly to the château.
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Chablis and Northern Burgundy
While Burgundy is known for its fine vintages, it has much more to offer. The gorgeous countryside is flanked with fortified medieval villages and market towns adorned with Renaissance castles and abbeys. Northern Burgundy can easily be reached in around an hour and 40 minutes from Paris and makes the perfect day trip for wine-lovers and history enthusiasts. Explore the historic, cobblestoned streets and imposing Cathedral of Auxerre. Cycle through the pretty vineyards of Chablis wine region. And don’t miss the Basilica of Vézelay Abbey and the abandoned Fontenay Abbey.
The high-speed TGV train will carry you from Paris’s Gare de Lyon station to Auxerre in under two hours.
Day trips from Paris (within 1-2 hours)
The Loire Valley
The Loire Valley lures romantics with its fairytale chateaux, fine wines, ancient villages and spectacular scenery. It was the valley’s peaceful, rolling hills that drew French royalty during the 15th century when they lined the River Loire with hundreds of majestic chateaux and fairytale castles. Châteaux Chambord, Chenonceau, and Cheverny are amongst the most lavish examples of French Renaissance, but the smaller, lesser-known Châteaux also have a unique history that brings them to life. The Loire Valley is France’s third largest wine producer which means you won’t have to travel far to get your hands on a glass of your favourite plonk. And while Loire’s wines might not have the prestige of Bordeaux or Burgundy, they offer unmatched diversity, thanks to the varied climate and rich soil. The Route du Vin (the official wine route) stretches 800km from Nantes in the west to Sancerre in the east and leads drivers past sleepy villages and lush meadows flanked with gorgeous vineyards. Meet the winemakers, join a wine-tasting walk, or simply enjoy a picnic amongst the vines.
The high-speed train (TGV) runs between the Montparnasse station in Paris to the city of Tours in just 70 minutes, making it an easy day trip destination. Although, bear in mind that, without a car, it won’t be as easy to explore the region. From Paris, the drive to Tours takes around 2-3 hours, depending on what time you set off.
A stroll through the Rouen’s cobblestoned streets, lined with bell towers, half-timbered houses and magnificently preserved buildings feel like taking a step back in time. With over 50 religious churches and cathedrals, history awaits at almost every turn. Grab a croissant and coffee because there’s a lot to cover, starting with the impressive Notre-Dame Cathedral. As you look up at the gothic masterpiece, which has the tallest spire in all of France, it’s easy to see why Claude Monet felt inspired to paint it. Other historic highlights include the Church of Saint Joan of Arc, Musée des Beaux-Arts and the ancient Gros-Horloge clock tower. When your feet need a rest, settle into one of the city’s many little cafes and bistros to enjoy a delicious dish of moule frites, washed down with a chilled glass of locally-brewed cider.
Located on the banks of the Seine River, Rouen is also a great base from which to explore the surrounding countryside and Normandy coastline.
Trains from Paris to Rouen depart regularly and take around 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Day trips from Paris (2+ hours)
For WWII history buffs, visiting Normandy should be high on your agenda. Normandy’s coastline, stretching from the Orne River Estuary to the Cotentin Peninsula, was chosen as the landing site for an amazing armada of allied troops to begin the liberation of Europe from years of Nazi operation. Each of the landing sites tells a different part of the story and has monuments and memorials in honour of those who fought and died. The largest and most famous of the five Normandy D-Day Landing Beaches is Omaha Beach, the site of the bloody Battle of Normandy. The American Cemetery overlooks the beach, where 9,386 perfectly aligned white marble headstones serve as a resounding reminder of the sacrifices made by U.S. servicemen. Nearby, you’ll also find the Overlord Museum which houses collections including war vehicles, cannons and soldiers’ personal items. Caen Memorial Centre and the nearby Pegasus Bridge, Sword Beach and the Atlantic Wall Museum, and the family-friendly exhibits at the Centre Juno Beach all deserve your time.
The easiest way to get to Normandy’s Beaches, and explore the coastline at ease, is to hire a car. France’s motorway (A13) runs from Paris to Caen and will get you there in around 2 hours and 40 minutes, depending on the traffic. Otherwise, you can take the Intercities train from Paris (St.Lazare station) to either Caen or Bayeux - both of which can be reached in around 2 hours.
Perched atop a rocky islet off the west coast of Normandy, the UNESCO-listed Mont Saint-Michel is an image straight out of a fairytale. But the bay, on the border between Normandy and Brittany, has not always been bathed by the seas. The rock of Mont Saint-Michel was separated from the Normandy coastline by ancient glacial movements, and today only becomes an island when extreme high tides fill the bay. Towering over the fortified village, the Benedictine abbey is a masterpiece of medieval architecture, dating back over 1000 years, and is Mont Saint-Michel’s star attraction. Beyond the abbey, you can stroll the grounds, shop in souvenir stores or simply laze in the park.
Mont Saint-Michel is accessible by car (roughly a four-hour drive from Paris), but the easiest way to get there is to take the train from Paris’ Gare Montparnasse to the city of Rennes. From Rennes, Keolis buses travel to Mont Saint-Michel four times a day.