The best day trips from Paris: 18 wonderful and offbeat locations
Paris is undoubtedly one of the most popular travel destinations, as it has everything from unique museums with world masterpieces to designer ateliers. However, the city's outskirts are also rich in cultural attractions and striking in their natural beauty. It's also an opportunity to avoid the crowds, queues, and bustle of the tourist center.
If you have enough time, we recommend taking a day trip from Paris. The locations are no more than a two-hour drive from the capital, and they can be reached by convenient public transportation. Historic cities, world heritage sites, idyllic countryside filled with vineyards, and a host of sightseeing adventures are waiting for you!
The following list of the best day trips from Paris will help you plan your trip and get to know France better.
This day trip from Paris is a must for art lovers, especially those who appreciate impressionism. After all, it was here, in the now quite quiet Pede d'Hér, that the famous Monet lived and worked from 1883 until his death in 1926.
In his family home, the artist created some of his most famous masterpieces, including a series of water lilies called "Les Nymphéas". Everyone can visit the nearby Impressionist Museum and the surrounding gardens, which attract more than half a million tourists every year.
Besides Monet's house, there are many other interesting locations in Giverny. It is a picturesque place that became an inspiration for Monet, full of charming walks and delicious food.
The commune in the Normandy region is located 47 miles from the capital. It can be reached in two hours by bus from Porte Maillot to Grand Val.
2. Laura Valley
Among the best one day trips from Paris is a unique place full of history, culture and amazing architecture, especially impressive castles. We are talking about the Laura Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Lush gardens, enchanting lakes, and French Renaissance towers are the minimum that awaits travelers. You should definitely visit the Chateau de Chenonceau, known as the Lady's Castle, but it is open to everyone. It is located on a picturesque riverbank and offers many interesting places to explore.
In general, the Chateau de Chambord area is rich in architectural monuments and also offers a huge selection of local wine. The Laura Valley can be reached in a 1.5-hour train ride from Austerlitz Station.
3. Champagne region
France is invariably associated with the noble sparkling drink, so it would be almost a crime to avoid the region that gave it its name. To experience the unique atmosphere of Champagne, we recommend taking a day trip around Paris and visiting the following locations and landmarks:
- cellars of Les Nymphéas;
- Reims, the unofficial capital of the region, where several French monarchs were once crowned.
Also, on this one day trip from Paris, you will be able to see unique royal cathedrals and other architectural masterpieces, taste delicious food and, of course, taste the most famous drinks in the world.
The Champagne region, namely the city of Reims, is 89 miles from the center of the capital, the most convenient way to get here is by a 45-minute train departing from the Gare de l'Est (Paris-Est).
Very often travelers bypass the nearest suburbs of the French capital, but in vain. For example, the top 10 best day trips from Paris includes the commune of Boulogne-Billancourt, located just 10 miles from the city. You can get here in half an hour by train from Austerlitz station.
The route of this trip can look like this:
- a walk through the Bois de Boulogne, full of parks and lakes;
- visiting museums, including the Musée des Années 30, which collects everything related to the Art Deco style, the Musée Paul-Belmondo for sculpture lovers, and the Musée Albert-Kahn with its collection of photographs from the XIX century and beautiful gardens.
One of the richest communes in France offers a large number of entertainment options for every taste, with both luxurious restaurants and independent bistros where you can taste authentic local dishes.
The northern department of the Seine, Saint-Denis, known as "Le 93", had a very negative image, plagued by crime, with huge residential areas that looked like anthills. Of course, there are still areas to avoid, but thanks to urban renewal projects, the situation has improved significantly.
If you want to make a short day trip from Paris, we recommend booking an excursion to the Saint-Denis Basilica, which houses the largest collection of funerary sculptures dating from the 12th to the 16th centuries. In any case, you are only 13 miles from the center of the capital, so you can go back to exploring the popular tourist attractions if you wish.
In a letter to his brother Theo, Vincent Van Gogh described Auvers-sur-Oise, falling in love with this magical place. The tranquil and picturesque village is only 32 miles from the capital, so it is a great choice for a day trip from Paris.
Over the years, Auvers-sur-Oise has attracted prominent artists, including the Impressionists. Among the artists who drew inspiration from this place are the following:
- Paul Cézanne;
- Charles-François Daubigny;
- Camille Pissarro and others.
In fact, Van Gogh and his brothers found their final resting place in Auvers-sur-Oise. Here you can admire the church of Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption, which was crowned by the artist in 1890. The painting itself is exhibited at the Musée d'Orsay and is one of Van Gogh's iconic works along with the famous Sunflowers.
To pay tribute to the artist, add the Musée de l'Absinthe to your 1 day trip from Paris itinerary. This is the only museum in the world dedicated to the strong alcoholic beverage. Absinthe - a green "elixir" can be both inspiring and destructive, which is reflected in the exposition.
Auvers-sur-Oise is conveniently accessible by train, which departs from Gare du Nord and runs to Mary-sur-Oise.
7. Chateau de Versailles
Image by jaemin pung from Pixabay
One of the most magnificent royal residences in the world.
he European landmark is deservedly included in the list of the 10 best day trips from Paris. Chateau de Versailles is an impressive palace. In 1682, on the orders of Louis XIV, the former hunting lodge was transformed into a royal residence that is fascinating in its scale and grandeur. More than 36 thousand workers and craftsmen were involved in the process.
Regardless of whether you want to explore the hidden gems of the surrounding area or get to know the famous sights of the estate better, a day at Chateau de Versailles will be full of adventure and impressions.
The palace has more than two thousand rooms. We especially recommend visiting the amazing mirrored hall decorated with gilded moldings. Another popular location is the garden with orange trees. If you want to take a break from long walks, head to one of the excellent restaurants located nearby, such as Alain Ducasse's Ore or La Mangette.
Located 18 miles from Paris, Chateau de Versailles is conveniently accessible by train in less than an hour, making it the perfect choice for a quick day trip from Paris.
The largest city in the Val-de-Marne region with about 85 thousand inhabitants was once a practically forbidden zone, known for numerous social unrests. Nowadays, it is a great option for a day trip from Paris, France to spend a fun day full of entertainment and art.
Walking through the beautiful streets of Vitry-sur-Seine, you can see graffiti made by the famous street art collective C215. There is also the opportunity to see monumental outdoor artworks, such as the monumental sculpture "Chaufferie avec Cheminée" - an ode to the city's industrial past by Jean Dubuffet.
During the top Paris day trips, it is worth visiting the MAC VAL Museum of Contemporary Art, which presents works by French and international artists from the 1950s to the present. In particular, installations by Christian Boltanski, Gilles Barbier, and Jesus Rafael Soto. A large number of trendy establishments are concentrated around the university, such as bistros with budget prices, but tasty and satisfying dishes, not to mention quality wine.
Vitry-sur-Seine is only six miles from the capital, so it is one of the most accessible and best Paris day trips. You can get here in just seven minutes by train, which departs from Bibliothèque François Mitterrand to Les Ardoines.
If you are fond of monumental and Gothic architecture, Chartres is a good idea for a good day trip from Paris. From the Paris Montparnasse 1 Et 2 train station, you can get here in a little over an hour, as the distance between the cities is only 56 miles.
Notre Dame Cathedral (but not the one you think of), located in Chartres, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its excellent preservation, in particular, most of the stained glass windows are original.
The area is most attractive to lovers of Gothic architecture. While walking along the cozy cobblestone streets, you can find several good restaurants and bars to relax and enjoy delicious food and well-chosen drinks.
For six months of the year, visitors to the city have the opportunity to watch the stunning lighting of the center. Therefore, an evening walk in the Chartres should be included in the itinerary of a day trip near Paris.
If you have a free day or even a weekend, a trip to Normandy, namely to its western part, can be a top day trip from Paris. The historic coastal region is known for its participation in World War II, and traces of this are still visible everywhere. Visit the D-Day beaches, the Cannes Memorial Museum, and the American cemetery with rows of white crosses.
Normandy is rich not only in historical sites but also in amazing seascapes. The region is also famous for its food - seafood, cheese, cider, and the famous chicken poulet.
The medieval city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with more than 50 important historical monuments, making it a great choice for a day trip from Paris, France. Spacious squares, original half-timbered houses, winding streets - there are many interesting places for tourists to explore.
The main attraction of Provence is the ramparts with fortified gates built in the XII-XIII centuries. Also worth seeing is the Tour César, a 12th-century tower that was used as a royal fortress.
Several large-scale historical reenactments with entertainment and performances take place annually in Provence. The highlight of the festival is the Eagles of Ramparts show, during which you can see with your own eyes the ancient art of falconry.
Royal France is not only about Versailles. In particular, the medieval palace of Fontainebleau once served as the home of Napoleon III (nephew of the famous commander and statesman), and before that - Louis VII. The estate also received the title of the "Second Rome" thanks to a room that was decorated especially for Pope Pius VII.
Also, as part of a cool day trip from Paris, you should visit the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte, which was landscaped by the same architect who worked at the Palace of Versailles.
Another natural attraction of the city is the Fontainebleau Forest with its fantastic views and boulders that seem to have been scattered by a giant. In addition, about three thousand species of mushrooms grow here.
You can get to Fontainebleau by train from the Gare de Lyon in just 40 minutes.
13. Domaine de Chantilly
One of the best day trips out of Paris, north of the capital, is a trip to the Domaine de Chantilly. The estate, which was once the home of the Duke of Omaha, has a large collection of paintings, decorative objects, and books. In addition to walking through the castle galleries, you can visit the luxurious suites and enjoy the coolness of the lush gardens. The former stables have been transformed into an equestrian museum.
Be sure to finish your day trip outside of Paris with the famous dessert based on Chantilly cream (whipped chilled cream with sugar).
Interestingly, in 2005, the majestic Château hosted the wedding of football star Ronaldo. The estate cost a whopping 700,000 euros to rent!
14. Montreuil and Vincennes
If you want to see French sights from a different perspective, take day trips near Paris to the cities of Montreuil and Vincennes. These are the easternmost suburbs of the capital with a rich cultural and historical heritage.
For example, Montreuil is home to the first flea market in the form of a labyrinth, Les Puces de Montreuil, where you can find real treasures, sometimes for a song. The city is also less attractive than its neighbor, but more filled with art, which is reflected in numerous museums and galleries, artists' workshops and even walls covered with graffiti.
Vincennes is also a good choice for a day trip from Paris. Here is the Chateau de Vincennes, a perfectly preserved castle that looks like it came from a fairy tale book or postcard. It boasts the highest medieval dungeon in Europe.
Montreuil and Vincennes are only six miles from the center of Paris. You can get here by an 18-minute train departing from Châtelet les Halles.
15. Parc de Soeux.
A very beautiful but little-known estate located south of the capital, with its extensive gardens and small castle. A great day trip from Paris to Parc de Sceaux is one of the most pleasant ways to escape the bustling city for the weekend, especially in spring or summer, when you can have a picnic with a blanket under the cherry blossoms. For this, we recommend choosing the picturesque Bosquet Nord. Check out the following places for a gourmet picnic:
- Au Porcelet Rose for terrines and salads;
- Verdot with a large selection of local goat cheese;
- Sarah Baker is a bakery with perfect baguettes and the most delicious Nutella eclairs.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, there is a market where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
Next, the fun day trips from Paris continues with a stroll through the spectacular gardens, which were designed by Versailles architect Andre Lenotre.
Finish your trip with a cup of tea at Plaisirs des Thés, located at 96 Rue Houdan. This is a beautiful place with an old sign, tea tables, and an authentic cash register from the old days. It offers a large selection of Mariage Frères tea and Viennois hot chocolate, which will give you the right amount of sugar to return to the capital.
In 2004, the bustling university town was awarded the status of European Capital of Culture. Lille is one of the best day trips outside of Paris, offering everything you need for an unforgettable trip - from architectural wonders to the gastronomic scene and works of art.
The old town of Vieux Lille borders Belgium and France, centering around the charming 17th-century La Grande Place. Among the locations worth seeing are the following:
- Palais des Beaux-Arts - one of the largest museums in the country;
- Méert confectionery, famous for its special vanilla wafers, which was founded in 1761.
A day trip from Paris, France will not be complete without making a stop at the Lille Opera House, which was rebuilt in the early 1900s after the original building was destroyed by fire.
Located a two-hour train ride from the capital, Lyon is a university town that is worth choosing forthe best day trips from Paris. The gastronomic capital of France is home to the famous Paul Bocuse restaurant. There are several significant monuments in Lyon that have received the status of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city allows you to enjoy a relaxing, calm atmosphere while walking along half-empty cobblestone streets, narrow alleys, where you can almost everywhere smell freshly baked bread.
During your one day trip outside of Paris, don't forget to climb the terrace of the Notre Dame de Fourvière Basilica, which offers the best views of the city. You can learn about the ancient history of Lyon in the Gallo-Roman Museum, which has a large number of ancient Roman artifacts in its collection. Another feature of the city is the traboules, covered passages dating back to the fourth century.
18. Mont Saint-Michel
The famous island of Mont Saint-Michel rises above the waters of the Norman Bay of Saint-Michel. At its highest point is a unique abbey of the same name, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. A popular day trip from Paris allows you to visit the medieval pilgrimage site, which is a true marvel of Gothic architecture with a majestic church and elegant cloisters.
At high tide, Mont Saint-Michel looks like a distant island. However, when the tide is low, a road leads from the mainland to the Benedictine abbey. Modern travelers overcome the same path that medieval pilgrims took many years ago.
In addition to religious buildings, the island has eclectic shops, several restaurants, and old cobblestone streets that are a pleasure to walk along. To see all the sights, it is best to take a day trip from Paris as part of a tour or on your own, and you can also stay overnight if you wish.