Ah, Paris. It is hard to imagine a scenario where you might want to walk away from Paris’s iconic boulevards and famous landmarks, but if you have exhausted all shopping possibilities on the Champs Elysee and the crowds flocking around Montmartre are driving you to distraction, it could be time to head out of Paris on the train or by car. The good news is the best day trips outside of Paris are within easy reach.
From Paris, it only takes seven hours via train to St Tropez. You can also be in Brussels in less than two hours. Buy a ticket, jump on a train from Gare du Nord, and within no time at all, the endless suburbs of Paris will be left behind. But, although a trip to Brussels is well within reach for a day trip from Paris, in this article, we are going to look at attractions within France.
Technically speaking, Versailles is still in Paris, but it feels as if you are stepping into another world once you arrive. The Palace is incredible, the gardens are beautiful, and if you visit at the weekend during the peak season, you can admire the Musical Fountain Show.
The Palace of Versailles is vast, so you need to plan your day carefully. Book tickets online to beat the queues and download the official app so you have all the information you need to hand. Versailles is accessible by train (RER C or SNCF), by bus from the Eiffel Tower, or by car. Versailles is in Zone 4, so some travel cards will take you there for no extra cost.
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte was made famous by the movie, The Man in the Iron Mask. James Bond also paid a visit to the Château in Moonraker. The Château is stunningly beautiful and well worth a visit; if you arrive on a Saturday evening, you will be welcomed by 2,000 glowing candles.
There are buses direct to Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte from the centre of Paris. Alternatively, catch a train from Gare de l’Est to Verneuil l’Étang. From there, jump in a taxi or take a ride on the shuttle service.
Monet’s Garden at Giverny
Monet is one of the best-known of the French Impressionists of the 20th century and his water lily canvases are among his most famous works. The waterlily series of paintings are an exquisite representation of Monet’s famous lily ponds at his home in Giverny. Today, you can view the paintings in the flesh at various art galleries, including the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, the Tate Modern in London, and the Art Institute of Chicago, but if you love the waterlily series, visit Monet’s Gardens in Giverny.
Monet’s waterlily garden was his inspiration. In spring and summer, the gardens – and house – are a popular attraction and an easy ride out from Paris. Catch a train to Rouen from Gare Saint Lazare and hop off at Vernon. From there, it is a 20-minute bus ride to Monet’s House in Giverny.
There are 1,500 rooms in the Château de Fontainebleau, which is set in 130 glorious acres. There is so much to see that a guided tour is recommended. Book your place online to avoid disappointment when you arrive. If you want to explore Fontainebleau Forest, there are several circular trails you can follow.
The castle and village of Fontainebleau are a short train journey from Gare de Lyon (approximately 45-minutes). If your Paris Metro pass covers Zone 4, it should take you all the way to Fontainebleau-Avon, but check before you board a train. If you drive, take the A6 and leave at the Fontainebleau exit.
The ancient fortified city of Provins is an easy day trip from Paris. Provins boasts ramparts, a tower, underground passages, knights on horseback, and excellent crêperies if you need some sustenance after climbing up the hill to the medieval upper city.
Trains to Provins leave Gare de l’Est every 45-minutes. Trains to Provins arrive at the lower city, which is the more modern part. Visit the Office of Tourism for information on Provin’s attractions or check out the official website in advance.
Other day trips from Paris worth considering include Rouen, Chartres Cathedral, Auvers-sur-Oise, and Mont Saint Michel.