Paris has always been one of Europe’s most fascinating capital cities. And while you could easily spend your entire trip in the city, leaving allows you to see even more stunning towns, landmarks, and attractions around France. Therefore, it’s important to give yourself at least one extra day to enjoy a Paris day trip.
From historic cathedrals to quaint vineyard villages, here is a list of the best day trips you can make during your visit to Paris.
What is the Best Day Trip from Paris?
The Palace of Versailles is one of the most popular day trips from Paris, although you can also see dozens of beautiful chateaux in the Loire Valley. There are a few other great towns that make fantastic day trips as well, including Reims, Chartres, and Provins.
And best of all – you don’t need a car to see some of the country’s most famous sights! Many of these day tours from Paris can be done on the train, making it easier than ever to experience the rich history and culture of France.
There are few places as regal and grand as the Loire Valley. The central region between Chalonnes-Sur-Loire and Sully-sur-Loire is a UNESCO World Heritage Site dotted with over 80 Chateaux, many of them dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. And while you can’t tick every chateau off your list, I would suggest visiting the largest and most ornate palace, Chateau de Chambord.
The Loire Valley is also one of France’s most prestigious wine-producing regions. Vineyards and wineries can be found all around the Loire River, from Orléans all the way to the coast near Nantes. This area specializes in white and red grapes, although you’ll also find Crémant – the second-largest sparkling wine producer after the Champagne region.
Travel time to the Loire Valley varies, although the chateaux around Orléans are just 1.5 hours south of Paris.
Art lovers will surely appreciate a relaxing day trip to the village of Giverny. This quiet town was the home of renowned impressionist painter Claude Monet, who lived and worked here from 1883 until his death in 1926. His villa has since been turned into a museum, which houses many of his belongings and art pieces.
However, it’s the outdoor garden that most people come here to see. In addition to the colorful palette of roses, daisies, and wisteria, the garden is most famous for its lily pond, which was the inspiration for Monet’s Water Lilies series. Monet’s house and garden attract more than 500,000 people a year (it’s 1.5 hours by car or 2.5 hours by bus), making it the perfect day trip outside of Paris.
Palace of Versailles
The famous Palace of Versailles (Château de Versailles) is an essential day trip for those visiting Paris. As the former royal residence of King Louis XIV, this breathtaking chateau is the epitome of opulence and grandeur, with more than 2,300 rooms, including the emblematic Hall of Mirrors.
But the extravagance doesn’t stop there. The palace also features a chapel, opera house, and numerous over-the-top royal apartments (like the bedchamber of Marie Antoinette).
Surrounding the chateau are the Versailles Gardens, which cover more than 2,000 acres of land. Not only is it one of the most extensive gardens in the world, but it also happens to be one of the most beautiful, with terraced flower beds, manicured hedges, and lavish flowing fountains.
Both the palace and the gardens are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and attractions that shouldn’t be missed on your trip to France.
The charming city of Reims is just 1.5 hours from Paris. It’s the largest city in Marne, which lies in the heart of French champagne country. This quaint and walkable city has been around for over 2,000 years (since the Roman times) and is home to a watch of architectural gems. Highlights here include the Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims, the Gallo-Roman Palace of Tau, and the Romanesque Basilica of Saint-Remi.
Reims is also world-renowned for gastronomy. Despite its small size, it has six Michelin-star restaurants. And while the city is guaranteed to delight your inner foodie, it’s also a great jumping-off point for exploring the amazing wine and culinary scene of the champagne country.
A must-see for champagne lovers, Epernay is the single best place to visit for fans of this fizzy beverage. It’s just a short drive from the center of Reims, although almost everyone who travels here comes to visit one of the many champagne houses scattered amongst the rolling vineyards. There are over 300 houses and growers in Epernay, many of which are located on Avenue de Champagne.
It’s worth stopping by for a tasting (or booking a tour of the cellars) while you’re here. Moët & Chandon, Mercier, and Pol Roger are just a few of the most famous houses where you can sample a glass or two of this delectable drink.
Located 30 minutes north of Paris sits one of the city’s most stunning palaces – Chateau d’Auvers. Although it was originally built in the mid-1600s as an Italian-style villa, the chateau was remodeled in Louis XIII style and converted into a French palace. The surrounding gardens are equally as impressive, as they incorporate French, English, and Italian Renaissance elements.
Chateau d’Auvers makes a great day trip for architecture lovers, although those interested in impressionist art should also add the palace to their must-see list. That’s because it houses an immersive art gallery dedicated to Vincent van Gogh, who lived and died in the nearby village.
Although still technically in the city limits of Paris, the posh Boulogne-Billancourt neighborhood is surprisingly off the radar for more tourists. But those interested in making the 30-minute trip will get to enjoy one of the prettiest and wealthiest parts of the city.
Start your morning with a leisurely walk around the sculpted gardens of Musée Albert-Kahn (which is also an excellent film and photography museum). The Musée des Années 30, or Museum of the 1930s, is another famous museum focused on Parisian Art Deco, although you can also see this style by simply wandering the streets. Many of the apartment buildings and hotels in town were designed by iconic architects like Le Corbusier, Mallet-Stevens, Courréges, or the Perret brothers.
A popular weekend getaway for Parisians as well as tourists, Fontainebleau is just a 45-minute train ride away from central Paris. Visitors interested in history can explore the magnificent Château de Fontainebleau, the royal residence of the French monarchy, for nearly eight centuries. This lavishly decorated palace may not be as large as Versailles (it has 1,300 rooms compared to Versailles’ 2,300), but it’s just as important as it is the only building that every single monarch lived in from 1137 to 1870.
On a nice day, Fontainebleau also attracts outdoor enthusiasts to the surrounding forest, which is the largest of its kind in the country. While its one of the most popular destinations for rock climbing, the forest also has over 800 miles of nature trails if you’re interested in a hiking day trip from Paris.
Paris may be the most romantic city in the world, but Disneyland Paris is easily the most magical place on earth! Located just 40 minutes from Paris, this theme park has many of the same rides and attractions as its California counterpart.
Enjoy the thrilling rides like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in Tomorrowland or meet with your favorite fairytale princesses outside of Sleeping Beauty Castle in Fantasyland. And don’t forget to stay for the fireworks show, which takes place every single evening in the park.
The resort also has a second theme park – Walt Disney Studios Park. Similar to Florida’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this park is focused on the film and show business side of things.
Although it’s possible to hop between both parks during the day, I recommend sticking with one or the other to make the most of your time.
The medieval town of Chartres is an easy day trip from Paris by car or train. Situated on the banks of the Eure River, Chartres is home to the UNESCO-designed Chartres Cathedral, which along with Paris’ Notre Dame, is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture (just take a look at those colorful stained glass windows).
There are a few notable museums in town, like the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) and the Muséum des sciences naturelles et de la préhistoire (Museum of Natural Science and Prehistory). However, you’ll get a good feel for the culture by walking through the cobblestoned streets of the old town. The narrow alleys are lined with half-timbered buildings that have since been converted into quaint shops and cafes.
It’s easy to see why the UNESCO-designated island of Mont Saint-Michel is one of France’s most visited landmarks. Surrounded by a bay of water and topped by a 500-year-old abbey, Mont Saint-Micis held a breathtaking site with an unforgettable setting on the Normandy coast. However, the island is also a full-functioning village with numerous shops, restaurants, hotels, and museums.
Besides visiting the Mont Saint-Michel Abbey, you can also see more than 60 government-protected buildings, like the Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre chapel. Make sure to save enough time to soak in the vibrant atmosphere of La Grande Rue, a fairytale-esque street dotted with cute cafes and boutique shops.
The UNESCO-designated city of Provins is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in France and one of my favorite day trip destinations near Paris. Walking through the streets feels like you’ve been transported back in time to the 12th century when Provins was a thriving merchant city hosting the Champagne Trade Fairs.
As you pass the stone city walls, you’ll find a maze of half-timbered houses and charming public squares that haven’t changed in over 800 years.
For an even more immersive medieval experience, you can also buy tickets for the Banquet of Troubadours dinner show or the Legend of the Knights jousting adventure. Another option is to come in June for the annual Middle Age Renaissance Festival, where you’ll get to enjoy two full days music, food, and live performances.
If you need a vacation from your vacation, then hop on a train and head to the Côte Fleurie to spend a day in Deauville. With a 1.2-mile stretch of beach, Deauville is primarily an upscale beach town, with a wooden boardwalk (Les Planches) lined with Art Deco-style bathing huts. Further inland is the Hippodrome Deauville-la-Touques, one of the most famous polo fields and horse racing tracks in France.
If you prefer to gamble on slots rather than horse racing, then you can also head to Casino Barrière, a historic casino that first opened in 1864. Otherwise, you can also spend your money in town at one of the high-end boutiques or gourmet restaurants by the water. If the three-hour journey is too far for a day trip, there are plenty of 5-star resorts where you can rest for the night before heading back to the city.
Normandy Landing Beaches
June 6, 1944 (often referred to as the Normandy D-Day) was one of the biggest raids in World War II between the Western Allies and Nazi Germany. On this day, 133,000 Ally troops stormed five beaches of German-occupied Normandy coastline, fighting to take back control of Western Europe. The landing on Omaha Beach was one of the bloodiest, and visitors today can still see remains of the German bunkers and fortifications that were built near the shore.
The nearby Normandy American Cemetary honors the soldiers who lost their lives during D-Day. Visiting the plot of 9,388 graves is a rather sobering experience, although crucial to understanding the importance of this historic battle. You may also choose to tour the Omaha Beach Memorial Museum, which contains a large collection of uniforms, vehicles, personal objects, and weapons from WWII and the landing of Omaha.
The drive from Paris to the D-Day beaches takes approximately 3.5 hours. Although it’s possible to visit for the day, spending the night will give you more time to see the sights without being too rushed.
Gâtinais Français Natural Regional Park
With lush valleys, flowing rivers, and acres of tree-covered woodlands, Gâtinais Français Natural Regional Park is the ultimate escape for anyone who needs a break from the bustle of city life. Covering over 150,000 acres of land, this nature reserve is surprisingly large, so you’ll have plenty of space to go hiking, cycling, or horseback riding.
In addition to the extensive system of nature trails, the park has a few notable attractions that you can visit as well, including the National Plant Conservatory, the Departmental Museum of Barbizon Painters, and the Salis Flying Museum.
Depending on which area of the park you are visiting, public transportation via train and or bus may be available. However, you’ll have more flexibility to explore the area if you come with a car.
Château de Chantilly
Visiting the historic Château de Chantilly is one of the best trips from Paris by train (it takes just under an hour). While the estate has been around since the late 1400s, the current structure actually dates back to the 1870s, as the original one was destroyed during the French Revolution. And while it’s considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in France, Château de Chantilly is better known for its impressive collection of fine art.
After the Louvre, the Musée Condé houses the second-largest collection of antique art, like prints, miniature portraits, sculptures, photographs, and furniture. Highlights include pieces by Raphael and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, as well as the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry manuscripts.
In just 2.5 hours, you can take the train from Paris all the way to London via the underground Chunnel. While it’s a long day trip, you’ll still be able to enjoy England’s bustling capital metropolis for a few hours. Stroll through the gardens of Hyde Park, take a spin on the scenic London Eye Ferris Wheel, or explore 2 million years of human history at the British Museum.
The Eurostar train will drop you off at the St. Pancras International Station. From there, you can take the tube to wherever you want in the city. Don’t forget to grab a bite to eat in Soho or Covent Garden before you head back. For an authentic British experience, I recommend heading to a local pub for fish and chips or Shepard’s pie and a frosty pint of London Pride.
Paris is undoubtedly a great place to visit, but it’s not the only destination in France that you should see. Between charming villages, grandiose palaces, and beautiful countryside landscapes, this country has a wealth of fascinating places worth exploring.