As with many places in Europe, Paris is blessed to have a well-connected railway system for domestic and international travelers. That means it’s an excellent hub for exploring other cities, castles, and historical sites around France. Not to mention, traveling by train through France is much faster and way less nerve-wracking than driving (especially during the notorious Paris rush hour)!
If you’re planning a day trip from the capital, there are plenty of destinations that you can reach in just a few hours. So, grab your rail pass and make sure to pencil in one of the following trips from Paris.
What Are The Best Day Trips from Paris By Train?
The outskirts of Paris are home to some of the grandest castles in all of Europe. But instead of Versailles, why not visit Château de Chantilly or Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte instead? If you prefer a city trip, then a quick hop over to Reims (the capital of Champagne region), Metz (famous for its diverse architecture), or Provins (a historic medieval village) is also possible.
There are also plenty of sights nearby for families, art lovers, and history buffs too. Best of all, you don’t have to venture far, as most destinations can be reached in just under two hours from Paris’ city center.
In just 1.5 hours, you can be in the heart of French champagne country! The city of Reims has been around since the Roman Empire, although much of the old town’s main attractions (including the jaw-dropping Notre-Dame de Reims and Palace of Tau) are of Gothic architecture.
Just wander through the cobbled streets, and you’ll find hidden cafes, local boutiques, and little champagne bars around every corner.
While there are plenty of sights to see in the city, you can’t visit the champagne country without touring the cellars! Reims is home to a few notable champagne houses – Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot, GH Martel & Co, to name a few. If you have more time, I recommend taking a short drive south to Épernay.
Here, you’ll find the vineyards and even more famous producers, including Moët & Chandon and Mumm Perrier-Jouët.
Château de Chantilly
If you love the idea of visiting a French château but hate the idea of crowds (sorry, Versailles!), then venture out to Chantilly instead. Château de Chantilly is a fairytale-like castle surrounded by tranquil ponds and lush gardens.
Although it was originally built in the 1500s, the building was destroyed during the French Revolution and rebuilt in the 1900s by Henri d’Orleans, a politician and prominent art collector. As such, the Château contains one of the most impressive collections of old master paintings, including works from Raphael. And because it’s only 25 minutes away from Paris, Château de Chantilly is easy to visit even if you only have a few hours.
Claude Monet’s House and Gardens
Visiting Claude Monet’s House and Gardens in Giverny is like stepping inside a real-life oil painting. This is where the iconic French painter lived for over 40 years and where he was inspired to paint his Water Lilies series.
Just take a stroll through his estate, and you’ll see the water gardens that were planted by Monet himself.
You can also visit his home, which contains many of his original furnishing and decor pieces from the turn of the century.
During the tour, you’ll be able to see his bedroom, kitchen, sitting room, and even his first painting studio. From the Gare Saint-Lazare train station in Paris, this tranquil oasis is only an hour away.
Architecture lovers from around the world are drawn to Metz. With over 3,000 years of history, Metz is a melting pot of Roman, Renaissance, Neoclassical, and Art Nouveau buildings. The Metz Cathedral is one of the city’s main attractions, as it’s one of the tallest cathedrals in all of Europe.
It also has more stained glass than any other cathedral in the world, making it a stunning sight to see from the inside.
But even if you’re not into architecture, you can still enjoy the many gems this cultural city has to offer. Visit the Centre Pompidou-Metz for modern art, catch a performance at the opera house (the oldest one in France), or take a relaxing cruise down the Moselle River.
Metz is located near the German and Luxemburg border and can be reached in 1.5 hours on the high-speed train.
Ideal for families and kids (and all visitors who are who’s still a kid at heart), Disneyland Paris makes a magical day trip for those visiting Paris. The train ride takes just 35 minutes and drops you off steps away from the main entrance.
The main park, Disneyland Park, is like a mini version of Disneyland in California and the Magic Kingdom in Florida, with the themed lands and rides you know and love.
A second park, Walt Disney Studios, opened in 2022 and can be compared to Florida’s Hollywood Studios. It’s more focused on the movie-making industry and show business. If you only have a day, I recommend just choosing one park to visit.
But if you’d rather make a weekend out of it, there are over a dozen hotels on the property where you can book your overnight stay.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in all of Europe. The entire center is like a living history museum, with imposing city walls, underground tunnels, and colorful timbered houses.
But despite being just 1 hour and 20 minutes away from Paris, Provins has remained relatively unknown to most international tourists.
While the whole city is compact and walkable, there are still quite a few attractions to see during your visit. Soak in the panoramic views from the Caesar Tower, learn about the town’s history at the Musée de Provins et du Provinois, or take a leisurely stroll through the Provins Rose Garden.
Provins is especially fun in June when they host a two-day medieval festival full of costumes, parades, and medieval delights.
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
If you’re eager to tick another château off your bucket list, then Vaux-le-Vicomte is guaranteed to make an unforgettable day trip. Located in Maincy (one hour from Paris), this 17th-century castle is one of the earliest examples of Louis XIV architecture. The lavish rooms are decorated just as they were 400 years ago, with rich Italian furniture, gold-leaf stucco, and Baroque chandeliers.
However, the estate’s formal gardens are equally, if not more, impressive than the château itself. Covering over 100 acres, the gardens feature flowing fountains, intricate canals, and labyrinth-like parterres.
The gardens were built by Andre le Nôtre, King Louis XIV’s gardener who also designed the Palace of Versailles. However, Vaux-le-Vicomte was one of his earlier works, as it was created five years prior to the Versailles gardens.
As one of the most visited cities in Europe, Paris is a must-see destination for many travelers. It has everything, from grand monuments to charming neighborhood haunts. But instead of spending all your time in the City of Love, it’s worth venturing outside to see a different side of France.
One steeped in history and overflowing with iconic architecture, glorious food, and noteworthy treasures.