Post overview: Day trips from Paris
Whether you’re spending an extended period of time in Paris or live there, sometimes you need a breather. The French capital is beautiful but the constant crowds and noise can grow to be too much.
So what are the best day trips from Paris? Where can you go to find reprieve (or a simple change in scenery) that will still have you sleeping in your own bed at night? Don’t fret, I’m here to answer that question.
I’ve visited the French capital more than six times, sometimes for months at a time and have extensively researched the best day trips from Paris. It’s amazing how you can travel only a few hours and be in a completely new place, full of new foods, customs and sometimes even languages.
I’ve written this article to help you make the most of your time in France, enjoying some of its hidden gems and easily accessible regions. The beauty of Europe is at your fingertips, so what do you say we get to the best day trips from Paris?
Planning Day Trips from Paris (Tips)
There are a few thing to consider before planning your day trips from Paris. Here I’ll share some of my personal tips and tricks that have made planning and actually taking the trips a little easier.
Don’t forget that Europe is connected by train: Sometimes as Americans we think “day-trip” means “road-trip” but Europe has a vast web of trains that make travel a breeze. Not only are trains more cost-effective when planning day-trips from Paris, they’re often faster than driving. The fastest trains in Europe can go up to 200MPH!
Don’t overpack: This is a lesson I’ve learned (and am learning) the hard way. It’s easy to think “I might need this, and I might need that” and before you know it your day trip from Paris has turned into a backpacking trip. Do yourself a favor, pack only what you need (and snacks – you can’t forget the snacks).
Book tickets and experiences in advance: Obvious? Maybe. Worth a reminder? Absolutely. There is no quicker way to ruin a day trip from Paris than by forgetting to book tickets, arriving at your destination and they’re sold out for the day. Save yourself the headache and as book your tickets as soon as you decide where you’re going. This also applies to train tickets, the closer you are to your trip the more expensive they’ll be!
Don’t try to see everything at once: Another way to sour a trip is by making it so stressful it’s not enjoyable. You should remember that day trips from Paris are breaks, so treat them as such. Make a list of what you really (realistically) want to see and when you arrive check them off the list rather than thinking you need to see the whole of a new city in a day.
Best Day Trips from Paris
A lot of dear friends have asked me whether taking a day trip from Paris to Versailles is worth it. My answer is always a resounding yes!
This might be the most popular/famous day trip from Paris because of its easy accessibility. A mere 30 minute train ride from downtown and you’ll enjoy a whole day’s worth of entertainment.
The Palace of Versailles is the main attraction, it used to be the official royal residence of the top dogs until the French Revolution in 1789. Today the palace is open to the public — and damn — it’s a joy to explore.
The Hall of Mirrors (unreal) is an eye-popping display of opulence and grandeur, it’s hard not to feel small in it. And Marie Antoinette’s gardens are a must-visit, you’ll get to relax like royalty – literally.
A lot of folks considering taking a day trip from Paris should consider Versailles. You can dedicate a half-day to it so it doesn’t take up too much of your precious time in the City of Light. But if you have time, there’s enough to explore for a full day!
Helpful Note: If you’re going to add the Palace of Versailles to your Paris itinerary (as you should!), make sure to book tickets well in advance. This is especially true if you plan on Visiting Paris in the summer. Otherwise you’ll be stuck in the infamous long lines. Here’s the official website to book your tickets.
Enjoying a glass of wine with the person you love is one of the most romantic things to do in Paris. But there is a unique way you can take it up a notch.
The champagne region of France (where champagne the drink comes from) is accessible via train and is one of the best day trips from Paris.
Reims is the region’s unofficial capital and home to the some of the world’s biggest champagne manufacturers. They open their factories and cellars to guests for tastings and tours which is why it’s one of the most popular day trips from Paris.
But while you’re in town you can’t miss the stunning Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims. For 800 years the kings of France would be crowned in the cathedral, which is where the city gets the nickname Coronation City.
I will mention that Reims feels like a city and if you want more of a quaint Champagne experience you should instead look towards Epernay.
All the champagne manufacturers are within walking distance from each other (they literally have a street called Avenue de Champagne). This makes Epernay an extremely easy day trip from Paris since you can arrive and take it easy, perusing the small town and popping in when something catches your eye.
Moët & Chandon’s tour & tasting is can’t-miss experience as far as I’m concerned. The champagne house feels rich and therefore you do too, especially when you go pinkys-up holding a champagne flute.
If you love your day-trip from Paris to Champagne and want to come back with a souvenir you should consider buying a bottle to bring home with you.
Fun fact: Disneyland Paris is the largest Disneyland outside the U.S. and is the most visited theme park in Europe. Safe to say it’s one of the most popular day-trips from Paris.
It’s only a 45 minute train ride from Paris and you can (literally) spend days there, still only scratching the surface. From the coasters to the castles this is one of the best day trips from Paris with kids.
However there are a few things to consider before hopping on the train. The first and most important thing is that Disneyland Paris uses what’s called dynamic-pricing.
This is when a company uses real-time analytics to develop a price. Days when a lot of folks are booking or demand is highest (like if you’re trying to book same day or the weekend) are most expensive.
With that said it’s imperative that you book your tickets in advance! You’ll get a much better value if you don’t wait until the last minute.
Other than that, Disneyland Paris is broken up into two parks: Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park. They’re not very different experiences, I think it’s just a way to get you to buy a more expensive ticket offering you access to both parks.
If you’re in Paris for an extended period of time Disneyland is one of the best day trips from Paris since it gives you a break from the city and takes you to the happiest place on earth. 😉
No, this isn’t by mistake and no, you don’t have to take a plane. Shocking but true, London is one of the best day trips from Paris! There is a train that will take you between the two capitals in about two and a half hours.
I’ll be honest, London never really caught my eye but during my most recent visit to Paris my husband and I visited on a whim. Going from the Eiffel Tower to Big Ben, the Louvre to the British Museum, Love Lock Bridge to Tower Bridge, we fell in love!
It should go without saying you won’t be short on things to do. If you’re taking a day trip from Paris to London you’ll have to come to terms that you’ll have enough time to only see a few attractions. Make a list of what you really want to see ahead of time so you can maximize your time.
Among the most popular attractions in London (besides the ones listed above) are the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye Ferris Wheel, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The city is also well connected via subway, colloquially as the tube so you don’t have to worry about renting a car. The accessibility makes London one of the best day trips from Paris!
Bring your passports ladies and gents, we’re going international. One of the best day trips from Paris is Brussels, the capital of Belgium.
After a train ride that lasts less than two hours you can be perusing the charming streets of Brussels. Starting your day with a Belgian waffle is a non-negotiable after which you can walk through Brussels’ “pentagon” region, the historic center of the city.
The Grand Place is the major city square and a worthy starting point. Home to one of the most stunning city halls in Europe and Brussels City Museum, the buildings boast a jaw-dropping display of Gothic architecture.
The whole city is charmingly old-fashioned and warm, even on gray, gloomy days. Brussels is one of the best day trips in Paris for those who are dazzled by old-world architecture and design.
Afterwards you can head to the Galerie Royale St. Hubert, a shopaholic’s paradise. While here you can rest your legs at a cafe, shop, or hangout in a charming European bookstore.
And when your tired and done with your day, finish at a pub with a few rounds of crisp Belgian beer. Raise your glass and cheers to the city of Brussels, one of the best day trips from Paris.
Étretat is a coastal town in France’s Normandy region and one of the best day trips from Paris. With a population of less than 1,500 it feels quiet and serene, especially when overlooking the ocean.
The town isn’t the sandy beach type, rather it’s full of colossal white cliffs that stand as tall as 300ft. I don’t paint but the views made me want to break out an easel, it was so inspiring.
It should come as no surprise that the town and its vistas have been the muse for numerous famous painters, one of whom was Claude Monet.
No matter what you, I beg you, I plead with you – stick around for sunset. The view is one of my most heartwarming memories, and it alone makes Étetrat one of the best day trips from Paris.
If you have a car the day trip from Paris will take a three hour road-trip. A cheaper option could be be taking a train to the nearby town of Le Havre and then taking a bus to Etetrat for a total travel-time of four hours.
If you were to hop in a boat and cruise the River Seine towards the Atlantic Ocean you’d eventually arrive at Rouen, one of the best day trips from Paris.
Luckily you can also drive or take a train there, taking approximately an hour and a half to two hours.
The city was once among the most prominent in Medieval Europe and a fought over fiercely by both the French and the English during the Hundred Years War.
Rouen still has tidbits of its storied past, you just have to look for them. It’s one of the best day trips from Paris for those who love history. The most obvious is its houses, which still look those built during the Middle Ages.
Walking the city feels like stepping back in time. If you look closely you’ll notice the some of the buildings have a noticeable lean, but they seem sturdy enough for folks to live in. 😉
The city’s age also means it’s extremely walk-able. It’s not too big but also not too small, perfect for a day trip from Paris. While visiting check out the Rouen Museum of Fine Arts, the Rouen Cathedral and the Gros-Horloge astronomical clock.
Auvers-sur-Oise is famous largely thanks to one person: Vincent van Gogh.
This is where the Dutch artist came to during live his final weeks, and where he also drew inspiration. Auvers-sur-Oise is one of the best day trips from Paris for artistic dreamers and any fan of van Gogh.
Long story short, after van Gogh was released from the Saint-Remy asylum he moved to Auvers-sur-Oise to be closer to his brother Theo and doctor, Paul Gachet. He lived in Auvers-sur-Oise for three months, from May to July of 1890.
Technically Auvers-sur-Oise is one of Paris suburbs’ and can be driven there in less than an hour. Don’t let the proximity fool you though, the town looks and feels like the quiet French countryside, quiet and peaceful.
While visiting you can peruse the Van Gogh Museum, tour the Château d’Auvers and peruse the village. Around town you’ll see scenes from some of van Gogh’s paintings, and there are signs showing and explaining the art.
Another famous artist who found inspiration in the French countryside is Claude Monet. His home of 43 years was Giverny, a part of Normandy and one of the best day trips from Paris.
The town is small and if I’m being honest there isn’t a whole lot to do, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need. There is a reason Monet and other artists would come here, it was to be able to hear themselves think.
Sometimes city life can give you a bit of cabin-fever and the best day trips from Paris can give you a breath of fresh air. Giverny is famous for having ponds with lily pads (which Monet painted) and parking yourself on the shore with a book, journal or canvas can provide a good way to unwind.
If you do take the day trip from Paris there are a few must-visit sites. Claude Monet’s home and garden has become a museum and is the primary attraction.
The town is also home to the Museum of Impressionism Giverny, a gorgeous art museum. Last but not least is the Hotel Baudy, a popular hangout for artists during the 19th century that still retains much of its old world charm. Although it’s not a Michelin rated restaurant you’ll still find the food punches above its weight.
If you want to take a day trip from Paris to a place that will (literally) make you feel like a princess, you need look no further than the Loire Valley.
It’s home to a variety of chateaus and castles that will make you feel under-dressed no matter what you’re wearing. My biggest suggestion is to bring a camera because your Instagram will be loving this photo shoot.
The trip will take a little more than two hours by car from Paris, but unfortunately there isn’t any viable public transportation option. It’s probably for the best since you’ll need a car to get between the chateaus.
If I had the chance to ride a horse and buggy it would’ve been game over, I would’ve never left. You’d find me in one of the castles, married to my French prince charming (sorry, Will) spending my evenings sipping champagne on a terrace.
Some of the most famous and popular chateaus in the Loire Valley include the Château de Chambord, Château d’Amboise, Château de Chaumont and (my personal favorite) the Château de Chenonceau.
If you’re loving this day trip from Paris and have flexibility you could always consider extending your time in the Loire Valley. There are a variety of cheateaus that also operate hotels allowing you to stay the night in a real castle.
Technically still within the Paris metropolitan area, Chantilly is accessible via train in under 30 minutes. In fact it’d take you longer to drive there, when you consider traffic and tolls it could take as long as an hour and a half.
But why is Chantilly one of the best road trips from Paris? It’s an oasis of charm thanks to its old-world chateau, showing you a glimpse into what life as a wealthy French noble would’ve looked like. The chateau is the heart of the small town and, formerly serving as home to the Princes of Condé, cousins of the Kings of France.
You can tour the inside of the chateau, drooling over every ornate detail, golden accent and elegant furniture. Once you’re finished inside, head to the garden that is equally dazzling with fountains and perfectly manicured hedges.
Besides the chateau other reasons this one of the most popular day trips from Paris is the Chantilly Racecourse, a historic racecourse for horses. Akin to what you’d see during the Kentucky Derby in the U.S. the Chantilly Racecourse draws sizeable crowds.
Fun fact: It’s widely agreed upon that whipped cream was created in Italy, but Chantilly cream is a popular nickname name given to the sweet treat. The name comes from a (false) story that the maître d’hôtel at the Chantilly Chateau invented whipped cream in the mid-17th century. The name stuck though and Chantilly is still a popular way to say whipped cream in the culinary world.
Lille, the fourth-most populated city in France lies on the border, neighboring Belgium. The picturesque city is one of the best day trip from Paris, offering the perks of a major city without feeling overwhelming.
In Lille (pronounced leel) you’ll find charming cobble-stone streets that lead to museums, cafes and shopping. You can have a scheduled itinerary to make the most of your time or dally along, taking in the sights as they come.
One of the best things you can do includes visiting the Palais des Beaux-Arts. It’s one of the largest museums in France. The collection boasts art by Renaissance legends Rapheal and Donatello as well as French heros like Delacroix and Monet. The museum alone makes Lille one of the best day trips from Paris!
You can also visit the boyhood home of Charles de Gaulle. He was the General that helped free France from the grasp of the Nazis, rewrote the French Constitution and served as the country’s most beloved president.
And lastly you can swing by La Vielle Bourse. The building once served as the city’s Chamber of Commerce, but is now one of the pillars of downtown and a must-visit if you take the day trip from Paris to Lille.
Inside the building’s courtyard is one of the liveliest town squares I’ve ever seen. On any given day folks are playing checkers, bookshops are opened and the occasional dance-break isn’t uncommon.
Best of all Lille is only an hour and a half away by train, making it one of the best day trips from Paris for folks who don’t have a ton of time but want to see another major city in France. It’ll take twice as long by car, so just pack a backpack and hop aboard.
Lyon is one of the best day trips from Paris when you’ve just had enough of the crowds and hectic-nature of the French capital. My husband calls Lyon “little Paris” and although they’re not identical they are very similar.
Lyon has the perks of a big city, in fact it’s the third largest in France, but doesn’t have the same number of tourists as the French capital. You can easily take the two-hour train ride when you need to take a breather.
You’ll find charming cafes and mouthwatering restaurants in Lyon (Notre Maison is a must-try) that’ll keep you well fed as you enjoy the day trip from Paris. If time allows, clink wine glasses during sunset overlooking either of the two rivers that flow through the city. Foodies will love Lyon, it’s been dubbed the World Capital of Gastronomy.
When you’ve ate your fill (or are in-between meals) I suggest touring the magnificent Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. Access is free and the inside is even more striking than the exterior.
The most famous museum in Lyon is the Musée des Confluences, a science and anthrology museum that looks like a work of art from the outside. It’s modern and technical exterior sets the tone for the science you’ll see inside.
As one of the best day trips from Paris, Lyon provides as much or as little entertainment as you need. Some folks spend a few days here, but you can hit the big landmarks in a day.
One of the best day trips from Paris for wine-enthusiasts is Bordeaux, a region world-famous for its delectable red wine. The city itself doesn’t have much in the way of vineyards (you’ll have to travel into the countryside for that), but you can still drink fresh, inexpensive wine.
The city is one of the best day trips from Paris by train, it only takes about three hours to get there.
In between glasses I suggest visiting the Cathedrale Saint-Andre, Bordeaux’s most beautiful church. Existing since the year 864, the current church was built between the 14th and the 15th centuries.
If you need something to soak up the red-wine you can swing by Au Petrin Moissagais, a bakery founded in 1765. They still bake in a wood-fired oven, making delectable and mouthwatering breads and pastries.
To end the day stop by the Place de la Bourse, one of the most famous landmarks in all of France. It’s a town square where after sundown the buildings light up like a christmas tree. The square is immensely romantic and makes Bordeaux one of the most idyllic day trips from Paris for lovebirds.
A 3.5 hour train ride makes Frankfurt one of the furthest day trips from Paris. With that said, it’s an attainable destination with a little planning and the willingness to wake up early.
For folks unsure of when they’ll return to Europe checking off as many major cities and countries can be a point of pride. Some might consider the seven hour round-trip worth it, so I’ll share a few popular things to do in Frankfurt.
The most charming part of Frankfurt is Romerburg, a town square that takes you back in time. The buildings all look like old-timey and beautiful. Now is a good time to mention that after visiting I read in more than one forum to be on the lookout for pickpockets, but while I was there I didn’t feel unsafe.
If the weather is less than ideal on your day trip from Paris you can get tickets to the Alte Oper. As Frankfurt’s premier opera house and concert hall finding a world class performance to attend won’t be hard.
If the weather is nice you can walk the Iron Foot Bridge, which connects the historic downtown of Frankfurt to the Sachsenhausen district. The bridge is a great place to take photos and stretch your legs.
If you’re looking for day trips from Paris where you can visit museums, the Stadel Museum in Frankfurt should be on your list. Boasting pieces by Rembrandt, Picasso, Monet and Francis Bacon you can spend as much or as little time as you’d like gawking at the artwork.
Chamonix is a town that deserves more than just a day trip from Paris, but I wanted to put it on your radar as a bonus option. Who knows, you might consider making it a weekend trip. 😉
Sitting at the foot of Mont Blanc, the tallest peak in the Alps the small town is a dream destination for winter-sport enthusiasts. Similar to what Aspen is to America, Chaimonix is the premier winter town in France.
The snow-covered peaks give it an irresistable charm and outdoor activities are aplenty regardless of the season you visit. During the winter the ski-resorts are in full swing and during the summer there are hikes galore. Chamonix is one of the best day trips from Paris thanks to the striking scenery!
The mountainous, relaxing vibe means Chaimonix is also home to a variety of spas. You can hang out in the saunas, hot tubs and get massages while breathing in crisp mountain air.
The only downside to making a day-trip to Chamonix from Paris is that the shortest train ride I could find is six hours. Road tripping it takes about the same time too.
With that said you might consider turning your day trip from Paris into a one-night stay when you see how beautiful this town is.
Best day trips from Paris (Post Summary)
Here’s a quick roundup of the best day trips from Paris
- Disneyland Paris
- Loire Valley
- Bonus: Chamonix
Day trips from Paris (Map)
Here’s a map showing you where all the best day trips from Paris are, relative to the French capital itself.
And there you have it, folks. Those were my suggested day trips from Paris! I hope you found the guide useful in planning your day trip from Paris and enjoy the destinations as much as I have.
Until next time, cheers!