8 Best Day Trips from Paris

 
8 Best Day Trips from Paris

With high-speed train links to destinations around France, Paris affords endless options for day trips. If you’re visiting Paris for the France Rugby World Cup 2023, why not make the most of the time between matches and take in some of the regional highlights?

Ready to follow in the footsteps of Marie-Antoinette, enjoy wine tasting at a Loire Valley château, or visit France’s most iconic theme park? Here’s our pick of the eight best day trips from Paris.

1. Palace of Versailles

No French palace compares to Versailles. Not only is the UNESCO-listed château a masterclass in 17th-century opulence, but it’s also a living piece of French history. This was the former home of King Louis XIV, King Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette; the setting for the French Revolution; and the location of the signing of the Peace of Paris treaties and the Treaty of Versailles.

Take a tour of the palace to marvel at the Hall of Mirrors (with its vision-boggling 357 mirrors), peek inside the Royal Chapel and Marie-Antoinette’s private chambers, and see the Coronation Room. Leave time to explore the royal gardens, too. André Le Nôtre’s magnum opus comes complete with manicured lawns, lavish fountains, an Orangery, and the Grand Canal. Time your visit for the musical fountain show to complete the experience.

Distance from Paris: 19 miles (30 km)

How to get there: Drive (55 mins), take the RER train (42 minutes, followed by a 15-minute walk), or join a guided tour from Paris.

Don’t miss: The spectacular musical fountain show.

2. Disneyland Paris

As France’s biggest and most popular theme park, Disneyland Paris needs little introduction. Hop on the train from Paris, and you’ll be transported to the world of Mickey and co in mere minutes. Advance tickets are a must if you want to maximise your time—choose from Disneyland Park or Walt Disney Studios® Park (or both), and consider a FASTPASS® ticket offering skip-the-line access to some of the most popular rides.

Get your adrenaline fix on big thrill rides like Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain: Mission 2, Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, and Pirates of the Caribbean (in the Disneyland Park), or Ratatouille: The Ride and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith (in Walt Disney Studios Park); take a ride on the Disneyland Railroad; watch the Disney parade, and meet and greet all your favourite Disney characters.

Distance from Paris: 27 miles (43 km)

How to get there: Drive (55 minutes), take the RER train (37 minutes), or join a guided tour from Paris.

Don’t miss: A ride on Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain.

3. Giverny

The dreamy landscapes of French impressionist painter Claude Monet draw visitors to the Normandy village of Giverny, just outside of Paris. Pay a visit to the Claude Monet House, where the artist lived and worked up until his death in 1926, and peek inside the home and studio, where some of his most famous works were produced.

Think of Monet and you probably think of water lilies, so it’s little surprise that the highlight of a visit is a stroll around the idyllic water gardens, filled with lily ponds, weeping willows, and a rainbow of flowers.

Distance from Paris: 51 miles (82 km).

How to get there: Drive (1 hour 30 mins), take the train (45 minutes), or join a guided tour from Paris.

Don’t miss: Claude Monet’s house and gardens.

4. Normandy D-Day Beaches

West of Paris, the windswept Normandy coastline served as the setting for one of the pivotal battles of WWII and the largest seaborne invasion in history. See the five D-Day Beaches—Juno, Omaha, Utah, Sword, and Gold—where the Allied Invasion took place; stop at key battle sites such as Pointe du Hoc and Pegasus Bridge; and visit the British, Canadian, and US war cemeteries.

It’s not possible to visit everything in one day, so opt to follow in the footsteps of a single battalion or choose memorials and museums to help you learn more about the fateful events of June 6, 1944. The Caen Memorial Visitor Centre, Arromanches 360° Cinema, Omaha Beach Memorial Museum, and the American Airborne Museum are some of the most notable.

Distance from Paris: 155 miles (250 km) to Caen.

How to get there: Drive (3 hours to Caen) or join a guided tour from Paris.

Don’t miss: A tour of the WWII battlefields and memorial.

5. Mont Saint-Michel

Part-ancient fortress, part-Disney castle, the Mont St-Michel is hands-down one of France’s most magnificent sights. Marooned on its own island along the coast of Normandy, the Benedictine Abbey dates back to the early 8th century and remains an important pilgrimage site.

It’s a long drive from Paris, but it will be worth the wait once you spot the towering monastery rising up from the Atlantic Sea. Walk or drive across the causeway to reach the island, then climb up to the ramparts for a view across Mont Saint-Michel bay and head inside to explore the ancient abbey. Leave time to explore the rest of the citadel—the labyrinth of steep paths and alleyways are lined with gift shops, art galleries, and restaurants.

Distance from Paris: 225 miles (365 km)

How to get there: Drive (4 hours) or join a guided tour from Paris.

Don’t miss: The view from the Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel

6. Loire Valley

Rolling vineyards, riverside medieval towns, and fairy-tale châteaux make up the UNESCO-listed attractions of the Loire Valley, one of France’s most stunning regions. Whether you come to sip wines amid the vineyards (fruity whites and rosés are this region’s speciality), cycle the famous Loire à Vélo bike trail, or tour historic cities along the Loire River; a day trip to the Loire Valley is to be savoured.

If you’re visiting on a day trip from Paris, it’s a good idea to book a tour and make the most of your time. Pick two of the most memorable châteaux to focus on—Chenonceau, Cheverny, and Chambord are the Big Three, while the Château de Villandry is known for its show-stopping gardens.

Distance from Paris: 143 miles (230 km) to the Château de Chenonceau.

How to get there: Drive (3 hours to the Château de Chenonceau) or join a guided tour from Paris.

Don’t miss: Wine tasting at a Loire Valley château.

7. Champagne

It’s not Champagne if it doesn’t come from Champagne! That’s what locals will tell you if you dare to use the name to refer to any old bubbly—after all, this world-famous wine region is an ‘appellation d’origine contrôlée’ meaning that there are strict rules dictating exactly which sparkling wines can carry the ‘Champagne’ label.

Learn more about how the celebratory tipple is made and sample some of the finest varietals on a Champagne tasting tour. Reims is the unofficial capital of the region, home to the Taittinger, Mumm, Veuve-Clicquot, and Pommery Champagne Houses, while the Moët and Chandon Champagne houses are found in nearby Epernay, and Hautvillers is home to Dom Pérignon.

Distance from Paris: 90 miles (144 km) to Reims

How to get there: Drive (1 hour 50 mins to Reims), take the train (46 mins to Reims), or join a guided tour from Paris.

Don’t miss: A visit to the house of Moët & Chandon.

8. Fontainebleau and Vaux-Le-Vicomte

On the southern edge of Paris, the vast forest of Fontainebleau is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with over 28,000 hectares (one of the largest in France) of woodlands and gorges, and miles of hiking, biking, horseback riding, and rock-climbing trails.

Combine your outdoor adventure with two of Paris’ most impressive châteaux. First up is the UNESCO-listed Château de Fontainebleau, the only palace that has been inhabited by the full rollcall of French royalty—a whopping 34 kings and two emperors, spanning eight centuries. Nearby, the Baroque Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is best known for its landscaped gardens, the work of royal gardener André Le Nôtre and, legend has it, the inspiration for the Gardens of Versailles.

Distance from Paris: 44 miles (70 km) to the Château de Fontainebleau.

How to get there: Drive (1 hour 25 mins to the Château de Fontainebleau) or join a guided tour from Paris.

Don’t miss: The majestic Château de Fontainebleau.

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