There are so many brilliant destinations within easy striking distance of Paris that it would be a shame to miss them. Looking for the best day trips from Paris? Read this in-depth guide. 

Paris is such a cool city that you can easily spend the duration of your trip exploring the diverse array of things to do, bars, restaurants and out-and-out fabulous spots during your itinerary. 

I get it – by the time you’ve spent a couple of days checking out Paris’s major sights and a couple more mooching around some of the quieter neighbourhoods, it’s pretty much time to go home. 

That said, there are so many cool day trips from Paris that I would encourage you to try and squeeze at least one of them into your schedule. 

Whether you want to revel in the OTT glory of Versailles, explore the Medieval charm of Le Mans or the jaw-droppingly beautiful chateaux of the Loire Valley, you’re certainly not short on options. 

Not sure where to start? These are the Paris day trips you totally shouldn’t miss. 

The Best Day Trips from Paris

Le Mans 

Le Mans is a gorgeous city
Le Mans is a gorgeous city

If you’re a car fan, chances are you’ve heard of Le Mans, on account of the famous 24-hour race that’s held there every year. If not, this one may have slipped you by. But let me tell you – it is one of the best day trips you can squeeze into your itinerary.

Situated halfway between Paris and Nantes on the banks of the Sarthe River, the city has a strong Roman heritage, with various ruins still visible. However, some of the most impressive sights are newer – at least by French standards.

Branching out from the large Place de la République, the city is a maze of medieval architecture that is the definition of charming. There’s the stunning Gothic Cathedral of St Julian’s, which partly dates back to the 11th Century – don’t just admire the exterior, head inside to marvel at the impressive interior with intricate stained glass and the tomb of Berengaria, wife of Richard the Lionheart. 

After that, take time to explore the city’s historic houses, such as the famous Adam and Eve’s House – a Renaissance house that dates back to 1525. Round it all off with a trip to the Motor Museum of the 24 Hours of Le Mans – despite the mouthful of a name, it’s a fascinating walk through the history and present of one of the most thrilling festivals of speed. 

Getting There

54 minutes by train from Paris Montparnasse station 

Versailles 

Versailles
Versailles

Nowadays, Versailles is so synonymous with extravagance that it’s hard to imagine it was once just a quiet little village.

That was, until King Louis XIII built a hunting lodge there. Several expansions meant it would eventually become home to one of the most lavish royal palaces in Europe.

The Palace of Versailles is famously associated with Marie Antoinette – of ‘let them eat cake!’ fame (although that’s certainly a misquote). You’ll certainly feel like part of the aristocracy as you wander around enjoying gorgeous sights like the Hall of Mirrors where the Treaty of Versailles to end World War I was signed.

Although the palace is by far the most famous sight in Versailles, you can also explore the wider town which is quite picturesque.

Getting There

Frequent trains take 45 minutes. 

Loire Valley 

Loire Valley
Loire Valley

Near the centre of France, the Loire Valley is pretty close to heaven for lovers of food, wine, castles, scenery or gorgeous villages (aka just about everyone). 

The Loire Valley region boasts an incredible 1,000 castles – so you won’t be starved for an impressive chateau or two. Fortified castles dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries like Sully, Langeais, Chinon and Angers were followed by opulent chateaux such as those at Chambord and Blois – there are few places better to trace the development of French architecture during the course of six centuries than the Loire. 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the wine though – world-famous vineyards produce stellar vintages – pop into a few (or even a few more) for a tasting at the source. 

Seeing as you’re planning a day trip, it would be best to base your day around a visit to one of the main towns or cities such as Orleans, Tours or Blois combined with a nearby chateau. 

Getting There

A Loire Valley day trip from Paris is relatively easy: you can technically reach part of the Loire Valley by train, stopping in Tours. However, for the best experience I recommend going by car (either self-driving, or part of a tour).

Book a tour (including wine tasting, and lunch!) here

Vallee du Loir 

The Loir River
The Loir River

Every now and again, I discover a hidden gem that’s so beautiful and peaceful I consider keeping it all to myself. Then I think of you, dear reader, and decide to share it after all.

Well, the Vallee du Loir (no, it’s not the same as the Loire) is the hidden gem of all hidden gems. It’s the rural France of storybooks; the gorgeous villages, delicious food and stunning scenery.

Completely sans the touristy hordes.

Getting There

You’ll need a car to discover this one, but believe me: it’s worth it.

Normandy (D Day Beaches / WWII) 

Utah Beach, Normandy

Few places have been as significant for modern European history as Normandy, in France’s north.

If you have an interest in history or want to confront the horrors of World War II, then a Normandy day trip from Paris is a must.

Most famously, Normandy was the site of the D-Day Landings. These battles saw extremely heavy casualties for the Allied forces, but are credited as a tipping point in the war.

You don’t need to be a military enthusiast to be moved by the sight of rows upon rows of stark white grave markers, or to imagine the sombre reality of landing on the beaches.

Getting There

You can reach Bayeux (where you can also see the famous tapestry honouring the Norman conquest of Britain) quite easily by train from Paris, however I recommend a guided tour to help add context to your visit.

Book a day trip to the Normandy D Day Landing Beaches

Mont St Michel 

Mont Saint-Michel
Mont St Michel

Trips from Paris don’t come much more magical than a visit to Mont St Michel in the country’s north.

The sight of the Gothic abbey hovering above the heavily-fortified island is surely one of the most iconic views in France. It’s no surprise that it attracts over seven million visitors every year. As well as the stunning abbey, it’s also a hodgepodge of cute little laneways on the way up.

Getting There

Take the high-speed TGV from Paris to Rennes, then take the bus from Rennes to Mont-st-Michel. The journey should take around 1 hour.

Book a day trip from Paris to Mont-st-Michel 

Honfleur

Honfleur Harbour

Honfleur is so stupidly pretty that I can’t believe everyone doesn’t know about it.

Those who do know about it can only rave about its picturesque streets – the crown of which is the stunning harbour. Lined by higgledy-piggledy narrow houses in an array of colours, it’s a total delight. It’s no surprise that artists including legend Claude Monet chose to paint it.

After strolling around the Vieux Bassin (Old Harbour), take in some of Honfleur’s charming sights, such as the The Eugène Boudin Museum, a fine-arts museum with works by a number of celebrated 19th and 20th century artists including Boudin, Courbet and Monet. 

Then make your way to the Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce – a 17th-century chapel perched on a hill above the town – the chapel itself is a pretty sight, but the fabulous views are just as much of a draw. 

Getting There

You can take the train from Paris to Le Havre, where it’s a relatively short bus ride onto Honfleur. 

Giverny 

Giverny

Nestled in the gentle embrace of Normandy, and a relatively short hop from Paris, Giverny is a picturesque village that famously cradled the creative genius of various masters such as Manet and Renoir, but most notably Claude Monet. 

Visiting the village is like stepping into one of his paintings, a confluence of colours and serenity. He not only painted Giverny extensively, but also lived here – and his house and gardens are the jewel in the village’s crown. 

The gardens are split into two parts: the Clos Normand, with its array of flowers, and the Japanese-inspired water garden, where the famed lily pads from his most famous works reside. It’s not exactly hard to see how the gardens became a muse for the artist. 

That’s not all of the appeal though, plan to visit the Musée des Impressionnismes, which does a great job of placing the artist within the broader Impressionist movement.  

Getting There

Giverny is only about 45 miles (75 kilometres) from Paris, however there is no direct train or public bus. Take the short train ride from Paris to Vernon, followed by a local shuttle bus, which takes 15 mins. The whole journey should take just over an hour.  

Book your half day tour from Paris to Giverny here

Champagne 

Champagne

Does this one really need an introduction? It’s the home of Champagne, aka the bubbly stuff. 

Just a stone’s throw from Paris, the effervescent region of Champagne makes for a rather fabulous day trip. The historic cities of Reims and Épernay sit at the heart of the region, each with their own charm. 

Reims draws visitors in with its awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Gothic cathedral and labyrinth of chalk cellars where the champagne houses age their vintages. By contrast, Épernay is famous for its Avenue de Champagne – where world-famous names such as Moët & Chandon, Perrier-Jouët, and Pol Roger beckon you in to taste their wines. 

Plan to take a vineyard tour where passionate winemakers walk you through the process of creating champagne from grape to glass. 

Getting There

If you’re planning a day trip to Champagne from Paris, the best way is to take a tour. That way, you don’t have to do any driving and can take advantage of the fabulous Champagne on offer.

Sans doing that, as some of the wineries are spread out, it’s ideal to have a car (and a designated driver, of course). However, if you’re vehicle-less, don’t fret. You can get the high-speed train to either Reims or Epernay, which are both hubs of the region and take a taxi from there.

Book your wine tour of the Champagne region here

Chartres

Scenic view of Eure River banks and houses in Historic Center of Chartres

If you’ve been to many cathedrals in France (and let’s face it, there are a lot of them), then you’ll know that most have been restored and added to over the centuries. 

This is exactly what makes the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres stand out – it’s quite the time capsule, having remained largely unchanged since it was first constructed in the 12th century. With its stunning stained glass windows and intricately-sculpted facade, it’s one of the most striking in the country. 

Remarkably, it even survived the World War II bombings which destroyed much of the nearby town.

Away from the cathedral, the serene town is filled with half-timbered houses, small museums and galleries that are perfect for a day of strolling around. 

Getting There

There are direct trains to Chartres from Gare Montparnasse in Paris.

Étretat

Cliffs of Etretat

If your idea of the perfect fun day trip from Paris is taking in some absolutely gorgeous nature, then Etretrat may be just perfect. It’s located on the Alabaster Coast in Normandy right at the top of France, so it’s a bit of a hike. However, you’ll be well rewarded with beautiful views out over the chalk white cliffs.

The town is most famous for those cliffs – a series of towering arches and needles that jut into the English Channel – it’s little wonder that it was a favourite for Impressionist painters such as Money and Courbet. Hike along the cliff tops for vast views of the sea. 

Inland, the town is utterly charming – with an abundance of Belle Epoque villas and quaint marketplaces. Make a beeline for the Les Jardins d’Étretat – the meeting place of natural beauty and contemporary art. 

Getting There

It is possible to get a train to Le Havre and then the bus to Etretat, but it is quite slow (around 2 hours 40 minutes) so plan to make a whole day of it. A tour or a car will help you have a lot less time in transit.

Châteaux de Vaux-le-Vicomte 

Châteaux de Vaux-le-Vicomte

If you want to see a gorgeous French chateaux but you aren’t keen to battle the crowds at Versailles, do I have a treat for you. Châteaux de Vaux-le-Vicomte is an impressive palace and garden that’s far enough off the tourist radar to give you some room to breathe. 

It’s the perfect trip for those who delight in travelling to the heart of French history while basking in the beauty of one of the country’s most magnificent chateaux. 

Historically, the lavish parties at this chateaux managed to outweigh those of Marie Antoinette – several partygoers were arrested after a particular debaucherous fete in the 17th century.

Today, you can visit the opulent state rooms, private apartments and the perfectly-manicured gardens. Designed in the French formal style, the gardens are a marvel of symmetry and worth exploring during the course of at least a few hours. 

Getting There

To see it for yourself, simply take the train to the Verneuil l’Etang train station, where there is a shuttle bus to the chateaux.

Château de Fontainebleau 

Château de Fontainebleau

The Chateau de Fontainebleau is another French elaborate castle which makes for a great day trip from the city. Plus, it’s a double whammy, because the town itself is absolutely adorable as well.

This chateaux is seriously impressive, and really exemplifies the ‘look at me, I’m super rich!’ attitude of the French aristocracy in the Renaissance era. Whatever could be painted, covered in gold or filled with expensive objects, was. It’s really quite the feast for your eyes.

Getting There

Helpfully, there’s a direct train to Fontainebleau from Paris, so it’s one of the easiest day trips on the list – you could even do it in half a day at a push.

Book a tour of Fontainebleau as well as Châteaux de Vaux-le-Vicomte here

Chantilly 

Château de Chantilly
Chantilly

Like Fontainebleau, there’s more to Chantilly than its lavish chateau – but it’s certainly the best-known attraction. It’s a destination that encapsulates the elegance and cultural richness of France, one that blends aristocratic history, art and natural beauty – and it couldn’t feel further away from the hectic hustle of the city. 

Apart from being lavish and grand (as per usual), Chateau de Chantilly is famous for its extensive library. It houses more than 60,000 significant books. There’s also the Musée Condé – with its impressive collection of antique paintings that is second only to the Louvre. 

After spending time indoors, allow some time to explore the gardens – masterminded by André Le Nôtre, the same person who designed those at Versailles, they’re a stunning collection of manicured lawns, water features and blooming flowers. 

Getting There

Chantilly is easy to get to – a train from Gare du Nord to Gare de Chantilly Gouvieux takes under half an hour.

Get your skip-the-line ticket to the chateau here

Provins

Provins

Paris is beautiful, but I have to admit that charming medieval villages in France are some of my favourite spots to spend the day. Provins is a prime example. 

This UNESCO World Heritage site in the region of the Île-de-France is best-known for its well-preserved medieval architecture. The beautiful town looks exactly how you’d hope – narrow streets, slightly ramshackle half-timbered buildings and a lengthy history hidden just below their surface.

Take the Saint Quiriace Collegiate Church – pretty as a picture, and then you find out Joan of Arc attended mass there. Or the Tour César, a keep with panoramic views of the town and the surrounding countryside… that just so happens to date all the way back to the 12th century. 

Getting There

Direct trains run from Gare De L’Est in Paris to Provins and take around 1 hour 20 minutes. 

Château de Breteuil 

Breteuil 

Just 35 kilometres away from Paris lies the Château de Breteuil, a striking country house that’s been in the same very, very lucky family since it was built. Thankfully, they’ve swung open its doors to let us, the masses, visit and enjoy it in all its glory.

Dating back to the 17th century, the chateau is steeped in history – something that’s evident in its extensive collection of family portraits and antique furniture. Look closely and you’ll even find signs of the manor’s connection with prominent figures such as Louis XVI and Napoleon. 

Aside from its unique looks, Chateau de Breteuil is also famously the home of an exhibit on Perrault’s classic fairy tales – it adds a fun and whimsical touch. 

Getting There

You’ll want a car to visit this one (it’s a 40 minute drive). Alternatively, you can take the train to Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse and a bus / taxi from there. 

Château de Champs 

For a glimpse into how the aristocracy lived on the fringes of Paris, then head out to Chateau de Champs

This day trip offers a glimpse into the refined elegance of 18th-century French architecture and interior design, set against the backdrop of beautifully landscaped gardens. It’s the ideal jaunt for those with a penchant for history and a love of picturesque settings, 

Champs-sur-Marne combines the grandeur of a château with the charm of its surrounding nature. The elaborate building was first built in 1699, however the owner soon went bankrupt and sold it on. Shortly thereafter, the most famous addition – the Rococo salon de chinoise – was added.

The gardens of Champs-sur-Marne, designed in both the French and English styles, are as much a draw as the château itself. 

Getting There

It’s an easy train ride from Gare du Nord to Noisiel, about a mile from the chateau.

Compiegne 

Compiegne

Compiegne in northern France is another of my top picks… not to mention another place that’s steeped in history.

It is the location where the German High Command signed the truce in November 1918 to bring about an end to World War I, and where the French High Command signed France’s surrender to Hitler in the same humble railway carriage in June 1940 in World War II.

The centrepiece of Compiègne is its majestic palace, Château de Compiègne. Originally a royal and imperial residence, the palace boasts a remarkable history. It was extensively renovated by Louis XV and later became a favoured residence of Napoleon III. 

Today, the château houses three museums: the Second Empire Museum, the Museum of the Car and Tourism and the Historic Apartments, each offering a unique insight into different facets of French history and culture.

You can also visit the striking Town Hall, or sit in a cute cafe sipping an espresso.

Getting There

There’s a direct train from Gare du Nord. 

Écouen

Ecouen

Located about twenty kilometres north of Paris, Écouen is a gorgeous place most famous for its Château d’Écouen, home to the Musee Renaissance.

It’s the largest Renaissance museum in France, and filled with priceless treasures. Among them, Renaissance artworks, including tapestries, stained glass, ceramics and paintings offer a deep dive into this pivotal period in European art and culture.

Écouen also offers a glimpse into the local life of a small French town, with its charming streets and traditional buildings. Be sure to explore the town’s local church, Saint-Acheul, which features impressive stained glass windows from the 16th century.

Getting There

Direct trains run from Paris to Écouen and take about half an hour.

Meudon

Meudon

Right on the outskirts of the city, Meudon is the place to go if you want to explore somewhere a bit different without venturing too far from the centre. 

Despite its proximity to the capital, it has a totally different feel. Things are far more peaceful here – you can almost forget the horror that is the line for the Eiffel Tower (I kid, I kid – sort of).

Meudon is renowned for its Observatory, the Observatoire de Meudon, a pivotal site in French astronomy. Founded in the 19th century, the observatory is perched atop a hill, offering not only a glimpse into the world of space research but also stunning views over Paris.

Another highlight is the Rodin Museum, housed in the artist’s former villa, Villa des Brillants. This museum is a more intimate counterpart to the one in central Paris, showcasing a collection of sculptures and works by the famous French sculptor in a peaceful setting. 

Fancy some more outdoorsy pursuits? Head to the Meudon Forest, a vast woodland area that invites leisurely walks and a chance to reconnect with nature.

Getting There

As Meudon is technically a suburb of outer Paris, it’s easy to reach by train or bus.

Senlis 

Senlis

Senlis is such a pretty little place – filled with surprisingly grand attractions – that you might find yourself looking around wondering where the crowds are. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth – just enjoy being able to wander through the streets in relative peace and quiet.

Senlis boasts a remarkably well-preserved medieval core, complete with cobbled streets and timber-framed houses. Take time to explore the narrow lanes and discover hidden courtyards, before heading to the surprisingly impressive Cathedral. I mean, really impressive.

With its intricate façade and stunning stained glass, it’s a prime example of early Gothic architecture. 

When you visit, be sure to keep an eye out for the plaque commemorating the achievements of Joan of Arc.

Getting There

There is no direct train to Senlis, however you can get the train to Chantilly and then the bus to Senlis.

Lille

Lille, France

Lille has charm in abundance – it’s the perfect day trip from Paris. 

This northern French city is rich in culture and history, which can be seen in everything from its picturesque streets to world-class museums.

Speaking of which, the Palais des Beaux-Arts is unmissable. This museum is beautiful and houses one of the largest art collections in France, including works by Rubens, Goya and Delacroix.

The Old Town is another must-see on your day trip to Lille. With its quaint cobbled streets and colourful houses, you’ll want to get lost in this adorable city. The best part? Lille is small enough to comfortably explore in one day.

Getting There

A direct train from Gare du Nord takes you right into the centre of Lille.

Sevres 

So technically this is still a part of Paris, but it’s right on the outskirts, so here we are. This pretty area has one special claim to fame – it’s home to some of the world’s best porcelain.

Now, you may be thinking: ‘huh? Porcelain doesn’t sound very interesting!’ Oh, but it is. Here, you can learn all about the history and manufacturing of it. Then, of course, you can pick up a few pieces to impress your friends back home.

If your friends happen to have some serious porcelain knowledge.

Getting There

It’s easy to get to Sevres by train from downtown Paris, and especially from Gare Montparnasse.

Brussels

Grand Place Brussels

Fancy hopping over to Belgium on your day trip? The Belgian capital of Brussels is the perfect option.

There’s plenty to do, but you can cover the vast majority of the main sites in one (very long) day. Begin by making your way to Grand Place – the hub of the city – before nipping over to the nearby Manneken Pis for a little bit of light relief.

The Atomium is a short metro ride away from the centre of the city, as are the likes of the Magritte Museum and Mont des Arts (though the latter is just a steep stroll away, too). And, before you head back to Paris, make sure you stop by Delirium for a pint of the good stuff. I’m talking about Delirium Red, of course.

Gorging yourself on fries and waffles is totally optional, but highly recommended.

Getting There

It takes just over an hour to travel between the two capitals. Direct Thalys trains run from Gare du Nord to Brussels Zuid/Midi.

Rouen

Rouen

The town of Rouen was one of France’s major hubs during the Middle Ages and is a wonderful spot to visit.

As well as being home to plenty of French history, and some of the most wonderful Gothic churches in France (which, with it being France is saying something), you can visit the main sites where Joan of Arc was imprisoned, tried, and eventually turned into a martyr.

Not only that, you can see the stunning astronomical clock, the Gros Horloge, and the heart of Richard the Lionheart.

All this less than two hours from the centre of Paris? What are you waiting for?

Getting There

The train to Rouen from Paris takes between an hour and a quarter and 1 hr 45 minutes, and the historic town centre is a ten-minute walk from the station.

Reims

Reims
Reims

I mentioned Reims in my broader Champagne entry, but it’s such a brilliant destination that it deserves a section of its own. The famous cathedral city of Reims is only an hour outside Paris. 

Among the many charms of this beautiful city is the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Reims, the largest and grandest of Reims’ endless collection of ornate and gorgeous churches, while history geeks will appreciate the Museum of the Surrender.

It was here that the surrender of the Germans took place on May 8th 1945. Once the European HQ of Dwight D Eisenhower, the Germans unconditionally surrendered in the war room at 2:41am on Monday 7th May 1945 to bring an end to the war in Europe. The room has been preserved and recreated faithfully to look as it did that day.

Of course, you can’t visit the Champagne region without enjoying a bottle of bubbly, and you won’t go short of cool wineries and vineyards to partake in before you head back to Paris.

Getting There

If you want to sample some of the tipple then the best way to get to Reims from Paris is to get a train or grab a seat on a bus.

Strasbourg

Strasbourg
Strasbourg

The city of Strasbourg lies in Alsace Lorraine, for many decades a disputed region between France and Germany. 

This is a beautiful place to visit less than two hours from Paris any time of the year, sitting on the River Rhine and full of colour in the summer. Yet, if you’re in Paris during December, then the Christkindelsmarik festive holiday markets are an unmissable experience.

In my opinion, they are the best and most authentic of Europe’s stunning Christmas markets where you can pick up a hand-crafted bargain while wrapped up against the chill and with the aroma of mulled wine and cinnamon apple punch filling your nostrils.

Head to the Petite France area to see the houses lining the river looking like something out of a fairy tail.

Getting There

Once again France’s outstanding rail network makes travel nice and easy, with trips to and from Paris taking around 1 hr 45 minutes.

Auvers-sur-Oise

Auvers-sur-Oise
Auvers-sur-Oise

It still blows my mind to think that Vincent van Gogh died almost penniless and with his unquestionable genius unrecognised while he lived, and nowhere does this injustice sting more than in the place of his death, Auvers-sur-Oise.

A hub of artistic wonder, Auvers-sur-Oise is not only synonymous with Van Gogh – you can visit the room at the Auberge Ravoux where he was living at the time of his passing – but the Musee Daubigny is a wonderful spot for any art lover to visit, particularly if you have a love of the work of the impressionist painter of the same name.

Sat on the very outskirts of Paris, Auvers is also well known for the potent green liqueur Absinthe, the history of which is exhibited at the Absinthe Museum.

Getting There

Only an hour by train, if you have a car on your visit to Paris this one is also easily driveable in slightly less time.

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