Top 10 Day Trips from Paris


 

Looking for a getaway from city life in Paris? As incredibly romantic as Paris can be, it’s still a huge bustling city that merits an escape from time to time. Here are the top 10 day trips from Paris – from a local perspective!

1. Deauville, Normandy

Photo by Jordan Plihal

Deauville is a charming seaside town in Normandy’s Côte Fleurie, and a popular day trip destination for many Parisians since the 1800s. Just two hours away from Paris by train, Deauville makes a great escape if you want to hit the beach for a day, or simply discover a new region of France.

The city center is a quick walk from the train station, as is the beach! Half-timbered houses and brightly painted buildings line the streets of the city center; showcasing traditional French architecture. The town is historically known for it’s casino and for hosting an annual film festival, but today draws visitors for an array of reasons. While in Deauville you can picnic on the beach, or dine out and try some delicious seafood from the area like their famous moules-frites (steamed mussels served with fries).

The surrounding towns of Honfleur and Trouville are also easy to visit via bus, or car if you have one.

2. Etretat, Normandy

Photo by Jordan Plihal

If you’re a nature lover, this is an excellent day trip for you! Étretat is a coastal village located in France’s picturesque Normandy region. The jagged limestone cliffs and rock formations jutting out of the sea are truly a sight to behold. Before the Instagram era, Étretat’s landscapes were immortalized and made famous by Impressionist painters such as Monet.

There are plenty of things to do in Étretat for a day. You can hike along the cliffs, or even picnic there if the weather is nice! If you’re a history buff, you’ll be impressed here too. There’s an ancient cathedral perched on the cliff side overlooking the sea, and the magnificent Jardin d’Étretat is filled with both modern and ancient sculptures.

If you time your journey well, Étretat makes an excellent day trip from Paris. You will arrive in the city center in less than three hours by train from Paris Saint-Lazare station.

3. Strasbourg, Grand Est

Photo by Jordan Plihal

If you want to see a completely different side of France than what you’ve experienced in Paris, Strasbourg is the perfect day trip for you. Strasbourg is located in Alsace, the region situated right along the German-French border. And the duality of these two cultures is very much present throughout the city; in the cuisine, the languages spoken and of course, the architecture.

Strasbourg is one of my top 10 day trips from Paris because it’s quite easy to see in just a day. The TGV from Paris will take you right to Strasbourg’s main station in just over two hours. Strasbourg station is just a ten-minute walk to the city center and main attractions. The city itself is very walkable, and you can reasonably tour around without feeling rushed. But just remember a pair of comfortable shoes!

Some must-sees include the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, with its sky-high spire showcasing panoramic views of the city and the Rhine river beyond. After the cathedral, be sure to take a stroll around La Petite France neighborhood. Here you can spot the Franco-Germanic influence at work. Charming half-timbered houses line the riverside and you’ll spot plenty of typical shops selling Alsatian souvenirs. Finally, don’t leave Strasbourg without tasting some of the local cuisine. Hearty dishes like sauerkraut and flammekeuche are mainstays, and Alsace is also famous for their wine. Bon appétit!

4. Provins, Ile de France

Photo courtesy of Provins.net

The medieval town of Provins is actually located in the same region as Paris, which makes it a very convenient destination for a day trip. To reach Provins from Paris, you can either drive or take the Transilien from Gare de l’Est station. Either way takes about an hour, and you’ll arrive right in the center.

Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001, Provins certainly has a lot of rich history. Originally, Provins played host to Champagne trading festivals in the Middle Ages, when Champagne was one of France’s most important commodities.

Luckily, much of the original architecture has been extremely well-preserved. You can still spot the famous Tour César, tour the old city walls, and wander among the charming architecture of the town center. Today, Provins hosts many medieval fairs and festivals, which draw visitors from around the world.

5. Giverny, Normandy

Courtesy of Giverny.org

Next up on my top 10 day trips from Paris is Giverny. If you love Impressionist art as much as I do, this place is a must-see. Have you ever wondered what inspired Monet’s famous water lilies? Well, Giverny holds the answer and much more. This picturesque village in southern Normandy was once Claude Monet’s home and art studio. During your visit to Giverny, you can tour Monet’s former house and gardens, which are exceptionally beautiful in the spring months.

Many of Monet’s most famous works such as the nympheas or water lilies were created in his expansive Giverny gardens. Today, you can see these impressive paintings on display at l’Orangerie museum in Paris.

Once you’ve visited Monet’s former home, make sure to stop by the Impressionist Museum in Giverny. This charming building houses various Impressionist works and is conveniently located close to Monet’s home. You can also visit the beautiful medieval Château de Bizy in neighboring Vernon, just 4km from Giverny.

To get to Giverny from Paris, you should go by car. It will take you about an hour and a half to drive there, but you’ll be thankful to have transportation upon arrival – there’s not much by way of public transport there. The other option you have is to go by shuttle or tour bus, which can be pricier than renting a car.

6. Loire Valley, Centre

Sourced from Wikimedia Commons

The Loire Valley is certainly one of the top 10 day trips from Paris if you want to visit French Chateaux, or if you’re a wine fan. Situated about two hundred kilometers from Paris in France’s Centre region, the Loire valley is best explored by car. Home to a multitude of French castles and one of the most productive wine regions in the country, it’s no wonder the Loire Valley is one of the most visited destinations in France.

The most famous castles include the Château de Chenonceau, the Château de Chambord and the Château d’Amboise. Of course, there are many other just waiting to be discovered, but these three make a good jumping off point. And when you’re done experiencing life as a French royal, why not head out for some wine tasting? Add some local Saumur, Anjou or Muscadet varieties to your repertoire.

The châteaux and wine tours are relatively spread out from one another, which makes seeing them all in a day quite challenging. Unless you have a car! So I recommend to take a train from Paris to Tours, and then rent a car there so you’ll have plenty of flexibility and can explore at your own pace.

7. Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy

Sourced from Wikimedia Commons

Again we’re heading back to the stunning Normandy region for the next place on my top 10 day trips from Paris. The Mont Saint-Michel is truly a must-see if you’ve got an extra day to spare in France. You’ll need to plan your time wisely to see it in a day, but I promise, this trip is worth it!

The Mont Saint-Michel is an ancient medieval abbey located on an island off a bay on the border of the Normandy and Brittany regions of France. Not only is the ancient abbey located on the island, but there’s an entire walled town as well. Today, you can visit the incredible island town, learn about its rich history and surely snap some beautiful photos. The island and its town has been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site and draws millions of eager visitors each year.

History buffs will enjoy visits to the island’s several museums, and you should know there are plenty of shops and restaurants. Basically, there’s a little something for everyone here. To get to the Mont Saint-Michel from Paris, you can either drive (about 4 hours each way) or take a train to Rennes and take a shuttle or rent a car there. The second option will probably be easiest, and least stressful. It’s about an hour drive from Rennes to the Mont Saint-Michel.

8. Versailles, Ile de France

Photo by Daniel Jolivet on Flickr

The Palace and gardens at Versailles are some of the most impressive places to visit in all of France. Visiting the glitzy former home of Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette is easy to do from Paris, which make it a popular day trip for locals and tourists alike.

Located in Ile de France region (the same one as Paris) you can be at Versailles in under an hour from Paris via the RER C.

The Château de Versailles is an architectural and artistic marvel, sure to captivate even the most hesitant visitor. Beyond the grandeur and opulence of the castle and its many rooms including the famed Hall of Mirrors, are the equally impressive grounds and gardens. On the grounds you can visit Marie Antoinette’s hamlet, the royal stables and of course intricate gardens (complete with fountains) that stretch on for miles and miles.

In the summer months, I recommend packing a picnic to enjoy in the gardens! There’s really something magical about enjoying a meal while admiring all of the fountains, architecture and landscaping surrounding you. Of course, there are also several restaurants and cafés on the grounds too, in case you come hungry!

 

9. Bruges, Belgium

Sourced from Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking for an out of the box day trip from Paris, Bruges is just the ticket. One of Belgium’s most picturesque cities, Bruges has been charming Paris day trippers for years. This is partly due to how easy Bruges is to get to – the train from Paris will bring you to Bruges city center in just over two hours. And the journey is just about three hours by car.

A city known for its classic Flemish architecture and many canals; some say Bruges is the Venice of northern Europe. The whole city has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, so you can imagine that there’s no shortage to see and do on a day trip.

And the best way to explore Bruges is on foot. I recommend you start off in the central Market Square, where you can spot the famous 13th-century Belfry. Today, the marketplace is a pedestrian only zone filled with shops and restaurants. It’s a good place to sample some traditional Belgian treats like fries, waffles, and beer! From there, you can wander along the canals through the city and make a stop in the picturesque Hansa neighborhood. Other notable sites include the Gothic style Basilica of the Holy Blood (remarkable to visit regardless of your faith), the Groeningemuseum (art museum), and the city’s iconic windmills.

10. London, U.K.

By Dlliff on Wikimedia Commons

One of the best things about living in (or visiting) Paris is how easy it is to travel around. Leaving from Paris, you can be in another city, or even another country in just an hour or two. And thanks to the Eurostar, London is one of the top 10 day trips from Paris. The train leaves from Paris Gare du Nord station and arrives in London city center at St Pancras in just over two hours. Talk about efficient!

Once in London, the city is yours to explore but it’s an enormous city so make sure to narrow down what you want to do. Do you prefer to wander the charming streets of Notting Hill or discover Royal London and enjoy a British high tea? Perhaps you’re an art or history buff and museums are more your style. In that case, be sure to check out Saatchi gallery (for modern art) and the impressive Victoria and Albert museum for history and classic art.

And if you’re still unsure what to do in London, try our customizable guided day tour. Our guides will personalize the tour according to your interests and make sure you experience the best of London.

Now you know my top 10 day trips from Paris! I hope you get the chance to explore one of these amazing places.

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