5 Incredible Day Trips from Paris

It’s hard to imagine leaving Paris for anything but a very, very good reason. The city is worthy of all the praise that it receives, and it would be easy to spend a lifetime there and never tire of its charm and beauty. So you must know that if a day trip pops up in your list of recommendations for things to do when in Paris, that it too must be something special.

Here are five of the best day trips from Paris you can reach by train:

  1. Versailles

Versailles may be the most popular day trip from Paris, but for good reason. This stately palace and its spectacular gardens offer the perfect touristic respite from the capital. It’s easy to reach by train and yet feels like another world away. The estate is massive, so give yourself enough time to explore at least the palace and the gardens. And if you’re returning for a second time, pay a visit to Marie-Antoinette’s estate and Grand Trianon. If you’re there for a full day, pack a picnic with Parisian snacks and find a quiet spot beneath the trees to savor it.

Good to know: On weekends between March and October there’s a musical fountain show worth planning your visit around.

How to get there by train: Take the RER C to Versailles-Château-Rive-Gauche. You can also use the SNCF train to Versailles-Chantiers if it offers more convenient times.

  1. Giverny

Giverny is a commune north of Paris, and it is where you’ll find the home and garden of celebrated artist Claude Monet. Walking the gardens feels much like stepping into one of Monet’s paintings. Visitors are free to explore the water garden and Japanese bridge that appeared regularly in his works. There’s the option of taking a guided tour from Paris, but these are usually more expensive. It’s easy to reach by train, which allows more freedom and is a far cheaper way of experiencing this magnificent attraction.

Good to know: Different flowers bloom throughout the year. If you’re looking for a specific type flower, check the calendar on the Giverny website.

How to get there by train: Catch the train from Gare Saint-Lazare to Vernon.

  1. Mont Saint-Michel

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A day trip from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel requires commitment, as it will be a fairly long day of traveling and is often flooded with tourists. But given the beauty of this famous castle and village on an island, it’s well worth the extra effort. At low tide the castle is surrounded by a salty marsh, usually populated with sheep. But when the tide comes in, the water acts like a natural moat. It’s an incredible sight regardless of the tides, and you’ll leave with a memory card full of epic photos.

Good to know: If you’re looking for the ultimate photos, plan your trip at either sunrise or sunset when it’s looking particularly impressive.

How to get there by train: The fastest route by train is on the TGV from Paris-Montparnasse to Dol-de-Bretagne. From there you will need to connect by bus for a 30 minute ride. There is also an SNCF train from Gare Saint-Lazare to Pontorson-Mont-St-Michel that connects in Caen and takes approximately 4 h 15 min.

  1. Loire Valley

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The Loire Valley is another incredible day trip from Paris that will require a fair bit of traveling. The full journey, including a short bus ride, takes approximately 2 hours, depending on your exact destination. The valley is home to some of the country’s most famous palaces and castles, all of which are worth visiting. The easiest to reach include Amboise, Chambord, Cheverny, and once in the region it’s easy to travel between many of them.

Good to know: Read up about the castles that interest you the most and start there. It’s easy to spread yourself too thin among the various attractions and run out of time.

How to get there by train: There are regular trains from Paris to the Loire Valley. Depending on the attraction you wish to visit you may need to connect at a regional station or take a bus or taxi for the final few miles.

  1. Lille

Lille is a region heavily influenced by its Belgian neighbors just across the border. The beautiful Flemish architecture, spectacular squares and superb food make this a day trip to remember. Though many overlook this region for others around the country, the food and history have driven an increase in day trippers from the capital of late. It’s also a quick and easy TGV ride away from Paris, making it a unique escape from the city for a convenient excursion.

Good to know: There are many incredible restaurants in Lille worth trying out. Research and book ahead of time if you have your heart set on one in particular.

How to get there by train: There are regular TGV trains from Paris Nord to Lille that take approximately one hour. There are also SNCF trains that connect in Amiens that take up to three hours with transfer times.

Though it may be unthinkable to leave the French capital if you’re just there for a few short days, if you have a bit more time to spare you can revel in the multitude of day trips from Paris. Though some may require advance planning and an early start, with a Eurail France Pass you’ll be able to avoid the costly last minute ticket charges, and will only pay a reservation fee on some high-speed TGVs.

 

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