Discover the best day trips from Paris – culture, sights and history
Paris captures the imagination of visitors from all over the world. The city of romance, an international fashion hub, and home to the iconic Eiffel Tower and the Champs Élysées, Paris offers plenty of beauty and charm.
However, if you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle, you’ll find some fantastic destinations for day trips only a short distance from Paris. From the stunning Palace of Versailles to the charming town of Giverny, there’s something for everyone. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best day trips from Paris that you won’t want to miss!
The best historical sites on the outskirts of Paris
Visiting the famous historical landmarks on the outskirts of Paris will enrich your cultural experience. You’ll get to see another side of Paris that offers an insight into the history of France, from the grand architecture to the role of the monarchy.
Versailles – a must-visit for history and architecture lovers
Famous for the opulent Palace of Versailles and the stunning Versailles gardens, you’ll find this beautiful town only a 30-minute train journey from Paris.
The magnificent palace was built by King Louis XIV in 1682 as a symbol of his power and wealth. On entering the grounds, you’ll instantly be in awe of the sheer size and grandeur of this former royal residence. From the iconic Hall of Mirrors to the King’s Kitchen Garden gardens, every part of this vast estate is a tribute to the French Art of the 17th century.
A stroll around the impressive Palace of Versailles gardens will take your breath away. These formal gardens spread over 77 hectares, overflow with fountains, statues, and walkways. If you get the chance to visit the Palace of Versailles gardens on a summer night you’ll be treated to a mesmerizing display of fountains, music, and fireworks.
Horse lovers will enjoy a visit to the Versailles Academy of Equestrian Arts, where distinguished riders perform a magical equestrian ballet.
Beyond the opulence of the Palace of Versailles, the city offers several hidden gems waiting to be explored. The Queen’s Hamlet (Hameau de la Reine) Marie Antoinette’s rustic retreat transports you to a charming village with thatched cottages set around a lake.
The area of Notre Dame is the oldest part of Versailles and is home to an impressive church (not to be confused with Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris) and a street market on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday mornings.
Fontainebleau – a tapestry of history and opulence
A day trip from Paris to Fontainebleau is like stepping into a living canvas of culture and nature. Only 40 minutes from central Paris by train, Fontainebleau is definitely worth a visit.
The highlight of this day trip is the magnificent Château de Fontainebleau, a former royal residence that spans seven centuries of architectural evolution. Wander through lavishly adorned rooms where French monarchs, from Louis VII to Napoleon III, once held court. The exquisite Renaissance and classical architecture, coupled with ornate furnishings, provide a glimpse into the grandeur of French royalty.
You can also walk around the sprawling gardens, a harmonious blend of formal French design and picturesque landscaping. The tranquil beauty of the carp-filled ponds and manicured lawns creates the perfect setting for a leisurely walk.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the vast Fontainebleau Forest beckons, renowned for its rock formations, this is the second largest forest in France and known as the Gateway to Paris.
Don’t miss the charming town of Fontainebleau itself, with its quaint streets and local markets. In a single day, Fontainebleau offers a rich mix of nature and culture, making it an ideal escape if you’re seeking a taste of royal splendor and outdoor adventure beyond the rush of Paris.
The nearby forest is great for many outdoor activity enthusiasts. Whether you’re into hiking and rock climbing, horse riding, or cycling, there’s something for all interests. And if you want to stock up on your sports gear wardrobe stop off at Galeries Lafayette on the way back to your accommodation and browse the range of sportswear for men and women.
Good to know 📝
There are two main railway stations in Paris, Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est, which both offer fast and easy train trips to other parts of France.
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte – the age of French aristocracy
No trip to France is complete without a visit to a French château, even if you’re staying in Paris. A day trip from Paris to Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte takes about an hour by train and promises a captivating journey through history and French elegance. This 17th-century castle is often considered the precursor to the Palace of Versailles and is the vision of Nicolas Fouquet, the finance minister to Louis XIV.
The château’s opulent architecture, exquisite interiors, and meticulously landscaped gardens showcase French Baroque design at its best. A guided tour of the castle unveils the intriguing history of Fouquet’s rise and fall, including a dramatic arrest.
Marvel at the majesty of the Grand Salon, the intricate details of the Hercules Drawing Room, and the beauty of the gardens designed by André Le Nôtre.
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte’s timeless allure invites you to delve into a chapter of French history marked by ambition, power, and artistic brilliance.
Chantilly – cultural and culinary delights
At 30 minutes by train north of Paris, Château de Chantilly represents French Renaissance architecture. Surrounded by expansive gardens and a picturesque lake visitors can explore the chateau’s luxurious interiors, which house an art collection, manuscripts, and artifacts.
The attraction of Chantilly goes beyond history to its reputation for the delicious Chantilly cream. A visit to the town is incomplete without trying this mouthwatering delight, which originated in the kitchens of the château. The whipped cream, sweetened and flavored with vanilla, adds a finishing touch to the pastries and desserts you’ll find in every French bakery.
If you can´t go without Chantilly cream on your return to Paris head for one of the cafés in Galeries Lafayette and indulge yourself.
Chantilly is also a renowned destination for equestrian lovers. Known as the ‘Capital City of the Horse’ the historic Great Stables housing the Living Horse Museum, provide an immersive experience into the world of equine culture. While you’re here, a must-see event is the daily equestrian demonstration. The professional riders demonstrate all kinds of horseback riding and you’ll get to see an excerpt from an equestrian show.
Relax and unwind in the countryside on the outskirts of Paris
Once you’ve visited the famous landmarks of Paris and indulged in a shopping spree at Galeries Lafayette, it’s time to take some time out. There are several tranquil destinations only a short train ride from Paris that show a fascinating side of the outskirts of Paris.
Auvers-sur-Oise – amazing scenery and artistic influence
Auvers-sur-Oise, a picturesque village just 1 ½ hours by train from Paris, is an enchanting escape if you’re looking for the best day trips from Paris in a calming environment. Reflected by Vincent van Gogh in some of his masterpieces, this idyllic haven offers a respite from the energy of Paris.
The rustic charm of Auvers-sur-Oise is preserved in its historic architecture, from the medieval church to the quaint country houses that dot the landscape. Cobblestone streets lead you to the very landscapes that stirred Van Gogh’s creativity, inviting you to walk in the footsteps of a genius.
As you meander along the banks of the Oise River the lush, green surroundings and the gentle flow of the river create a serene ambiance, perfect for quiet reflection. Stop off at the Auberge Ravoux, where Van Gogh spent his final months, and dine on a traditional French meal, including the specialty – chocolate mousse.
Learn about Van Gogh’s demise due to the potency of the alcoholic drink absinthe, and pay tribute at his final resting place in the village cemetery.
You can also discover the vibrant local art scene that continues to thrive in this artistic haven and contrasts with the symbolic work of Van Gogh.
Good to know 📝
If you’ve rented a car and want to set your own schedule it’s easy to combine an excursion with a shopping trip. The Galeries Lafayette car park is conveniently located below the l’Homme store and is open 24/7. Sightsee in the morning, park up below the shopping mall, and enjoy the afternoon shopping.
Giverny – a testament to Monet
Giverny, a floral haven captured by the brushstrokes of Claude Monet, is an idyllic day trip and takes 1 ½ hours by train from Paris. Nestled along the banks of the Seine River, this quaint village is a sanctuary for art and nature enthusiasts.
One of Giverny’s main attractions is Monet’s former residence, where you can wander through the artist’s vibrant gardens that inspired his iconic Water Lilies series. The Clos Normand, a meticulously landscaped flower garden, blooms with a riot of colors, while the Japanese-inspired water garden transports you to the heart of Monet’s creative vision.
The pièce de résistance is the enchanting pink farmhouse, now the Monet House and Gardens, where you can explore the artist’s home and studios, frozen in time to capture the essence of the Impressionist era.
Giverny is a timeless escape from the busy city of Paris, offering a glimpse into Monet’s artistic skill and a retreat into the natural beauty that fueled his imagination. The charming village, with its rustic architecture and streets lined with galleries and cafes, is the perfect location to take some time out.
Good to know 📝
Booking a guided tour saves you precious time when taking a trip from Paris. You can make the most of the local knowledge and expertise to enrich your adventure and create lasting memories.
Parc de Sceaux – a hidden gem
A journey from Paris to Parc de Sceaux, south of Paris, leads you to a serene oasis just a short train ride away from the city center. This meticulously landscaped park is a popular destination for Parisiens wishing to escape the city. The 180 hectares offer a breath of fresh air and a retreat into nature.
Wander along the many tree-lined avenues, discovering ornate fountains, statues, and carefully manicured lawns. The Grand Canal adds a touch of serenity to the landscape, while the water features give you a cooling sensation on the warmest of days.
During spring, the park bursts into a kaleidoscope of colors as the cherry blossom blooms, creating a superb environment to unwind in.
The enchanting Orangerie, adorned with greenery, is a delightful spot for contemplation while the garden, with its diverse collection of blooms, offers a fragrant escape.
Parc de Sceaux is not only a haven for nature lovers but also a cultural retreat. The Petit Château houses the Musée de l’Île-de-France, showcasing art and artifacts that give an insight into the region’s history.
Montreuil and Vincennes – natural beauty and historical charm
Montreuil, located about thirty minutes east of Paris, has a quaint atmosphere with its cobbled streets, charming squares, and artisanal boutiques.
Visit Montreuil on a Saturday for a souvenir for friends back home purchased from a genuine French flea market.
Moving on to nearby Vincennes, the majestic Château de Vincennes, a medieval fortress that once served as a royal residence stands proudly over the town.
The château’s imposing architecture and extensive grounds provide a peaceful setting for exploration.
The nearby Bois de Vincennes, a large forest park, offers an escape into nature with its lakes, walking trails, and botanical gardens. This ecological woodland site contains over 500 species of wild plants, plus many birds and insects.
Bois de Vincennes is ideal for a day away from the city in the French countryside. You can go running, rent a bike, or just wander through the vast expanse of greenery that’s only 30 minutes from Paris. With 995 hectares and 4 lakes to explore this is your perfect chance to unwind.
Why not pack a picnic and eat and drink at your leisure? Visit one of the eateries in Galeries Lafayette in the morning and they’ll prepare you a delicious takeaway to enjoy on your day trip.
Discover the best of French wines
France is famous for its wines and champagne. If you’re a wine expert or want to try something new there are several vineyards you can visit within easy reach of Paris.
The Champagne region – sample the divine bubbly
A day trip to the Champagne region from Paris is a sensory journey that promises more than just exquisite sparkling wine. Located about northeast of Paris, Champagne offers a chance to explore the historic vineyards where the world’s most celebrated sparkling wine is crafted. The fast train from Paris takes about 45 minutes, giving you plenty of time to explore.
You can visit renowned Champagne houses like Moët & Chandon and Dom Pérignon for a firsthand look at the artistry behind each effervescent bottle. Tasting sessions offer a delightful palette of flavors, introducing you to the world of different champagne varieties.
On your return to the city, why not stop off at Le Bar de la Cave at Galeries Lafayette for another glass of champagne to end the perfect day?
The charming town of Épernay, with its vibrant vineyards, lies in the heart of the Champagne region. The scenic beauty of the region, with its rolling vine-covered hills, adds a picturesque scene to your day of indulgence.
If you have time you can follow the champagne trails from Épernay through the different villages that are home to some of the finest champagne cellars in the world. Not only do you get to sample quality champagne, but you’ll also learn about the history and architecture of the Champagne region of France.
Enjoy the wines of Paris – a rare paradise
Did you know some of France’s wines are produced near Paris? If you don´t have time to travel as far as the Loire Valley there are several small vineyards to discover within easy reach of the city.
- The suburb of Clos Du Pas Saint-Maurice in Suresnes offers a journey into the heart of French viticulture for the discerning wine enthusiast. Here you can savor exquisite wines while enjoying panoramic views of the River Seine and the Paris skyline. The intimate setting allows you to get to know the vintners and gain an understanding of the creativity behind winemaking.
- Set in the heart of the 19th arrondissement, Vigne De La Butte Bergeyre provides a serene escape into the world of winemaking amidst the city’s urban landscape. The carefully tended vines, cultivated on the historic Butte Bergeyre, yield a unique terroir that is reflected in each bottle. You can take a guided tour to learn about the winemaking process while appreciating the far-reaching views of Paris.
- Vigne de la Féronne Haute is another suburb located east of the city in Rosny-Sous-Bois and makes a great day out for wine lovers. Producing mainly ‘Sauvignon’ and ‘Chardonnay’ grapes, this vineyard captures the taste of the land that surrounds it.
After a tour around the vineyards, a visit to The Wine Gate at Galeries Lafayette extends your day of wine sampling. The Wine Gate presents over 100 wines from around the world, many of course being French. If you decide to take part in a half-day vineyard visit, you can enjoy lunch at the Wine Gate, complemented by a glass of exquisite wine.
Good to know 📝
Plan your itinerary wisely, prioritizing key attractions and allowing flexibility. Be aware of train schedules, ensuring a stress-free journey. Don’t forget essentials like comfortable shoes and weather-appropriate clothing. Research opening hours and where you would like to visit to make the most of your visit.
Have fun in Paris
There’s more to Paris than history and art. France’s capital is a great place to take children, not just for a cultural experience, but to enjoy the theme parks near Paris.
Disneyland Paris – a theme park for all ages
A day at Disneyland Paris, just 32km outside Paris, is an escape from the city center that will immerse you in a captivating environment. The magic begins from the moment you arrive, when the Sleeping Beauty Castle welcomes you, setting the stage for a day filled with hours of fun.
Classic Disney characters and fairytale landscapes greet you, while the dazzling parades and live shows bring beloved fairytales to life.
Adventure lovers can brave the thrilling rides, including the high-speed Star Wars Space Mountain or Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril. Explore the family attractions for the younger members of the family, from a journey around It’s a Small World to a visit to Pirates of the Caribbean, with each offering a unique immersive experience.
Indulge in delectable treats, from Mickey-shaped pastries to gourmet cuisine in the park’s many eateries. The immersive ambiance extends to Walt Disney Studios Park, where behind-the-scenes charm unfolds in attractions like Ratatouille: The Adventure and the Cars road trip.
Disneyland Paris is a journey into the extraordinary, a chance to rediscover the wonder of childhood, and a full-day escape from Paris.
When you return to the city, a trip to Galeries Lafayette’s Kingdom of Children’s Toys will make every child’s day. They’ll find their favorite Disney characters here, along with a wide selection of toys and games for all ages. Not just a regular toy department, this is an enchanting voyage that’ll take you back to your childhood. You can easily spend a couple of hours here, and after all that shopping why not stop for lunch at one of the Galeries Lafayette restaurants?
Why take a day trip from Paris?
Embarking on a day trip from Paris to another region opens up a world of experiences, whether you want to discover French history, dine on the delicious cuisine, or escape to an open green space.
A day trip from Paris not only reveals the geographical diversity of France but also provides an understanding of its multifaceted culture, offering a unique view into this captivating country. Immerse yourself in local culture, both in Paris and the outskirts. Whether savoring regional cuisine in a Paris suburb or at one of the Galeries Lafayette restaurants or trying out your French, make the most of every moment.