15 best day trips from Paris, France that you won't want to miss

15 best day trips from Paris, France that you won’t want to miss

What’s better than a trip to Paris? Seeing the highlights of the City of Lights, and still having enough time to head out on a day trip.

From UNESCO sites to world-renowned wine regions, there’s no shortage of great places to explore near the city, with magnificent castles and charming villages on its doorstep.

Here are 15 of the best day trips from Paris that you won’t want to miss.

Chateau de Villandry. Loire Valley, France
Chateau de Villandry in the Loire Valley

The Palace of Versailles: 40 minute drive/train

Visiting Versailles is an easy day trip from Paris (and one of the most popular), and the iconic property is every bit as awe-inspiring as you’d expect being the former home of a king.

Palace of Versailles
Palace of Versailles

Chateau de Versailles is a grand spectacle of baroque architecture and sprawling gardens, dating back to the 1600s when it was originally built as a hunting lodge by Louis XIII.

It is now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and features extravagant decor, the dazzling Hall of Mirrors, royal apartments and 800 hectares of manicured gardens.

Time your day trip to Versailles with the Musical Fountains Show which happens every weekend from April to October, or the Fountains Night Show held on Saturday nights.

READ MORE: Visiting Versailles: A guide to Palace of Versailles day trips from Paris

The Hall of Mirrors

Tours to visit Versailles

Organizing Versailles day trips from Paris is easy enough to do on your own: however, having a skip the line ticket and a guide to lead the way through the sprawling complex makes things a bit easier.

There are also bike tours that explore Versailles, some that visit Marie Antoinette’s private estate at the Trianon châteaux, and one that combines Versailles with a visit to Giverny where the famed artist Claude Monet lived and worked.

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Going on your own? It’s important to note that booking a time slot ahead of time is mandatory for visiting inside the palace.

How to get to Versailles from Paris

Getting to the Palace of Versailles from Paris is relatively straightforward, both by car and train.

By train: The most popular and cost-effective way to reach Versailles is by train. Take the RER C line directly to the Versailles Château – Rive Gauche station, just a 10-minute walk from the palace. Trains leave approximately every 15 minutes; the journey time is 45 minutes to an hour. You’ll need a Paris Visite travel card or a separate RER ticket as the palace is outside central Paris’ zones.

By car: If you prefer to drive, the journey takes around 40 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic. There are parking lots near the palace; however, finding a parking spot can be challenging during peak times.

Champagne region: 90 minute drive/45 minute train

No trip to France is complete without sipping a glass of bubbly, and the best place to do it is–of course– the Champagne region.

There are over 280,000 plots of land dedicated to vine cultivation in the area, and at the heart of it is the city of Reims and charming town of Epernay. The cobblestone streets are lined with tasting rooms (Montagne de Reims is known for full-bodied pinot noir grapes, while Epernay is a good place to sample Chardonnay-based bubbles.)

Epernay, France

Esteemed production houses like Piper-Heidsieck and Moët & Chandon (the world’s largest champagne house) call the region home, and visitors can tour their cellars, learn about grape-growing, fermenting and bottling, and even how to sabre a bottle!

READ MORE: A ‘grapes’ getaway: Best tours to Champagne from Paris

Tours to Champagne from Paris

This region ain’t cheap, so expect to pony up some big bucks for a tour. You won’t save much money organizing it on your own (tastings at Moët & Chandon cost 40€ to 75€ per person) and during a guided tour you won’t have to worry about driving back or making reservations, so most people doing a day trip to Champagne from Paris opt for an organized group or private tour.

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How to get to the Champagne region from Paris

To drive to Reims, simply head east on the A4. There’s a direct train that departs from the Gare de l’Est station in Paris, and it takes 47 minutes to get to Reims. The train to Epernay takes about 90 minutes from Gare de l’Est, while driving is a nearly two-hour trip.

Loire Valley: 2 hour drive, 2 ½ hour train

With picture-perfect castles, rolling hills, sweeping vineyards and charming towns, the Loire Valley is straight out of a fairytale.

More than a dozen impressive chateaus are scattered throughout the region, which makes this one of the most romantic Paris day trips.

Chateau de Chaumont. Loire Valley, France
Chateau de Chaumont

I spent nearly a week here and it still wasn’t enough time to marvel at the incredible castles in the Loire Valley; however, it’s possible to see the highlights during a quick visit and even canoe under one of them!

Some of the top ones to include during a Loire Valley castles tour are:

READ MORE: 5 fairytale castles in the Loire Valley, France

How to get to the castles of the Loire Valley

While the train only takes about 2 ½ hours (to Chambord), castle hopping is much easier with a vehicle. Hit the highway for the two hour drive south on A10 to Chateau de Chambord; from there, the other three castles are less than an hour away.

Chateau de Villandry. Loire Valley, France
Chateau de Villandry

Book a Loire Valley day trip from Paris

While a self-guided tour is possible, I highly recommend booking an organized excursion if you’re trying to see the Loire Valley in just one day. This helps cut down on all that driving, and you’ll also save time by getting to skip the lines.

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Chateau de Chambord. Loire Valley, France
Chateau de Chambord

Vallée du Loir: 2 ½ hour drive/train

Not to be confused with the Loire Valley (yes, it’s a tad confusing), Vallée du Loir is an equally enchanting region of France complete with storybook streets, chateaus and vineyards.

Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France
Le Chatre-sur-le-Loir

Go kayaking under a castle in the town of La Fléche, hop on an e-bike and cycle along the six kilometre La Route de Jasnieres (“the route to the wines”), and visit the extraordinary Chateau du Lude.

Chateau du Lude. Loire Valley, France
Chateau du Lude

There are all sorts of options for wine tasting including in an underground wine cave at Domaine des Gauletteries, and you can also see troglodyte houses dating back to the 11th century which were dug right into the cliffside.

READ MORE: Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France
A troglodyte house

How to get to Vallée du Loir from Paris

Since it takes nearly three hours to get to the region, Vallée du Loir is best for weekend trips from Paris.

Good places to base yourself are La Chartre-sur-la-Loire or La Flèche, which are both close to the Loire Valley castles and Orleans to combine the trips. To get there, drive west on the A11.

Fun things to do in Vallée du Loir, France

Orléans: 90 minute drive/1 hour train

With half-timbered houses, a bustling town centre that never feels too busy and a lively waterfront bordering the Loire River, Orléans is a popular stop in the Loire Valley.

Orleans, France

Go shopping along pedestrian-friendly Rue de la République, admire the gothic Cathedral Sainte-Croix, and keep an eye out of all the Joan of Arc dedications and statues for the hometown hero.

The highlights can easily be seen in just a couple of hours, making this one of the easiest Paris day tours.

READ MORE: 10 times Orléans, France proved it’s totally adorable

Orleans, France

Orleans, France

How to get to Orléans from Paris

The fastest route from Paris is heading south along the A10, and the N20 is also an option though it takes a bit longer. The direct train from Gare D’austerlitz in Paris to Gare D’orléans takes just over an hour.

Orleans, France

Château de Chantilly: 1 hour drive, 20 minute train

If you need more of a castle fix, head north to Chantilly, home to the magnificent Château de Chantilly.

The sprawling estate is surrounded by an artificial lake, 115 hectares of gardens, and the largest stables in Europe. Built in the 1500s, highlights include the Petit Château which held the princes’ suites, the Renaissance-style Grand Château, and the Musée Condé which houses the second largest collection of antique paintings after the Louvre.

Guided tours are available of the lavish apartments, and guests can hop on a little train or four-person golf carts to navigate the grounds.

How to get to Chantilly from Paris

Château de Chantilly is one of the easiest day trips from Paris, since SNCF operates direct trains that go from Gare du Nord in Paris to the Chantilly-Gouvieux station in just 25 minutes. From there, it’s just a five minute taxi ride to the castle.

This page has more information about all of the ways to get to the château, including driving from Paris which takes about 45 minutes.

Tours from Paris to Chantilly

It’s easy enough to visit the castle without a guided tour, and entrance tickets can be purchased online ahead of time or by booking this skip-the-line ticket. Note that Château de Chantilly is not open on Tuesdays. Click here to book

Normandy: 3 hour drive, train

D-Day is a moment forever entrenched in history, and the heroic Normandy landings on June 6, 1944 changed the outcome of World War II.

On that day, tens of thousands of Allied troops waged the largest seaborne invasion to date, waging an attack on German forces hunkered down in bunkers along the Normandy coast.

On this Paris to Normandy day trip, walk on Juno Beach, hear stories of bravery on the battlefields, see the bunkers and visit the cemetery where thousands of white crosses memorialize the fallen soldiers.

Some also include a visit to Jardins d’Etretat, which are seven different avant-garde gardens combining classic methods with a neo-futuristic architectural vision.

How to get to Normandy from Paris

As there are no direct trains, driving is the easiest way to get to the Normandy beaches from Paris, and takes about three hours each way.

Normandy tours from Paris

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Mont-Saint-Michel: 3 ½ hour drive, 5 hour train

One of the most Instagrammable spots in France is also found in Normandy: Mont-Saint-Michel, an extraordinary fortified city complete with a Gothic Abbey, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The imposing structure is framed by the Normandy coast in a bay shared with Brittany, creating stunning reflections in the water which are best seen at sunset.

Dating back to the 10th century, Mont-Saint-Michel consists of a cluster of military and clerical buildings, a church and gardens, and is a major Christian pilgrimage site.

How to get to Mont-Saint-Michel from Paris

With a driving time of more than three hours, a Mont-Saint-Michel day trip from Paris means a lot of time stuck in the car. A train ride is out of the question as it takes about five hours each way, so most people either drive themselves and do a self-guided tour, or book a group excursion.

Those doing the drive themselves should note that the parking lots are about 1.5 miles from the mount, and there are shuttle buses at Place des Navettes to transport visitors the rest of the way which run between 7:30am and midnight.

While staying overnight in Normandy allows for more time to explore the site, the majority of visitors only visit for a couple hours. Despite all the driving and a total excursion time of about 14 hours, this is still one of the most popular day trips from Paris.

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Beaune: 3 hour drive, 2 hour train ride

France’s Burgundy region is famous for its prestigious wine production, and at the heart of it all is the beautiful walled city of Beaune.

A standout spot is Hospices de Beaune (Hôtel-Dieu), a former hospital-turned-museum known for its traditional polychrome roof. A similar roof with multi-coloured, glazed tiles adorns Collégiale Notre-Dame, which dates back to the 13th century.

While the town centre is lovely to walk around, most visitors come for the wines. Beaune is surrounded by the Côte d’Or vineyards where Chardonnay and pinot noir grapes are famously harvested, and the Beaune wine region is one of the oldest in France and considered to be among the finest in Burgundy.

READ MORE: What to do in Beaune, Burgundy’s wine capital

What to do in Beaune
Hospices de Beaune

How to get to Beaune

The ride from Paris Gare De Lyon to Beaune takes about two hours when transferring in Dijon, which makes this one of the better Paris day trips by train versus driving on the A5 which takes an hour longer.

Another option is to take the train to Dijon, then join this afternoon wine tasting tour around Burgundy which includes Beaune.

Tours to Beaune

Most excursions are wine-themed, whether it’s e-biking to the vineyards, hot air balloon rides, tasting in a cellar or taking a sidecar tour out to the vines.

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Disneyland Paris: 40 minute train/drive

If Disneyland is the ‘happiest place on earth’, then that must mean that Disneyland Paris is the ‘happiest place in Europe’, oui?

Spending the day here is one of the best things to do in Paris with kids, and a must-do for Disney fans. There are actually two parks here: Disneyland Park, and Walt Disney Studios Park. Highlights include an Avengers-themed roller coaster, Ratatouille: The Adventure, a trackless dark ride that simulates a trip through the world of Ratatouille, and Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, the main, bright-pink castle of Disneyland Park.

Tips for visiting Disneyland Paris:

  • Go on weekdays for fewer crowds
  • Stay at one of the Disneyland hotels to get access to the park one hour earlier than the general public
  • If you only have one day, focus on Disneyland Park instead of trying to see both

How to get to Disneyland Paris

It’s quite easy to get to Disneyland Paris, which is about 30 minutes east of the heart of the city.

From the Paris airports: Book a Magical Shuttle Bus airport transfer, or take the RER A regional train to the Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy station which is just a two minute walk from the parks. Click here to book

From the city: The Disneyland Paris Express has three pickup points in the city, and arrives at the park around 9:45 am. It heads back at 8 pm on days when the Disney Parks close earlier, and 9 pm the rest of the time.

Tickets for Disneyland Paris

There are all sorts of ticket options for visiting the Disney parks, including hotel + admission packages, some that include transfers, entrance to both parks, and multi-day passes. This one day ticket is the most popular option, while this multi-day pass is a better value for those wanting to stay longer.

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Fontainebleu: 1 hour drive, 40 minute train

Boasting an astounding 1536 rooms, Château de Fontainebleau is a sight to behold less than one hour away from Paris, and a UNESCO site.

Originally a hunting lodge for the medieval kings of France, Château de Fontainebleau was transformed into a magnificent Renaissance palace by King Francis I in the 16th century. It served as the preferred residence for numerous French monarchs, including Napoleon Bonaparte, who left his mark on the château during his reign.

The château’s opulent interior features stunning architecture, lavishly decorated rooms, and extensive art collections that showcase the evolution of French artistic styles over the centuries. Visitors can explore 121 of the rooms, like the grand Ballroom and apartments of Marie Antoinette.

Outside, the sprawling Fontainebleau estate boasts beautifully landscaped gardens and serene lakes.

While it can take hours to properly explore the castle, if time allows there’s also an opportunity for a bit of a nature fix. The surrounding region is known for bouldering, and visitors can also go cycling, canoeing or even enjoy a hot air balloon ride.

How to get to Fontainebleu from Paris

Fontainebleu is one of the closest main attractions to Paris, and takes less than an hour to drive to when heading south down the A6. Trains only take about 40 minutes on SNCF, and depart every half hour throughout the day.

Tours to Fontainebleu

Thanks to the easy transportation, it’s easy enough to visit Fontainebleau as a self-guided tour (pre-book this ticket to skip the line). However, some group tours combine a visit with the nearby Château Vaux le Vicomte which is said to have inspired the Palace of Versailles, or Barbizon, a village known for its artists.

The chateau is open every day except Tuesdays, January 1st, May 1st and December 25th.

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Strasbourg: 1 hr 45 min train, 5 1/2 hour drive

With a double UNESCO listing, flower-lined canals, a magnificent cathedral and impressive facades, the city of Strasbourg is one of the best places to visit in France.

Strasbourg

Located in the Alsace region along the German border, this is the kind of place you want to spend at least a couple of days exploring before heading out to see the area’s charming, smaller towns.

However, if time is tight it’s possible to visit during a day trip from Paris, thanks to the relatively quick train connections.

Some of the best things to do in Strasbourg are:

  • Book a boat cruise along the River Ill to see the city from the water
  • Visit the Strasbourg Cathedral which dates back to the Middle Ages, has incredible panoramic views 66 metres up, and a daily astronomical clock show
  • Wander through Grand Ile, the historical centre and a UNESCO site
  • Explore Petite France, beloved for its picturesque canal, half-timbered houses, narrow streets and window boxes bursting with flowers.

Those who visit during the holiday season are in for a treat, as Strasbourg is also home to one of Europe’s best Christmas markets.

The view of Grande Ile from Strasbourg cathedral

Strasbourg cathedral

How to get to Strasbourg from Paris

As handy as it is to have a car in the Alsace region to explore the smaller towns, those making a quick trip from Paris will want to opt for the train since driving takes more than five hours.

By train, the journey is less than two hours thanks to direct routes by operators including Tgv, SNCF, DB and Swiss Railways.

Colmar: 2:45 train, 5 hour drive

Colmar is the quintessential French fairytale town, complete with pastel-hued half-timbered homes lining the waterfront, flowers spilling out of window boxes and tranquil canals.

Colmar, France
Colmar

The Colmar old town served as the inspiration for Beauty and the Beast, and visitors love exploring its winding, cobblestone streets.

Some of the best things to do in Colmar are:

  • Browse the Covered Market, which dates back to 1865 and features intricate brickwork on the exterior, while the inside hosts a market hall.
  • Admire highlights of the old town, including The House of Heads, Pfister House, and the Koifhus which is a pink Gothic and Renaissance-style building built in 1480 that once served as Colmar’s business and political hub.
  • Go on a boat ride through Little Venice (tickets are €7 for adults, and can be purchased right at the dock in front of Restaurant Le Caveau Saint-Pierre)
  • Walk through the Tanner’s District, which dates back as far as the 17th century.

READ MORE: French fairytale: Best things to do in Colmar old town

Colmar, France

Petite Venice in Colmar
Petite Venice in Colmar

How to get to Colmar from Paris

The Alsace region is so gorgeous you’ll want to spend at least a weekend here if possible, especially since it takes a few hours to get here from Paris. The drive is about five hours long, while the quickest train to Colmar is just under three hours and departs twice per week.

Paris to Colmar day trips

Colmar is the type of place you’ll simply want to wander around and soak up the atmosphere, though having a guide can be helpful to understand a bit more of the city’s history. There’s also an option to join this half day tour to see some of the equally charming Alsace towns, which is highly recommended.

 

 

Colmar, France

Giverny: 1 hour drive, 2 hour train

Giverny, France, is a charming day trip destination from Paris on the banks of the River Siene, drawing people with its picturesque beauty and historical significance.

Best known as the home of the renowned Impressionist painter Claude Monet, visitors flock here to experience the magic that inspired his iconic works.

The main highlight is Monet’s house and its stunning gardens, including the iconic water lily pond featured in his masterpieces. Visitors can stroll through the blooming flower beds and vibrant landscapes which inspired Monet’s artistry.

Afterwards, explore the quaint village with its charming cafes and art galleries, which offer a glimpse of what life is like in the French countryside.

How to get to Giverny

The fastest way to get to Giverny from Paris is to drive west on the A13, which takes about an hour. The quickest train route takes about two hours, and requires transferring in Vernon.

Tours to Giverny from Paris

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Brussels: 90 minute train, 3 hour drive

One of the best things about travelling in Europe is how quick it is to get between countries, and heading into Belgium is one of the best options for day trips from Paris, France that cross the border.

The capital Brussels is home to a million people and is the headquarters of the European Union; however, there aren’t that many major sites (compared to large cities like Rome and London) which makes it easy to see most of the highlights in just one day.

Some of the best things to do during a Paris to Brussels day trip are:

  • Visit Grand Place, a central square featuring a Gothic-inspired town hall, cafes, chocolate shops and restaurants which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Manneken Pis, a tiny fountain depicting a young boy peeing that is inexplicably one of the city’s top attractions
  • Book a chocolate workshop, or taste the famous Belgian beer
  • Admire the Royal Palace of Brussels and the futuristic-looking, 103-metre tall Atomium sculpture

READ MORE: A complete guide for what to do in Brussels in one day

What to do in brussels in one day

How to get to Brussels from Paris

The fastest option is the direct train from Paris Nord to Brussel-Zuid / Bruxelles-Midi, which takes only an hour and a half and has about a dozen departures per day. Otherwise, expect to spend over three hours driving up the A1 north.

What to do in brussels in one day
The Atomium

Bruges: 3 hour drive, 2 ½ hour train

Boasting miles of canals that wind through the historic, colourful city, Bruges has earned the nickname ‘The Venice of the North.’

It has many of the same highlights as its Italian doppelgänger without the crushing crowds, and its preserved medieval buildings and quaint, cobblestone laneways are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

A day trip to Bruges, Belgium
Bruges, Belgium

Start by heading out on a walking tour or canal cruise to get an overview of the city, and learn about the surrounding Flemish region.

The Market Square (Markt) is the heart of the action, which now hosts bustling shops, cafes and restaurants, and fans of the comic Tintin won’t want to miss the Tintin shop down the street.

For a great view, hike up 366 steps to the top of the Belfry Tower, and be rewarded with a panoramic view of the entire city below.

READ MORE: The best things to do during a day trip to Bruges, Belgium

A day trip to Bruges, Belgium

How to get to Bruges from Paris

Bruges is a straight shot north up the A1 from Paris, and the drive takes about three hours. The train trip takes about two and a half hours, with a transfer in Brussels.

The easiest way is to book this Paris to Bruges day trip which includes a full day of sightseeing and an optional canal cruise, or this guided, small group trip which includes round trip transportation from Paris. Click here to book

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A day trip to Bruges, Belgium

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