Paris is an incredible city full of culture and countless places to visit, but sometimes it’s nice to escape the bustling city and try somewhere new. There are so many great places outside Paris waiting to be discovered… Thanks to the extensive network of high speed trains, it’s easier than ever to explore different cities around the capital. All our suggestions are less than 2 hours away, which make them ideal day trip destinations. Here are our 5 recommended day trips from Paris…
Only 20km from Paris, Versailles is an ideal day trip from Paris. It may be famous for its palace, but there is so much else to see here too, such as the Royal Opera, Chapel, Stables and Trianon Estate. Don’t forget to spend some time exploring the park and gardens as well!
There are so many events going on at the Palace and in the gardens that are not to be missed, such as the impressive Musical Fountains Show. For a truly magical experience, why not try going to the Night Fountain Show in the evening? The Palace and gardens will be lit up at night for the fountain show and there will be a fireworks display!
Take the RER C from Invalides to Versailles-Château–Rive Gauche (30 mins)
Provins is a quaint little medieval town situated 80km east of Paris. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site and is described as a town of medieval fairs. The town is divided into two: the upper city is home to the old medieval town and the lower city is more modern. The town is full of history and there are lots of free things to do.
Provins is home to lots of old churches and religious monuments such as the Église Catholique Collégiale St Quiriace and the Tour César. You can also explore the medieval tunnels and climb up the ramparts. Be sure to visit the beautiful town centre, where you can find lots of old timber-framed houses. Provins is also known for growing roses, so be sure to try the local delicacies such as rose flavoured drinks, chocolate, honey, sweets, etc.!
Take the Transilien train (line P) from Gare de l’Est to Provins (1h25)
Rouen is the capital of the Normandy region and was once a large medieval town. It is 130km from Paris. It’s best known for its cathedral and its historical connections with Joan of Arc. The French heroine was imprisoned there during during her trial and eventually burned at the stake. There is now a museum and church, the Église Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc de Rouen which mark where she died.
Rouen is also home to an impressive astronomical clock tower and a Fine Arts Museum, which are also worth seeing. You can wander around the town or have coffee in the old market square and admire the beautiful buildings. Rouen cathedral is the tallest in France and every year it hosts an impressive sound and light show, with illuminations projected onto the cathedral’s façade.
Take the Intercity train from Gare Saint Lazare to Rouen Rive Droite (1h20)
Fontainebleau is a popular day trip destination for Parisians, and is located just 55km south east of the capital. It’s most famous for its palace, which is now a UNESCO world heritage site, and has been a favourite residence of the Kings of France for many generations. The palace is one of the largest châteaux in France, with 1500 rooms including Marie Antoinette’s Turkish style boudoir and the royal apartments, as well as four museums.
The forest which surrounds the palace and town is also worth seeing. It’s great for a country stroll, or going cycling or horse riding and you can even go rock climbing! The forest is also home to the Grand Parquet racecourse. Don’t forget to wander through the town as well, and take a look at all the shops.
Take the Transilien train from Gare de Lyon towards Montargis or Montereau to Fontainebleau-Avon (40 mins), then bus 1 to Chateau de Fontainebleau (15 mins)
Located 90km north east of Paris, Compiègne has a fascinating history and played a significant part in both world wars. It’s probably most famous for its chateau and forest. A former royal residence, the Chateau de Compiègne is open to the public and you can visit the apartments and museums inside. It is surrounded by a huge forest which was popular hunting destination with the kings of France.
It now has lots of walking trails and bike paths and is great if you’re looking for some open space and fresh air. You can also visit the war memorial in the Glade of the Armistice in the forest – the armistice was signed here to end WWI. Another great place to visit is the Chateau de Pierrefonds. This fairytale castle is said to be the inspiration for the castle in Disney’s Cinderella!
Take the TER train from Gare du Nord (50 mins)