Anyone who’s ever been to Paris will know that it’s pretty much a rite of passage for first time travelers to venture out of the city’s famous périphérique at least once during their stay in the city of lights. Whether it be to a grand French Château, to search for authentic French food, or just a wander someplace close to nature, there’s a day trip for everyone! Here are 5 of the best day trips from Paris you MUST take!
Distance from Paris: 50 minutes.
How to get to Versailles: ReR line C from Saint-Michel-Notre Dame to Gare de Versailles Château Rive Gauche.
Versailles is touted time and time again in guidebooks and blogs alike and this is for good reason; it’s the perfect distance from Paris and there’s plenty to see and do. In fact, no list of day trips from Paris would be complete without at least a gentle nod to the iconic Palace, Gardens and town of Versailles.
Even if you don’t like visiting French châteaux, you can consider going fruit picking on a farm in Versailles or even just exploring the town. With a museum focusing on the history of Versailles, daily markets, plenty of cafés, brasseries and boutique shops, you’re sure to find something to interest you!
And if none of that grabs your attention, how about checking out some history in the form of one of the original tennis courts turned political battleground? Situated in the very heart of Versailles, the Jeu de Paume is free to visit and packed with history.
Distance from Paris: 50 minutes.
How to get to Fontainebleau: Take a direct train to Fontainebleau from Gare de Lyon.
Fontainebleau is the kind of French Château you should visit if you want to avoid the large crowds at Versailles. Originally the site of a 12th century hunting lodge with chapel, the now grand Château at Fontainebleau is a great place to visit, if only to see the exterior!
With a lake where you can rent rowboats for half hour slots (pretty reasonably priced) and an entire forest to explore, you could easily spend an entire day getting lost in the magic of this little known gem. The forest, now a national park, is visited by over 11 million people each year. Many visitors come simply to see the spectacular feat of engineering that is the canal in the centre of the woods.
Distance from Paris: 60 minutes
How to get to Auvers-sur-Oise: Take the H train from Gare du Nord to Gare de Persan Beaumont. Change at Gare de Persan Beaumont to Gare d’Auvers-sur-Oise.
It is here, in the small town of Auvers-sur-Oise that you can find the final resting place of the famous artist Vincent van Gogh. He lies side by side with his brother Theo in the town’s cemetery.
It’s a little known fact that the famous artist Vincent van Gogh tragically died in an inn here. He resided in Auvers-sur-Oise for the last two months of his life, painting prolifically, all the while. In fact, he produced almost a painting a day during this era. You can visit many of the locations he painted – the majority of which haven’t changed much since his day!
The town is also home to a rather infamous absinthe museum. Here, you can learn all about the notorious drink, see propaganda posters, and learn about is eventual ban in France and many other countries throughout the world.
Distance from Paris: 40 minutes.
How to get to Meaux: Train P from Gare de l’Est to Meaux.
The only way I can really describe Meaux is as a food lover’s paradise! Meaux is home to its own brand of brie: Meaux Brie. It also happens to be home to Meaux mustard. Both are absolutely delicious, although, regrettably, not together!
A quaint town with plenty of character and unusual architecture, Meaux is the site of Roman ruins, a cathedral and one of the largest WWII museums in the World.
Distance from Paris: 25 minutes.
How to get to Chantilly: Direct Train from Gare du Nord to Chantilly.
Legend has it that Chantilly Cream was first invented by the head chef of Chantilly in the mid 17th century. The story goes that Chantilly lace was also invented here…
What I’m trying to say is that you won’t be disappointed by taking at least a half day trip to Chantilly! Situated in the Picardie region of France, the town is home to a stunning Château. Within the palace’s grounds, you’ll find the hamlet that inspired Marie Antoinette’s very own in Versailles. Within the Château itself, you’ll find Musée Condé, the second largest art collection in France after the Louvre.
What are some of your favourite day trips from Paris?
Feel free to share them in the comments below.