Awesome Paris Day Trips
While Paris is an absolutely incredible city, sometimes it’s fun to get away from the crowds and take a day trip to a quieter place. When taking a day trip from Paris, there are several different options for transportation. The train system is quick and reliable and will take you around France in comfort and speed. You’ll want to purchase your train tickets in advance from sncf-connect.com.
If you prefer to travel on a less structured schedule, consider renting a car. Driving in the traffic through Paris can be pretty busy and stressful, but once you’re on the highway the countryside is beautiful and scenic. A few popular places to find your rental car are Sixt, Enterprise, and Hertz. Another option is signing up for a group day trip. If you want to totally remove the hassle, but pay quite a bit more, many of these companies will pick you up from a central meeting spot, or even from your hotel. They’ll take care of all the details, and any tickets or reservations that are needed for the day trip. One great and reliable day trip company is Hasta Paris. Now let’s talk more about these five great towns!
1. Mont St. Michel
Mont St. Michel is roughly 220 miles from Paris, and it is absolutely worth the long drive. Built in 708 AD on a tiny island off of France’s northwest coast. This stunning heritage site with medieval architecture has incredible views of the English Channel, which leads into the Atlantic Ocean. Be sure to visit the tiny shops, grab a sandwich or beer to enjoy in the sun, then head up to the very top level where you’ll find a Gothic and Romanesque style abbey.
The charming town of Reims (pronounced rance) is about 90 miles from Paris. Legend has it that Reims was founded by Remus, the brother of Romulus who founded Rome. The main attraction in Reims is the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was completed in the 15th century. With a few exceptions, every king of France was crowned in this cathedral. It looks strikingly similar to the Notre Dame in Paris with two large towers in front and a Gothic-style throughout. It’s currently on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
Reims is the unofficial capital of France’s Champagne region, and many people come here to check out the champagne wine cellars. Taittinger is one of the more well-known wineries in Reims, which is where we took a tour. You’ll spend about 45 minutes walking around the underground wine cellar learning about the champagne-making process, as well as the history of these caves which were used as a shelter, school, and church during WW1. Before leaving Reims, take one final stop over to Mars Gate, which was built by the Romans in the late 200s/early 300s AD.
3. The Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is about 12 miles west of Paris and is visited by millions of people annually. To avoid heavy crowds, visit first thing in the morning or during the week. The Palace of Versailles was built in the 1630s and was the primary residence of the kings of France for more than 100 years. It was initially built as a small hunting lodge until Louis XIII transformed it into a proper chateau. Years later, Louis XIV turned the chateau into the ornate estate it is today. Take your time walking around this incredible palace, being sure to visit the famous Hall of Mirrors, which has 43 chandeliers. Afterward, spend time enjoying the incredible Garden of Versailles, which has nearly 2,000 acres of flowers, trees, and fountains. Entrance into Versailles costs 27 EUR for one day and you should plan to spend 3-5 hours here to fully appreciate it.
Chartres is a quick one-hour drive from Paris to a small and charming town. The main highlight is the Cathedral of Our Lady, which was built in the 12th century. This beautiful cathedral has carved sculptures, colorful stained glass windows, and flying buttresses. After spending time in the cathedral, walk along the banks of the Eure River for a medieval feel. You’ll see watermills, half-timbered houses, small bridges, and gardens. Then, be sure to walk around the narrow cobblestone streets where you can sit in the sun to enjoy a cold beer or a chocolate crepe.
Giverny is about 50 miles from Paris and was made popular by the famous painter, Claude Monet. Monet lived in Giverny from 1883 to 1926 and worked tirelessly to create stunning gardens filled with lilypads, weeping willows, and a beautiful assortment of colorful flowers. Not only can you walk around the gardens and over the small bridges that inspired some of Monet’s most famous paintings, but you can also take a tour of his home, see the kitchen and bedrooms and get a deep understanding of how this incredibly talented artist lived.
Where to Stay
While visiting France in 2015 for our honeymoon, we stayed at an incredibly charming Bed and Breakfast about 20 minutes west of Paris. This beautiful family-owned home has several bedrooms with private bathrooms, a beautiful library, and an outdoor patio. And, for an additional fee, you can enjoy dinner with the family, which was one of our favorite experiences. We shared a delicious chicken meal, an assortment of cheeses, cake, and red wine. It was a very memorable experience! Check out their availability here.
Where Will You Go?
While Paris is of course an amazing city that deserves the time and attention it gets, it can be nice to head out of the big city for a day. There are so many places around France to visit, I wish I could live there for a year or two! If you’re looking for more ideas around Paris, check out my blog post on an epic seven day itinerary around Paris. Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my blog posts on Austin, Texas, and the Berkshires in Massachusetts.