Paris is a bucket-list-busting city if there ever was one. This is the metropolis that pits the grand residences of the Champs-Élysées against the iron girders of the Eiffel Tower, the bulbous dome of the Sacré-Cœur against the moody literary haunts of the Latin Quarter. You probably won’t want to leave. Until, of course, you do, but only because some of the best day trips from Paris are trips you’ll simply never forget and you should put them on your Paris itinerary…
There are jaunts to Monet’s lily gardens up in romantic Giverny. You can plan excursions to the Chateaux-topped undulations of the UNESCO Loire Valley. On top of all that, there are also day trips from Paris by train that open up other alluring French cities and countryside.
Oh, and then there are the day trips from Paris to other countries – a hop over the border to the important institutions of Luxembourg City or the beer-mad town of Brussels, anyone?
This guide runs through 10 Paris day trips that really top the bill. They’re the crème-de-la-crème of outings from the French capital because they offer insights into amazing French culture, regional cuisine, enthralling European history, and a whole load more.
Excited? Let’s get a-planning your day-long escape from the famous City of Lights and love…
1. Loire Valley
A regular topper of lists of the best day trips from Paris, the Loire Valley rarely fails to capture the imagination. It’s got just about everything you’d want from rural France: Great wine, haunting Chateaux castles, and bucolic countryside.
What’s more, it’s only two hours or so in the car from the heart of the capital, which means you can trade the bustling Champs-Élysées for open fields and rivers before breakfast.
The majority of travelers will choose to do a ready-made day tour of the Loire, although self-driving offers a little extra freedom to stray off the beaten track.
Talking of the beaten track…there are some sights you simply can’t miss here. They include the gorgeous Chateau de Chambord, with its flamboyant Renaissance and Gothic Revival turrets, and the elegant Chateau de Chenonceau, which dates all the way back to the 1500s.
Calling all art lovers: Giverny is your chance to step foot in the erstwhile home of the infamous Claude Monet. Languishing on the meanders of the Seine River about 45 miles to the northwest of the city, it’s a charming, flower-strewn village that oozes classic French character.
But the peacefulness is short-lived in the summer months when thousands of devotees descend to see what’s arguably the most hallowed place in the history of Impressionism.
The main draw is the beautiful Maison & Jardins de Claude Monet. That’s the actual spot where the painter once resided, and the grounds still contain the romantic lily ponds made famous in Monet’s paintings.
Sites aside, this one is one of the few day trips from Paris by train that are possible. You can simply hop on the SNCF service to Le Havre, get out at Vernon, and then catch a taxi (around 20 EUR) the rest of the way. Of course, there are also loads of private tours in the offing – some taking all day, some just half a day.
3. Palace of Versailles
Versailles is the palace to end all palaces. Seriously, the sheer opulence and scale here are immense. In total, the grounds extend over a whopping 2,100 acres, encompassing vast wings of 17th/18th-century architecture that will have you wowing with exasperation at every turn. It’s all the brainchild of the revered Sun King, Louis XIV.
He made the palace the center of French power during his reign and showcased utter extravagance – think a menagerie that included an African elephant and a Hall of Mirrors laced with precious glass and elaborate Baroque murals.
Versailles is up there with the best day trips from Paris because it’s super-easy to plan but I do recommend dedicating an entire day to see it. You can choose to do an organized tour in just a few hours.
But if you want to go it alone and are searching for day trips from Paris by train, you’re also in luck. RER line C and SNCF trains from the Gare Montparnasse station link straight to Versailles town, only a short walk from the entrance to the UNESCO site. Just remember to get skip the line tickets, especially during summer and Christmas time.
Of all the legendary things to do in Paris, drinking a tipple of the local vino has to be close to the top of the list. Thankfully, the capital of France is surrounded by some of the most famous wine regions in the world. Among them, there’s arguably none more famous than Champagne. Yep – that’s Champagne with a capital ‘C’. AKA: The very home of bubbly!
We’d say the trip is best done in a minivan or a coach, so you can gawp out at the rolling hills and endless vineyards that shoot by – and so you can partake in the sparkling without worrying about driving back!
Different itineraries usually include visits to different cellars. Some of the standout options are the Moet and Chandon winery in Épernay and the stunning Ruinart house in Reims, where the best champagnes are kept in old chalk cellars far below the ground.
5. The Normandy beaches
There are so many Paris day trips that offer to whisk you away from the buzzing capital to the salt-washed coast of the Normandy region. It sits right on the northern tip of France and is famed mainly for holding some of the most haunting battlefields of WWII. Yes, this is the land of the D-Day beaches. You can visit several in a single day, along with a host of related museums and memorials.
Most excursions will start early and then head through to the Calvados capital of Caen. It’s home to a striking exhibition on 20th-century conflicts and a monument to the fallen.
Pushing on, you can visit the infamous Pointe du Hoc, where Nazi gun batteries still pepper the headland. Other highlights include the American Cemetery and the sands of Omaha Beach. Altogether, it’s a trip that usually lasts 12-14 hours.
Chartres is steeped in rich medieval and religious history. It certainly looks the part, too.
The moment you enter its stone-clad center, you’ll be gazing up at a duo of gorgeous cathedral spires that come dressed in gargoyles and filigrees. They mark out the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Chartres Cathedral, an eye-watering wonder of flying buttresses and stained-glass windows you simply have to see to believe.
Around that is a maze of old streets and alleys that look plucked from Game of Thrones. They spill from the banks of the Eure River in a medley of cozy French taverns and beautifully restored buildings from the 13th and 14th centuries.
Chartres is among the day trips from Paris by train that you can try on your own. A direct link to the town goes at least 30 times per day from both Montparnasse or the Gare du Nord stations.
7. Disneyland Paris
Things to do in Paris for the little ones (or for travelers with the little ones in tow) rarely get as exciting as Disneyland. Since opening its doors in 1992, it’s drawn millions of visitors with the promise of magical adventures across two separate theme parks and oodles of enchanting attractions.
There are heart-thumping coasters like the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the RC Racer. There are sprawling shopping malls in the Disney Village and the Val d’Europe. There’s even a fully-fledged golf course!
Sat just 20 miles to the west of the Eiffel Tower, the home of Mickey Mouse should be an easy escape from the heart of the capital. That’s especially true considering RER A regional trains link straight down to Chessy Station that’s right outside the entrance to the resort. Of course, you can also drive it yourself, or hop on one of the regular Magic Shuttles that run from both Orly and Charles de Gaulle Airport. And you can choose from a variety of entrances, from 1-day tickets to multi-day passes.
8. Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint Michel is one of the most striking landmarks in the whole of northern France. Set on a tidal island in the English Channel, a stone’s throw from both the Normandy and Brittany coastlines, it hosts a grand and imposing medieval abbey that spikes the cloudy skies like something out of a fantasy novel. The history of the site goes all the way back to the 400s AD. That’s when a shrine on the island is thought to have been established by a wandering Irish hermit.
These days, there are huge fortification walls and cannon-dotted bulwarks ringing the rock, along with a soaring steeple, arched cloisters, and cobbled streets laced with medieval structures. It’s an amazing place to get lost and learn about the rich religious history of the Mont, the Norman conquests, and the hard-fought sieges of the Hundred Years’ War.
Because it’s among the most popular day trips from Paris, there are plenty of offerings for planned outings up to Mont Saint Michel. They will last all day – it takes a few hours to even get to the site. Most will also include pitstops at iconic beaches on the Normandy coast or to go cider tasting along the way.
9. Luxembourg City
Another tempting day trip from Paris by train is a fly-in visit to the well-to-do capital of Luxembourg. An important town that’s filled with EU institutions and banking headquarters, it offers an intriguing mix of the old and the new.
It’s the sort of place where you can discover chic cafes riddled with business folk right next to UNESCO-tagged churches. In fact, the whole old center is a prestigious World Heritage Site that’s known for its military urban planning and – get ready for this! – hot chocolate cafés. Yum.
Tempted? I bet you are. Super-quick TGV trains link the French and Luxembourger capitals these days. They’ll whizz you right across the breadth of Ardennes through the beautiful countryside in the morning, taking just over two hours from start to finish. Expect to pay in the region of $50 for a return ticket. Booking early is key if you want to keep costs low.
Bruges is beautiful. There are no two ways about it. Hailed as one of the best-preserved medieval towns in all of Europe, it revolves around the main square (the Grote Markt) that’s been in action since the 10th century.
Around that are Gothic steeples and beautiful belfries, along with drifting canals that weave by churches and ivy-strewn mansions of the Flemish style. But Bruges is also no museum piece. It’s a bustling, lived-in city that has Belgian chip shops, beer houses, and waffle stands. All in all, it’s a fine day out from Paris.
Of course, you’ll need to hitch a ride on one of the quick Thalys or TGV trains to get over to Bruges from France. The first leg is a hop from the Gare du Nord to Brussels.
Then, change trains to a regional Belgian service that lasts around an hour. Thanks to efficient railway links, it’s possible to do the whole A to B in as little as 2.5 hours total.
If you do visit, join a boat tour for romantic views or a rickshaw tour to see lesser-known parts of the town.
Bonus: Consider staying at some of these amazing hotels in Paris when you visit.
Best Luxury Hotels in Paris
Shangri La Paris • Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris
Boutique Parisian Hotels
Hôtel San Régis • Canopy By Hilton Paris Trocadero
Reasonably Priced Hotels in Paris
Hotel Eiffel Turenne • Hotel du Champ de Mers
Which of these day trips from Paris do you plan on doing next? Comment and let us know!