When planning a visit to Paris, many travelers want to spend a day or two outside the city to visit well-known attractions such as the Palace of Versailles and Disneyland Paris. These attractions are always worth a visit, especially for first-time visitors to Paris, but the area around the city has many off the beaten path destinations with fascinating histories and fun atmospheres. Include a few of the following destinations in your plans the next time you’re in Paris for a less-crowded glimpse into another side of France.
6 Great Day Trips To Take From Paris
1. Palace of Fontainebleau
Location: Fontainebleau, France
Distance from Paris: 40 minutes on the Transilien train from Paris’ Gare de Lyon
The Palace of Fontainebleau is just as beautiful and historically interesting as the Palace of Versailles, with nowhere near as many tourists. The Palace, along with its park, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a visit here is worth at least a half of a day. Make sure to spend some time exploring the town of Fontainebleau and its quirky eateries.
Best time to visit: Summer, to best enjoy the park
Location: Vernon, France
Distance from Paris: About 45 minutes on an SNCF train from Paris’ Gare Saint-Lazare
Best known as the site of Claude Monet’s home and his famous water lily gardens, Giverny is the perfect place for a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of Paris. Strolling around Monet’s gardens and seeing scenes from his paintings in real life is a must-do for any art lover. In good weather, try renting a bicycle from one of the shops near the train station and bike to the home instead of taking a taxi to enjoy the scenery.
Best time to visit: Spring, when the flowers are blooming in the gardens
3. Château of Vincennes
Location: Vincennes, France
Distance from Paris: About 15 minutes on a Metro Line 1 train from the Bastille stop in Paris
The Château of Vincennes is another lesser-known castle and is easily accessible from the center of Paris. Make sure to spend some time admiring the stained glass in the Chapel and pick up one of the handy guides located near the entrance to understand the significance and meaning of the works.
Best time to visit: Fall, for even less crowds and cooler weather
Location: Honfleur, France
Distance from Paris: 2 hours driving from Paris
While Honfleur is relatively close to the beaches in Normandy, the famous tapestry in Bayeux, and the boardwalk in Deauville, the historical buildings and the picturesque port (originally founded by Vikings!) make this town worth a stop for a day or two. Try fresh seafood at one of the many restaurants lining the “Vieux Bassin,” the main part of the harbor.
Best time to visit: Winter, for fewer crowds
Location: Lille, France
Distance from Paris: 1 hour on the TGV high-speed train
Lille offers fascinating insight into the intersection of the French and the Flemish cultures. The city (the fourth largest in France) is full of interesting art museums, like the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille and the Hospice Comtesse Museum. Wander around the Grand Place, the main city square, and try the nearby Café Meert for great waffles.
Best time to visit: Summer, to be able to sit outside at the cafés
Location: Chartres, France
Distance from Paris: 70 minutes on the Transilien train from Paris’ Gare Montparnasse
Chartres Cathedral is one of the most well-known in all of Europe, and it is worth at least a few hours to fully explore. The Cathedral is also home to the largest crypts in France. Nearby is La Maison Picassiette, a home totally covered in mosaic work.
Best time to visit: Summer, for the Chartres en Lumières festival
This article was written by Kaitlyn Lannan.