Paris has a huge amount to offer, but when you want to escape the hustle and bustle of France’s capital city, there’s plenty to visit around the country. Here we’ve compiled five of our best day trips outside Paris.
Less than one hour outside of Paris, the Château de Versailles is easily one of France’s greatest achievements. The Palace has been listed as a world heritage site for 30 years and houses an incredible collection of 17th century art.
The building is steeped in history, originally functioning as a hunting lodge, before becoming a seat of power. Since the 19th century, the Palace has been a museum. The estate of Versailles impressively boasts more than 800 hectares and encompasses the Palace, gardens, a park and some buildings in the town.
Of the 2300 rooms, the stunning 73m-long Hall of Mirrors is arguably the Palace’s most famous room. 357 mirrors adorn 17 windows and the 30 painted compositions covering the ceiling depict the history of the first 18 years of the reign of Louis XIV. This is the room in which the Treaty of Versailles was signed.
Having seen the gardens through the windows in the Hall of Mirrors, take a walk among the fountains, gardens, ponds and walks. Directly accessible from the gardens, the orangery is also worthy of a visit.
The rest of the Château is equally awe-inspiring. Uncover the building’s history as you explore the King’s state apartments, the battles gallery, the Mesdames apartments and more.
If you’re there between March and October, try and catch one of the special exhibitions, festivals and night shows!
Do you love Monet’s famous water lily paintings? Spend some time strolling around Giverny, the house and gardens that inspired Claude Monet. Open from March until November, Giverny is less than an hour from Paris.
Monet’s house contains many of his personal items, as well as a number of his paintings. Monet enlarged the house while he lived there and the barn alongside the house became his first studio. Even though he mostly painted in the open air, he still needed somewhere to store his canvases and materials.
It’s clear to see why the colourful garden inspired Monet. Made up of two parts, the Clos Normand flower garden is to the front of the house and a Japanese-inspired water garden is on the other side of the road. It’s here that he painted his famous water lily series.
Don’t forget to head to the Musée de l’Orangerie and see the artists’ incredible Water Lily paintings!
A world heritage site since 1979, every year Mont Saint-Michel sees over 3 million visitors explore the 11th century abbey, eat in fine restaurants, and discover the sites of the little island. Until a bridge was opened in 2014, there was only a narrow causeway connecting it to France’s mainland.
Off the coast of Normandy, Mont Saint-Michel is about a 3-hour train ride out of Paris. Dating back to AD708, the island has a strong religious history which is still evident today. The abbey has attracted some of the greatest minds in Europe and continues to be a pilgrimage site.
With ramparts at the base of the island built to keep out English forces, many of the buildings which line the streets are now museums, restaurants and boutiques.
Less than an hour and a half from Paris, the medieval town of Provins is not on many tourists’ lists. But it’s definitely on our list of day trips outside Paris! There’s so much to do here, you could easily whittle away a whole day.
There’s a tower, underground passages and in summer there are even jousting knights – perfect for kids of any age! An array of restaurants caters to any budget from cheap and cheerful crêpes to luxurious fine dining.
Open all year round, the summer months are particularly special, with musicians, fairs, and shows entertaining visitors.
Around an hour and a half train ride north of Paris is the charming Normandy town of Rouen. With half-timbered colourful buildings, this is where Joan of Arc was executed, and the Tour Jeanne d’Arc is where she was held.
Mid-October sees the streets of Rouen come alive with an excellent food festival and offers you the chance to sample numerous specialties from the region.
Whatever time of year you visit, there’s plenty to see and do. In the heart of downtown Rouen, the cathedral was famously painted by Claude Monet, and a short walk away is the Gros Horloge clock tower. A tour of this is highly recommended for stunning views of the city!
Whether you want to learn about France’s history or just admire some beautiful landscapes, your day trips outside Paris are guaranteed not to disappoint! Have a great trip!
July 24, 2019 by Suz Pathmanathan
July 17, 2019 by Paris Pass blogger
July 5, 2019 by Suz Pathmanathan