The French capital is chic, vibrant and has much to offer – but if you’re looking at a gorgeous green escape from the city, we’ve listed the top day trips from Paris. These day trips are perfect, whether you’re looking to dive into history and architecture, do some exploring or just seeking a quiet small town. They are also easily accessible by public transport!
For history and architecture lovers
Palace of Versailles: If you’re an art and history lover, you’ll fall in love with Palace of Versailles, after all this is five centuries of history. Ten miles southwest of Paris, Palace of Versailles was originally a hunting lodge, then a seat of power and now a museum. Chateau de Versailles is full of rich history and is one of the most famous monuments of the world.
The architectural style goes back to the 17th and 18th centuries. In the palace, you’ll find the Royal Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors, the Chapel, the Royal Opera and the Museum of the History of France. The Park is adorned with statues, water fountains and water parterres. In the Grand Couvert, it recreates the dinner atmosphere with King Louis XIV and how he would dine in public every evening at 10 pm with each meal lasting 45 minutes long. The complex was nearly destroyed during the French Revolution.
The most famous room here is the Hall of Mirrors. The gallery extends more than 230 feet and is characterized by 17 wide mirrors opposite 17 windows that overlook the gardens below. Glass chandeliers embellish the arched, ornately painted ceiling, upon which Le Brun depicted a series of 30 scenes glorifying the early years of the reign of Louis XIV.
The gardens are just as beautiful as the palace itself, designed by Andrew Notre, perhaps the most famous architect in French history. Nestled behind the palace, a terrace is charmingly strewn with basins, statues and bronze groups.
To the south of the terrace, flowers beds guide the way to a pair of staircases that border the Orangerie that include over 1,000 trees. Lemon, pomegranate, and orange among the variety that gives the garden such colorful beauty.
How to get here: The cheapest and easiest way to get to Versailles is by Paris RER train and is about a 45 minutes train ride. Once you exit the train a pedestrian pathway will lead to the gates of the palace.
For Nature Lovers
Fondation Claude Monet: The Impressionist painter Claude Monet sought tranquility and nature in Giverny. A quaint village in Normandy, Monet’s artistic skills flourished alongside the beautiful gardens he admired so much. He captured Giverny’s essence in his famous Japonisme painting as his career was intimately connected with the Seine River.
Nature lovers will get to experience Monet’s extensive gardens – the essence of his inspiration. He was a careful gardener as he tended to his garden daily. The tranquil water garden is beautifully landscaped with a combination of bamboo, weeping willows, water lilies and features the easily recognised Japanese-style arched-bridge. You’ll love the changing colors of the gardens over the seasons. When in Giverny, visit the Musee des Impressionmes and enjoy lunch in the quaint village.
How to get here: From Paris, take the train from Gare Saint Lazare which is about a 45-minute ride. Shuttle buses leave Vernon 15 minutes after the arrival of trains. A round trip from Paris and Rouen costs 8 Euros.
For beach lovers
Deauville is the closest seaside resort to Paris, the region of Cote Fleurie (Flowery Coast) has been the home to French high society’s seaside houses. Deauville is located on the Normandy coast, is sea-side gem with a great beach, shops, and an annual film fest. Deauville was initially the vision of Napoleon the Third’s half-brother as an upscale resort.
Of course, there is a lot of history with the impressive architectures and art but the major attraction is the long beach of white sand. The warm ocean water and crystal clear skies can compete with any tropical beach, in fact, the fabulous skies have been inspiring painters and photographers from all around the world.
Actually, the beach’s umbrellas are probably more famous than actually white sands and clear sunny skies. The Deauville beach umbrellas are the probably photographed in the world due to their unique diameter, wooden frames and a variety of color. The umbrellas are exclusive to the Deauville and they can not be bought anywhere else in the world.
You can walk along the 1.5 km boardwalk but do watch your step on the boardwalk. Rollerbladers and land pedaloes (a bike-like contraption which takes two people to power it) speed by during rush hour.
How to get here: By car, take highway A-13, coming from Paris, you’ll arrive in two hours. The train is an exceptional way to get to Deauville from Paris. It a two-hour trip. Take the train at Paris-Saint-Lazare and in two hours you’ll be at the Station of Trouville-Deauville that is centrally located in downtown.
For Wine Lovers
The historical French region of Champagne is 100 miles east of Paris. Champagne was not actually invented in the region. Legend has it that monks bought the method for making sparkling wine up from the Languedoc, in the south of France; but they soon discovered that the chalky soil and climatic conditions in Champagne produced a better sparkling wine.
Champagne Mercier is home to France’s best-selling sparkling wine. Founded in 1858, Eugene Mercier wanted to create a champagne for all occasions, making the sparkling wine no longer just for the rich all. The Mercier wine cellars are the most visited wine cellars in the Champagne region, with more than 100,000 tourists each year.
There is a panoramic elevator that takes you 30 meters above the ground to a mini train that takes to 17 kilometers of tunnels. The chalk stone cave walls are decorated with sculptures by Gustave Navlet.
How to get here: Take the Reims high-speed train line out of Paris. The train leaves from the Gare d’Est station and will get you to Champagne in just 45 minutes. If you want a more scenery and a cheaper trip, take the TER train from the same station as the Reims, but takes double the time: 1 1/2 hours.
Underground Galleries: A UNESCO World Heritage site, Provins is a fortified medieval town that is situated in the former territory of the powerful Counts of Champagne. During the summer and spring, Provins becomes living history.
The medieval town welcomes visitors from around the world to hosts in traditional costumes and lively bands playing to recreate the Middle Ages. The town is much quieter and more relaxing than Paris. However, underneath the celebrations is an underground labyrinth.
There are very few documents on the full history and existence of the underground galleries. There are still many unanswered questions. Originally the underground galleries were probably used as a quarry to extract a specific type of fullers earth for degreasing woolen cloth. Historians know that the cloth industry flourished in Provins and the local demand must have been considerable. However, once the cavities had been dug out, the town inhabitants put them to a variety of uses.
The underground labyrinth became hiding places, storage rooms during Champagne Fairs, places of worship and the graffiti inscriptions suggest that they were used by Provin’s freemasons.
There are two cellars, one underneath the Old Hospital where is it used as a ward. The second room was used for trade. Lighting by fiber-optic cables helps guests guide the way and they are environment-friendly which makes it even better!
How to get here: There is a direct train between Paris and Provins in both directions every hour until about 10 pm and trip is approximately 1hour and 30minutes.
For a relaxed, sweet, small town
The quiet little town of Cluny grew up around the celebrated Benedictine abbey of the Cluniac order. The small town was founded in 910 by Duke William of Aquitaine. The largest church in Christendom was built by The Benedictine monks of Cluny until Rome’s Saint Peter’s Basilica was built in the 16th century.
The Cluny Museum is the only museum of the Middle Age in Paris. It is also a medieval castle where you walk in the footsteps of seigneurs, knights, and liegemen. Here you’ll find collections from Roman Gaul to the 16th century. The original collection belonged to the great amateur of the Middle-Ages: Alexandre Du Sommerand who lived in the Hotel de Cluny.
Explore the Green path built along a former railway, a marked bicycle path going through the French department of Saone et Loire. This 250-mile track is a true haven only accessible by non-motorised vehicles and is perfect for a nice stroll. There are plenty of discoveries to be made on the Green path.
How to get here: There are 6 TGV trains that leave Paris daily that requires a 30-minute bus ride from Macon.