Paris may be pretty, but there’s so much more to France than just its capital city. So even if you’re only visiting the City of Light for just a few days, there are plenty of Châteaux, adorable French towns, and foodie inspired day trips to take from the city. Here are 20+ day trips from Paris every Francophile must take, as told by a local!
#1 Senlis, the off the beaten path day trip
Picture perfect, Senlis is a small commune in the Oise department of France. Filled with cobbled lanes and with links to historic French heroine, Joan of Arc, Senlis is the perfect Paris day trip if you’re looking for somewhere a little off the beaten tourist track.
Complete with pretty gardens and several museums, you can’t go wrong by dedicating a couple of hours to exploring the pretty French commune. A trip to Senlis can easily be combined with a visit to nearby Compiegne, a town that has a stunning town hall and its own Château.
Time & Distance from Paris: By car, it takes just under an hour to reach Senlis. Truth be told, you’ll want a vehicle to reach this tiny town as public transport requires at least a couple of changes, and it’s also worth combining a road trip to Senlis with a visit to nearby Compiegne.
#2 Versailles Town & Versailles Palace
The best-known day trip from Paris, Versailles, is located just a short train ride away from the French capital. Once there, visitors can expect to find the ornate palace of the sun king, as well as several smaller palaces known as the ‘Grand Trianon’ and the ‘Petit Trianon’.
Within the grounds of Versailles, the Hameau de la Reine is the hamlet where Marie Antoinette would go to play dress up, while it’s even possible to rent a boat on the expansive waterways throughout the Palace grounds during the summer months. Elsewhere in the town, there’s plenty of other wonderful French attractions, including traditional weekly markets and several museums.
Time & Distance from Paris: The easiest way to reach Versailles as a Paris day trip is by RER C. Just forty minutes away from the city centre on the train, you’ll want to take the train from Gare d’Austerlitz to Gare de Versailles Chantiers. In order to skip the line and save time, purchase your Versailles Palace ticket in advance here.
Read more: An alternative guide to Versailles town.
#3 Fontainebleau, the ‘alternative’ day trip to Versailles
A great alternative to Versailles, this ‘château without the crowds’ has just as much opulence as its more famous neighbour, just without the sheer number of tourists to match! Home to a horseshoe staircase where Napoleon gave his last formal command to his troops, Papal Apartments, and a lake where you can rent a rowboat by the half-hour, there’s plenty of reasons to check out Fontainebleau on your next French adventure.
Time & Distance from Paris: By car, it takes just over an hour to reach Fontainebleau. Alternatively, it’s very easy to reach the Château and its grounds by train. Simply take the R GARE DE MONTARGIS towards Gare de Montargis from Gare de Lyon and get off at Fontainebleau–Avon. The journey takes around forty minutes. From the station, it’s another fifteen minutes to reach the forest and mansion. Purchase your Château de Fontainebleau Priority Entrance Ticket in advance here.
#4 Domaine de Chantilly, the fairytale French Château
Allegedly the birthplace of Chantilly whipped cream, and fine Chantilly lace, today the breathtakingly beautiful palace of Château de Chantilly is home to the second largest art museum in France, being slightly smaller than the Louvre. Other highlights include a hamlet which inspired the Hameau de la Reine of Versailles and some pretty stunning Romantic Gothic architecture.
Time & Distance from Paris: The easiest way to reach Chantilly is by train. Take the Gare du Nord train towards Chantilly and the journey time is just under half an hour. In order to truly make the most of your time at the castle and around the town, I recommend an overnight stay (so that you can get up and photograph the château at sunrise!). The best place in town to stay is the Auberge du Jeu de Paume. Check prices and availability here.
Read more: Chantilly day trip from Paris.
Pretty all year ’round, Sceaux is best seen in spring when the crowds are fewer, the temperatures are warmer, and the cherry blossom is in full bloom. So beautiful is the French château to be found in this tiny town is that it was even used as a filming location for the recent Versailles TV series. Otherwise, other highlights of Château de Sceaux include the stunning permanent collections and the extensive well-manicured gardens.
Time & Distance from Paris: By car, Sceaux takes around an hour, though limited parking and driving around town means that taking the train is definitely the easiest (not to mention cheapest) option. For those wishing to visit Château de Sceaux via train, simply purchase a ticket and hop aboard the RER B at Gare du Nord. Once on the train, it’s merely a half hour journey to reach the town and mansion.
Read more: Sceaux in Spring!
#6 Loire Valley Châteaux
The Loire Valley is home to the largest concentration of palatial mansion houses and French châteaux to be found anywhere in l’Hexagon. Highlights of ‘The Garden of France’ include Château de Chambord (supposedly partly designed by Da Vinci himself) and Chenonceau, the best-known of the Loire Valley Castles.
Time & Distance from Paris: If you want to visit some of the lesser-known châteaux while in the Loire Valley, or simply want to pack plenty into a one day trip, then you’ll probably want to rent a car. After all, this way it’s possible to see the castles you’re truly interested in and getting around via public transport is often not an option for visiting many of the châteaux.
If a car isn’t an option, then there are plenty of companies who organise day trips from the city to the Loire Valley. Some of the best group trips from Paris to the Loire Valley are this guided tour of the Castles of the Loire, or this day tour from Paris with lunch.
Read more: Loire Valley day trip from Paris.
The gateway to the Loire Valley is the city of Chartres, a place best-known for its wonderful French cathedral, many timber-framed houses, and countless cobbled lanes. Once in the city, some of the best things to do include the ever so unusual Maison Picassiette and the Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts).
Time & Distance from Paris: By car, it takes around an hour and a half to reach Chartres from Paris. Otherwise, you can always take the train between the two cities. From Gare Montparnasse in the South of the city, you’ll want to take the direct train to the Gare de Chartres. This too takes around an hour and a half.
Read more: The Garden of France travel guide
If you’re looking for a quirky Paris day trip that many miss out on in favour of more famous châteaux, and indeed better-known towns, then you simply must head to Auvers-Sur-Oise. Located to the North of Paris, this tiny town holds secrets such as many of the locations where Van Gogh painted some of his final masterpieces. The town’s graveyard is the final resting place of Vincent and his brother Theo, while the Château d’Auvers dates back to the 17th-century.
Time & Distance from Paris: Truth be told, the easiest way to reach Auvers-Sur-Oise is by car, considering that in order to reach the town by public transport requires both a bus and train. From Paris, it takes just over an hour to reach the off the beaten tourist track town.
Home to a beach, charming river, and plenty of waterside cafés and bistros, a visit to L’Isle-Adam can easily be combined with a visit to nearby Auvers-Sur-Oise (the two towns can be found just a fifteen-minute drive from one another). Otherwise, you should know that L’Isle Adam is where all the Parisians come on vacation so as to escape the city during the summer when the sun is shining and the weather is warm, making this little town the perfect day excursion from Paris.
Time & Distance from Paris: Much like nearby Auvers-Sur-Oise, the easiest way to reach L’Isle-Adam is by car. Indeed, should you wish to visit via public transportation, the journey requires two different trains, though only takes an hour and twenty minutes. Meanwhile, the journey takes around an hour between Paris city centre and L’Isle-Adam.
Read more: L’Isle Adam Town Guide
Somewhere between Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Paris proper, Rueil-Malmaison is a fairly substantial town which is home to its own shopping complexes, supermarkets, and every other amenity you would expect to find in a fairly large town. This pretty French town is also where you’ll find the Château de Malmaison, a pretty Renaissance-era building which was once the residence of Empress Joséphine de Beauharnais.
Time & Distance from Paris: So as to not have to worry about parking, the easiest way to reach Rueil-Malmaison is by bus or train. This French commune is located on the RER A and during peak hours, trains depart from the city centre every ten minutes or so. From Paris, it takes around twenty minutes to reach Rueil-Malmaison. It’s then a further ten to fifteen-minute walk to reach the Château de Malmaison.
Home to its own brand of brie and even its own type of mustard, Meaux is one of those Paris day trips which is often overlooked in favour of more popular ones like Chantilly or Versailles. However, that isn’t to say that you should overlook this pretty French town, especially if you’re a foodie or love history (there are several museums in town, including the largest WWII museum in the world).
Time & Distance from Paris: By car, it takes around an hour to reach Meaux (all depending on the traffic)! I personally visited Meaux as a day trip from Paris via the train and couldn’t have found it easier to get between the two destinations. Regular trains depart from Gare de l’Est and the journey time takes around forty minutes.
Read more: A foodie inspired day trip to Meaux.
Complete with its own Château, and a small museum dedicated entirely to one of the town’s most famous residents, Chopin, you won’t want to miss out on one of the prettier day trips from Paris. Other highlights of Saint-Germain-en-Laye include fantastic views of the surrounding landscape and an archaeological museum that’s easily one of the best in the Île de France region.
Time & Distance from Paris: The easiest way to reach the beautiful town of Sain-Germain-en-Laye is via Paris public transportation. The commune is situated at the end of a branch of the ReR A (the red line) and trains depart on a regular basis from the city centre.
Read more: Saint-Germain-en-Laye day trip from Paris.
#13 Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte & Blandy-les-Tours
Before there was Versailles, there was Vaux-le-Vicomte, a château so sumptuous that the King of France confiscated it for himself and locked up the owner for life. Well worth a visit on any trip to France, this is easily one of the best castle day trips from Paris. Nearby, the wonderful Blandy Les Tours dates back to the Middle Ages and has been renovated and reconstructed in a way so as to look how it might have done during Medieval times.
Time & Distance from Paris: By car, it takes around an hour to reach Vaux-Le-Vicomte from Paris. Unfortunately, during the off-season, there’s no easy way to reach the French mansion house via public transportation. However, during the late spring, summer, and early autumn, there are regular shuttle buses between Verneuil l’Etang and the Château. Full details can be found here.
#14 Mont Saint Michel
A little further away from Paris than some of the other Paris day trips listed in this article, Mont Saint Michel is a stunning conically shaped tidal island which is home to a breathtakingly beautiful abbey. First founded in the middle ages, today the Normandy ecclesiastical building has since become a symbol of France. If you’re looking to tick off your French bucket list, then you simply must head to Mont Saint Michel!
Time & Distance from Paris: By car, Mont Saint Michel is approximately four hours away from Paris each way, meaning you should only truly visit as a Paris day trip if you’re really desperate to see the abbey and are incredibly short on time! For those with a few more days to spare, I highly recommend taking a little more time to explore the region. Otherwise, you can always book a guided tour to visit Mont Saint Michel from the French Capital.
The pretty medieval town of Provins is around an hour or so from Paris via train and is best visited in the late spring or early autumn just outside of peak season! Highlights of this city, which was ever-so-prominent during the Middle Ages, include a 14th-century watchtower and medieval ramparts you can still wander along.
For those with a little more time, the underground Provins tunnels are well worth paying to visit via guided tour. Otherwise, you should know before you go that rose flowers are synonymous with this medieval city, to the extent that you can even purchase beer with rose flavours! At Christmas time, one of the best Paris Christmas Markets can be found held in Provins itself.
Time & Distance from Paris: The easiest way to reach Provins is by train, which takes around an hour and twenty minute from the city. Simply hop on the Transilien P from Gare de l’Est. Otherwise, if you want to visit by car, then you should know that it also takes around an hour and twenty minutes to reach Provins from Paris.
Read more: Provins day trip from Paris.
#16 Rouen, the timber-framed capital of Normandy
Book now: Day Trip to Rouen and Honfleur
As the capital of the Normandy region of France, Rouen is home to many a museum, as well as an impressive gothic cathedral. The final resting place of Richard the Lionheart, as well as the place where Joan of Arc was allegedly burned at the stake, this timber-framed filled city is well worth a visit. Otherwise, Rouen’s main attractions include a museum of fine arts and one of the oldest clocks in France.
Time & Distance from Paris: By car, it takes well over two hours to reach Rouen. In the case of this Paris day trip, it’s certainly much quicker to reach the city via public transportation. Direct trains between Paris and Rouen only take an hour and a half and depart from Gare Saint Lazare on a regular basis.
#17 Étretat, the seaside escape from Paris
While England has the Cliffs of Dover, France has the chalky coastline of Etretat. Best visited during an overnight escape from Paris, so as to make the most of your time in the pretty resort town that so-inspired artists such as Monet, some highlights of Étretat include pebbled beaches, endless coastal walks, and plenty of Normandy architecture.
Time & Distance from Paris: By car, it takes just over three hours to reach Étretat (provided that the traffic and weather conditions are good and that you use toll roads). Otherwise, public transportation will take you well over four hours, meaning that you should probably select a shorter day trip from Paris, thus allowing you to maximise your time for exploring!
Read more: How to spend one perfect day in Etretat!
#18 Vincennes, the easy Paris day trip
On the fringes of Paris, at the end of metro line 1, Vincennes is home to one of the largest parks the city has to offer. Not only that, but Vincennes also boasts one of the only other Sainte Chapelle churches in France (the most famous being that of Sainte Chapelle on Île de la Cité in central Paris). Other than these attractions, Vincennes also has a medieval and fortified château that’s well worth a stroll around.
Time & Distance from Paris: The most convenient way to reach Vincennes Château and woods is by metro. Hop on line one (yellow) in the heart of Paris and head to the end of the line. Once at Vincennes, it’s easy to wander around the major attractions to be found there on foot.
Read more: A quick guide to the best of Vincennes.
#19 Goussainville (le Vieux Village), the forgotten ghost town
A ghost town on the fringes of the city, Goussainville was once a thriving town with its own set of shops, attractions, and even a grand mansion. However, the expansion of nearby Charles de Gaulle airport put pay to Goussainville’s time as a quiet and secluded town in the French countryside.
So noisy were the planes that many villagers left Goussainville, leaving behind plenty of abandoned homes and a crumbling church. Though townspeople are slowly returning to Goussainville, it still remains very much a ghost town. Of particular note is Goussainlivres, a charming bookshop in the heart of town.
Time & Distance from Paris: In order to reach Goussainville via public transportation from Paris, you’ll need to take the RER D from Gare du Nord. From the Goussainville train station, it’s around a fifteen-minute walk to reach the old part of town (i.e. the ‘Vieux Village’). Otherwise, in order to reach Goussainville via car from Paris, it will take around an hour.
Book now: Half-Day Trip to Giverny from Paris
For any art lover, Monet’s work probably needs no introduction. Towards the end of his life, Monet moved to Giverny, where he cultivated his gardens and painted the water lilies to be found within the green grounds. Today, you can explore Monet’s former home and gardens. Just make sure to bring your camera- it’s that picture perfect!
Time & Distance from Paris: By car, it takes around an hour and a half to reach Giverny, which can be found to the North West of the French capital. Otherwise, Monet’s gardens and home are pretty difficult to reach via public transportation! As such, you’ll want to rent a car or book a guided excursion from Paris.
#21 London, UK
Of course, no list of the best day trips from Paris would be complete without a quick nod to the UK’s capital city. After all, thanks to easy transport links from Eurostar, getting from city to city is a mere matter of hours. So, if you’re pressed for time and want to visit both capital cities, then take a trip to London for the day!
Time & Distance from Paris: In order to get to London from Paris, you’ll want to take the Eurostar. Journey time is a couple of hours each way and while it’s worth dedicating at least a few days to exploring the UK capital, if you’re short on time then a day trip between the two cities is perfectly possible.
Read more: 75 London attractions bucket list!
#22 Antwerp, the Belgian day trip from Paris
Also known as Anvers in French and Antwerpen in Dutch, the bustling port city of Antwerp is less than two hours away from Paris via train. Home to delights such as a traditional low countries Beguinage, plenty of beautiful Belgian architecture, and all of the beer sampling opportunities you could possibly imagine, Antwerp is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in Belgium.
Time & Distance from Paris: In order to reach Antwerp as a Paris day trip, you’ll want to take the train. By car, the journey takes well over four hours each way and is most certainly not worth it! However, if you take the high-speed train between the two cities, the journey time is simply two-hours each way!
Read more: How to spend a day in Antwerp
#23 Disneyland Paris, the magical Paris day trip
Book now: Disneyland Paris 1-Day Ticket
Of course, no article about the best day trips from Paris would be complete without mentioning Disneyland Paris. The magical Kingdom is fun for all ages and some of the park has even been recently refurbished. During certain times of the year, events and seasonal festivals are held, including festivities at Halloween and at Christmastime.
Time & Distance from Paris: As one of the most popular day trips from Paris, it should come as no surprise that it’s very easy to reach Disneyland Paris! In fact, you simply need to hop on the RER A in central Paris at the Gare de Lyon station. From there, the journey time is under an hour and you’ll want to disembark at the Marne-la-Vallée — Chessy station. As Disneyland is quite far from central Paris, you’ll need to buy a metro ticket that encompasses zones 1-5.