Last Updated on 4th September 2018 by Sophie Nadeau
Cooler weather, golden leaves, and all the hot beverages: autumn in Paris and its surrounds is simply magical and there may well be no better time to visit the French capital. Here’s a complete guide to fall day trips from Paris you’ll love! Complete with plenty of fall foliage, Châteaux and oodles of history, you’ll most likely struggle in deciding which trip you’d like to take first…
Fontainebleau: Forest & Château
Complete with a forest which transforms into a beautiful tapestry of oranges, reds, and yellows in the autumn months, Fontainebleau finds its roots as a palatial hunting lodge. Dating all the way back to the 12th century, today Fontainebleau is a grand Château akin to Versailles without the crowds.
As such, the French Château makes for the perfect day escape if you want to experience more of the French countryside, love history and are looking to head somewhere a little different. Highlights of the last location from where Napoleon spoke to his soldiers includes a magnificent horseshoe staircase, as well as a beautiful lake where you can rent rowboats by the half-hour.
Chantilly: Domaine & Château
Of all the fall day trips from Paris on this list, a trip to Château de Chantilly and the Domaine de Chantilly ranks as one of my top three. Beautiful and magical, the castle is located just a half hour train ride away from Paris’ Gare du Nord. If you time your trip right, be sure to make your way to the château for sunrise when candy colours dance across the sky and the light is just right.
Once there, you’ll find a Château dating all the way back to the 16th Century, and the very ‘Hameau’ (hamlet) which inspired that of Marie Antoinette’s ‘Hameau de la Reine’ at Versailles. Elsewhere on the grounds, the Musée Condé is home to one of the largest art collections in France, second only to the Louvre. There is also a forest and formal gardens to explore, as well as the nearby town.
Read more: Magical day trip to Chantilly from Paris.
Bois de Vincennes & Fortified Château
Complete with a French Château, you can’t go wrong by dedicating a few hours to exploring the Bois de Vincennes and its surrounds. Commissioned by Napoleon in the 19th century, the park is the second largest in the city.
Vincennes can easily be reached at the very end of Metro line 1, making it an incredibly easy day trip from the city centre. In the woods, you’ll find plenty of green spaces, as well as a fortified French Château complete with one of the last remaining ‘Sainte Chapelle’ churches in France and graffiti from prisoners which dates back to the middle ages.
Read more: Easy day trip to Vincennes from Paris.
Bois de Boulogne
Fall is your final opportunity to rent a boat and spend the afternoon (or at the very least, an hour or two) paddling along the Bois de Boulogne Central lake. And with views over to the Eiffel Tower (yes, you can really see the Iron Lady from the middle of this lake), you can’t go wrong by spending a few hours enjoying nature and admiring the fall colours.
You can even pack a picnic and enjoy your food atop of the lake. Other Bois de Boulogne activities include the architecturally interesting Louis Vuitton Foundation and the Jardin d’Acclimitation (both are worth checking out).
Read more: Renting a boat on Bois de Boulogne.
Versailles: Palace, Fruit Picking & Town
With fewer tourists and shorter queues, now is the best time to visit Versailles before the winter chill sets in. While the crowds are fewer in the summer and the light is still pretty good for snapping photographs, some of the best places to snap photos at Versailles are in the Hameau de la Reine and around the Grand Trianon.
And you don’t just have to head to Versailles to see the Château either. Instead, there are plenty of things to see in the rest of the town that doesn’t involve the royal palace at all. In the town of Versailles itself, you’ll find plenty of galleries, museums, and formal gardens. Nearby, you’ll also find the perfect opportunity to go fruit picking in Versailles at La Cueillette de Gally.
Read more: French fruit picking at Versailles.
Provins: Medieval Town
Located about an hour and a half from Paris city centre, you’ll find the wonderful medieval town of Provins. Once home to a great medieval fair (where merchants from all over the country would meet and trade), today it is designated a UNESCO world heritage site and is even home to some medieval tunnels of unknown origin.
Once in Provins, you’ll find gems such as the Tour Cesar (a well-preserved medieval tower), as well as the remains of the medieval fortified wall. Best visited in the autumn, when the fall colours provide a pretty backdrop to the town, Provins has all the atmosphere and very few people around, making it the perfect day trip from Paris.
Read more: Provins medieval town day trip from Paris!
Towns of L’Isle Adam & Auvers-Sur-Oise
Final resting place of Van Gogh, as well as his brother Theo, Auvers-Sur-Oise is often overlooked in favour of more famous French towns. However, once there, you’ll find a grand Château complete with perfectly manicured gardens, an ancient church and a museum dedicated entirely to Absinthe. Even if you’re ‘not a museum person’ the history of Absinthe is well worth discovering.
Just along the River Oise, around a fifteen-minute drive from Auvers-sur-Oise, you’ll find the charming settlement of L’Isle Adam. This riverside resort town has a beach and is ever popular with Parisians and tourists alike. Both towns can easily be combined to make a lovely, but alternative, fall day trip from Paris.
Read more: Visiting Auvers-Sur-Oise
Blandy Les Tours & Château Vaux le Vicomte
Due to their close proximity to one another, a trip to Blandy Les Tours and Château Vaux le Vicomte can easily be combined to form one magical fall day trip from the City of Lights. While Blandy Les Tours is a heavily reconstructed medieval Castle and fortress, Château Vaux le Vicomte has all the trappings of a Versailles like Palace. And, in fact, is a cautionary tale in never boasting about your wealth. Both castles look lovely set among acres of woodland and farmland. And even more so once the fall colours are upon us.
Read more: Feeling medieval at Blandy Le Tours.
Meaux: The Foodie Trip!
The quaint town of Meaux is easy to reach via train from Paris and is famous for two foods which taste delicious (though not necessarily together!). Brie de Meaux and Meaux mustard are both specialities of the French settlement and can be found in stores throughout the area.
Other highlights of Meaux include a rather impressive history dating all the way back to Roman times when the city was known as ‘Latinum’ and its nickname was ‘Meldi’. Included within this line-up is a beautiful Romanesque-Gothic cathedral and the Musée de la Grand Guerre (this WWI museum also happens to be the largest of its kind in Europe).
Read more: A foodie inspired Meaux day trip from Paris
London: The all-out fall foliage inspired day trip from Paris
If you’re visiting Paris in the fall and wish to see the pretty fall colours of another European capital, although London is a little further than most fall inspired day trips from Paris, it is totally worth the journey. This is especially the case if you’re running a little short on time.
The best way to visit London as a day trip from Paris is via the Eurostar, a tunnel which runs under the English Channel (which is interestingly known as ‘La Manche’- literally ‘the sleeve’- in French). Once you’ve arrived at King’s Cross St Pancras International, some of the best photo spots for autumnal tones can be found in London’s many parks, as well as in the mews streets around South Kensington and Chelsea.
Read more: Eurostar standard premier review