There’s plenty to keep visitors occupied for days, if not longer, in Paris. However, the best way to escape the crowds is to venture out of the city and explore the surrounding areas. We’ve put together six of our favourite day trips from Paris, offering everything from spectacular palaces to world famous champagne.
Distance from Paris: 134.4 km
Time by train: 1 hour 12 minutes
Time by bus: 1 hour 30 minutes
Known as ‘The City of a Hundred Spires’, it’s no surprise that Rouen’s churches are some of its highlights. The city’s gothic cathedral, which may look familiar as Monet painted around 30 pictures of its facade, is just one of many masterpieces.
It’s not all ancient architecture in Rouen, mind you. The modern Panorama XXL may seem out of place in the medieval city with its bright blue industrial exterior. Upon entry though, you’ll see just how much it fits in with its ever-changing 360-degree panoramic paintings. Subjects in the past have included ancient Rome, the Great Barrier Reef and even Rouen itself.
Rouen is also the city where Joan of Arc was tried and burnt at the stake for her sacrilegious crimes. Nowadays the heroine is immortalised in many ways. With the uncharacteristically modern Church of St. Joan of Arc, a small memorial of the site of her execution and a museum dedicated to her life.
Distance from Paris: 284 km
Time by train: 3 hours 15 minutes
Time by bus: 4 hours 40 minutes
Mont Saint-Michel is notorious as a “must-see” destination. As a day trip from Paris, you won’t be disappointed making the journey and discover the island town.
The 8th-century abbey, which sits atop the small island, holds a fantasy-like quality to it. Standing half a mile off the coast of Normandy, there’s no doubt it’s the island’s centerpiece.
Lined with cute cafes and independent shops, the narrow main street of La Grande Rue leading up to the Abbey is also a major pull. Visit very early morning or late evening to see it in all its glory, as during the day it can come to a near standstill with crowds.
Another beautiful aspect of Mont Saint-Michel lies in its hidden gems. Aimlessly wandering around this small island will no doubt see you stumble upon quaint chapels in varying states of preservation. They may lack the attention of tourists, but certainly aren’t missing any charm.
Each Spring thousands flock to Mont Saint-Michel Bay to take in the spring tides. At this time of the year, the water is perfect for water sports and the scenery is perfect for photography.
Distance from Paris: 114,2 km
Time by train: 46 minutes
Time by bus: 1 hour 55 minutes
The unofficial capital of the Champagne region, ‘bubbly’ often takes centre stage for visitors to Reims. No visit is complete without checking out one of Reims’ many beautiful champagne houses and cellars.
Some of the world’s biggest names in the champagne business, including Lanson, Mumm and Veuve Clicquot are based in this city. But it also worth investing time in checking out the even more charming smaller family-run businesses. Tours and tastings are available from many houses and booking ahead is essential.
But it’s not all about the bubbly. Reims has its’ own stunning Notre-Dame Cathedral. Don’t leave without checking out Palais du Tau or the Basilique St-Remi. Go a little further and discover independent galleries and museums.
Distance from Paris: 225.4 km
Time by train: 1 hour
Time by bus: 2 hours 30 minutes
From the old town’s decorative cobbled streets to the grand La Vielle Bourse former stock exchange building, there’s a real Flemish influence throughout the city of Lille.
Art lovers will find no shortage of things to do here, as the city is home to Palais des Beaux-Arts. This gallery showcases works by Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso and is the second biggest in the country behind Paris’ Louvre. If that doesn’t fill you up then fear not, as the Lille Art Modern museum also offers a fine selection along with an excellent sculpture park.
The city has plenty more to offer than art though. There are few places like Lille when it comes to cakes. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to read that the city has plenty of excellent bakeries and patisseries. The biggest name in the business is Paul, but truth be told, you could pop into most shops in the city and pick up a tasty treat.
Establish where the town hall tower is early. Not only does it provide some of the best views of Lille, but due to the city’s low-rise buildings also serves as a great marker should you get lost!
Distance from Paris: 74.8 km
Time by train: 47 minutes
Claude Monet called Giverny home for the final 43 years of his life. In result, tourism in this small village solely surrounds the impressionist.
The most popular spot, and indeed the reason most people visit Giverny, is The Claude Monet Foundation. His former home and gardens are instantly recognisable as the subject of some of his most famous work. Such as the iconic Water Lilies painting.
Beyond the garden of Giverny, why not explore the French countryside? The small village is surrounded by gentle hills. There are two popular walking trails which start from the city hall. You can grab a map from the Tourist Information Centre and be on your way.
The quickest way to get from Paris to Giverny is by catching the train to Vernon. From the arrival station, it is easy to reach the infamous gardens.
Distance from Paris: 55.2 km
Time by train: 23 minutes
Time by bus: 1 hour 27 mins
It’s popular belief that Chantilly only has its famous château. But if we’re honest, that’s all you need to see. However, it’s also found to be bigger than expected. Visitors are often surprised to discover just how much there is to see in this vast royal estate, wishing they could have spent more than a day here.
There’s the Musée Condé. A museum with a huge selection of antique paintings rivalling that of other famous French galleries. And how about those huge, sprawling gardens? Pack a picnic lunch and tuck in while basking in the glorious scenery of the castle and its moat.
If picnics aren’t for you, then there’s plenty to eat on-site too. Be sure to check out the anglo-style Hamlet restaurant. The afternoon tea comes highly recommended with an extra serving of the famous Chantilly whipped cream! At just over twenty minutes from Gare du Nord, Chantilly makes for a fantastic short distance day trip from Paris.
It would be simple to spend your entire break in the French capital, but a day trip from Paris is the perfect icing on the cake of any visit. There’s a diverse range of destinations to choose from, and you’re almost guaranteed to be battling smaller crowds than you would be in Paris. What’s your favourite day trip from Paris? Let us know in the comments section below!