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6 Day Trips from Paris

Gowithguide travel specialist O.

by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Gowithguide travel specialist O.

Last updated : Mar 11, 202312 min read

Things To Do

Exploring the nooks and crannies of Paris is undoubtedly a wonderful experience, but sometimes one needs to take a bit of a break from the urban bustle of the city. Particularly during the summer months popular attractions can get quite crowded, and standing in long lines in the sweltering summer heat may not be the best way to spend your precious time in France

Luckily, Paris is also centrally located meaning you can reach much of central France via a simple day trip. Good railway infrastructure, highway bus services, and of course private cars (whether you drive yourself or ride along with a private guide) means you can go on a day-long adventure in any of the surrounding provinces and be back in the city well before bedtime. 

What is a Day Trip? 

A ‘Day Trip’ refers to an excursion wherein you spend a day exploring some of the areas surrounding your original destination. You may react with a “well, duh” to that statement, but Day Trips are distinctly different from ‘Full Day Tours’ in the sense that it’s essentially a tour within a tour. Day Trips are also a great idea for locals since you can go on a mini adventure without committing to a long vacation. 

Examples of Day Trips in other countries may include adventures such as crossing the border to visit the Niagara Falls during your time in Toronto, or relaxing at the Hakone hot springs when in Tokyo. Basically any place that can be reached within 2-3 hours, whether remote or not, can count as a Day Trip. 

In this article, we’re going to embark on a deep dive of some of the best sights to visit when on a Day Trip around Paris.  

blog imageThe Surrounding Area

Apart from being the capital and most populous city in France, Paris is also the capital of the Île-de-France region. While the region itself is relatively small, it contains some of the most interesting attractions in the entire country including the Palace of Versailles and Disneyland Paris

Thanks to the country’s robust public transportation network, you can also easily hop on a train to some of the neighboring regions, everything from the coast of Normandy to tasting wines in the Loire Valley. Without further adieu, let’s jump in.  

Versailles 

Distance from Paris: 19 km / 12 miles

Accessible by: Train, bus, private car

Total tour time: 6+ hours

Considered by many to be one of the most spectacular unions of botany and architecture in the world, the Palace of Versailles (Château de Versailles) is a must-see for any visitor to France. This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers an expansive 800 hectares, and both the gardens and palace itself are famous for their meticulously detailed features.

Built for King Louis XIV “the Sun King”, the palace served not only as a royal residence, but also as the seat of the crown (and thus capital of France) during much of the 17th and into the 18th century. After the French revolution the palace fell into disrepair for some time until restorations started during the 1830s. Since then the structure and grounds have been primarily used as a museum of French culture or as a venue to receive dignitaries or host formal events. 

The amount of sightseeing you can do throughout the palace and sprawling gardens are too much to get into detail here, but some of the most prominent includes the famous Hall of Mirrors, the voluminous Grand Chapel, and the carefully restored apartments of the King and Queen. After marveling at the interior sections you can spend a relaxing few hours strolling around the world famous gardens with attractions including fountains and sculptures by prominent renaissance artists. You can also grab a bite or do a bit of souvenir shopping in the area. 

With a staggering 15 million visitors annually, it can get pretty crowded here, but luckily for you our tour guides can usher you in via a ‘skip the line entrance’, just like royalty of old! 

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres

Distance from Paris: 90 km / 56 miles

Accessible by: Train, highway bus, private car

Total tour time: 6+ hours

When people think about ‘Notre Dame’, they usually picture Notre Dame de Paris, the famous gothic cathedral located in the heart of Paris. Most people however don’t know that there are several other cathedrals with the ‘Notre Dame’ moniker, the phrase simply translating to ‘our lady’ in French. Many of these are just as architecturally breathtaking as the one in Paris, and unlike the Parisian one they aren’t indefinitely closed for repair and renovation. 

For a great day trip, we would recommend visiting the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres located in the nearby town of Chartres. The town can be reached easily via train or car, the journey on average taking just over an hour. Completed in 1220, the cathedral is one of the best examples of Romanesque and High Gothic architecture in the world. A rarity among high medieval structures, the cathedral retains most of its original stained glass windows as well as the venerated Sancta Camisa, purported to have been worn by the Virgin Mary during the birth of Christ.

The cathedral hosts several events during the year, including celebrations, concerts, and pilgrimages honoring the Virgin Mary. You can also visit at any time during the year to simply take a stroll and enjoy the beautiful architecture, and the cathedral is very welcoming to both non-Christian and secular visitors. Please remember to be respectful when visiting as it’s still primarily a place of worship though (that means no flip-flops as well as keeping your voice down inside).  

The Loire Valley

Distance from Paris: 200 km / 124 miles

Accessible by: Train, highway bus, private car

Total tour time: 10+ hours

For our next recommendation we’re going on a bit of a road trip all the way to the Loire Valley. The journey is most easily completed by rail and should take around 2 hours, so we recommend getting an early morning start to really make the most of your day. 

Located in Central France, this stunning valley situated next to the Loire river is famous for its rich assortment of vineyards, orchards, and historic estates. Designated as a UNESCO world heritage site due to its rich cultural heritage, visiting some of the area’s large collection of unique châteaux is a must. Totalling over 300, these impressive structures were built by French kings and nobility to serve as holiday getaways and residences. 

A particularly spectacular château to visit is the Château d'Azay-le-Rideau, located on an island in the Indre river. One of the most beautiful views here is of the famous water mirror, the flow of the river having been slowed so the building facade is reflected in the water’s surface. 

In addition to the many old châteaux and castles that dot the region, this is also one of the best places in France to embark on a wine and food tour. The Loire wine route stretches a staggering 1,000 km (621 miles), and hosts over a thousand vineyards and 400 wine cellars open to the public. Go for a relaxing nature walk and finish it off with a gorgeous bottle of French wine before heading back to Paris (no driving after drinking wine obviously). 

Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Distance from Paris: 22 km / 13 miles

Accessible by: Train, private car

Total tour time: 6+ hours

For our next recommendation, we’re heading for a visit to the forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Located only around 22 km from the center of Paris, here you can enjoy a classic European forest accessible super easily by car or train. 

This picturesque forest used to serve as a royal hunting ground for French kings of old, including Henry IV and Louis XIII who used to hunt foxes here. Today however it is open to all, and serves as a scenic nature retreat just outside Paris that receives around 3 million visitors annually. Here guests can enjoy the various nature trails on offer for a relaxing stroll through the woods that used to be the playground of kings. Various children’s game areas, as well as the Corra pond are also available for a visit. 

The forest is home to a wide variety of arboreal delights, including mighty oak trees, beech, maple, chestnut, and more - with the permanent team of foresters helping to maintain the integrity of the forest’s floral ecosystem. The forest is also home to deer and wild boar to this day, and a lucky visitor may just spot some! There are a myriad of activities on offer for those who’d like to get their fill of nature, and it’s only a short trip from the center of Paris. 

Château de Fontainebleau

Distance from Paris: 69 km / 43 miles

Accessible by: Train, bus, private car

Total tour time: 6+ hours

The Chateau de Fontainebleau is located to the south east of Paris and can be reached in just over an hour via train or car. Serving as the residence of French monarchs including Louis VII and Napoleon III, like the other listings in this article it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and currently operates as a museum. 

Like Versailles, the palace is renowned for its architecture, gardens, and impressive art collection. Unlike Versailles, the crowds aren’t going to be quite as big, so this might be a good alternative if you prefer a slightly more laid back experience. You can visit the chateau every day except for Tuesdays (keep that in mind), and opening times slightly change depending on season, being open an hour later (until 18:00) during the summer months. 

Highlights include the Gallery of Francis I, widely recognized as hosting one of the greatest collections of renaissance art in all of France, the stunning ballroom with its ornate ceilings and frescoes, and the boudoir of the tragic queen Marie-Antoinette. You can also visit both the throne room and bedroom of Napoleon, who used the chateau as a personal residence after his proclamation as emperor. Many more dazzling rooms are available for visit, including the particularly interesting Chinese museum. 

Normandy D-Day Beaches

Distance from Paris: 250 km / 155 miles

Accessible by: Train, private car

Total tour time: 12+ hours

For our final recommendation we are heading to a more recent but nonetheless exciting historical site, the Normandy D-Day beaches. Infamous due to their use during the 1944 Allied landings in World War 2, like most places in France these beaches have seen their fair share of blood-soaked history.

While the furthest location from Paris in our article, it is entirely possible to visit these iconic beaches during a day tour, with a train journey to the famous Omaha beach clocking in at around 3 hours. Take care when booking as some rail journeys require a change of trains midway through. Consult your private guide to figure out the most efficient way to get here and back to Paris hassle-free. 

A visit here allows you to marvel not only at the beaches themselves, but primarily at the fortifications that made up parts of the Atlantic Wall. Constructed by the Third Reich, this vast network of concrete bunkers, blockhouses, and trenches spanned much of the French coast facing the English channel and was intended to serve as an iron-clad defense against any potential Allied landings. 

Not only is this area steeped in history, it is also much quieter than any of the other recommendations in our list, and allows visitors to also marvel at the scenic beauty of the coastline itself. The highlights of this tour includes the beaches themselves (Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno, and Sword), various war cemeteries, as well as the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc famously scaled by the Army Rangers during the assault. There are also many amazing bistros and souvenir shopping spots located in the nearby town of Bayeux.

Conclusion

The myriad of sights and attractions you can visit with a simple Paris day trip is truly astounding and this is by no means an exhaustive list. From idyllic chateaus to renaissance art, food & wine tours, and visceral history, you can truly experience something of everything. As an added bonus you can take advantage of France’s excellent public transportation network to get to these destinations within a few hours, or if you’d prefer a more private journey rental car or chauffeurs are also available. 

Contact one of our excellent French guides today to figure out how best to plan and execute a Paris day trip that will enhance your tour experience to no end.

Paris Tour Guide - Jillian A.

Jillian A.

5.00 / 5
(1 reviews)
France

Bonjour de Paris! I'm Jillian, your independent Paris guide, ready to sprinkle some magic on your adventure! Walk with me – your experienced, passionate, dynamic, and undeniably cool local guide. Let's meander through petite cafes and historic wonders, unlocking the secrets to living like a true Parisian! Marvel at hidden gems where the art of the past and present intertwines, making history your playground! Join my small groups or opt for a private/personalized walking tour, because in Paris, the best stories are told step by step. Whether alone or with your favorite people, I'll show you the beauty of Paris. Let's make your time in Paris a whirlwind of joy. Have fun and let the City of Lights enchant you!                                                                                                                                  

Paris Tour Guide - Leo K.

Leo K.

5.00 / 5
(7 reviews)
France

Hi there! My nickname is Leo, I've been a tour guide in Paris and France for 6 years and I love my job and meeting people from all over the world to share my passion with! My speciality is the museum of catacombs, which is a very unique site. I also do tours of the historical crimes and legends of Paris, the Eiffel Tower, Seine river cruise, Chartres and its cathedral, the cemetery of Père Lachaise, Le Marais and much more.                                                                                                                                  

Paris Tour Guide - Ellen L.

Ellen L.

5.00 / 5
(3 reviews)
France

I am an experienced tour guide and a friendly Franco-American who has lived in Paris for 33 years. Travelers feel comfortable with me due to my fluency in both English & French. I am a trained historian and my tours are well researched, well documented and well presented on high tech material (tablet), a multi-media experience using archival photos, video footage (and when appropriate sound). My tours are not for the first time traveler - I could never compete with the big bucket tours that go to the Eiffel Tower. Instead, I market tours for those who have already seen the sights and want to see Paris beyond the monuments, the real Paris with its private courtyards, quiet cobblestoned streets & hidden monuments that only locals know.                                                                                                                                 

Paris Tour Guide - Julien A.

Julien A.

France

After a long experience in the Food & Beverage scene in Paris, I would be happy to make you discover the more trendy districts of Paris through a gourmet and festive perspective! Let's discover at the same time Paris history/geography and the best places to have lunch /dinner / cocktails and where to buy tasty food.                                                                                                                                 

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