5 Day Trips From Paris

5 Day Trips From Paris

There’s no doubt Paris is a gorgeous city with lots of sites to see and many things to do.  You could spend weeks and months wandering the city’s lovely streets and still not see it all.  But there’s lots to see and do outside of the city, so if you have extra time or just want to get away from the city for a few hours you might  consider some day trips from Paris.

You don’t have to wander far, there are several places you can explore just an hour or so away.  Here are 5 day trips from Paris that might help you plan your next vacation.  If you can’t find the time for all of them that’s okay, it might just inspire you to return to![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Day trips from Paris1. Chateau de Versailles  and its gardens are one of the most popular attractions outside Paris is located in the wealthy suburb of Versailles.  This UNESCO World Heritage Site is about an hour away.  It’s very accessible by train, coach, or private car.

Built by Louis XIV, the Sun King, in the later part of the 19th. century Versailles was once the seat of political power in France.  It’s a beautiful palace which many of us associate with Marie Antoinette one of the palace’s most notable residents.  Versailles has definitely played it’s part in French and world history.   It was in its Hall of Mirrors that the Treaty of Versailles was signed and effectively ended World War I between German and allied forces.  Today it’s a major tourist destination.  It houses a museum of French history and art exhibits.  It is also used in modern political functions, most recently Persident Hollande’s speech given there to a rare joint session of Parliament shortly after the 2015 Paris attacks.  Learn more about Versailles here!

Day trips from Paris2.  Chateau de Fontainebleau is just over 55 kms. from Paris.  It is located in the town of Fontainebleau a commune in the metropolitan area of Paris.  It is easily accessible by TER train from the Gare-de-Lyon.

The Chateau which once belonged to the kings of France along with its surrounding forest is a favorite weekend get-away for many Parisians.

Today the Chateau is open to the public and is home to 4 museums with a great collection of art masterpieces.  It is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

It’s also the launching point for France Montgolfiere a hot air balloon company.  It’s one of the best ways to experience this part of the country!  Learn more about Fontainebleau and hot air ballooning here!

3.  Chateau de Chenonceau is a bit further afield.  It’s about a 3 hour drive or 2 hour train ride away from the capital.  Arguably the most visited of the Loire Valley Chateaux and the second most visited chateaux in France,  Chenonceau is a beautiful palace.  Spanning the Cher River this palace was once home to Cathrine de Medici the Queen of France when she married Henry II.

This Chateau built in the early 16th. century played many roles through out history.  It was here that Mary Queen of Scots married Cathrine de Medici’s son Francis II.

It is also France Montgolfiere’s launching point for their Loire Valley balloon rides.

Learn more about Chenonceau here! [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]Paris Tours

 

 

 

 

 

day trips from Paris4.  Chartres the capital city  of Eure-et-Loire department of France is located 96 kms from Paris.  It is known for its cathedrals, most notably the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Chartres a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This Cathedral is famous for its stained glass windows whose blue color is unique and called “bleu de Chartres.  It is not known how this particular colored glass was created but it has not been replicated to date.

The Cathedral offers tours of the church itself as well as its crypts.  It’s definitely worth a visit.

There are other notable churches and museums in this city, as well as its markets.  Chartres is a major market town of the Beauce region of France  which is also known as the “granary of France.”

It’s a delightful town that is easily reached by train.  There are frequent trains between Chartres and Paris Montparnasse station.  The train ride takes about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes depending on the train.  Round trip tickets cost about €30 per person. [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

day trips from Paris5.  Reims  is the main city  of the  Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine region of France is 129 kms from Paris.

Founded by Gauls 2000 years ago Reims was a very important city of the Roman Empire.  It played a major role in imperial French history where for over 1000 years most of France’s kings were crowned there.  Today Reims is the center of the champagne industry.

day trips from ParisThere are many things to see and do in Reims.  Its most famous attraction is the Gothic style Cathédrale Notre Dame de Reims.  It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Reims and where the French kings were crowned.  It’s a beautiful cathedral complete with flying buttresses, vaulted naves, towers, and stained glass windows.  Tours of the cathedral are available, you can buy the tickets from the Palais du Tau entrance store across the street.

The Palais du Tau right next to the cathedral was the palace of the Archbishop of Reims.  It played a major role in French history.  It was in this palace that the kings of France resided before their coronation; here that they dressed for their coronation at the cathedral nearby; and here where coronation banquets were held.

The Basilique Saint-Remi was the church of the Abbey of Saint-Remi.  It has housed the relics of Saint Remi the Bishop of Reims since 1099. The cathedral, palace, and abbey are all listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

As I mentioned earlier Reims is the center of the champagne industry.  The city is surrounded by vineyards and chalk caves both integral components in the making of this sparkling wine.  Did you know that only sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France using only specific grapes grown there can be called Champagne?  Yes it’s true, sparkling wines made in other regions can not bear the Champagne designation, they must be labeled as Sparkling Wine!

day trips from parisHaving said this it’s safe to assume that the city is home to many of the famous Champagne Houses.  You’d be right of course.  The city and surrounding area is home to Veuve Cliquot, Martel, Mumm, Taittinger to name a few.  Many of them are open to the public and have guided tours and tastings.

We went to Taittinger which is located in the heart of the city.  It was a fascinating tour!  The tour goes thru the 4th. century chalk mines which serve as their cellars.  Their mines by the way are  listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the tour you will learn how champagne in made.  Very intersting.  The best part of the tour is the champagne tasting!

Tour prices start at €17 per person depending on the how many types of champagne you want to taste.

In my opinion definitely worth the price of admission.  The bubbly were lovely!

Other sights in Reims include museums, churches, and squares.  It’s a lively town with many shops, markets, cafes, and restaurants.

Reims is easily accessible by train, car, or coach from Paris.  You can book day tours from many local companies if you don’t want to venture out on your own.  To get to Reims from Paris from the Gare de l’Est station.  Trains leave every 40 minutes from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm. The train ride is 40 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on the train you take.   A round trip ticket cost €30 per person.

If you will be in Paris for a week or so and would like to take day trips around the city you may want to consider purchasing a rail pass before you leave home.  The day trips listed here can all be reached by trains that are included in the rail pass.  Compare prices of point to point tickets vs. rail pass before you buy anything.

Depending on your destination sometimes buying point to point tickets are less expensive.  But the major advantage of passes in my opinion is convenience.  You don’t have to buy train tickets each time you want to go somewhere, just hop on a train and show the conductor your pass and ID.  You also won’t have to validate your pass each time you hop a train as you would have to do with point to point tickets.  Validating tickets isn’t a big deal, just one more thing to remember to do.  If your ticket isn’t validated you could find yourself paying a hefty fine.


Day Trip to Chateau Chenonceau

Day Trip to Chateau Chenonceau

The Loire Valley located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in Central France is known for its vineyards and orchards that line banks of the river.  It’s famous for its wines, historic towns, and architecture.  The central part of this river valley was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 2000.  This designation includes the area around the Loire River as well as the areas around its tributaries.

Chateau ChenonceauThe area is dotted with beautiful Chateaux collectively called Chateaux of Loire Valley.  These Chateaux illustrate Renaissance design in France.  Many of them played historical roles dating back from the 11th. Century.  They were owned or visited by historical figures including Cathrine de’Medici and Leonardo Da Vinci.

You can spend a lifetime visiting all the Chateaux, there are over 300 of them!  Today many of them are privately owned and serve as homes, some of which open their doors to the public, others are operated as hotels or B&Bs, and still others are government owned and have become major tourist attractions.

Naturally  a visit to the Loire Valley Chateaux was on our bucket list.  The only remaining questions were which ones and how to get there.  Well the answer would depend on your interests.

If you’re crazy about castles and are on a mission to see as many of them as you can then you’re best bet is to stay in the Loire Valley and hire a car.  Driving to each chateau is really the easiest way to go.  You can also book organized tours that will take you chateau hopping to several of the most popular ones.

But if you’re only interested in visiting one or two it can easily be a day trip from Paris once you decide on which ones you want to see.  The valley is about a 3 hour drive or 2 hour train ride from the capital.  Totally doable in a day.

Chateau ChenonceauWe took a day trip from Paris to visit Chateaux Chenonceau and Clos Luce in nearby Amboise.

Chateau Chenonceau is located in the small town of Chenonceau.  It spans the Cher River one of the Loire’s tributaries.  It is probably the second most visited chateau in France, its popularity surpassed only by Verasilles.

Its construction was started by Thomas Bohier, revenue collector for King Francis I in 1515 and finished by his wife and son in.  In 1535 it was confiscated by the King to pay off debt and was later given to  Diane de Poitiers, duchesse de Valentinois by Henry II, son of Francis I.

Chateau ChenonceauIt was de Poitiers, Henry’s mistress, who built the bridge over the Cher and also built extensive gardens.  After Henry’s untimely death his widow, Catherine de’ Medici forced Diane to deed the castle to her.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

It soon became her favorite castle and she constructed the galleries above the bridge as well as the stables and more gardens.  It was in this chateau her son Francis II married Mary, Queen of Scots in 1560.

Thru the centuries the castle was owned by several powerful noblewomen thus earning its name “Château de Femmes” or “the castle of six ladies”.  Each lady adding her mark to make the castle the beauty we see today.  For more history on this chateau click here!

A visit to the chateau is like stepping back in time.  It is filled with many works of art, exquisite furniture, and beautiful floral arrangements.  You can see Cathrine de’ Medici’s room as well as that of Diane de Poiteier’s.  The kitchen and its vast fire pit are interesting as is the gallery with the checkerboard style floors.  After a tour of the chateau you can wander thru the gardens and maze, stop in one of the restaurants for lunch or a quick snack, have a picnic in the picnic area, and browse the gift shop.

The castle is open year round and admission is 13 Euro for adults (17.50 Euro with audio guide) and 10 Euro for kids 7-18 (14 Euro with audio guide).  Click here for more info!

This chateau isn’t exactly easy to get to from Paris, but it’s definitely worth the trip.  To get there we took the TGV from Paris’ Montparnasse train station to St. Pierre des Corps where we transferred to a local train for the 20 minute ride to Chenonceaux.  The chateau is a short walk from the train station, you can’t miss it, it’s the largest building around!  Click here for timetables and ticket prices!

From here you can take the train, drive, or hire a cab to the town of Amboise which is just 12 Km way. (We hired a cab for under 20 Euro).   There you can visit:

Chateau Chenonceau Chateau de Amboise  another beautiful castle visited by many historical figures over the centuries.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Chateau ChenonceauClos Luce where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last 3 years of his life.  He died in his bedchamber there on May 2, 1519.

A small museum dedicated to Leonardo’s knowledge of engineering housing 3D animations and 40 models: aeroplane, automobile, helicopter, tank, and more is located in the chateau.

We had planned to visit Clos Luce, but once we got to Amboise it was late afternoon and we were tired.  We grabbed a snack in town then made our to the train station and returned to Paris.  We were back at our Place de la Republique hotel in time to get ready for dinner.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

 

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