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.


10 Great Ways to Experience Paris

10 Great Ways to Experience Paris

Allons  à Paris!  Let’s go to Paris! Music to my ears whenever my husband suggests a Parisian holiday!  I love Paris any time of year.  The City of Lights conjures up images of the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe, and other iconic landmarks.  Of course a trip to Paris would be incomplete without seeing its famous sights, but do you just want to see Paris or would you rather Experience Paris?

I remember our first trip to Paris, so busy rushing from sight to sight and not really experiencing this great city.  Sure we saw all the “must see” landmarks, gawked at  the Mona Lisa (I think that’s required!), enjoyed a crêpe or two, drove down the Champs-Élysées, and bought the regular tourist souvenirs; I was exhausted, but not completely satisfied.  To be fair we had 3 days to “do” Paris with my aunt and uncle, not enough time to really experience the city.  I vowed to return, and return we did, many times!

On that first trip we hired a car and driver, it was great!  He took us to all the sights, minimal walking involved.  But to really Experience Paris you need to get off the tour bus so to speak and wander the magical streets on your own.  Yes your wanderings will take you to the popular tourist attractions, but when you get there don’t just stop for a few photos and move on, wander in, have a meal or snack at the local cafés or  picnic at one of the parks, window shop the fabulous stores, and immerse yourself in the culture, art, cuisine, and people.

Don’t just “do” Paris!  Here’re some great ways to experience Paris.  I hope they inspire you to find the Paris of your dreams!

1.  I think most first time visitors make the Eiffel Tower there first stop.  It’s definitely a must see!  But don’t just peer at it from a far, go ahead climb it!  I know the lines can be daunting, but there are a couple of ways to go up the tower without too much hassle.

You can buy your tickets online .  Lift tickets with access to 1 & 2 floors are €11 per adult.  Access to the top including first 2 floors are €17 per adult. You can’t buy stair tickets online, they must be purchased from the ticket booth for €7 per adult)

Or my favorite way, reserve a table at one of the restaurants in the tower!

58 Tour Eiffel located on the first floor is a trendy restaurant with a menu designed by Chef Alain Soulard.  He was one of the chefs on Master Chef’s Alain Ducasse’s team.

Believe me it’s an amazing way to experience the Eiffel Tower!

Lunch starts at €41.50 per person.  That includes a starter, main, dessert, and beverage.  Dinner starts at €85 per person.  It includes a glass of champagne, starter, main, and dessert.

Your reservation includes a lift ticket to the first floor.  Pick-up your lift ticket at the restaurant’s kiosk at the foot of the tower.  After your meal walk up to the second floor or purchase a ticket to the top from the kiosk on the second floor.

Located on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, Le Jules Verne is a restaurant owned by Master Chef Alain Ducasse.  They’re a bit pricier than 58 Tour Eiffel, but it’s well worth it.  Alain Ducasse is one of my favorite chefs, in fact  my daughter’s wedding reception was at Mix, his Las Vegas restaurant.  The food was amazing!

Lunch at Le Jules Verne starts at €105 per person.  It includes an appetizer, main, and dessert.  Dinner begins at €190 per person for 5 dishes.  These prices don’t include beverage, but they have an awesome wine list!

Your reservation includes a ticket to the second floor on the restaurant’s private elevator.  Present your confirmation number and ID at the restaurant’s office at the south pillar of the tower, you will be escorted to the private elevator.  After your meal you can purchase a lift ticket to the top from the ticket office on the second floor.

Should you decide to reserve a table at one of these restaurants try and reserve a window table overlooking the Trocadéro, the view is awesome!

If you’re not interested in dining at either restaurant just purchase your  lift ticket online.  You can change your mind and walk in for lunch or dinner at either restaurant as long as there’s availability.  Or if you get hungry grab a snack at  self service buffets on the first and second floor.

Toast your trip to Paris and ascent up the tower at the Champagne Bar at the tower’s top floor.  A glass of bubbly starts at €13.  What a wonderful way to Experience Paris!

2. To really experience the tower don’t take the lift, WALK!  If climbing 700+ steps isn’t for you consider walking down, at least part way.  You’ll get amazing views of the inner tower! [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

3. Experience  Paris and get a unique Eiffel Tower vies; grab an outdoor table at  Le Bistro Parisien.  Located quayside at the foot of the tower along the Seine this popular bistro is a great place for a gourmet snack or meal anytime of day.

My husband and I spend  hours sipping wine and munching snacks here.  It’s a great place to people watch, there’s lots going on at the quay!  And you get terrific shots of the tower looming just above you![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

4.   Hop on the metro to the Trocadéro station for classic Eiffel Tower views.

From the metro station head to the Esplanade du Trocadéro which is actually the roof of the Chaillot Theater.  There’s always a festive atmosphere there.

You’ll see people from around the world gather there to take photos of the tower.  [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

But that’s not all going on, it’s a local favorite as well.  The last time we were there we watched some talented kids doing tricks on their skateboards.

While you’re there you visit the museums, theaters, or restaurants nearby.  Or walk down the steps and wander the Jardin du Trocadéro.  The garden is famous for its fountains and statuary.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

5.  Stake out a spot on the grass at Place des Vosges, a popular open space in the heart of Paris’ trendy Marais district.

Built in the early 1600’s Place des Vosges is one of Paris’ oldest and most beautiful squares.  Many famous people including Victor Hugo, Cardinal Richelieu, and Georges Dufrénoy once called the stately mansions that line the square  home.

Today you can picnic or snooze on the grassy lawn in the middle of the square, stroll along the arcaded covered walkway lined with art galleries, shops, and cafés, or visit the home of Victor Hugo and the other museums there.

But this place is not just a tourist spot, it’s actually part of Parisian life.  There’s an elementary school and synagogue located there.

The best thing is access to this square if free!  It’s a relaxing way to spend a lazy afternoon!

6.  Enjoy the cafe scene.  Pick an area; Rive Gauche, Île de la Cité where Notre Dame de Paris is located, around the Place de la Bastille or Place de République, along the Champs-Élysées  or the Rue des Rosiers, Montmartre, or anywhere Paris.  You’ll find outdoor cafes lining the streets of this wonderful city.

Take a seat, sip some wine, and watch the world go by.  You should be aware that enjoying a snack or drink sitting down is more expensive than grabbing that same snack or drink on the go.  Cafe’s usually 2 list prices for each item, one price for take-away and a higher one for dine-in.  The same cup of coffee is €2-3 if you take it to go and €6 if you sit down at a table.

7.  Immerse yourself in art!  Many of the world’s greatest works of art are housed in the museums around the city.  [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Of course the Louvre is a must see, after all you can’t leave the city without a glimpse of the Mona Lisa’s secretive smile.  You and the thousands of tourists crushed in the room where the painting hangs!  But there is much more to see at the Louvre,  I still haven’t seen everything and I’ve been there 3 or 4 times already![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

If you’re not liking crowds head to the Musée d’Orsay, it’s my favorite!  Housed in a former Beaux-Arts railway station the d’Orsay is home to the largest collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world.

It’s a lovely museum and not too crowded.  You can take your time wandering thru the different exhibits.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
Another less crowded museum is Les Invalides, a complex of museums dedicated to the military history of France.  It is also the resting place of  France’s war heroes including Napoleon.[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

After you’ve walked thru the museums and visited the church and the Tomb of Napoleon stroll thru the gardens, they’re delightful.
You can peek at the top of the Eiffel Tower in the distance.

Avoid long lines and buy your tickets for these museums online![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

8.  Climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.  The Eiffel Tower isn’t the only monument you can climb!  The Arc de Triomphe located at the top of the famed Champs-Élysées has panoramic views of the city.

You can start your day at the Arc then stroll down the boulevard for a truly Parisian experience.  You’ll find most of the designer shops along the Champs-Élysées and the areas around it, including Vuitton and Channel’s flagship store.  You’ll also find car showrooms along this famous street.

Take your time, stroll and shop!  When you get hungry stop by for a pastry at Fauchon at Place de la Madeleine.

It’s a great way to experience Paris; shopping, eating, and sightseeinseine cruiseg, what more can you ask for?[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

9.  Sail down the Seine on a Bateaux Mouches or Bateaux Parisian river boat.  Both companies offer scenic and lunch/dinner cruises.

See the city from the river for a different perspective!  You’ll sail by the Île aux Cygnes an artificial island on the Seine where the smaller replica of the Statue of Liberty stands.

10.  EAT!  The best way to experience any place is by trying out local cuisine.  This is specially true in Paris.  From food trucks to fine dining Paris is a foodies’ dream.  Home to many of the great chefs of the world Paris has no shortage of food establishments.

Whatever you’re craving you’ll find it in Paris.  One of my favorite areas to find great food is the Jewish Quarter in the Marais district along the Rue des Rosiers.

There are many ways to experience Paris, there’s something for every budget!  If picking up a suit at Channel and dining at Le Jules Verne is your thing or grabbing a pastrami sandwich from at the Rue de Rosiers and enjoying it on the lawn of Place des Vosges is more your style either way is a fabulous way to experience Paris!

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