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 De Versailles

Day Trip to Chateau De Versailles

Chateau De Versailles[spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]Chateau de Versailles, or the Palace of Versailles, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the town of Versailles just 12 miles southwest of Paris.  When construction began in 1623 by Louis XIII Versailles was a country village; today it is a wealthy suburb of the French capital.

It was originally built as a hunting lodge and enlarged by Louis XIV, the Sun King.  He moved his royal court to the new palace thus making the court of Versailles  the center of political power from 1682 until 1789 when the royal family was forced back to Paris after the beginning of the French Revolution.

Chateau De Versailles

Hall of Mirrors

One of Versailles’ most famous residents was Marie Antoinette the wife of Louis XVI, they were the last monarchs to live in the Palace.  Versailles is famous not just for its residents and buildings but also as a symbol of the absolute monarchy of the Ancien Regime and for historical events that were held in its grand galleries, particularly the Hall of Mirrors.  The Treaty of Versailles which ended World War I between the Germans and the Allied forces was signed in the Hall of Mirrors on June 28, 1919.

Today the Palace of Versailles is a museum of French history and art exhibit site.  It also hosts political functions form time to time, most recently President Hollande gave a speech before a rare joint session of parliament there following the Paris attacks in November 2015.

The Palace complex is vast and sprawling with private apartments, galleries, chapel, opera, and subsidiary structures including the Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon located on the grounds close to the main chateau.  Versailles is also famous for its extensive gardens, statuary, and fountains.  They are spectacular!

So if you’re a history buff, an avid gardener, or just love beautiful things Versailles is a must see when you visit Paris. It’s an easy day trip from Paris accessible via trains, coach, or private car, and of course you can join a tour offered by many travel agents or your hotel’s tour desk.

I’ve been to Versailles twice, once by private car and another time by train.  Hiring a car and driver is the most expensive way to go, but if you’re traveling with older people (we were traveling with my aunt and ailing husband at that time) it is probably the easiest way to go.  The cheapest way to get there is by train, assuming you can figure out Paris’ complex train and metro system.  Here’s a link that will give you step by step directions to get to Versailles from Paris by train!  A round trip ticket cost 7 Euro per person, it’s a bargain!  Once you reach the town it’s an easy walk to the chateau, just follow the signs, it is after all a major tourist attraction!

You can purchase your entrance tickets online or at the ticket office before you enter the palace.  (If you’ve booked an organized tour entrance tickets should be included).  Buying a ticket can be somewhat confusing as they offer several types.  The best “buy” would be the 1 or 2 day passport.  These include admission to  the Palace, the Trianon palaces, grounds, and Marie Antoinette’s estates.

The cost of a one day passport is 18 Euro or 25 Euro from April to October because it includes access to the Musical Garden Show or Musical Fountain Show.  A two day passport is 25Euro or 30Euro with the Musical Garden.  The two day passport must be used on two consecutive days. Neither passport gains you admission to the Fountains Night Show which cost 24 Euro and is available every Saturday from June 18 to September 17 every year.

You can also buy tickets separately, just the Palace (15Euro) or the Trianon Palaces & Marie Antoinette’s estates (10Euro). Admission to the Musical Garden Show is 8 Euro and the Musical Fountain Show is 9 Euro.  Click here for more info!

They also offer several guided tours.  Guided tours cost 7 Euro each in addition to the price of your admission ticket.

I told you it was confusing!  We usually just buy the one day passport,  makes things easier and gives you access to everything including the exhibits.

For more info on tickets and tours click here!

Now there are many things you can do in Versailles.  It’s a great place to take the kids too!  You can start by taking a tour of the main chateau, actually you can take all the tours if you like, but if you have kids it will get boring pretty fast.  You don’t necessarily have to take the guided tour, the audio guide included with the admission works great as does the map of the palace and grounds.

Chateau De VersaillesWhen you’ve had your fill of period furniture and exquisite artwork you can wander out into the gardens.  That’s really where all the fun begins, for young and old.  The gardens and fountains are spectacular!  There are so many activities you can do in them.  There’s a mini-train you can take to the Trianon palaces and other garden attractions or you can rent an electric car.  We rented the car and drove ourselves all around the grounds, it was a blast!

Train tickets are 7.50 Euro per person.  Electric car rental is 32 Euro an hour.  It was so worth it!

 

Chateau De VersaillesAt the Grand Canal you will find restaurants with outdoor seating.  Stop by for lunch or a snack!  You can also rent a row boat to paddle in the canal, rent a bike, go on a guided tour of the Grand Canal on a Segway (35 Euro for 1 hour or 55 Euro for 2 hours), or go shopping!  [spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]

Chateau De VersaillesIf you’re up for more tours head over to the Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s private retreat or the Grand Trianon also called the Marble Palace.  Or you can just wander around the gardens and admire the trees, flowers, fountains, and statuary.  Perhaps grab a drink from one of the beverage carts located around the grounds.

What ever you decide to do in Versailles I’m sure you’re visit will be memorable!

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Chateau De Versailles