In Paris for an extended stay and want to see a bit more of France (or even other parts of Europe)?
Here are some ideas for taking sensational side trips from the French capital with tips on accessing some of the most amazing landmarks, popular attractions, quaint villages, and elaborate palaces, and maybe even another country while still keeping Paris as your base.
Only about 40 minutes away by public transport or car from central Paris, Versailles is an excellent destination for a one-day excursion. The small city to the southwest of Paris is home to one of Europe’s most lavish and grand historical residences: the Chateau de Versailles. What started as a hunting lodge for Louis XIV was eventually transformed into a huge palace for him and successive royals. The ostentatious display of power and wealth is fascinating as are the elaborate and expansive gardens. Tip: purchase your tickets to visit the palace in advance online or else you may find yourself lining up for over an hour to get in (but it’s definitely worth the wait to see this architectural marvel).
Another ideal getaway that’s less than an hour away from central Paris is Fontainebleau. The big draw here is the Chateau de Fontainbleau. Continuously inhabited by royalty for seven centuries, Napoleon referred to the chateau as the “true home of kings.” Marie-Antoinette was partial to this residence too. Be sure to take a peek inside her Turkish Boudoir when you visit (ooh la la!). Beyond the famously fabulous digs, taking time to explore the Fontainebleau’s 50,000-acre hardwood forest and to check out the acclaimed local fine dining scene are both fantastic reasons to head to this beautiful hamlet directly to the southeast of Paris.
Need a dose of Americana or some kid-friendly fun added to your Parisian itinerary? All the wonders of the Magic Kingdom with Mickey et al are waiting to greet you 45 minutes due west of Paris. Disney Island Paris is similar to the parks in California and Florida but with the real-life magic of Paris within easy reach.
About two hours’ drive or roughly a 30-minute train ride from Paris is Reims, the epicenter of the Champagne region. For vineyard and winery tours, tasting and a wonderfully bubbly way to enjoy a taste of French culture, a visit here is hard to beat.
Craving more museums and arty doings but with a mellow vibe that’s hard to come by in the heart of Paris? About an hour north by train or two-and-half-hours’ drive from Paris is friendly and easygoing Lille. On the border of Belgium, this university town and hub of Flemish culture offers all the fun of urban France (it’s the country’s fourth largest city) a relaxed pace with a café scene that’s par excellence.
Paris to London (and then back again) in a day? It’s certainly doable…and you don’t even have to worry about spending on flights to London; England’s capital is only a two-and-a-half-hour train ride away with regularly scheduled Eurostar trains leaving and arriving at stations in the center of both cities throughout the day and well into the night. So, you can have your morning croissant in Paris, make to London with plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely afternoon tea and do some sightseeing, and even grab a pint at a pub before heading back to Paris. This option doesn’t have to bee expensive either. Book far enough in advance and return Eurostar journeys can be surprisingly cheap.
How about you? Do you have ideas for days trips from Paris or plans to explore France? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.