3 Secret Paris Day Trips

by ally redmond
blossoms in park

Paris holds many treasures within its 12 arrondissements, but there’s a wealth of things to be seen just outside of its borders. If you’re thinking of coming to the city for a week or more, consider including one of these secret Paris day trips into your visit. Whether you pick a blossoming park, a grand chateau or a medieval town… you won’t regret these mini detours!

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Below, check them out and find out how to get there!

Parc de Sceaux

Parc de Sceaux, an ideal escape less than half an hour from Paris, is a pretty domaine with a grand château and gardens. It is particularly famous for its stunning cherry tree orchard, which comes into bloom for a few weeks in April. Inspired by Japanese hanami festivals, the domaine put on a special two-day event for the occasion, complete with Japanese music and picnics under the sakura trees. There are also musical concerts organized around the year, from open-air opera to jazz groups, all performed on the resplendent grounds.

Beyond that, the grounds, lake and château are a beautiful backdrop for lounging and soaking it all in on any day. This is a secret Paris day to enjoy the great outdoors – pack a picnic basket, bring a blanket, a set of boules or a book and you’re set!

8 Avenue Claude Perrault, 92330 Sceaux

Getting there: Parc de Sceaux or Bourg-la-Reine on the RER B from central Paris.

Opening hours: open daily, from 7am up to 10pm in June, July (9pm in August)

(Free entry to the garden)

www.domaine-de-sceaux.hauts-de-seine.fr

Château de Fontainebleau

Château de Fontainebleau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of France’s largest royal châteaux. It has been inhabited by members of the French royal family for the past seven centuries, including Marie-Antoinette and the Emperors Napoleon and Napoleon III. 

As one would expect of a château of that era, it is positively spectacular, with incredible ornate ceilings and lavish decor as far as the eye can see. There are a variety of guided tours offered, such as Marie-Antoinette’s boudoir and the Imperial Theatre. Afterwards, you can stroll around the château’s impressive gardens or hike in the surrounding Foret de Fontainebleau. For a less active option, head into town to grab a bite at one of the classic bistro restaurants.

77300 Fontainebleau

Getting there: Enter the Fontainebleau-Avon station at Paris Gare de Lyon, take Bus no. 1 for Les Lilas, and get off at the “Château” stop.

Opening hours: open daily (except Tuesdays) 

October to March; 9:30am – 5:00pm (last entry at 4:15pm)

April to September: 9:30am – 6:00pm (last entry at 5:15pm)

Entry: 12€ (free entry to the garden)

www.chateaudefontainebleau.fr

Provins

A secret Paris day trip fit for royalty! Despite being 90 km to the southeast of Paris, Provins is still in the Île-de-France region. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Provins is arguably the best place to plunge yourself into the spirit of medieval France. You can’t miss the Tour César: the famous 7th-century keep that offers gorgeous panoramic views of the town, and be sure to traverse (at least some) of the 1,000+ meters of ramparts and fortified gates, built between the 11th and 14th centuries. Provins is also home to a unique variety of rose, which you can find in the lovely rose garden; there are also several lovely fragrance products presented for purchase in the town’s shops. Provins is most famous for the Les Médiévales de Provins – a weekend-long festival filled with parades, shows and activities, all in traditional medieval clothing! Held in the middle of June, this is a unique occasion to see the town’s special heritage truly come alive.

77160 Provins

Getting there: Take the train on the Transilien P line from Paris Gare de L’Est.

Entry for Tour César: 4€30

www.provins.net

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