The 10 Best Day Trips from Paris

by olivia hoffman
gardens of giverny
Photo by © Eric Sander

Paris is filled with iconic landmarks, world-class museums, and charming neighborhoods. However, the splendors of France extend far beyond its capital.

Just a short train ride or drive away from the hustle and bustle of the city exists a variety of day trips that cater to all interests. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, a wine enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates natural beauty, there are plenty of accessible excursions that provide a refreshing change of pace and a broader perspective on French life.


So, pack a day bag, put on some comfortable shoes, and get ready to explore the rich and varied surroundings outside the city center. Here are ten of the best day trips from Paris that promise to make your visit to France truly unforgettable.


1. Versailles – A Glimpse into Royal Grandeur

The ultimate symbol of French opulence and grandeur, the Palace of Versailles is an absolute must-visit. Wander through the meticulously manicured gardens, marvel at the stunning architecture, and get lost in the dazzling Hall of Mirrors. This former royal residence offers a fascinating glimpse into the grandeur of the French monarchy.

Learn more about Versailles in our Versailles Travel Guide.

2. Fontainebleau – A Royal Retreat

The Château de Fontainebleau is another royal residence that rivals Versailles in beauty and historical significance. This former hunting lodge evolved into a magnificent palace, featuring Renaissance and classical architecture. Explore the grand apartments, the opulent ballroom, and the vast forest surrounding the château, which offers picturesque hiking trails.

Read more about the château’s village in our Fontainebleau Travel Guide.

3. Monet’s Garden at Giverny – A Painter’s Paradise

A visit to Claude Monet’s home and garden in Giverny offers an enchanting escape into the world of the Impressionist master. This serene spot inspired many of Monet’s masterpieces including his iconic lily pads displayed in the Musée de l’Orangerie. Stroll through the vibrant gardens, cross the iconic Japanese bridge over the lily pond, and step into the artist’s colorful home to see where he lived and worked.

Stop at Giverny on our Normandy Gardens Itinerary.

4. Rouen – A Medieval Marvel

Rouen is a city steeped in history and charm. Wander through its medieval streets, visit the stunning Rouen Cathedral (another site immortalized by Monet), and explore the half-timbered houses that line the old town. Don’t miss the Gros-Horloge, an astronomical clock dating back to the 14th century, and the Joan of Arc Museum, which commemorates the heroine who was martyred here in 1431.

5. Strasbourg – A Blend of French and German Charm

Strasbourg, though a bit further afield, is worth the journey for its unique blend of French and German culture. This picturesque city features charming cobblestone streets and the magnificent Strasbourg Cathedral. Explore the scenic canals of its Petite France village, sample local Alsatian cuisine, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere which comes alive particularly during the Christmas season.

Discover this charming village in our Travel Guide to Strasbourg.


6. Reims Champagne – Sip and Savor

The heart of the Champagne region, Reims is famous for its grand cathedrals and, of course, its champagne houses. Visit the stunning Notre-Dame de Reims, where French kings were crowned, and then take a tour of the prestigious champagne cellars of Ruinart, Taittinger, or Veuve Clicquot.

Learn more about the Champagne region in our Travel Guide to Champagne.

7. Normandy American Cemetery and Beaches – A Moving Tribute

For a reflective and powerful day trip, head to the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. This site honors the American and foreign soldiers who lost their lives during the D-Day landings in 1944. Walk along the pristine landing beaches and visit one of the poignant commemoration museums like the Caen Memorial Museum.

See the best way to visit the D-Day Landing Beaches in our Itinerary to the Normandy Coastline.

8. Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte – A Baroque Masterpiece

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a stunning example of Baroque architecture and landscape design. This 17th-century masterpiece played a big role in inspiring the construction of Versailles, as the Sun King was jealous of its beauty. Tour the lavish interiors, stroll through the symmetrical gardens, and enjoy the enchanting atmosphere of this historic estate.

9. Étretat – Dramatic Coastal Cliffs

Étretat offers a breathtaking coastal experience. Known for its dramatic white chalk cliffs and natural arches, this seaside town has inspired scores of artists. Hike along the cliff paths for panoramic views of the English Channel, indulge in seafood in the charming village, and visit the unique and whimsical Jardin d’Étretat overlooking the cliffs.

Uncover what makes these gardens so whimsical in our January/February 2023 Magazine.

10. Loire Valley – A Fairy-Tale Landscape

Renowned for its enchanting châteaux, lush vineyards, and picturesque villages, the Loire Valley is simply a dream. Visit the grand Château de Chambord, the elegant Château de Chenonceau, and the romantic Château de Villandry and don’t miss out on their exquisite gardens.

Explore the Loire Valley with our Itinerary to Paris, Normandy and the Loire.

Whether you’re exploring royal palaces, sipping champagne, reflecting on history, or enjoying coastal vistas, these destinations provide unforgettable experiences just beyond the city limits.

Written by Olivia Hoffman

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