April 28, 2024

Day Trips from Paris: Escape the City to Experience Something Different

I first headed to Paris about 30 years ago and in the intervening years it has changed a great deal but also not changed a bit! I know that sounds weird but everything that was great about Paris still is and modern life although bringing changes hasn't altered the essence of Paris.

Day trips from Paris

The City of Lights still can captivate any one’s heart. If you love art, history, culture, or romance then Paris is the city for you.

If you're adventurous enough to go beyond the busy city centre streets and iconic landmarks you can find a whole new world waiting to be explored.

Home to 12.2 million (19% of France!), Paris is certainly very crowded in parts so you may wish to get away from the hustle and bustle occasionally.

If you’ve driven to Paris in your own car or hired one, then that will give you the chance to take some exciting day trips. Just make sure you have all the items you need to drive legally in France. See our Checklist here.

In this article I’ll give you some information on what I consider to be the best and most popular day trips from Paris.

My dad is a real history and architecture so some of the tips in this article are his. Mine are the ones based on my love of nature and being a wine-tasting enthusiast!

So if you’re up for an unforgettable day trip from Paris, get in your car, and come with me!

For History Buffs & Architecture Lovers

OK, this is where my dad comes into his own. If like him you love a bit of history and visiting castles, chateaus, or the occasional grand palace this is the section for you.

Palace of Versailles (Château de Versailles)

Go back in time with a visit to the Palace of Versailles, situated just a half an hour's drive away from the busy streets of Paris. (It can take over an hour if the traffic is bad) Once you visit Versailles, it will not surprise you to discover that it is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Day trip from Paris Palace of Versailles

Depending on Traffic your sat nav may take you a variety of different ways but I normally go on the A13 motorway. If you don’t want to go by car then the train is a good alternative. It costs about 10 euros.

Take the RER line C to Chateau rive Gauche station.

Once you arrive you will be amazed by the Palace itself. The definition of opulence and power will have any history buff and architecture aficionados swooning.

The drive to Versailles itself is very enjoyable, and when you arrive you really have stepped back in time.

The grandeur of the royal palace, which of course was once the residence of French monarchs like Louis XIV, really is splendid.

Step into the lavish state apartments adorned with intricate artworks and ornate furnishings and be taken back to an age of unparalleled luxury and splendour.

One thing you must check out while you’re there is the “Hall of Mirrors”, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture.

You'll marvel at the dazzling reflections cast by countless mirrors adorning the walls and immerse yourself in the splendour of the iconic hall.

If the weather is good, then taking a stroll through the meticulously landscaped gardens is a real treat.

They have terrific fountains, sculptures, and manicured lawns, these gardens are a testament to the artistry of landscape design during the reign of the French monarchy.

Commemorating Sacrifice: D-Day Landing Beaches of Normandy

If you’re going to visit the Normandy beaches from Paris then you’ll need the whole day, if not an overnight stay. You should allow just over 3 hours each way just for the drive, so it is a bit of a trek, but well worth it in my opinion.

When I went to Normandy I did it the other way around because I stopped in Normandy on my way to Paris.

I’ve not taken the train to or from Normandy but I’m reliably informed that it is about 3.5 hours on the train.

D-Day Landing Beaches of Normandy

Landing Beaches D-Day

It is impossible to visit the beaches at Normandy without feeling incredibly moved by the whole experience. It is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made during World War II, which is why so many relatives make the pilgrimage to the D-Day Landing Beaches in Normandy.

Located northwest of Paris, those hallowed shores witnessed the pivotal Allied invasion that marked a turning point in the history of World War two. The d day beaches bear testimony the some of the greatest human sacrifice.

Walk in the footsteps of heroes as you visit museums, memorials, and poignant landmarks scattered along the coastline. Pay homage to the brave souls who fought and perished on those beaches and gain an appreciation for the significance of the historic event.

Among the notable sites is Pointe du Hoc, a German fortification whose capture by American Rangers was instrumental in securing the beachhead.

Explore the rugged cliffs and bunkers that once bristled with enemy defences and try to imagine the courage required to storm these formidable defences.

Medieval Marvels in Provins

If you like history, then stepping back to medieval France should roll your socks up and down. It’s an easy drive down the A4 and D231loctaed about 55 miles southeast from Paris. Even if you take it steady, you’ll be there in under 90 minutes by car.

My dad loves Provins, in particular the cobbled streets and towering medieval structures.

You can walk through the many alleyways lined with half-timbered houses, and just admire the architectural brilliance of the medieval dungeon.

Explore the town's rich history through its well-preserved landmarks, including the imposing city walls and fortified gates. The people who lived there in medieval times must have felt safe there.

I like to people watch as I wander through the market squares and quaint artisan shops. They have some great places to eat and drink there.

For Art & Culture Seekers

If you prefer to spend your days enjoying arts and culture, then this is the section for you.

Here I cover some of the places I’ve been to as a day trip from Paris. These places boast museums dedicated to specific subjects or historical periods, offering a deep dive into the rich tapestry of human history and creativity.

Additionally, exploring any of the unesco world heritage sites in these areas is always an eye-opener for me.

Here are some of my recommendations.


Just an hour’s drive from Paris, this picturesque place is a nice place to visit for both art lovers and history buffs.

This charming village holds a special place in the annals of art history as the final resting place of the legendary Vincent van Gogh.


Upon arriving in Auvers-sur-Oise, visitors are transported back in time to the late 19th century, when Van Gogh sought solace and inspiration in its tranquil surroundings.

If you walk through the quaint streets, you’ll get a feel for the artist's tumultuous life. You can visit some of the iconic scenes immortalized in his paintings and visit the home where he spent his final days.

If you are a Van Gogh fan, then you shouldn’t miss a chance to visit to his meticulously preserved house and studio.

In the rustic charm of his living quarters, you can feel the presence of the tormented genius as you explore the places where he created some of his most enduring masterpieces.

No trip to Auvers-sur-Oise would be complete without a stop at the Auberge Ravoux, a historic inn forever etched in the annals of art history.

Immortalized in Van Gogh's poignant portrayal, "The Church at Auvers," the quaint establishment offers visitors a taste of the past, allowing them to experience the ambiance that once captivated the troubled artist.

Giverny & Monet's Garden

Amidst the idyllic countryside, about an hour and a half northwest of Paris lies the quaint village of Giverny, a haven of tranquillity and inspiration for artists throughout the ages.

Here, amid the rustic charm of its winding streets and verdant landscapes, visitors go on a journey through the heart of Impressionism at the renowned home and gardens of Claude Monet.

At the heart of Giverny lies Monet's Garden, a breathtaking oasis of colour and light that served as the muse for some of the artist's most iconic works.

Having the chance to walk along the paths and over the iconic Japanese bridge is a real treat.

The famous flowerbeds and the water lily pond are real fan favourites.

Each season brings its own unique charm to Monet's Garden, from the kaleidoscope of blossoms that blanket the landscape in spring to the tranquil beauty of the winter months.

For art lovers and nature enthusiasts alike, Giverny gives you the chance to immerse oneself in the timeless beauty that inspired one of the greatest artistic movements of all time.

Visit Domaine de Chantilly: A Day of Royalty and Luxury

An hours’ drive due north from Paris is Domaine de Chantilly, a veritable paradise for lovers of art, architecture, and history.

The estate, located within lush woodlands and sprawling gardens, is full of rich cultural treasures.

At the heart of Domaine de Chantilly stands the majestic Château de Chantilly, an amazing example of French Renaissance architecture. It rightly has a great reputation for its opulent interiors and priceless collections.

From the grandeur of its salons to the tranquillity of its chapel, each room offers a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the nobility that once called this estate home.

Venture beyond the château walls, and you'll discover a world of natural beauty waiting to be explored.

Designed by the very same architect the visionary architect responsible for the gardens of Versailles, the expansive grounds of Domaine de Chantilly are a testament to the artistry of landscape design.

If the weather is good, I would recommend that you take a walk through the meticulously manicured lawns and meandering pathways. There are follies, cascading water features, and verdant groves, one after the other.

For the art lovers and enthusiasts seeking to deepen their understanding of the Impressionist movement, they can’t afford to miss the chance to visit the nearby Musée des Impressionnismes.

Together with a stunning collection of masterpieces by Monet, Renoir, and their contemporaries, visitors trace the evolution of this groundbreaking artistic movement and gain insight into its enduring legacy.

Savouring Champagne: A Toast to Tradition

A personal favourite say trip of mine. Escape the busy streets of Paris city centre and take a day trip to the Champagne region of France. See the rolling vineyards and historic cellars.

It’s a two-hour drive east from Paris (A4) to visit the world renowned wine-producing region.

You can visit the spiritual home of sparkling wines.

As you meander through the picturesque countryside, you'll be greeted by endless rows of vineyards stretching as far as you can see.

Champagne region of France day trip

From prestigious champagne houses to quaint family-owned estates, there's no shortage of opportunities to indulge in a tasting of the region's signature bubbly.

Each winery offers its own unique blend of tradition and innovation, from the time-honoured methods passed down through generations to the cutting-edge techniques shaping the future of champagne production.

Whether you're a seasoned oenophile or a curious novice, a visit to the Champagne region promises an unforgettable journey through the vineyards, where every cork popped is a celebration of the artistry and heritage of this storied wine-making region.

Seaside Serenity: Coastal Retreats and Fresh Sea Air

Honfleur is one of my favourite places to visit in all of France. Brimming with charm, this coastal gem has long captivated visitors with its quaint harbour, cobbled streets, and rich maritime heritage.

About a 2.5 hour drive (A13) it is well worth the trip out.

As you wander through the narrow lanes and bustling squares of Honfleur's historic centre, you have the option to visit art galleries, boutiques, and cafés, each offering a glimpse into the town's vibrant cultural scene.

Day trip Honfleur France

From impressionist landscapes to contemporary sculptures, Honfleur's thriving arts community continues to draw inspiration from the timeless beauty of its surroundings.

Some of the best restaurants in France are in Honfleur so if time and budget allows, I’d recommend treating yourself to lunch or dinner there.

I wrote another article you should read with information about Honfleur and other great places called Hidden Gems in Northern France.

From freshly caught seafood to traditional Norman specialties, Honfleur's restaurants provide a great taste of the region's culinary brilliance. Virtually any local restaurant down by the harbour is a winner and well worth leaving the French capital for.

Sitting eating freshly caught seafood overlooking the views of the harbour is a real treat.

Royal Residences: Palatial Retreats Fit for Kings and Queens

Another great idea for a day out from Paris is to visit the royal residences of Vaux-le-Vicomte and Fontainebleau, both located just a short drive from Paris.

Both very grand and totally elegant, they offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the French nobility and the artistry of their era.

At Vaux-le-Vicomte, you’ll really get a flavour of the French Renaissance, with its lavish interiors and beautiful landscaped gardens. The were designed by the famed landscape architect André Le Nôtre.

If you love a shimmering fountain, then this is the place for you. The whole place shows the opulent tastes of its former inhabitants.

Similarly, Fontainebleau's storied halls and sumptuous chambers give a glimpse of royal intrigue and artistic patronage.

The François I Gallery is worth a visit and who wouldn’t want to look around inside Marie Antoinette's boudoir?

The palace grounds are very tranquil, and you can have a really nice walk along shaded paths through the forest.

FAQs: Your Travel Questions Answered

What is the most popular day trip from Paris?

This would probably be the magnificent Château de Versailles. Its less than an hour by car and its beauty and historical significance never disappoint. It makes it a must-see destination for most people. I always like going to the Champagne region though if given the choice!

Where else should I visit from Paris?

There are countless other Paris day trips within easy reach of Paris, including the medieval town of Provins, the seaside town of Honfleur, and the wine region of Burgundy, just to name a few. For those interested in exploring the grandeur of French Renaissance architecture and indulging in wine tasting, the Loire Valley is highly recommended with its famous châteaux and lush gardens.

Nature enthusiasts will find the Bois de Boulogne, a vast parkland on the outskirts of Paris, ideal for its lakes and parkland. The Notre Dame Cathedral stands as a testament to historical and architectural significance, making it a must-visit. For a delightful weekend escape, Parc de Sceaux offers formal gardens and a charming château, easily accessible for a serene getaway.

What is the best day trip from Paris according to Vogue?

Vogue Magazine has highlighted the charming village of Giverny, home to Claude Monet's house and gardens, as its pick as the best day trip from Paris during the summer months. If you want to snap photo for your Instagram page it will give you the chance of some great shots.

Explore the iconic water lily pond that inspired some of Monet's most famous paintings and immerse yourself in the beauty of the French countryside.


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