Beyond the City of Lights: 7 day trips from Paris

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Journey beyond the bustling city of Paris to discover more of France’s rich heritage. From opulent palaces to charming villages, many exciting destinations await beyond city limits with these popular day trips from Paris.

A statue of King Louis outside the entrance to the Palace of Versailles.
Photo credit: YayImages.

It’s no surprise that France is considered one of the most beautiful countries in the world. And with elegant bridges arching over the Seine, architectural masterpieces and quaint sidewalk cafes, Paris is its crown jewel. But after sailing under les ponts, ascending the Eiffel Tower and professing your undying love for croissants, you may want to explore more of France with a day trip from Paris.

Defining a day trip

A day trip is an excursion that allows you to fall asleep in the same bed where you woke up, but in between, you’ve had a whirlwind day in a completely different place. Within a few hours of France’s capital, you can experience the lives of French royalty, gaze at the world through the eyes of a legendary artist or live a fairytale for the day.

To ensure you have plenty of time to experience your chosen day trip destination, this list of day trips from Paris spotlights destinations that are no more than three hours from Paris.

All distances are calculated from the Eiffel Tower, Paris’s towering “you are here” sign, and travel times are based upon an 8:00 a.m. departure on a weekday morning. A road trip is the most direct way to explore France outside of Paris. But the public transportation system in France is also affordable and convenient, provided there isn’t a transportation strike.

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1. Palace of Versailles

Approximately 20 km | About 35 min by car or an hour by public transport

This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-visit destination for history buffs and those seeking French luxury. Step inside the lavish world of French royalty to explore its opulent halls adorned with intricate tapestries and breathtaking works of art, and marvel at the impressive Hall of Mirrors, where the treaty ending World War I was signed.

But the allure of Versailles extends beyond the palace walls. The meticulously manicured gardens are a treat for the senses, with flowing fountains, perfectly symmetrical paths and vibrant flowerbeds. Stroll through the serene greenspace to visit the charming Grand Trianon and Petit Trianon, once the private sanctuaries of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

2. Auvers-sur-Oise

Approximately 35 km | About an hour by car or 90 min by public transport

Art enthusiasts will love spending the day in the picturesque village of Auvers-sur-Oise where they can explore the sights and sceneries that inspired Vincent van Gogh to complete 80 paintings in 70 days in the final months of his life. Pay a visit to the town hall, where you can explore a fascinating exhibition devoted to van Gogh’s time in the village. Then, be sure to stop by the Auberge Ravoux, the inn where van Gogh lived during his stay in Auvers-sur-Oise.

Auvers-sur-Oise was not only the place where van Gogh completed many of his most famous works, but it was also where he tragically passed away. Be sure to pay your respects to the talented artist in the town’s cemetery, where he rests in eternity beside his beloved brother Theo.

A lush, manicured garden surrounding the adobe farmhouse of famed painter Claude Monet.
Photo credit: YayImages.

3. Giverny

Approximately 75 km | About 70 min by car

Art lovers will also enjoy a day trip to Giverny, the picturesque French village where legendary artist Claude Monet made his home for over 40 years. Now known as the Fondation Claude Monet Museum, visitors can explore the artist’s home, studio and gardens.

While Monet’s late 19th-century bright farmhouse provides a glimpse into the famed artist’s daily life, the gardens surrounding it really steal the show. Featuring an array of vibrant flowers, enchanting pathways and the water lilies that were a recurring theme throughout Monet’s career, visiting this living masterpiece feels like stepping into one of Monet’s canvases.

“Giverny is the perfect day trip for artists, gardeners and all creative people. The blooms in the garden are unmatched. It’s so striking to see the things that inspired Monet and understand the beauty behind his paintings. Be sure to get some photos of yourself on the Japanese bridge.”

— Susannah Brinkley Henry, Feast + West

4. Disneyland Paris

Approximately 55 km | About an hour by car or 70 min by public transport

Disneyland Paris is the perfect day trip for those whose hearts lie where dreams come true. This magical park transports visitors into a world of enchantment and excitement. The main highlight of Disneyland Paris is the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle, serving as a breathtaking centerpiece and symbol of the park’s whimsical charm.

From exhilarating rides to live performances and character meet-and-greets, there is something for everyone at this expansive amusement park. Whether you’re soaring through the galaxy on Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain or exploring the depths of the ocean on Pirates of the Caribbean, Disneyland Paris guarantees a day filled with laughter and thrills.

A decorated Christmas tree outside a Gothic cathedral in Rouen, France.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

5. Rouen

Approximately 140 km | About 120 min by car or 150 min by public transport

Rouen is a captivating day trip from Paris that embodies France’s charm and history. This city, famous as the place of Joan of Arc‘s martyrdom, brims with fascinating tales and breathtaking landmarks. One of the highlights of Rouen is its magnificent Rouen Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture that took over three centuries to complete. Its intricate details and soaring spires make it a true architectural gem. Another must-see is the Gros Horloge, an impressive astronomical clock that dates back to the 14th century and stands proudly in the heart of the city.

But Rouen’s appeal extends beyond its iconic landmarks. Its medieval center, with its narrow, winding streets and crooked, wood-framed houses, transports visitors to a bygone era. Strolling through these streets feels like stepping back in time and provides a delightful setting for exploration and discovery.

6. Chartres

Approximately 90 km | About 75 minutes by car or 90 minutes by public transport

Like Rouen, the star attraction of Chartres is its magnificent cathedral, renowned for its stunning architecture and is considered one of the finest examples of Gothic style in the world. Its most striking feature is its collection of intricately designed stained glass windows dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries.

Chartres offers a delightful ambiance beyond its UNESCO World Heritage site cathedral with picturesque half-timbered houses and charming cobbled streets. Stroll through town, exploring the local shops and boutiques or stop by one of the traditional restaurants to savor some delicious French cuisine.

A French castle built on stilts stretches across a river in the Loire Valley.
Photo credit: YayImages.

7. Chateau de Chenonceau

Approximately 250 km | About three hours by either car or public transport

Located in the Loire Valley, a day trip to the Chateau de Chenonceau will take you the farthest from Paris. But when you get your first glimpse of the 16th-century castle stretching across the Cher River, you’ll understand why it is one of the most visited castles in France and be glad you made the trip.

Chateau de Chenonceau is called Ladies’ Castle, a tribute to the remarkable women who left their mark on its design and history over the centuries. From Diane de Poitiers to Catherine de Medici, their enduring influence echoes in the exquisite architecture and beautiful gardens.

So, if you’ve fallen head over heels for Paris and have a penchant for the road less traveled, these are some of the best, easy day trips from Paris. From French history and Gothic architecture to charming villages, there’s a day trip to make every traveler’s heart sing.

Sage Scott was bitten by the travel bug as a preschooler when her family moved abroad for the first time. Now settled in America’s Heartland, Sage is a travel writer, world wanderer, and photographer whose favorite color is golden hour.

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