5 Perfect Day Trips from Paris
Yes, there’s plenty to do in Paris, but when over-the-top castles and romantic vineyards are just a train ride away, why wouldn’t you ditch the City of Lights for a bit of adventure? Whether you want to frolic in Monet’s gardens, sip the world’s best bubbly, or see how French royalty lived, there’s a perfect day trip for you.
A Parisian vacation would be incomplete without a jaunt to the Sun King’s palace. (Plus, regional trains only take 45 minutes to get there, making it one of the easiest day trips around.) What to know: between the main palace with its famous Hall of Mirrors, the elaborate gardens with their many fountains, Le Petit Trianon, Le Grand Trianon, and the Hameau de la Reine, it’s not hard to spend an entire day exploring the estate. Pro tip: from November to March, the first Sunday of every month is free.
Once you’ve seen Monet’s waterlilies at the Musée de l'Orangerie, why not make the trip to Giverny to see the artist’s home and gardens in person? Come springtime, the Fondation Monet is one of the region’s most visited attractions—and for good reason—when the wisteria are in bloom, it’s one of the most beautiful gardens in France. Pack a picnic and enjoy an afternoon wandering around the tranquil bridges, manicured lawns and charming country house.
Compared to Versailles, the Château de Fontainebleau has remained rather under-the-radar. The medieval castle features a tower that dates back to 1137, though subsequent kings added to the fortress over several centuries. There’s also a little-known Chinese Museum in rooms designed by Princess Eugenie. On display: Asian treasures that were sacked by Napoleon III, including some from the Summer Palace in Beijing.
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While avid oenophiles will surely want to spend a few days exploring the vineyards of the Champagne region, it’s an easy day trip for those who’d like to get a quick taste of bubbly at its source. There are 80 winegrowers along the Champagne Tourist Route who welcome visitors in for a tour, starting in Reims (about 90 minutes from Paris). From world-class brands like Moët & Chandon in Epernay to small independent producers like Champagne Fallet-Dart, you’ll find plenty of places to indulge.
Culture vultures should consider a pilgrimage to Auvers-sur-Oise, an hour north of Paris, where Van Gogh spent his final days. The small town was a haven for artists, including Cézanne and Pissarro, who—along with Van Gogh—led the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements. Must-dos include: L’Auberge Ravoux (Van Gogh’s last residence), the Maison du docteur Gachet, and the home and studio of painter Charles François Daubigny.
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