Posted on 29/04/2021

#Tip #France

7 best day trips from Paris, the capital of France

Paris has so much to offer, whether it's architecture, restaurants or museums, often visitors don't stray far from the capital. However, there are so many other great places to visit that aren't that far from the capital. In some of these places you can find magnificent châteaux (castles) lush gardens, medieval cathedrals and rambling forests. On this list you'll find something for the kids with, but also some history and culture. Without further ado, here are seven great day trips from Paris!

Paris has so much to offer, whether it's architecture, restaurants or museums, often visitors don't stray far from the capital. However, there are so many other great places to visit that aren't that far from the capital. In some of these places you can find magnificent châteaux (castles) lush gardens, medieval cathedrals and rambling forests. On this list you'll find something for the kids with, but also some history and culture. Without further ado, here are seven great day trips from Paris!

Giverny

Giverny © Massimo Santi / 123RF

The best time to head to Giverny is from April to October, when all the key sights are open and when the gardens are in full bloom. This miniscule village was the home of the famous French impressionist Claude Monet from 1883 until his death in 1926. Monet's home, with its rose-pink, green-shuttered house, as well as his garden with the Japanese bridge and lily pond, are now the Maison et Jardins de Claude Monet. You can also visit the French painter's final resting place, you'll find his tomb at L'église Sainte-Radegonde on the eastern side of the church. Whilst in Giverny, you can also visit the Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny, this museum will give you more of an overall view on all things related to the Impressionist Movement. If you're feeling peckish, head to the Michelin-starred in Le Jardin des Plumes, here you can savour modern French cuisine, while La Capucine Giverny offers staple dishes in a lovely garden seating. Giverny is 74 km northwest of Paris, it'll take roughly an hour and a half by car. You can travel by train from Paris' Gare St Lazare to Vernon (45 minutes to one hour, up to 15 daily), which lies 7km to the west of Giverny. Shuttle buses link Vernon with Giverny in season; alternatively you can walk, cycle along a dedicated track or take a taxi.

Versailles

Versailles © Felix Lipov / 123rf

The magnificent Château de Versailles is the key feature here, the 700-room baroque palace used to be a hunting lodge until Louis XIV transformed it into a palace in the mid-17th century and served as a seat of the royal court until 1789. The Château de Versailles highlights the wealth difference and the power that the French monarchy held, which eventually led to the French Revolution and the end of the French Monarchy. The most impressive features of the Château include the Grands Appartements du Roi et de la Reine (the King's and Queen's State Apartments)and the 75 meter-long ballroom Galerie de Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), it has 17 massive mirrors opposite 17 windows facing the setting sun. Visitors can roam around the grounds of the château and wander through the lush Château de Versailles Gardens and Parks. The château gardens are famous for the geometrically aligned terraces, the 300 or so statues and fountains that "dance" to classical music. To get to Versailles, which is 22 km southwest of central Paris, the easiest option is to take the train. The RER C runs frequently from Paris' Left Bank RER stations to Versailles-Château-Rive Gauche station (journey time: 40 minutes). Alternatively, the travel time by car is around 45 minutes.

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Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris is a great day trip for those travelling with children, but also for those adults who love thrill rides and Disney. At Disneyland Paris complex is Disneyland Park, home to five themed 'lands' with all the classic sights (Sleeping Beauty's Castle, turn-of-the-20th-century Main Street USA), quintessential rides (Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain...) and larger-than-life characters. You will also find Walt Disney Studios Park, where you'll have high-tech rides including the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and the delightful Parisian-set Ratatouille are complemented by cinemas, sound stages and behind-the-scenes tours. Deals abound, including tickets covering both parks, so be sure to pre-research and pre-book online. Disneyland Paris is 32 km east of Paris and will take roughly 40 minutes by car. Getting there by public transport is relatively easy as the RER A has trains that stop at Disneyland regularly, the trains run from central PAris to Marne-la-Vallée/Chessy and takes between 40 minutes to an hour.

Chantilly and Senlis

Chantilly and Senlis © Vitaly Titov / 123RF

When visiting Chantilly, you definitely want to check out the Château de Chantilly surrounded by a lake and lush gardens. This town is where crème Chantilly (sugar-whipped cream) was invented. However, the town is more known for its hippodrome, which is a horse-racing track, and its stables the Grandes Écuries, which is home to the Musée Vivant du Cheval. The museum is full of riding-equipment displays and has mount dressage shows. There are also riding and walking trails that head into the Forêt de Chantilly. Just 10 km east of Chantily, you can travel by bus (25 minutes) to the medieval town of Senlis. This town has cobbled-streets, Gallo-Roman ramparts and towers. Senlis was once a royal seat from the 5th to the early 17th century. Its key feature is the Cathédrale de Notre Dame, which is a Gothic cathedral dating back to 1191. The cathedral still has its original stained glass and stone-carved portal. In front of the cathedral, you'll find Le Scaramouche, a bistro with ringside views from its terrace. To get to Chantilly, you will travel 50 km north of Paris which is an hour away by car, or you can take a TER train service towards Creil from Gare du Nord for the stop Chantilly-Gouvieux, this journey will take you 25 minutes.

Provins

Provins © Leonid Andronov / 123RF

Unesco has named Provins the "Town of Medieval Fairs" and it definitely lives up to its name. The town has over 150 medieval buildings, including the Tour César, the Church of Saint Quiriace and the Grange aux Dîmes, where you can watch a live re-enactment of a medieval market. You will feel like you've stepped back in time, back to the Middle Ages, although without the plague and squalor and other issues. You can also explore the rest of the town's ramparts, fortified gates and its underground tunnels that are over 10 km. Provins is also a great day trip for families with children with medieval-themed spectacles. From April to November, there are regular falconry displays, horsemanship and medieval warfare. There are also weekly banquets on Saturdays, where you can eat medieval food while enjoying the entertainment from troubadours, acrobats and jugglers. You can get to Provins by car, it is situated to the southeast of Paris and will take an hour and 20 minutes. You can also take the train from Gare de l'Est on the P line and descende at Provins, which is also an hour and 20 minutes.

Fontainebleau

Fontainebleau © Leonid Andronov / 123RF

Fontainebleau is a lovely elegant town surrounded by the 280 square-kilometers Forêt de Fontainebleau. This is the place for outdoorsy people as there are numerous cycling trails, even mountain-biking tracks, as well as rock-climbing on the sandstone ridges and plunging gorges. The key man-made feature in Fontainebleau is its château, sprawling over 1900 elaborately gilded, frescoed rooms amid formal French and free-flowing English-style gardens. The original château was built in the early 12th century. It was completely reconstructed by successive monarchs, but the most radical change was made by François I, with a Renaissance-style overhaul in the 16th century. You won't go hungry in Fontainebleau as the town is full of bistros such as Le Bistrot 9 or La Table du Parc. You can also opt for a picnic. To get here, travel 68 km southeast of Paris, the car journey will roughly take you an hour and 20 minutes. You can also take the train from Gare de Lyon on R trains and get off at Fontainebleau-Avon station which will take you 40 minutes.

Chartres

Chartres © Razvanphoto / 123RF

Chartres has France's best-preserved medieval 13th century cathedral : Cathédrale Notre Dame. This cathedral was built on the site of a Romanesque cathedral that was destroyed by a fire in 1194, it's topped by Romanesque and Gothic steeples, and is revered for its 176 luminescent, deep-blue stained-glass windows. The cathedral is home to numerous sacred relics, such as the Sainte Voile (Holy Veil), which is believed to have been worn by the Virgin Mary during the birth of Jesus. If you are fascinated by stained glass, you can learn more about it at the Centre International du Vitrail in a half-timbered former granary, and admire the fine-arts collection at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, in the 18th-century Palais Épiscopal (Bishop's Palace). If you stroll along the steep streets from Chartres' cathedral, you'll find yourself at the Eure River. Locals love Le Saint-Hilaire, which is a restaurant with peppermint-green walls. Chartres is 91 km southwest of Paris and is approximately an hour and half by car. You can also take a TER from Montparnasse Vaugirard and descende at Chartres station which will take you an hour and 15 minutes.

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