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Best Day Trips From Paris

Venture Outside of the City


Once you've seen Paris' most essential attractions, why not get out of the city for a day and find out what lies outside its limits? Several interesting and entertaining destinations, including chateaus, natural parks, and medieval fortifications, are within close reach of the city. We point you to the best Paris day trips.

Wondering whether it's worth it to rent a car for your day trips? Read our article on Paris car rental pros and cons for some good advice.

Chateau de Versailles

Castle of Versailles
Martial Colomb/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

No visit to Paris would be complete without a visit to the former seat of royal power at Versailles. A symbol of the French monarchy and its downfall following the Revolution of 1789, the palace was erected by the powerful "Sun King" Louis XIV, then later home to the ill-fated Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who were eventually executed. The palace, including the emblematic hall of mirrors, was recently renovated.

In the spring, the palace's gardens are idyllic, while a visit to queen Marie Antoinette's private quarters at Le Petit Trianon, her bucolic animal farm and cottage can provide amusing perspectives.

Getting there: Take RER C to Versailles-Rive Gauche; follow signs to chateau.

Book Direct: Guided Tour of Versailles with Paris Trip

Monet's Gardens at Giverny

©2006 Ted Drake. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons license.

An excursion to French impressionist painter Claude Monet's home and gardens at Giverny is a must for those interested in art history-- or for botanical enthusiasts, for that matter.

Open to the public since 1980, Monet's private gardens, immortalized in his brushstrokes, are a haven of green, shadow and light, featuring elegant Japanese-style bridges, water lilies, and dozens of varieties of flowers and trees.

Getting there from Paris: From the Gare Saint-Lazare station, buy a ticket to Vernon. At Vernon, shuttle buses regularly offer direct service to Giverny (spring to autumn only; consult the official website for a precise schedule)

Book Direct: Guided Tour of Giverny and the American Museum with Paris Trip

St-Denis Cathedral Basilica and the Royal Necropolis

Recumbent statues at Basilique Saint-Denis
Emily Dolmans/Licensed to About.com
This marvelous medieval pilgrimage site and earliest French example of high gothic architecture is located in the humble, working-class community of St Denis just north of Paris, and easily accessible on Metro Line 13. Many tourists overlook this astounding gem, which boasts a necropolis dedicated to the Kings, Queens, and other royal figures of French history. Come admire their melancholy, eerily beautiful recumbent effigies and see the mysterious crypt where the remains of the famed saint are said to have been buried.

Chateau Vaux le Vicomte

This little-known 17th century chateau east of Paris is worth a visit, especially for history and literature buffs. Home to countless royal fetes and a place of inspiration for dramaturges including Molière and La Fontaine, Vaux le Vicomte today is often chosen as a setting for period-piece films. The chateau's luxuriant formal gardens and fountains can provide repose from the hectic cityscape.

Getting there: From Gare de Lyon to Melun; then take the Chateaubus shuttle. Or take the RER D to Melun, then the "Chateaubus".

Disneyland Paris

©2006 Jo in Pink. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.

If you're visiting Paris with kids, a day or two at Disneyland Paris can be a treat. The resort facilities, including a golf course, Disney Village, and Davy Crockett Ranch bungalows, can provide adults an amusing excursion too.

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Fontainebleau Palace and Park

©2007 Bo Teo. Some rights reserved under the Creative Commons License.

Steeped in centuries of royal history, the palace and surrounding forest of Fontainebleau housed French monarchs starting from the 13th century. An excursion here will sate both history and architecture buffs and nature-lovers, who will find miles of hiking trails in the historic park and forest around the palace. Barbizon, a town which has gained fame as the home of painters such as Millet, is nestled in the Fontainebleau forest and is also worth a detour.

Getting there: Take the SNCF regional train line From Paris Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau-Avon.

Book Direct: Guided Tour of the Chateau de Fontainebleau and nearby Barbizon with Paris Trip

Provins (Medieval UNESCO Heritage Site)

Proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, the fortified medieval town of Provins once hosted some of Europe's most extravagant fairs. Built starting in the 11th century, this underappreciated gem of medieval history has inspired countless literary portrayals by authors including Victor Hugo and Balzac. Exploring the town's stunning fortifications and partaking in theatrical medieval shows and festivals there is definitely worth the trip.

Getting there from Paris: Take the SNCF regional train from Gare de l'Est to Provins.

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