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Chateau de Pierrefonds, one of the popular castles to visit on a day trip from Paris

The Best Day Trips from Paris Within 2 Hours Travel Time

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When visiting Paris, your bucket list should include escaping the city for a day. Luckily, there are plenty of options for day trips from Paris due to its central location in France. It can be overwhelming knowing where to go, so I suggest choosing from this list of day trip recommendations that will get you back to Paris by the end of the day.

Looking to go further afield? Check out these fantastic international day trip destinations from Paris. Or, if a more relaxed weekend getaway elsewhere in France is up your alley, check out this post.

Rouen

Rouen, a lovely city for a day trip from Paris
Rouen, a lovely city for a day trip from Paris

Distance: 1h 19min by train

Rouen, the capital of Normandy, is a port city on the Seine river and a lovely day trip destination from Paris. With rich medieval history, this vibrant city has a lovely pedestrian centre with half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets.

What to do:

  • Tour the magnificent Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Rouen
  • Wander through the old town centre
  • Walk the 2.8 km trail to Cote Sainte-Catherine for panoramic views of the city
  • Visit Place du Vieux-Marche where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake
  • Tell the time on a 14th-century clock, Gros-Horloge
  • Admire the architecture at the Palais de Justice

How to get to Rouen from Paris: SNCF Train from Paris St Lazare to Rouen-Rive-Droite 1 h 19 min

Laon

Laon, a day trip destination 1.5 hours outside Paris
Laon, a day trip destination 1.5 hours outside Paris

Distance:  1h 34min by train

The medieval town of Laon is the capital city of the Aisne department in Hauts-de-France, northern France. It is flanked by seven kilometres of ramparts and contains over eighty historical monuments. 

What to do:

  • Admire the awe-inspiring Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Laon
  • Visit one of the most impressive historical centers in France
  • Pass through la Porte d’Ardon, a medieval gateway to the old town
  • Walk along the ramparts for spectacular views of the French countryside

How to get to Laon from Paris: SNCF Train from Paris Nord to Laon

Amiens

Cathedrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens
Cathedrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens

Distance:  1h 18min by train

Amiens, the capital of Picardy, is home to the largest Gothic cathedral in France, which is twice the size of Notre Dame in Paris and has been designated a World Heritage Site by Unesco. The little cobbled streets which surround it give the city a medieval appearance.  

What to do:

  • Visit the impressive Cathedrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens
  • Cruise around Les Hortillonages, and stop at the floating market
  • See how people lived centuries ago at Parc Samara
  • Tour La Maison de Jules Verne, which was the home of the famous author during the 19th Century
  • Sample local delicacies including ficelle picarde (savoury pancake stuffed with cheese, mushrooms, and ham) and gâteau battu (a pastry similar to the brioche)

How to get to Amiens from Paris: SNCF Train from Paris Nord to Amiens

Barbizon

Distance: 39min by car
Can be combined with day trips from Paris to Fontainebleau or Vaux-le-Vicomte Castles

Known as the “Village of Painters,” Barbizon is a little town of around 1,500 people perched on the edge of the Fontainebleau Forest just outside Paris. The old streets are lined with rock houses as well as many restaurants and souvenir shops plus there are several museums and artists’ studios to visit.

What to do:

  • Visit the galleries and submerse yourself in the artsy culture
  • Check out the exhibits at the Barbizon School Museum
  • Enjoy a picnic in Le Foret De Barbizon

How to get to Barbizon from Paris: SNCF Train from Paris Gare De Lyon to Bois Le Roi (31min) then Taxi from Bois Le Roi to Barbizon (11min)
By Car take A6B and A6 to D637 in Cély. Take the exit toward N37/N7/Fontainebleau from A6 34 min (49.0 km)
Continue on D637 to Barbizon 6 min (6.3 km)  

Reims

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims

Distance:  46 min by train       
Can be combined with a day trip from Paris to the Champagne region

Reims is in northeastern France’s Grand Est region and is the unofficial capital of the Champagne wine-growing region.  The city is home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites and the headquarters of many large champagne houses.

What to do:

  • See where Kings were crowned for more than 1000 years at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims
  • Admire the stunning Gothic architecture at Basilique Saint-Remi
  • Explore Eglise Saint Jacques which was built in the 13th century
  • Sip champagne and tour the cellars at one of many champagne houses

How to get to Reims from Paris: TGV Train from Paris Est to Reims

Nancy

Place Stanislas in Nancy
Place Stanislas in Nancy

Distance:  1h 38min by train

Nancy is a riverfront city and the capital of the north-eastern French department of Meurthe-et-Moselle. It is known for its late baroque and art nouveau landmarks. The main square, Place Stanislas, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

What to do:

  • Enjoy all that Place Stanislas has to offer including the town hall, the Opera House, and the Musee des Beaux-Arts
  • Step away from the main square at Parc de la Pepiniere
  • Stroll through an elongated square lined with linden trees at Place de la Carriere
  • Sample local delicacy Bergamotes de Nancy, a sweet candy made out of a sour citrus fruit called bergamot
  • Surround yourself with over 12000 plants at the Jean-Marie Pelt Botanical Garden

How to get to Nancy from Paris: TGV Train from Paris Est to Nancy Ville

Giverny

Monet's Gardens, one of the popular day trips from Paris
Monet’s Gardens

Distance: 54min by car 

Giverny is a village in the region of Normandy in northern France and one of the most popular day trips from Paris. It is most well known as Claude Monet’s garden and home which was captured in his Water Lilies series of impressionist paintings.

What to do:

  • Visit Claude Monet’s home of 43 years and marvel at the immaculately kept gardens (the Clos Normand and the water garden)
  • Study impressionist works of art at Musee des Impressionnismes
  • Visit Monet’s tomb at l’Eglise Sainte-Radegonde

How to get to Giverny from Paris: SNCF Train from Paris St Lazare to Vernon(Eure) (47 min) then VTNI 27 Bus from Vernon to Giverny (5 min)
By Car follow A14 and A13 to Avenue Aristide Briand/D113 in Bonnières-sur-Seine 37 min (58.4 km) Continue on Avenue Aristide Briand/D113. Take D201, Rue de Limetz, Rue de Bennecourt, D201 and D5 -signs for Vernon- to Giverny 13 min (8.3 km)

Disneyland Park Paris

Disneyland Park Paris
Disneyland Park Paris

Distance: 34mins by car

Hours: 10 am to 8:30 pm

Fairytales take flight on this Paris day trip filled with classic attractions, shows and street parades. Children, in particular, will love rubbing shoulders with swashbuckling pirates, zooming through time and space and looking on in awe at the unforgettable firework and light displays over Sleeping Beauty Castle.

What to do:

  • Watch the spectacular nighttime light show at Sleeping Beauty Castle
  • Ride a runaway mine cart through the haunted Big Thunder Mountain
  • Meet and greet Disney characters and Princesses
  • Cheer at the Disney Stars on Parade along Main Street U.S.A

How to get to Disneyland Park from Paris: RER Train from Chatelet Les Halles to Marne La Vallee Chessy ( 41 min)
By Car follow A4 to Avenue Paul Séramy/D344P in Bailly-Romainvilliers. Take exit 14 from A4 22 min (33.5km) Follow Avenue Paul Séramy and Boulevard du Parc to your destination in Coupvray  7 min (5.6 km)

France Miniature

Distance: 31min by car

Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Visit France Miniature on one of your day trips from Paris for an unusual way to explore France’s greatest treasures. On a scale of 1:30, châteaux, villages, ports and works of art are displayed over 5 hectares of wooded parkland. Interactive experiences throughout the visit and attractions for all the family! With 6 major regions on display, there are more than 2000 models. 

What to do:

  • Be a giant for a day at famous French landmarks
  • Board a one-seater gondola and fly over the English Channel or experience a bumpy sea-landing on board a boat travelling at 40km/h.
  • Admire the model train system which runs throughout the park

How to get to France Miniature from Paris: SNCF Train from Gare Montparnasse to La Verriere 47 min then SNCF Bus from La Verrière Gare to France Miniature 15 min
By Car Follow A13. Drive from A12 to Trappes. Take the exit toward Trappes/Élancourt/Maurepas from N12 16 min (23.0 km) Take Boulevard André Malraux to your destination in Élancourt 4 min (3.7 km)

Vaux le Vicomte Castle

Vaux le Vicomte Castle
Vaux le Vicomte Castle

Distance: 50min by car

Hours: Daily 10 am – 5 pm

Classed as a historical monument, Vaux le Vicomte is the largest privately owned chateau in France. A great day trip destination from Paris, the castle is a combination of three exceptional features: magnificent architecture, sumptuous decorations and a breathtaking garden.  

What to do:

  • Visit in the evening for a spectacular tour under the light of 2000 candles
  • Roam the French Formal Garden on a 4-persons electric cart
  • Rent a costume and dress up like a Princess or King’s musketeer
  • Ascend the dome 25 meters above the ground for panoramic views around the estate
  • Admire rare antique carriages at The Carriage Museum in the stable block

How to get to the Vaux le Vicomte Castle from Paris: Transilien or SNCF Train from Paris Gare De Lyon to Melun 25 min then Taxi from Melun to Vaux-le-Vicomte 14 min
By Car follow A4, N104 and A105 to D82 in Vert-Saint-Denis. Take exit 14 from A105 32 min (48.6 km)  Follow D82 and D215 to your destination in Maincy  8 min (6.1 km)

Provins

Provins
Provins

Distance: 1h 15min by car

Situated in Seine-et-Marne around 80km south-east of Paris, the fortified medieval town of Provins boasts an extraordinary architectural heritage. In the Middle Ages, it served as the economic capital of the Counts of Champagne and was one of the most famous towns in France. A total of 58 important monuments, buildings and residences earned Provins the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. 

What to do:

  • Stroll through The Saint-Jean’s Gate and along the 1,200m-long Ramparts
  • Take in the panoramic view of the town and the surrounding countryside from La Tour Caesar
  • Navigate your way through a 10km network of underground passageways
  • Enjoy the equestrian falconry show on the ramparts
  • Sample local delicacies including brie de Provins or niflettes (puff pastry cakes filled with pastry cream)
  • Visit in June to attend the town’s Les Médiévales festival which features historical re-enactments, a costume parade, street entertainment and other medieval shows

How to get to Provins from Paris: SNCF Train from Paris Est to Provins  1 h 24 min
By car follow A4 and D231 to Route de Bray in Provins  1 h 3 min (82.2 km) Continue on Route de Bray. Take Avenue Anatole France and Rue des Capucins to Rue Sainte-Croix 3 min (950m)

Château de Fontainebleau

Château de Fontainebleau
Château de Fontainebleau

Distance: 48min by car

Hours: April to September  9:30 am – 6 pm and October to March 9:30 am – 5 pm

Château de Fontainebleau was home to 34 kings and two emperors and is the only royal and imperial château to have been continuously inhabited for seven centuries. It is one of the biggest castles in France with over 1500 rooms and the most furnished in Europe. Situated in a park of 130 hectares, the château spreads its architecture around four main courtyards and is at the heart of three historic gardens. 

What to do:

  • Climb the famous horseshoe staircase in the footsteps of Louis XIII
  • Tour the Grand Apartments to see how royalty lived in the 17th Century
  • Pay a visit to The Napoleon I Museum which includes impressive collections of furniture, portraits, costumes, medals, and historical documents belonging to the Emperor and his family
  • Notice the frescoes on the ceiling and walls at The Chapel of the Trinity

How to get to the Château de Fontainebleau from Paris: SNCF or RER Train from Paris Gare De Lyon to Fontainebleau Avon 38 min then Bus Line 1 from Gare Routiere Quai 1 to Château de Fontainebleau 14min
By car take A6B and A6 to D637 in Cély. Take the exit toward N37/N7/Fontainebleau from A6 33 min (49.0 km) Follow D637 and D607 to Place du Général de Gaulle in Fontainebleau  14 min (14.7 km)

Palace of Versailles

The Palace of Versailles, which is the most popular of all the day trips from Paris
The Palace of Versailles, which is the most popular of all the day trips from Paris

Distance: 21 minutes by car

The Palace of Versailles has been listed as a World Heritage Site for 30 years and is one of the greatest achievements in French 17th century art. Louis XIII’s old hunting pavilion was transformed and extended by his son, Louis XIV, when he installed the Court and government there in 1682. A succession of kings continued to embellish the Palace up until the French Revolution. Today the Palace contains 2,300 rooms spread over 63,154 m2, and is the closest destination of all the day trips from Paris.

What to do:

  • Tour the interior of the Palace of Versailles including the Chapel of Versailles and the Grand Apartments
  • Glance at your reflection at the Hall of Mirrors which connects the King and Queens apartments
  • Wander the gardens which span over 800 hectares and feature ornate fountains, vases and statues
  • Seek out privacy as the Royals did at the estate of Trianon
  • Catch a show at The Royal Opera House

How to get to the Palace of Versailles from Paris: RER from Paris St Lazare to Versailles Rive Droite 35 min
By car take Bd Périphérique, A13, D182 and D185 to Avenue Rockefeller in Versailles 18 min (13.2 km)  Continue on Avenue Rockefeller. Take Avenue Nepveu S to Rue Pierre de Nolhac 2 min (500 m)

Chateau de Chantilly

Chateau de Chantilly
Chateau de Chantilly

Distance: 23min by train

Hours: March 25 to November 1 10 am – 6 pm  January 28 – March 24 10:30 am to 5 pm – closed on Tuesdays
Closed November to the end of January

The Château de Chantilly is one of the finest jewels in the crown of France’s cultural heritage. The Château survived down through the centuries and remains as it was when the Duke of Aumale bequeathed it to the Institute de France in 1886, making it the perfect place to take a journey back in time on a day trip from Paris.

What to do:

  • Walk through the grounds of the French, Anglo-Chinese and English gardens
  • See an equestrian show at La Musée Vivant du Cheval, the largest stables in Europe
  • Experience the second largest collection of antique paintings after the Louvre
  • See a remarkable collection of books in the Reading Room

How to get to the Chateau de Chantilly from Paris: SNCF Train from Paris Nord to Chantilly-Gouvieux  23 min
By car take A3 and A1 to D16 in Saint-Witz. Take exit 7 from A1 26 min (34.0 km) Continue on D16. Take D1017 and D924A to Rue d’Aumale in Chantilly 20 min (15.9 km)

Chateau de Pierrefonds

Chateau de Pierrefonds, one of the popular castles to visit on a day trip from Paris
Chateau de Pierrefonds, one of the popular castles to visit on a day trip from Paris

Distance: 1h 15 mins by car

Hours: May 2 to September 4  9:30 am – 6 pm  September 5 to April  10 am – 5:30 pm
Closed on some public holidays

The imposing castle of Pierrefonds, located 80 km to the north-east of Paris, appears enchantingly around a bend in the road beside the Compiègne Forest. Built in the 14th century, the castle was later destroyed in the 17th century then completely restored under the direction of Napoleon III. This reconstruction resulted in a grandiose architectural ensemble, making Pierrefonds a medieval as well as a modern 19th-century castle. 

What to do:

  • Tour the castle where the English series Merlin was filmed
  • Admire the architectural designs resembling those from the Middle Ages

How to get to the Chateau de Pierrefonds from Paris: SNCF Train from Paris Nord to Compiegne 52 min  then Oise Mobilite Bus from Compiègne – Gare SNCF to Pierrefonds – Mairie  21 min
By car take A3 and N2 to D136 in Nanteuil-le-Haudouin. Take the N2 exit from N2  38 min (54.4 km) Follow D136 and D335 to Rue Saint-Louis in Pierrefonds 33 min (28.6 km)

Parc Astérix

Distance: 29min by car

Hours:  10 am – 6 pm  from April – November

Parc Astérix is a child-friendly theme park based on the cartoon character Asterix the Gaul. The park opened in 1989 and stands out in France for its large variety of roller coasters. 

What to do:

  • Meet your favourite characters at the Gallic Village
  • Watch the impressive sea lion and dolphin show at Le Théâtre de Poséidon
  • Ride the inverted roller coaster  “OzIris” at over 90kmph, 40 metres off the ground
  • Get wet on Le Grand Splatch

How to get to Parc Astérix from Paris: Flixbus or Ouibus from Paris to Plailly  1 h 5 min
By Car follow A1 to Plailly. Take the exit toward Parc Asterix from A1  21 min (33.5 km)

The Chateaux of the Loire Valley

Chateau de Chambord
Chateau de Chambord

Distance: 1h 13 min by train

An area steeped in history and heritage, formerly enjoyed by the Kings of France, the Loire Valley is nowadays highly prized by tourists and holidaymakers who come to discover its famous Renaissance castles, charming villages, gastronomic specialties and wines.  

What to do:

  • Tour the magnificent Chateau de Chenonceau, built across the River Cher
  • Visit Le Chateau de Villandry which is world famous for its gardens
  • Marvel at the beautiful architecture while visiting Le Château Royal de Blois
  • Appreciate panoramic views of the Loire River from the medieval fortress of Amboise
  • Gawk at the sheer size of the Chateau de Chambord and its massive estate
  • Be charmed by elegant grounds at the Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau
  • Witness the world’s largest medieval tapestry, the Tapestry of the Apocalypse, at the 13th-century Château of Angers

How to get to the Loire Valley from Paris: TGV Train from Paris Montparnasse to St-Pierre-des-Corps 1 h 13 min
By car follow A10 to Tours 2 h 6 min (234 km)

Somme region (WW1)

Many popular day trips from Paris include visiting This monument at Vimy ridge
Many popular day trips from Paris include visiting this monument at Vimy ridge

Distance: 1h 18min by train

Historically important with the huge military cemeteries from the Great War, the Somme region is a small coastal area on the English Channel of just 60km. The department is split into three main areas: Baie de Somme, Amiens et Amienois, Vallee de la haute Somme. 

What to do:

  • Remark at the Lochnagar Crater, a 91m around by 21m deep mine hole in La Boisselle
  • Follow in the footsteps of WW1 soldiers as you explore The Remembrance Circuit
  • Tour the historical war memorials that interest you most including the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, the Thiepval Memorial and the Canadian National Commemorative Park at Vimy
  • Admire the largest cathedral in France, Cathedrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens (see above)

How to get to the Somme region from Paris: SNCF Train from Paris Nord to Amiens 1 h 18 min
By car take A3, N104 and A16 to Avenue de Grâce in Amiens. Take exit 19 from A16 1 h 34 min (153 km)

Champagne-Ardenne region

The Moet & Chandon vineyards
The Moet & Chandon vineyards

Distance: 1h 22 minutes by train

Dom Perignon, Cristal, Veuve Clicquot… The very names evoke images of decadence and luxury, from star-studded parties in sunny destinations to candlelit evenings in 5-star surrounds. Champagne-Ardenne breaks out the bubbly by the millions of cases every year, drawing thirsty travellers on day trips from Paris to taste its unparalleled sparkling wines and explore the chalky caves in which the Champagne matures. The surrounding countryside is rife with deep forests, rolling limestone and bright waterways. 

Things to do:

  • Go for a tasting and a tour a the Moët & Chandon Champagne cellars, or any of the other Champagne Houses in the region
  • Kids and adults alike will enjoy the rides and attractions at Nigloland, a French amusement park
  • Say hello to the Thibaut family at their artisan chocolate shop in Pierry
  • Drop in on one of many cafes and restaurants around Place Ducale in Charleville-Mezieres
  • Take in the sights in Reims (see above)

How to get to the Champagne-Ardenne region from Paris: SNCF Train from Paris Est to Epernay 1 h 17 min
By car follow A4 to D980 in Villers-Agron-Aiguizy. Take exit 21-Dormans from A4  1 h 4 min (112 km) Take D23E5, D23, D1, D3 and D401 to Épernay

Arras

Arras, one of the most beautiful day trips from Paris
Arras, one of the most beautiful day trips from Paris

Distance: 49 min by train

The capital of the Artois region, Arras is a beautiful day trip destination from Paris which is reminiscent of a theatre set. Every evening, the city lights up, making for a shimmering spectacle. Here, a taste for partying goes hand in hand with gastronomy: andouillette, beer, and even heart-shaped pains d’épice. This city is a must-see.

Things to do:

  • Head 20m underground at Le Carrière Wellington to explore the tunnels built by New Zealand miners during the First World War
  • Appreciate the Flemish architecture in Le Place des Héros
  • Take a tour of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial which pays tribute to Canadians who fought and lost their lives in World War 1

How to get to Arras from Paris:  TGV Train from Paris Nord to Arras 49 min
By car take A1 to D939 in Monchy-le-Preux. Take exit 15 from A1/E15  1 h 39 min (173 km) Follow D939 and D260 to Arras  11 min (7.4 km)

Chartres

Chartres Cathedral
Chartres Cathedral

Distance: 57min by car

Chartres is the capital of the Beauce region of France and home to a spectacular cathedral with world-famous stained-glass windows. Also a famed pilgrim city, Chartes features medieval wood-fronted houses, lovely churches, little bridges and narrow streets. There is a stairway leading down to the banks of the River Eure along with gardens and vegetable plots on the river banks, which gives the city a charm that is more rural than urban. 

Things to do:

  • Marvel at the 12th and 13th-century stained glass windows in the Chartres Cathedral
  • Stroll along the River Eure in the oldest part of town
  • Catch sight of a La Maison Picassiette, a house entirely covered in detailed mosaics
  • Live like royalty and spend the night at the luxurious hotel in Le Château de Maintenon

How to get to Chartres from Paris:  SNCF Train from Paris Montparnasse to Chartres  1 h 15 min
By car take A10 and A11/E50 to Voie de la Liberté/D910 in Chartres. Take exit 2 from A11/E50 57min

Related posts: A Beginner’s Guide to the Regions in France

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