The 8 best day trips from Paris

By Jiselle Henderkott Published 25/01/2023

Paris is a wonderful city and there is so much to see and do. However, if you are planning to stay in the city for any length of time, it’s important to plan some day trips to see all the wonderful sights surrounding Paris.

  1. Provins: 90 minutes from Paris
  2. Giverny: 60 minutes from Paris
  3. Rouen: 90 minutes from Paris
  4. Fontainebleau: 40 minutes from Paris
  5. Loire Valley: 120 minutes from Paris
  6. Champagne Region: 40 minutes from Paris
  7. Metz: 90 minutes from Paris
  8. Chartres: 75 minutes from Paris

Within an hour of Paris are incredible cities and places to visit. Quaint medieval towns, gardens that inspired Monet, and the city where Joan of Arc was condemned are just a few places you should definitely put on the top of your bucket list. 

The easiest way to reach these destinations is by train from any one of Paris’ train stations. However, you could always rent a car too. Just be sure you feel comfortable driving around France and have an international driver’s license. 

The 8 best day trips from Paris are anything but mundane. After all, there is far more to see in France than just the city of lights. And, if you plan on traveling with roommates or friends, these top 8 destinations should be at the top of your list.

1. Provins: 90 minutes from Paris

Provins is a medieval town located about an hour and a half by train from Paris Gare de l’Est. The city is famous for its well-preserved medieval architecture and its importance throughout the middle ages as an economic center. In 2001, Provins was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

The city is split into ville haute (high city) and ville basse (low city.) The upper part of the town is located on a hill overlooking the rest of the city and the beautiful, rolling countryside. Located in this area are many half-timbered houses dating from the 11th century onward. Up here you can also find in-tact ramparts that surround the city. Make sure you take a walk on top of the ramparts for spectacular views. Furthermore, the town is also known for growing a specific type of rose that can only be found in Provins. Don’t miss a visit to The Rose Gardens of Provins to tour their gardens and sip rose tea on their sunlit terrace.

Every year, Provins hosts its Medieval Festival from June 10-11th, 2023. During this time you can relive the excitement of the medieval markets that made Provins famous: live entertainment, medieval reenactment, and artisans selling handmade goods are everywhere. Provins is definitely a day trip you don’t want to miss! 

📍Provins, France. Take the train line P from Gare de l’Est train station in Paris. 

2. Giverny: 60 minutes from Paris

Giverny is a small village in the Norman countryside of the Seine Valley. The famous impressionist painter, Claude Monet, lived here for over 40 years. The gardens at his home were the inspiration for some of his most renowned paintings. 

The town of Giverny is about an hour’s train ride from the Saint-Lazare station in Paris. After getting off at the Vernon – Giverny train station, take bus number 10 to go directly to the gardens of Monet. Enjoy taking spectacular pictures on the bridge that stretches over the water-lily pond. This spot is truly a great one to do with friends!

You can also visit Monet’s house for a look around at his personal belongings and inspirations. Be sure to visit the village of Giverny and the town of Vernon for its quaint restaurants, cafés and beautiful city center.

What’s more, the rolling fields and green forests of this area are particularly breathtaking. You’ll easily see why they inspired impressionist painters as you frolic through the fields. Stop off for some cider and crepes at a local restaurant before heading back to Paris, with bellies full and hearts happy.

📍Vernon, France. Take the train line Paris / Rouen / Le Havre from the Saint-Lazare train station and get off at Vernon – Giverny train station. Then, hop on bus line 10 to Giverny.

3. Rouen: 90 minutes from Paris

Rouen is one of the easiest day trips you can do from Paris. For a historical and beautiful town, the city is not inundated with tourists. Located in Normandy, Rouen was a prominent city during roman and medieval times. This is evident in the fact that Rouen is home to the tallest church spire in all of France, the Notre Dame Cathedral. You will definitely want to visit this church as soon as you arrive as there can be many crowds.

Next, walk along the cobblestone streets where you will find quaint shops. Along your walk, stop off under the Gros Horloge (the big clock) that has been working since medieval times. Rouen may sound familiar, and this is because the town is famous for the trial and execution of Joan of Arc in 1431 at the Vieux Marché. Make sure to visit the Palais du Justice where the Joan of Arc museum is located. This museum has an interactive and guided tour of Joan of Arc’s trial in the place where she was actually held up until her execution. This tour is worth it if only for the beautiful and heartbreaking way her story is told. 

After the tour, stop off at the English tea shop located across the street for a delicious afternoon tea. They have an incredible assortment of teas and cakes that make for a delicious afternoon snack.

📍 Rouen, France. Take the train line to Rouen from Saint Lazare and get off at Rouen-Rive-Droite.

4. Fontainebleau: 40 minutes from Paris

Fontainebleau is often compared to Versailles but without the crowds. And I couldn’t agree more! After all, it only takes about 45 minutes on line R from Gare de Lyon. The Fontainebleau castle was built by the princes of France as a hunting lodge, and then it slowly grew over the centuries as more wings were added to it. The castle was even a favorite of Napoleon’s, thanks to its incredible gardens and the forest of Fontainebleau that surrounds it. 

After Napolean left, the castle was falling into ruin. The French government stepped in to renovate the castle to its current Renaissance-inspired glory. I recommend arriving in the morning hours so you can fully enjoy the castle and the surrounding grounds. 

Then, make sure to take a stroll through the town. It’s a very beautiful cosmopolitan town. If nature is more your thing, be sure to visit the canal and go bouldering in the forest of Fontainebleau. For nature lovers at heart, this town is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city life in Paris.

📍 Fontainebleau, France. Take Line R from Gare de Lyon in Paris and get off at the Fontainebleau stop. 

5. Loire Valley: 120 minutes from Paris

It may not be the most obvious, but a trip to visit the castles of the Loire Valley is totally possible in 24 hours. However, we recommend taking a guided tour bus as this is the easiest way to visit everything in a day. Taking a train is possible, but the time schedules for this area are hit-and-miss.

The castles of the Loire Valley are culturally important as many kings and queens lived here. It is located in a historically important area where many famous battles took place. The region is also famous for its incredible wine and food, so a tasting is definitely in order. 

If you only have a day, I recommend visiting the royal Château of Blois, the Château of Chambord, and the Chenonceau Château (which is known as the ladies’ castle of the Loire Valley.) If you are looking for a guided tour, I recommend this one from Get Your Guide which includes a wine tasting and is an all-day bus tour from the center of Paris. 

📍 Loire Valley. You can get there by train, but it is recommended to go by car or bus tour.

6. Champagne Region: 45 minutes from Paris

Champagne is quintessentially French, so it makes sense that only bottles produced in the Champagne region of France can actually be called “champagne.” It’s quite easy to get to the Champagne region from Paris. There are high-speed TGV trains that run between Paris and Reims or Epernay. These trains take anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes depending on where you are going. It’s best to book these train tickets in advance, as you never know if they are going to fill up fast.

In Epernay, there is the Moet and Chandon caves, some of the most famous in all of France. Near Reims is the Veuve Clicquot, another famous champagne house. As opposed to the United States, most tastings don’t include food, so plan accordingly. Furthermore, as some of the champagne caves are carved out deep in the ground, they can get quite chilly, even in the warmer months, so make sure to bring layers.

I believe it’s also worth it to visit the historical city center of Reims. The city boasts the Notre Dame de Rems Cathedral which has hosted the coronation of every King of France. However, it bears mentioning that while you can do a lot of research beforehand and plan the day trip on your own, a guided tour that leaves from Paris may be your best bet for a stress-free day. Sit back, relax and enjoy some champagne!

📍Reims and Epernay, France. The first train leaves Paris Gare de l’Est at 06:58 and the last train leaves at 21:36.

7. Metz: 90 minutes from Paris

A day trip to historical Metz, which is close to Belgium/Luxembourg border, is definitely a must! This beautiful town is located on the Moselle river. The city boasts large, green gardens bordering the river as well as a medieval town center. Take a high-speed train from Gare de l’Est to reach Metz in about 90 minutes. 

Worth a visit is the Metz Cathedral, which boasts the most stained glass of any church in the world. The windows were created by gothic and renaissance glassmakers as well as more recent artists such as Marc Chagall. Next, head to the huge Porte des Allemands, located on the Seille river to the east. This edifice is the last castle bridge left standing in France. 

As you walk through Metz, make sure to head to the place Saint-Louis in the center of town to see the beautiful arcades and have a quiche lorraine, a specialty of the region, on a sunlit terrace. Finish the day walking around the beautiful gardens at the Esplanade before heading back to Paris on the last train.

📍Metz, France. Take a high-speed train from Gare de l’Est train station in Paris and arrive in Metz in less than 90 minutes.

8. Chartres: 75 minutes from Paris

Hop on a train from the Montparnasse train station and head to the gorgeous town of Chartres. Located in the Loire region of France, Chartres is most famous for the Chartres Cathedral, boasting some of the most beautiful stained-glass windows in all of France. While you’re at the church, head to the back of the church grounds and try to find your way through the grass labyrinth for some added fun.

While in Chartres, make sure to visit La Maison Picassiette, a house that was turned into a museum and is completely covered in pieces of broken crockery, creating a mosaic. The house is truly a work of art. Just be sure to check opening times before heading there though, as it is open only on certain days.

Before ending the day in Chartres, stroll to the historic preservation area in the city center and take some pictures amongst the half-timbered medieval houses. Then, stroll down to the river’s edge for a group photo. There is certainly more to Chartres than just its cathedral if you’re not afraid to step off the beaten path!

📍Chartres, France. Take the train from Paris’ Montparnasse train station to Chartres. The price is around 20 euros for a round trip fare and takes about 1 hour.

As you can see, there is plenty to do if you somehow have had your fill of Paris and want to escape the city for a day. If you’re spending a bit more time in Paris or thinking about settling in the city, it’s good to know all the options you have available!

About the author Bonjour! I'm Jiselle, an American ex-pat living in Paris. When not a freelance writer, I'm also an actress, singer, and dancer.