Paris is a stunning city with plenty to see and do. It’s easy to spend at least three days just exploring the cobblestone streets of the French capital. However, as enchanting as Paris is to discover, it’s also a great base from which to explore other charming French cities and attractions. So if you have some extra time, or are looking to explore outside of the city, then here are my picks for day trips from Paris by train (I’ve also included some links to guided tour options if that ends up being easier).
Chateau de Versailles
One of the top day trips from Paris is to visit the beautiful Versailles. This stunning palace is gilded, ornate, and of huge historical significance. Once a seat of power until the French Revolution, today the Chateau de Versailles is a museum with over 2300 rooms and stunning gardens. Versailles is one of the easiest day trips from Paris by train. All you have to do is hop on the RER C train in Paris and take it to Chateau Rive Gauche, which is the Versailles stop. Expect the trip to take about 1 hour each way.
Once you arrive at Versailles, you will need to buy a ticket to enter. A ticket to Versailles will include admission into the Palace (not all the rooms are available to tourists but the ones that are open are definitely worth looking at!) and the gardens. While you can explore both on your own, a Versailles tour from Paris will also provide you with additional information, facts, and stories that you wouldn’t get or hear otherwise. If you love history and are interested in learning more about Versailles, I do recommend taking an actual tour with a guide (I did, and I really enjoyed it).
If you love art then seeing Giverny, the inspiration behind Claude Monet’s beautiful Water Lilies, is a must. Spend your day surrounded by beautiful nature in scenic Normandy. You will be able to see the lily ponds from the paintings, the Japanese bridge, and Claude Monet’s house. The gardens and Monet’s house are open daily from April 1st until November 1st.
It’s also an easy day trip from Paris by train. Start at the Paris-Saint-Lazare Station and take the train to Vernon-Giverny. Depending on which train you take, the journey will be about 40 minutes to an hour. Once you arrive at the station, you are still a few kilometres away from Monet’s Gardens, but there is a shuttle bus that will take you the rest of the way (you can also walk about an hour or take a taxi). For more on the shuttle, visit this page.
If you would rather have transportation sorted for you, then you can book this book your day trip to Monet’s Gardens from Paris here
Additionally, if you are short on time you can do this day trip to Monet’s Giverny PLUS the Palace of Versailles.
If you love castles and palaces, then definitely consider a day trip to Fontainebleau. Fontainebleau Castle is an opulent castle that dates back to the 1100s. It has long been considered a play ground for the elite of Paris which has included Louis VI and Napoleon. Highlights of Fontainebleau include Marie Antoinette’s Turkish Boudoir, the Napoleon Museum, and a formal garden.
Fontainebleau Castle makes an easy day trip from Paris by train since it’s only about a 40 minute journey. Take the train from Gare du Lyon headed in the direction of either Migennes, Montargis, or Montereau and get off at stop Fontainbleau-Avon. Once you arrive at the station you can walk (about 40 minutes) to the town and castle, or take Bus 1 direction Les Lilas to the castle.
Not too far from Fontainebleau Castle is Vaux-le-Vicomte; 17th century castle that served as the inspiration for Versailles. The chateau is fully furnished and the gardens here are exquisite.
To get to Vaux-le-Vicomte Chateau start at Gare L’Est in Paris and take a train line P (direction Provins) to Verneuil l’Etang. The journey will take about an hour. Once you arrive, you can hop on the shuttle bus to the chateaux.
It’s a very easy day trip from Paris by train, however if you would rather not have to navigate on your own (or if you are short on time) you can book a day trip from Paris to Fontainebleau AND Vaux-le-Vicomte here .
Mont Saint Michel
If you’ve seen photos of a fairytale old city perched on an island in the ocean in France and wondered if it’s photoshopped, it’s not. This place is actually real. This is Mont Saint Michel, a UNESCO World heritage site that dates back to the 8th century AD and one of France’s most recognizable landmarks. It served as both a religious commune and a jail over the years but today is mainly a tourist attraction. Museums, shops, restaurants, and hotels make up most of the island but it’s a stunning historical site that is absolutely worth seeing in person.
Mont Saint Michel is one of the most popular day trips from Paris, however, it’s can be quite time consuming. As far as day trips from Paris by train go, this isn’t the easiest one but it is do-able. The easiest way is to start at Gare Montparnasse in Paris and take the TGV to Rennes. From Rennes, you can then take a bus to Mont Saint Michel.
Now, keep in mind, this journey takes 4-5 hours each way and it’s not cheap. You are looking at about 120 euro for the roundtrip. If you are worried about making this day trip from Paris by train, then you can join a guided day trip from Paris. Take a look at Mont Saint Michel Day Trip Options here.
Champagne Tours from Paris
Another incredibly popular day trip option from Paris is the Champagne region. However, seeing as the highlight here is drinking champagne, it’s probably not the best day trip to do from Paris by train. If champagne tasting in France is on your bucket list, your best bet is to take a day trip.
Guides promise to indulge you with delicious champagne and some insight into some of France’s historic and best known champagne estates and cellars. Not to mention there will be stunning views and photo opportunities. When it comes to day trips from Paris, this is definitely an extravagant one. But, keep in mind, visiting the Champagne region of France may be a lifetime opportunity.