When I studied in France in 2008, I remember doing constant research for day trips from Paris during the weekends. I remember often struggling to choose which day trips from Paris to take first considering the number of options available.
Whether you are a fan of medieval towns, Gothic cathedrals, or art – there’s a day trip from Paris waiting for you!
Below is a list of day trips from Paris you can take, featuring charming cities similar to some of the best neighborhoods in Paris, and historical sites that are part of our history books.
Best Day Trips From Paris #1: Versailles
Not many would argue that Versailles is one of the best day trips from Paris. For every first time visitor in Paris, it’s almost sure that Versailles is included on the list of things to do and see while in Paris.
Versailles is a city in the suburbs of Paris, about 12 miles from the city center. Although it’s only a 16 kilometers distance, the entire journey can take up to 40 minutes.
Versailles is most famous for its history, the opulence and splendor of the grand palace, and majestic garden. You should expect to plan two to three hours touring the castle, an hour for the garden, and another two hours for exploring other places around the area. In total, I recommend planning five hours when visiting Versailles for your day trip from Paris.
After you finish exploring the castle, take a stroll in the city center, and enjoy all its highlights. There are plenty of things to discover in the area. You can visit the food market Halles Notre-Dame, enjoy an Equestrian National Academy shows, and the stunning Royal Opera. There are plenty of other attractions in Versailles that would add to your day trip from Paris.
To start your day trip from Paris to Versailles, the easiest route is to take the RER C train to the Versailles-Château-Rive-Gauche station. When you get to the RER C train station, the journey is about 40 minutes from the center of Paris.
Best Day Trips From Paris #2: Amiens
You won’t typically get the Amiens as an answer if you ask around for recommendations on the best day trips from Paris. The quaint French city is relatively under the radar when it comes to tourism – but it is a lovely city that is not too far from Paris. Amiens is only an hour and a half train ride north of Paris, at the heart of France’s Picardy region.
Amiens is famous for the biggest Gothic Cathedral in the world, the Amiens Cathedral. It’s a Roman Catholic Church built between 1220 and 1270 and stands at 138 feet (42 meters) high, holding the record for the tallest Cathedral in France. This famous Cathedral is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site since 1981.
Besides the Amiens Cathedral, you can walk around Amiens and enjoy the quaint streets and neighborhoods the city has to offer. It’s one of the best trips from Paris because you visit a historic site while also discovering a brand new area in France you probably have never heard of before. Amiens earned the nickname “Venice of the north” because of the little canals that make up the town. You’ll see more of Amiens living up to this nickname when you see the charming restaurants that line up their famous river, Saint-Leu.
To get to Amiens from Paris, head to Gare du Nord, where trains leave from Paris to Amiens every hour.
Best Day Trips From Paris #3: Étretat
We chose Étretat as one of the best day trips From Paris because of its relatively short distance and the stunning scenery in this region. Étretat is in the Normandy region, just a short train ride away from Paris. Besides its stunning scenic landscapes, the beautiful region of Normandy has plenty of history as well. Normandy was the site of World War II D-Day beaches, the beautiful medieval walls of Mont-Saint-Michel, and the quaint and historic town of Rouen, all of which are on this lists below on the best day trips from Paris.
The beautiful coastal town of Étretat is in the Normandy region of France, where local and international tourists visit the stunning rock formations and its beautiful gardens. Étretat’s coastline is nothing like you’ll see in France, where gigantic rocks carve out white cliffs that seem to reach the heavens.
Besides visiting Étretat’s impressive coastline, you can also tour the dazzling Étretat gardens, which is perched up the cliff, giving you stunning views of the coast. You will find beautiful art installations in the garden and unique large-scale trimmed plants with a maze-like pathway.
To travel from Paris to Étretat, head over to Paris-Saint-Lazare station and book a ticket to Le Havre, where you will then take a bus from Le Havre to Étretat. The total travel time is a little under three hours, so we recommend leaving Paris early. There are also hotels in Étretat if you decide to stay overnight. However, don’t expect accommodations on the same level of luxury hotels in Paris – many of the hotels in Étretat have around three-star ratings.
Best Day Trips From Paris #4: Mont Saint-Michel
Our fourth pick for the best day trips from Paris is once again from the Normandy region. The stunning Mont Saint-Michel is an island on the coast of Normandy, France, a region just north of Paris. If your schedule permits, we recommend spending a few days touring this region of France because there a lot to do and see. But if you have a tight schedule and can only accommodate one day trip from Paris, Mont Saint-Michel is doable.
The Mont Saint-Michel is most famous for the Benedictine Abbey, perched on a rocky islet off the coast of Normandy. This popular destination is on the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and receives over three million visitors a year. Mont Saint-Michel is usually on a list of top five places to visit in France, which is why we include Mont-Saint Michel as one of the best day trips from Paris.
Apart from visiting the historic Abbey, you may tour around the surrounding village. Keep in mind that there are a small number of actual residents in the village, so it’s essential to be respectful when visiting. Expect to also climb plenty of stairs, in addition to steep and narrow, cobblestone streets on your way up to Mont-Saint Michel.
Best Day Trips From Paris #5: Beauvais
Those who are fans of gothic Cathedrals, many consider Beauvais as one of the best day trips from Paris. Beauvais is in the Hauts-de-France region, which is the next region just north of Paris. Many backpackers are also familiar with Beauvais city, as it is the main airport where budget airline RyanAir operates.
The Saint Peter Cathedral of Beauvais appears in many Art History books for its impressive gothic architecture. It is 48 meters tall (159 feet), and 72 meters (238 feet) in length, and is one of the tallest cathedrals you’ll visit in France. Other notable places to visit in the Beauvais area are houses that date back from the 12th and 16th centuries, as well as the Episcopal Palace.
To travel from Paris to Beauvais, take a train from Paris Gare du Nord. The travel time is approximately one hour.
Best Day Trips From Paris #6: Chantilly
We pick Chantilly as our seventh candidate for best day trips from Paris only because it involves FOOD! Chantilly is in the south end of the Hauts-de-France region, a short-distance train ride away from Paris.
Chantilly is widely famous for Chateau de Chantilly, where the invention of the Chantilly whipped cream originated. The chateau itself is the main attraction for international and local tourists visiting this elegant town. The castle dates back from 1358 and took several hundred years to complete its construction.
Chantilly is an easy day trip from Paris, a 25-minute train ride from Paris Gare du Nord station.
Best Day Trips From Paris #7: The D-Day Beaches
On June 6, 1944, the Allied Forces successfully invaded northern France and became the most significant victory for the Western Allies against Nazi-occupied Western Europe. Today, tourists can visit the historic five beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches – where you can find bunkers and fortifications that remain from this historic date.
The D-Day beaches are in the Normandy region of France, just north of the capital. You can reach the D-Day beaches from Paris within three-hours by car, which we recommend when exploring this area. Otherwise, you may take a train from the Paris Saint-Lazare station to the Bayeux train station.
Since Normandy is in France’s northern region, it can get quite cold during the non-summer months. For the best weather, we recommend the months of May to late September to visit the D-Day beaches.
Best Day Trips From Paris #8: Lille
Our eighth pick of best day trips from Paris is the quaint city of Lille.
Lille is the capital of the northern Hauts-de-France region and has a nickname of “Paris of the north,” a fast-paced industrial city with a fabulous historical center. You will find similarities in Lille as you would in Paris: museums, art galleries, and high-end retail shops similar to what you would see while shopping in Paris.
Before its’ invasion by Louis XIV in 1667, Lille was a Flemish territory reflected in the architecture throughout the region. Visit Old Lille with its abundance of baroque buildings, picturesque gabled roofs, and charming narrow cobblestone streets. The Palace of Fine Arts is also worth the visit, receiving much-deserved comparison to the Louvre.
To travel from Paris to Lille, we recommend taking the high-speed. The journey time with the high-speed train takes about one hour, whereas the regular train ride can take one hour and a half. The prices can vary depending on the time, day, and season of your day trip from Paris to Lille.
Best Day Trips From Paris #9: Reims
Reims is in the “Grand Est” region of France, 130 kilometers east of Paris. It’s the perfect day trip from Paris if you are looking for quaint houses in picturesque neighborhoods to tour while getting to know the region’s rich history.
Reims is primarily famous for its Cathedral. This Gothic Cathedral was built in 1211, featuring stained glass windows, a Gothic organ case, an astronomical clock built in the 15th century, and a 12-petaled rose window. The Reims Cathedral is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, where a list of French kings was crowned at this historic site, most notably King Charles VII in 1429.
The city also has plenty of other sites that you can visit, including a museum about a historical event that took place in Reims and changed the world, a chapel painted by a great modern artist and an art deco library donated by Andrew Carnegie, and a Roman arch in the middle of a square.
The average travel time from Paris to Reims by train is one hour and thirty minutes. To travel from Paris to Reims, take the train from Gare de l’Est station in Paris.
Best Day Trips From Paris #10: Chartres
Chartres is southwest of Paris, in the north-central region of France. You will mostly see this tourist destination consistently a part of many lists of best day trips from Paris because of its world-famous cathedrals.
The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many consider the Cathedral as the finest and most preserved Gothic cathedrals in France and all of Europe. The Cathedral was completed in 1220 but still keeps many of its stained glass windows intact.
You can catch the regional train (TER) from Paris to Chartres at the Montparnasse station. The travel time from Paris to Chartres is approximately one hour.
Best Day Trips From Paris #11: Giverny
There is no doubt that art lovers will consider Giverny as one of the best day trips from Paris. Giverny is a village in the Normandy region, most famous for Claude Monet’s iconic water lilies paintings.
Apart from exploring Monet’s home and touring the gardens, you can also take a stroll in Giverny’s charming neighborhood. The neighborhood itself is dotted with country houses that are similar to Monet’s house. You may visit the Museum of Impressionism and Monet’s burial site, Saint-Radegonde Church.
To travel from Paris to Giverny, the best option is to take the train from St. Lazare Station in Paris, directly to Vernon-Giverny. The journey takes approximately 45 minutes. From Vernon station, you will take a short shuttle bus ride to Giverny.
Best Day Trips From Paris #12: Rouen
Our last pick for best day trips from Paris is the capital of Normandy, the historic city of Rouen. It is 112 kilometers northwest of Paris and is approximately one and a half-hour train ride away.
Local and international tourist visits Rouen for their famous Gothic Cathedral, and its ties to Joan of Arc, which is an important part of Rouen’s history. This Medieval town is also home to an Old Market Square, and photogenic streets of Old Rouen.
You can take the train from Paris via Saint Lazare station. The journey will take approximately 90 minutes.