It’s on bucketlists around the globe for good reason — not only is it the City of Love, but it’s jampacked with activities aplenty. You can visit the Louvre, wander the arrondissements and, of course, visit the Eiffel Tower. However, if you’re looking to escape the city for a day, here’s our guide to the very best day trips you can take from Paris.
Just a quick 2-hour ride on France’s TGV train from Paris and you’re in the beautiful town of Strasbourg. Located in the Alsace region, this quaint village features a magnificent Gothic cathedral and a town center that looks straight out of a movie set. Taking a boat tour through Strasbourg’s network of stunning canals is an absolute must-do while visiting and when you finish, taste the local Strasbourg wines – Riesling and Gewurzstraminer before catching the train back to Paris.
The Champagne Region
It’s hard to think about France without imagining the wine… the cheese… the baguettes. Ah, French food. But, French champagne is also world renowned. If you’re looking for rolling hills and that traditional, picturesque French countryside, head out to the Champagne Region, where you can also treat your taste buds to some authentic French bubbly. While you pop bottles we recommend touring the beautiful surrounding villages, like Reims and Troyes, and finding reasons to extend your visit past sunset.
The Palace of Versailles
Why visit Versailles? Well, because it’s Versailles! As the most famous French palace, Versailles lives up to its extravagant reputation. It’s an easy 45-minute train ride from Paris and is so large that it can and will keep you busy for an entire day. From the palace’s magnificent gardens, lousy with fountains and statues, to the palace’s interior, this massive palace complex is the pinnacle of opulence and wealth. We do recommend you arrive as early as possible as the crowds here can become overwhelming. And pack a lunch so you can keep exploring without having to stop for food.
Vaux le Vicomte
While Versailles is the mecca of French royalty, Vaux le Vicomte is another, greatly underrated French castle. Vaux le Vicomte has become a favorite for travelers yearning to witness classic French architecture without hordes of tourists souring the experience. Unlike Versailles, Vaux le Vicomte demonstrates a less grandiose yet equally as elegant beauty. A symbol of refined 17th century architecture, Vaux le Vicomte stands as one of our favorite day trips on this list.
If you haven’t satisfied your castle itch yet, check out this UNESCO World Heritage site. Fontainebleau has had a long and interesting history dating all the way back to the 12th century. It was built as a hunting lodge surrounded by a lush forest where royals visited for eight centuries to satisfy their hunting itch. With gold plated gates and an iconic dual-staircase that sits stoically in front, this castle offers a certain elegance that can only be found in France. While the gardens and interior of the palace don’t drip in opulence the way Versailles might, this castle represents France’s rich history.
Here’s something a little different…
Paris might be known as the City of Lights, but she has a dark side. Deep below the city lies hundreds of miles of underground tunnels, old stone mines from the creation of the city itself. Whilst most of these tunnels are illegal to access, the city has preserved a section known as les catacombes under the Place Denfert-Rochereau in Paris’ 14th arrondissement. The catacombs were created at the end of the 18th century as a municipal ossuary, as the cemeteries in the Les Halles district of Paris were overflowing, causing infection and disease among the population. The bones of around six million Parisians, 30 generations-worth, were relocated to the tunnels, placed ornately for kilometres under the city, and the cemeteries were closed. The entrance to the catacombs is a 45 minute Metro ride to the outskirts of the city, and get there early — the lines are huge!
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