But although the city has a ton of stuff to see and do, if you are choosing to spend more than a long weekend in the “City of Lights,” then I recommend using your time wisely to get to know France a little better.
There are actually a fair amount of easy day trips that you can take—destinations you can reach by car or by train in about 40 minutes being the quickest and easiest to reach.
I’ve listed some of my favorite Paris day trips to get you started and help you plan the best EVER Paris vacay.
The Best Day Trips from Paris
Picturesque, opulent, and totally over the top, Versailles is probably one of the most popular day trips from Paris, and for good reason. Famous the world over for its extravagant interiors and gardens, the Palace is now a UNESCO recognized World Heritage Site.
What was once (unbelievably) a simple lodge, a smaller chateau was developed and remolded into the fairytale castle that it is today by Louis XIV, who installed the French Government there. The embellishments made by the various royalty who lived and worked from Versailles are legendary, some of the furniture inside was actually made from solid silver!
The palace’s importance stretches beyond its aesthetics, however, it has also been the location for numerous important historical events, including the famous Treaty of Versailles which saw the end of the World War.
What to see and do:
Step inside the gilded halls of Versailles and travel through history to a time when the French monarchy’s power and wealth were so disproportionate that it eventually led to the French Revolution. I definitely recommend getting the audio guide here—there’s so much to learn about and soak up.
The stately rooms offer the chance to learn about the lifestyles of the monarchy at the time, visit the Grands Appartements du Roi et de la Reine where the Kings and Queens lived, and the enormous Galerie des Glaces—or Hall of Mirrors—with 17 windows opposite 17 mirrors which reflect the sun and the symmetrical gardens.
How long does it take to travel from Versailles from Paris?
By train, it is a simple 40-minute ride from the center of Paris. Even by car, Versailles will take you just 40 minutes’ driving time to reach from the French capital.
How to get to Versailles from Paris:
Versaille is just 13 miles to the southwest of the center of the city. The easiest way to get there is by taking one of the frequent RER C trains, which run directly to Versailles-Château–Rive Gauche station and costs around 7€.
Once at the station, the palace is an easy 13-minute walk that is signposted.
How much does Versailles cost?
Entry to the Palace costs 18 €, a Passport with a timed entry ticket gives access to the whole estate and costs 20 €. If you just can’t get enough of Versailles, a two-day Passport costs 25 €.
Versailles is open every day from 9:00 am, except on Mondays.
What not to miss at Versailles:
The famous fountains are the crowning glory of Versailles‘ decadent Gardens, if you want to see them in all their splendor, try to visit Versailles on days when fountain shows are scheduled. Think water, lights, and music.
What to eat at Versailles:
Dining around Versaille, much like the expensive interiors of the palace itself, can cost a few dollars. If you feel like splashing out on a special lunch during your day trip from Paris, why not try Ore inside the palace itself. Otherwise, La Magnette, with its blackboard menu of daily specials made from locally produced, mainly organic ingredients, is a great option.
There’s also a Laduree there, so you can enjoy some macarons while sitting in the gardens.
Mont Saint Michel
Another very famous location in France, and a fairly straightforward day trip from Paris, Mont Saint Michel is an island on France’s northwestern coast. Sitting around half a mile offshore, Mont Saint Michele is cut off from the country’s mainland by the tide. At only around 1,000 acres in area, it is home to 50 inhabitants.
Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island has a long and interesting history that dates back to medieval times. A place of pilgrimage for religious visitors to its abbey, it is also a strategic fort location.
Trying to attack the island was hard work; most people who attempted it were drowned. Depictions of Norman knights being rescued from the quicksand in the tidal flats surrounding the island are even found in the Bayeux Tapestry. In fact, the island was so well protected that it survived the Hundred Years’ War.
It was even turned into a prison by Louis XI—a little bit like Alcatraz!
The island used to be connected to mainland France by a causeway that became accessible only when the tide was low. The causeway was raised in 1879, but changes to the natural habitat meant that in 2014, the French Government decided to build a bridge across to the island, which makes visiting a whole lot easier! Today, more than three million people every year make their way to the island and explore the numerous buildings and lanes that make this place so special.
What to see and do:
Visiting Mont Saint Michel has been a pilgrimage for millions throughout the centuries—maybe for less religious reasons nowadays! Sitting atop the rocky island, the Benedictine abbey is a breathtaking sight.
Built in a Gothic-style between the 11th and 16th Centuries and dedicated to archangel St Micheal, the abbey is reached by climbing the steep streets through the village that surrounds it.
Walking the winding streets past buildings that grew up around it to support the pilgrims and monks, it’s amazing to see the history that is found in every corner and along every street. There are charming cafes, small shops selling souvenirs, and museums to spend time enjoying—but the main attraction of Mont Saint Michel is the abbey itself.
An incredible feat of construction, the 1,300-year-old abbey has been ingeniously designed to withstand the problems that come with building a whole community on a tiny island. Inside the abbey, the medieval architecture is beautiful and serene. Catch sight of the Norman Gothic art, choir, cloisters, and statues.
How long does it take to travel from Mont Saint Michel from Paris?
By train, it takes around two and a half hours from the center of Paris. However, if you are traveling by car, it is a four-hour drive.
How to get to Mont Saint Michel from Paris:
Located around 225 miles or 362 kilometers from Paris, Mont-Saint-Michel does take some travel time, but the journey is well worth it. The best way to reach the island is by public transport.
From Paris, take a high-speed TGV train from Gare Montparnasse station. Get off the train at Rennes and hop on one of the regular Oui buses that are operated by the French railways all the way to Mont St Michel.
Driving does take longer, but if you like the freedom of hitting the road, you can park at one of the big parking lots at Beauvoir and take the shuttle bus to Mont.
Whether you drive yourself or take public transport, my tip would be to leave early, making sure you have plenty of time to explore.
How much does Mont Saint Michel cost?
Getting onto the island itself and walking around the village is completely free for everybody; in fact, there aren’t even any opening hours!
Entry to the abbey is 10 € for adults and free if you are from the EU and under 25. If not, entry costs 8 € but is free for children under 18.
The abbey is open from 9:30 am to 6 pm in the winter, and 9 am to 7 pm in the summer months.
What not to miss at Mont Saint Michel:
If you visit during the summer, the abbey is magically illuminated by a light and sound display between 7 and 10:30 pm.
What to eat at Mont Saint Michel:
With all the tourist crowds come all the normal tourist traps, and Mont Saint Michel is no different. Finding somewhere amazing to eat on the island can be hard, as prices tend to be hiked up for fairly mediocre food.
One place that serves up good portions in a friendly atmosphere is the family-run Auberge St Pierre. You might want to book in advance though—it gets crazy busy!
It may not be a World Heritage Site, but if you want to have a really fun day, then a trip to Disneyland Paris is totally a must. Even if you aren’t traveling with children, treating yourself to a day filled to Disney magic with a French flair is worth the trip.
And if you’re a die-hard Disney fan, this will already be on your Paris itinerary!
First opening its doors back in 1992, the park is the most popular theme park in Europe. The largest of its kind outside of the US, you could easily spend MORE than a day at the park making the most of seeing the European home of Mickey and his pals.
Spread across 4,800 acres, the sprawling theme park has some pretty cool rides and attractions to keep you there all day. There’s the wonder of riding a boat through It’s a Small World in the Fantasyland, shooting through space on the Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain roller coaster in Discoveryland, and being caught up in the world of singing and stories on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Adventureland. But my absolute favorite was the Finding Nemo ride, where you ride in a turtle shell down the EAC! They really need to put this ride in at Disneyland in LA. 🙂
What to see and do:
The park is beautifully designed and probably one of the prettiest of all the Disneyworlds or Disneylands. As you enter through the gates, you will be magically transported into the Disney Universe. Split into five areas, the park is centered around Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant, or Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
If you only have one day to spare to spend at Disney Land during your tour of Paris, then you should prioritize the top rides and attractions you want to see. You could even spend two days there, one for big rides and roller coasters, the other for more magical, adventurous rides.
As it’s super simple to navigate, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting around. If you’re into the big-ticket thrill rides like roller coasters, then these should be on your itinerary first, or if old-school Disney and fairytales are more your thing, you have to go on Peter Pan’s Flight and—of course—there are all the parades and shows to catch too!
How long does it take to travel from Disneyland Paris from Paris?
If you are traveling by train, then it only takes around 35 minutes from the center of Paris. Driving yourself by car, it should take around 30-40 minutes’ drive.
You could also take the Disney Shuttle bus (around 1 hour 30 minutes).
How to get to Disneyland Paris from Paris:
You might think that Disneyland Paris would be actually IN Paris, but it is, in fact, about 25 miles outside of the city.
Traveling by train is the quickest and easiest way to get to Disneyland Paris—just take one of the regular RER trains. There are also two different shuttle bus services run by the park from the center of the city to Disneyland. Using one of those services, you can book tickets in advance and return in the evening.
Driving is also an option, but probably the most expensive, as car parking costs 30 € for the day (ouch!).
How much does Disneyland Paris cost?
A ticket to Disneyland is definitely not cheap, that’s for sure, but you do get a whole lot for your money.
A basic adult ticket to the park costs from $70.21 and $64.26 for a child (3-11), but it can be upwards of $105 depending on the day you choose to book.
Disneyland Paris is open every day of the year, but the opening hours do change in winter and summer.
What not to miss at Disneyland Paris:
When you’re in Disneyland Paris, you should totally pay a visit to Alice’s Curious Labyrinth.
Paris is the only one of the parks to have this attraction, and walking through the world of Alice surrounded by all the characters and curving hedges of the maze is super fun!
And as I mentioned, the Finding Nemo ride was my absolute favorite and unique to Disney Paris, so don’t miss that one!
What to eat at Disneyland Paris:
This is Disneyland and it’s in Paris, the city of food (and love, of course!). In fact, this was the first Disneyland to allow the sale of alcohol. There are a lot of delicious treats on sale throughout the park, from crepes to mountainous ice creams.
The Loire Valley is an incredible place to visit. Rolling countryside, not to mention those famous Loire Valley castles and the fact that this place is a well known wine-growing region, all add up to a must-visit destination.
Lucky for you, it’s not too far from Paris. This means you will have enough time to get there by yourself and see one of the most picturesque, historically rich regions that France has to offer.
In fact, the central region of the Loire Valley has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; there’s a good reason for that. This area really is awesome for the sheer amount of castles and historic buildings and properties, making it pretty much like a fairytale.
What to see and do:
Made up of a collection of historic towns, including Tours and Amboise, the Loire Valley has both culture and beautiful buildings. There are castles, wine, and beautiful, natural countryside—what more could you want??
The Loire Valley is one of the most famous wine regions in the world, so if you like wine, you are in luck: there are a ton of different wineries and vineyards for you to visit here. If wine isn’t your thing, the other famous thing to do in the Loire Valley is to spend a day castle-hopping. One of the most famous is Le Château de Chenonceau—aka Castle of the Ladies.
How long does it take to travel from Loire Valley from Paris?
How to get to Loire Valley from Paris:
If you’re planning to spend the day at just one destination in the Loire Valley, then the train is a good idea. Paris to Tour, Blois-Chambord, Amboise, or Orleans are all great options for train trips to the area. The prices for train tickets do vary though, so make sure you book in advance, if you can, to get the lowest price.
Driving may take longer, but it means you can pack a whole lot more into your day, and you won’t have to worry about train schedules. If you’re renting a car, you might want to make the journey quicker by hopping on a train out of the city and renting a car from the train station once you’re in the region.
How much does Loire Valley cost?
Entrance to different châteaux in the region varies, the cheapest being 8.50 €, the more expensive around 14 €.
What not to miss at Loire Valley:
You should definitely make a beeline to Le Château de Chambord. This beautiful site has an amazing claim to fame: Leonardo da Vinci helped design it. It is, as you may imagine, pretty much stunning.
Elsewhere, the Château de Valençay is an incredible piece of architecture. Your Instagram is going to utterly pop with selfies of you in front of some of the grandest castles in the world!
What to eat at Loire Valley:
The Loire Valley has some perfect conditions for producing top-notch food and drink, which is why you could spend your entire time in the area just eating and drinking.
It won’t be hard to find a local bistro to stop at for lunch. If the weather is nice, why not pick up some fresh fruits, vegetables, goats cheese, and some meats and enjoy a picnic washed down with a glass or two of the region’s wine.
Claude Monet Gardens
An awesome day tour from Paris that you could take, this is where the famous impressionist artist Claude Monet lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. He rented out the house and gardens before he bought it in 1890.
Monet was first attracted to Giverny as he glimpsed the picturesque village from a train window. Being here, you can see why he liked it so much! The village even ended up attracting other painters, eventually becoming something of an art colony in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
It’s absolutely beautiful and Omied and I loved spending a day visiting Giverny! A fun thing to do is visit Giverny and then hit up Musée de l’Orangerie when you’re back in Paris to see some of Monet’s incredible water lily paintings.
What to see and do:
A trip to Claude Monet Gardens is bound to bring out the artist in you—even if it’s just an Instagram post! This place is truly beautiful, with ponds, flowers, trees, and lawns that have been immaculately kept. Though it can get busy, being here can really transport you to a time when Monet was using this garden as his inspiration.
The gardens tend to get all the attention, for obvious reasons, but Monet’s former home is just as beautiful. It has been lovingly restored, and visitors today have access to the first and second floor rooms, including a larder and Monet’s own family room; the studio next door, where the painter completed his large “Water Lilies” series, can also be discovered.
How long does it take to travel from Claude Monet Gardens from Paris?
It takes around 50 minutes by car to get to the Claude Monet Gardens from Paris, while the fastest train takes 45 minutes.
How to get to Claude Monet Gardens from Paris:
By train, start at Saint-Lazare Paris station (which Monet painted back in the day!). If arriving at the station by Metro, take the SNCF—Grandes Lignes exit. Head to the Grandes Lignes section and take the Rouen line to Giverny-Vernon. From there, a shuttle bus runs during the spring and autumn (12 minutes, 10 € round-trip).
Driving, take highway A13 (towards Rouen; there is a 2.30 € toll). Take either exit 14 (Bonnières) or 16 (Douains) and follow the signs to Vernon, then Giverny.
How much does Claude Monet Gardens cost?
The normal fare (including seniors) is 9.50 €. Children and students enter for 5.50 €, while entry for differently-abled visitors costs 4.00 €. If you happen to visit with children under the age of 7, then it’s your lucky day—they get free admission!
What not to miss at Claude Monet Gardens:
The water lilies! The famous water lilies of Claude Monet’s garden, you must’ve heard of them, right? Monet painted over 250 paintings depicting his beloved water lilies.
You simply have to stay a while, admiring the lilies, the pond, and the iconic bridge, too. The weeping willow tree is also a must-see sight in this stunning garden.
What to eat at Claude Monet Gardens:
Though there’s no onsite restaurant, there is a place called Les Nymphéas just in front of Claude Monet’s house. It’s a charming place with natural views that will make you feel as though you are dining in the gardens themselves!
The Normandy Beaches
It could be easy to overlook a place like this, but in fact, the Normandy Beaches are one of the most fascinating—and important—sites in the whole of France. A highly recommended day trip from Paris, these seemingly innocent beaches were the site of the D-Day Landings, turning the tide for the allies in World War II.
If you are there for a full day, beaches—including Omaha Beach and Juno Beach—can be seen pretty easily, especially if you have your own wheels to get around.
Not only are they historically important, but it is also the chance to go and see some of the dramatic coastlines that Normandy is famous for. In particular, Pointe du Hoc, which was one of the D-Day Landing sites, is particularly grand, jutting out into the sea with its tall cliffs. Here, also, the craters from the fighting back on June 6, 1944, are left intact as a stark reminder.
What to see and do:
Omaha Beach was the most heavily defended of all the beaches planned for the D-Day landings. This is probably the most famous spot of all the Normandy beaches. There are many other beaches, too, the full list being: Gold Beach, Juno Beach, Utah Beach, and Sword Beach.
For the most part, a trip to the Normandy Beaches is about learning a little bit about world history. Places, where you can learn about the D-Day landings, the history, and consequences of it all, include a museum at Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-Sur-Mer, the Juno Beach Centre, and the infamous Pegasus Bridge.
How long does it take to travel to the Normandy Beaches from Paris?
The train journey from Pairs to the Normandy Beaches take approximate 2 hours 30 minutes, driving is also roughly the same length of time
How to get to the Normandy Beaches from Paris:
Take one of the 7 daily trains that run fro the Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris all the way Bayeux train station. Then you will have to change for the number 70 Bus Vert towards the D-Day beaches. You are probably going to need a whole day to fit in the main sights in the area, so make sure you plan the train you want to return to Paris on well.
Alternatively, if you don’t feel like driving, there are coaches that run groups from Paris to the beaches, leaving early in the morning and returning at around 9 pm.
How much do the Normandy Beaches cost?
All beaches are free to enter; there is no admission fee for stepping onto the sand and taking a moment to reflect.
What not to miss at the Normandy Beaches:
Without a doubt, you should not pass up the opportunity to go and see Omaha Beach. This is the most famous spot in the whole of the Normandy beaches area, so if you only have time to visit one spot, Omaha should be it. You can even see some of the beach obstacles used, which have been kept in place as a reminder. Some parts of the temporary “Mulberry harbour” are still visible, too.
What to eat near the Normandy Beaches:
Practically on Omaha Beach itself, La Sapinière is a great place to go if you’ve got an empty stomach. With sea views and moules-frites (mussels with a hefty side of fries) on offer, you can’t really go wrong with this eatery. For amazing burgers a little further from the beach itself, make a beeline for the very tasty l’Embusqué.
There it is! My list of the best and easily most worth-it day trips from Paris that you should be thinking about when you make your way to the French capital.
You definitely don’t have to take a tour if you want to go and see Claude Monet’s Garden, or Disneyland, or even the Loire Valley. If you want to take a tour, that’s totally fine, and it might be a good idea for visiting the Normandy beaches.
All I can say is that I am SUPER jealous that you’re planning a trip to Paris! You’re going to have an amazing time, I just know it.
Tag me in your Insta pics and stories (I’m @wtfab btw) and let me know what awesome places you’re hitting up!
Planning a trip to Paris? Be sure to explore my other Paris content.
You need at least 5 -7 days in Paris to really explore the city, but spending over a week would be ideal to feel less rushed!
The cheapest days tend to be Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The weekends are always more expensive.
It is recommended to book your flight 6 months in advance to your trip date for the best prices and planning.