Paris is brimming with fascinating attractions that you can stay for a week or two and you might still not see most of what it has to offer. But as one of the major cities in Europe, it is also a transportation hub and a good jump-off point to other destinations.
You can easily fill a week’s itinerary within Paris, but if you want to take a break and squeeze in a day trip to another destination in France or in another country in this corner of Europe, here are some of our suggestions.
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Located southwest of Paris, Versailles is best known for its royal palace, the Château de Versailles. Built in 1682, it served as the residence for three generations of monarchs — King Louis XIV, King Louis XV, and the last king of France, King Louis XVI.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is so vast; you have to dedicate a whole day to explore it. Aside from the grand palace, don’t miss other points of interest including the Royal Apartments, the Grand Gallery (particularly the Hall of Mirrors), the Royal Chapel, the Royal Opera, and the gardens surrounding them. The Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, and the Hamlet of Marie Antoinette are also worth checking out.
The whole estate serves as a museum with huge collections of masterpieces. The buildings and halls inside present different architectural styles from the 17th to the 19th century.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday. 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM (November – March); 9:00 AM – 6:30 PM (April – October); CLOSED (Mondays and some holidays)
Rates: €18 (Palace); €20 (Whole Site); FREE (Below 18 y/o)
Address: Place d’Armes, 78000 Versailles, France
Nearest Train Station: Gare de Versailles Chateau Rive Gauche Station. Board the RER C train from Paris. From the station, take a short walk to the Tourist Office of Versailles. Travel time is 45-60 minutes.
You can book in advance through Klook! Here are your options:
Located almost 10km north of Paris, the suburban Saint-Denis is famous for its 12th-century basilica. From being a simple abbey, which was commissioned by King Dagobert I and was built on the burial place of St. Denis, it developed into a historical landmark that not only functions as a religious institution but also served as the final resting place of several monarchs of France.
The basilica is also a model architectural style that reflects the transition from Romanesque to the medieval Gothic design. The original abbey dates back to the 7th century.
Other attractions are the national stadium of France, Stade de France, and Cité du Cinéma. From Paris, you can take the regional train or the Metro train bound for Saint-Denis.
Nearest Train Station: There are three regional railway stations and five Paris Metro stations operating within the city. The nearest station will depend on which attraction you want to tackle first. RER D and B Trains operate to Saint-Denis.
Visiting Saint-Denis Basilica Cathedral? Skip the line by booking this express ticket from Klook.
Or maybe you are interested in booking a guided tour of Stade de France. You can check the inclusions here:
3. Mont Saint Michel
Located in the region of Normandy, over 300 kilometers west of Paris, Mont Saint Michel is
a commune set on a tidal sandbank. This small, historic island is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It covers an area of about 7 hectares and is best known for its massive abbey that perched atop it like a sentinel guarding the island.
The Gothic-style abbey was dedicated to Archangel Michael, who was said to appear to a bishop while on the island in 709 AD. This makes the island a popular pilgrimage destination.
Nearest Train Station: Rennes Station. From here, it requires a bus ride to Mont Saint Michel. The total travel time is about 3.5 hours. From Montparnasse Station, the fare to Rennes starts at €43.
If you want to book a guided tour inclusive of roundtrip transfers, here are two options from Klook.
Fontainebleu is a favorite weekend destination for locals and another option for a day trip from Paris if you are clamoring for more royal residences and historic places. It has sprawling verdant woods, Fontainebleau Forest, that nurtures diverse flora and fauna and a site for outdoor activities such as trekking and climbing.
Another asset is the UNESCO-inscribed Château de Fontainebleau (Palace of Fontainebleau), which officially became a national museum in 1927. It served as the royal residence for some of the prominent French monarchs from medieval times to the Second Empire, carrying different architectural styles specifically Gothic and Renaissance.
Other attractions are Château de Vaux le Vicomte and Gâtinais Français Natural Regional Park.
Nearest Train Station: Fontainebleau–Avon Station. This station is served by Transilien Line R and regional TER trains which depart from Paris Gare de Lyon Station (Paris Lyon Station). The travel time is 40 minutes, and the fare starts at €8.85.
Book a guided tour with roundtrip transfers with Klook.
5. Loire Valley
Loire Valley is located southwest of Paris. In 2000, a large part of it was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site for cultural, historical, architectural, and economic significance in Central France.
Straddling the Loire River, the lands are blanketed with orchards and vineyards, making it one of the world-class producer of many types of wines and gaining it the title ‘Garden of France’. Several wineries offer tours and wine-tasting. The valley also nestles historical villages, boasting over 300 chateaux with architectural significance.
Nearest Train Station: Tours Station or Amboise Station. The trains going to Tours or Amboise depart from Montparnasse Station. The travel time is about 1.5 hours, and the fare starts at €15 (Tours) and €36 (Amboise).
If you want to take a guided tour inclusive of roundtrip transfers, Klook offers castle tours and wine tours. Here are some of the options.
Burgundy is one of the most prolific and most well-known wine-producing regions in France. The vineyards of Burgundy are known to produce prized red and white wines from Pinot noir and Chardonnay grapes.
Apart from the vins, it prides itself on signature Dijon mustard and dishes such as Beef Burgundy, Époisses de Bourgogne cheese, and Coq Au Vin. For the historical landmarks, it has the Palace of the Dukes and Estates of Burgundy, Rock of Solutré, and medieval churches and castles.
Nearest Train Station: Dijon Ville Station or Beaune Station. Trains bound for Dijon or Beaune depart from Paris Gare De Lyon (Paris Lyon Station). The travel time is 2 to 2.5 hours. The fare starts at €29 (Dijon) and €34 (Beaune).
7. Normandy’s Historic Beaches
We already tackled Mont Saint Michel, but there are other destinations in France’s northwesternmost region. Normandy is divided into five departments, including the coastlines and the offshore islands.
The region’s name gives a hint about its origin — 9th century Viking settlers of Norwegian and Danish descents. The capital Rouen is the site where Joan of Arc was executed in the 15th century. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen is a popular landmark in the capital.
Another point of interest is related to WWII — Omaha Beach, the location of the Battle of Normandy and D-Day landing. For foodies, Normandy is big on dairy products and apple orchards, which make it a major producer of cider.
Nearest Train Station: It depends on where you want to explore, but the most preferred are through Rouen-Rive-Droite Station and Caen Station (Gare de l’Ouest or Gare Calvados). The trains bound for Normandy departs from Gare Saint-Lazare (Saint Lazare Station) in Paris. The travel time is 2.5 to 3 hours. The fare starts at €10 (Rouen) and €19 (Caen).
For those who would like to join a group tour, you may check these options from Klook.
Located in the Upper Normandy Region, Giverny can be reached after an hour train ride from Paris.
What charms people is the fact that the French Impressionist painter, Claude Monet, had chosen to live and work here in the last quarter of the 19th century until his death in 1926. His home, including the gardens, was restored and turned into a museum in 1980.
Other attractions are the Museum of Impressionism Giverny and Hôtel Baudy
Nearest Train Station: Vernon Station. The train bound for Vernon departs from Gare Saint-Lazare (Saint Lazare Station). The travel time is about an hour. The fare starts at €16. From Vernon, get on a shuttle bound for Giverny.
If you like to join a group tour with roundtrip transfers, Klook is offering these two options: one is a combination of Versailles and Giverny tour and the other one focuses on Giverny and Claude Monet’s home and garden access.
Chantilly is located 38 kilometers north of Paris and can be reached by train in about half an hour. It is most famous for horseracing-related attractions like the prestigious Chantilly Racecourse and the Living Museum of the Horse. Both are within the vast estate of Château de Chantilly, the former residence of the princes of Condé. Aside from the Great Stables, where the Living Museum of the Horse is housed, the château also harbors the Musée Condé.
Nearest Train Station: Chantilly—Gouvieux Station. From Paris Gare du Nord (Paris Nord Station), trains depart for Chantilly-Gouvieux Station. The travel time is about 30 minutes. The fare starts at €8.70. From Chantilly station, you can reach the Château de Chantilly in 15-20 minutes on foot.
You might want to book an express ticket via Klook for Château de Chantilly. This way, you will be able to save time by not spending it queueing.
10. Bruges, Belgium
Traveling further to neighboring Belgium, the city of Bruges parades a lot of assets from its historic center to the coastal area. The city center is dotted with historical landmarks, including the UNESCO-recognized old town area that encompasses the Burg Square, Stadhuis, nearby museums, Markt, the 13th-century Belfry of Bruges, and the Church of Our Lady Bruges among others.
Aside from the ancient buildings and cobbled streets, the city is also known for the canals that meander across the city. Tourists can go sightseeing while cruising along the canals.
Nearest Train Station: Station Brugge (Bruges Station). Trains for Bruges from Paris depart from Gare du Nord (Paris Nord Station). The travel time is about 3 hours, and the fare starts at €41.
If you want a hassle-free trip, you can join a group day tour to Burges from Paris. This is inclusive of a guide (or audio guide), roundtrip transfers by air-conditioned coach, tax, canal cruise ticket, and toll fees.
11. Brussels, Belgium
Brussels is the capital of Belgium and is also an important political hub, serving as the de facto capital of the European Union. The map of the city is peppered with historical sites that are also inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
Some of the prominent landmarks are Grand Place (Grote Markt), Atomium, Museum of Arts and History, the Town Hall, Mont des Arts (Kuntsberg), Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, the Royal Palace of Brussels, public parks, and other medieval buildings and churches. Another tourist-favorite is Manneken Pis, a statue of a little boy urinating into a fountain, a testament not just to the city’s art but also sense of humor. The one in the city center, which is what visitors are instantly drawn to, is actually a replica. The original is secured inside Brussels City Museum.
The food scene also attracts tourists. Brussels is famous for its fries (frits), signature waffles, and beer selection!
Nearest Train Station: Brussels has three main stations — Brussels Nord, Brussels Centrale, and Brussels Midi. The travel time is 1.5 to 2 hours. The fare starts at €52.
Provins is located southeast of Paris and is notable for its fortifications and structures that trace their roots back to the Middle Ages, which landed it on the UNESCO Worl Heritage Site. It used to have a robust trade industry and held regular trade fairs back in the day.
Other historical landmarks are the age-old city walls, Tour César (Cesar Tower), Les Souterrains de Provins (The Underground Galleries of Provins), and Grange Aux Dîmes (Tithe Barn).
Provins is also famous for its rose-based products like rose honey and rose jam. If you want to appreciate the beauty of the flower, you can go to the Rose Garden of Provins.
Nearest Train Station: Gare de Provins (Provins Station). Trains bound for Provins depart from Gare de l’Est in Paris. The travel time is about 1.5 hours, and the fare starts at €13.
Located in the western suburbs of Paris, Boulogne-Billancourt is hemmed by the Seine River on the west, east, and south borders. It is a highly urbanized zone, with booming industries like automobiles, aircraft factories, communications, and film production, making it one of the richest cities in France.
If you are a history buff, no need to worry as the city also has its share of cultural landmarks such as the Rothschild castle grounds and its garden, Buchillot, 14th-century Notre-Dame-des-Menus Boulogne, and City Hall Boulogne. Albert Kahn Museum, Museum of the 30s, Renault Museum, Parc de Saint-Cloud, and La Defense are other interesting tourist spots.
Nearest Train Station: Boulogne-Billancourt is served by five Paris Metro Stations. The nearest station depends on where you want to explore first. Board a train on Paris Metro Line 9 or 10.
Located about 27 kilometers from the Paris city center, Auvers-sur-Oise has charmed tourists like how it did with the other artists who chose to call it home. One of them is Vincent van Gogh, who also spent his last days here, particularly at L’Auberge Ravoux, previously an inn but now converted into a restaurant. He and his brother, Theo van Gogh, were both buried at Auvers-sur-Oise Town Cemetery.
Other tourist attractions are Church Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, Castle of Auvers, Daubigny Museum, Doctor Gachet’s House, and Absinthe Museum.
Nearest Train Station: Auver-sur-Oise Station or Chaponval Station. There are no direct trains from Paris to Auvers-sur-Oise. You will need to change trains at Pontoise Station to Auvers. Trains to Pontoise depart from both Gare du Nord (Paris Nord Station) or Gare Saint-Lazare (Saint-Lazare Station). The travel time is about an hour. The fare starts at €6.15.
Rouen is the capital city of the Normandy region. It served as an important political center during the Roman Period and the Middle Ages; thus, the city is laden with medieval buildings and cobblestoned streets. It is also etched in history books as the site where Joan of Arc was executed.
Significant landmarks include Cathédrale Notre-Dame (Rouen Cathedral), Church of Saint Ouen, Church of Saint Maclou, Gros Horloge, Rouen Castle, Catholic Church of St Joan of Arc, and Museum of Fine Arts.
Nearest Train Station: Rouen-Rive-Droite Station. The trains bound for Normandy departs from Gare Saint-Lazare (Saint Lazare Station) in Paris. The travel time is 2.5 to 3 hours. The fare starts at €10.
Edited by Asta Alvarez
2021 • 3 • 29