It is almost impossible not to fall in love with la ville lumière, the City of Lights, Paris. Scouring haute couture and high-end fashion, exploring chic and elegant restaurants while the smell of freshly baked croissants and macarons draws you to iconic Parisian wonders like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Notre Dame, it sure seems like you can never run. . No things to do in Paris.
But why limit your Paris experience to just within the city when you can make the most of your trip by daring to venture further? Whether it’s the charming little town of Giverny, the sprawling mountain ranges of Normandy, or the historic chapels and castles of Versailles, here are some of the best day trips you can take from Paris.
Starting off the list, we have Versailles, one of the most accessible and must-see cities from Paris.
Versailles Castle, the birthplace of the French Revolution, once used as the center of power in France, has long been open to the public, allowing visitors a glimpse into the outrageously luxurious lives of the royalty that ruled France centuries ago. The Palace of Versailles has also held the crown as a World Heritage Site for more than 40 years and is one of the rarest achievements of 17th-century French art.
The Palace houses more than 2,300 rooms, but perhaps the most famous of all is the Hall of Mirrors. More than 350 ornate mirrors in the 17 arched windows in the 230-foot-long room overlooking the beautiful gardens.
Large crystal chandeliers adorn the ornate ceiling, flanked by gilt statues and marble sculptures. While the Palace itself can be overwhelming to the senses, don’t forget to visit Notre Dame de Versailles, the authentic ancient Roman Catholic Church built very close to the Palace.
Arrive at Versailles
- Hop on the TER 62421 from Paris-Montparnasse and arrive at Versailles Chantier station in just 15 minutes. Rates range from EUR 3 to EUR 15.
- Alternatively, driving to Versailles by car is the best option, as it will only take 20 minutes to get there. Taxis are available at a price of 30-40 EUR, while carpooling would cost you only 3-5 EUR.
Paris – giverny Rouen – Normandy
Head northwest from Paris and you’ll arrive in the town of Giverny, from where you can continue your day trip to the capital city of Rouen and explore the historic shores of Normandy.
Multicolored flowers and vines hang from green bridges overlooking crystal clear waters filled with lily pads. Giverny is a magical green paradise straight out of a fairy tale.
Barely an hour from Paris, Giverny was the home of legendary painter Oscar-Claude Monet, founder and pioneer of Impressionist painting and modernism. Drawing inspiration from the picturesque greenery that surrounded his home, Monet created some of his masterpieces, including his famous series of water lilies, Les Nymphéas, from here.
Today, his house and garden are open to the public and are nothing short of paradise. There are two parts to Monet’s garden that contrast and complement each other perfectly. The flower garden called Clos Normand in front of the house is full of fruit and ornamental trees, long vines of climbing roses and colorful hollyhocks.
Monet mixed simple flowers like daisies and poppies with the rarer varieties creating a stunning visual spectacle. The Japanese bridge on the other side of the house is covered in wisteria, weeping willows, and water lilies that bloom all summer.
Getting to Giverny
- Take the Gare Saint-Lazare from the Saint Lazare train station in Paris to Vernon, which will take around 45 minutes and cost EUR 18. Take a shuttle bus from there to Giverny, available for approx 8 EUR.
- Traveling from Paris to Giverny by taxi costs between 120 and 150 EUR. Alternatively, you can choose to take a fun road trip along the picturesque roads and get there in an hour and a half.
Another favorite subject of Monet’s iconic paintings were the intricately designed cathedrals and castles of Rouen, which has the unique ability to leave any visitor stunned by sheer admiration.
French poet and playwright Victor Hugo described Rouen as “the city of a hundred spires,” and we couldn’t agree more. Crossing the heart of the city from east to west are rows of monumental churches: Saint-Ouen, Saint-Maclou, Notre Dame Cathedral and the modern church dedicated to Joan of Arc.
While in Rouen, you simply can’t miss the Gros Horloge astronomical clock, one of the oldest working clocks in Europe, the stunning Gothic architecture of the Palais de Justice, and the macabre carving at the Aître Saint-Maclou, whose carved skull and shinbones crusades turning it into the stuff of legends.
Arrive in Rouen
- Take the bus line 03 to Vernon Gare SNCF and then take the train to Rouen Rive Droite. The trip will take you one hour and 45 minutes.
- Rouen is more than two hours from Paris by car. A private taxi would cost you around 170 euro.
In the past, Normandy witnessed the largest seaborne invasion in history on D-Day, which in turn changed the course of World War II.
Despite its grim history, just one visit to this historic city will make you realize that Normandy is too beautiful to be the scene of war on its own.
If you have a talent for the arts, you’ll be delighted to know that Normandy is considered the spiritual birthplace of Impressionism. Several great artists were inspired here, including Monet, who resided here in Giverny for most of his life. The Normandy coast is ranked among the most famous coastlines in the world, marked by the long beach bordered by chains of towering cliffs.
The versatility of this city rubs off on families, children and adults alike. If you are looking to have a fun time with your family, there are plenty of attractions and activities waiting for you here. Whether it’s a lazy summer afternoon on Omaha Beach or exciting adrenaline-boosting activities like water sports, horseback riding, skydiving, cliff climbing, bungee jumping and more, Normandy does it all.
- Take the TER train from Rouen-Reve-Droit to Gare de Caen for only 8 EUR. Travel time is 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- Caen is just over an hour from Rouen by car.
History buffs and art connoisseurs will never run out of sights in France. That said, further north of Paris is Lille, an underrated gem near the Belgian border, offering a unique mix of Flemish and French culture and traditions.
Lille is home to Le Palais Des Beaux Arts De Lille, one of the largest museums in France entirely dedicated to art and antiquities featuring works by prestigious artists such as Goya, Donatello and Veronese. The iconic neighborhood representative of 17th-century France, Vieux Lille, is characterized by red-brick terraced houses, medieval buildings, and at the heart of it is the central square, Grand Place.
Do you want to take a quick break? Head to La Maison Meert, one of Lille’s oldest pastry shops, to savor the traditional delicacy of skinny waffles, alongside other specialties like croissants, baguettes, and other baked goods.
get to lilac
- The easiest and cheapest way to get to Lille from Paris is by train, as it will only take an hour. Take the TGV 7015 from Gare du Nord in Paris to Lille Flandres. Ticket prices range from EUR 28 to EUR 60.
- Multiple buses are available from Paris (Bercy Seine) to Lille. However, they take up to three hours, with fares going up to 7 EUR.