Paris is full of exciting monuments, museums, and memorable French moments everywhere you turn. Venturing outside of Paris, you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city to find magical, fairy tale-esque locations worth your while. A short and affordable train ride can transport you to dreamy chateaus, pristine palaces, and gorgeous gardens, just to name a few.
If you’ve ever considered taking a day-trip from Paris, but weren’t sure how or if you could afford it… I’ve put together a list of the five most affordable AND accessible locations from Paris to explore!
Photo credit: MedievalArt.org.uk – Photographs by Stuart Whatling
Known for it’s gothic cathedral, Rouen is the leading city in Normandy. With it’s medieval architecture, it is remembered for Joan of Arc- she was burned at the stake here in 1431. Monet was a fan of Rouen and made it the subject of many paintings, including some featured in the Musee d’Orsay. Here is the breakdown of a day trip from Paris to Rouen:
Train time: 1hr, 40min
Train line: RailEurope, leave from Paris Gare St.-Lazare to Rouen
Price of train:
- 10 euros for the 1hr40min train
- 13-20 euros for 1hr22min train (depending on time/availability)
Price of admission: Free!
- You can pay a few euros for guided tours or to go up the stairs of the cathedral.
Open: 9am-6pm most of the year (fluctuates some during the year/days of the week)
Best time to go: Anytime!
TOTAL COST: Approximately 15 euros
For more info on Rouen, click here.
Chartres is my personal favorite when it comes to day trips from Paris. Not only is it famous for it’s cathedral but the labyrinth and stained glass inside the cathedral. Henry IV was crowned king in this cathedral in 1591! I would recommend the audio-guided self-tour inside the cathedral and then popping over to the restaurant next door, Le Cafe Serpente, for the BEST creme brûlée I’ve ever had! The town of Chartres is so charming and easy to navigate. It is definitely worth spending a whole day here.
Train time: 1hr15min
Train line: Paris Gare Montparnasse to Chartres
Price of train: 15 euros
Price of admission: 6 euros- general admission
- 3.20 euros for the audio-guided tour
Open: 8:30am-7:30pm, Tuesday-Saturday
Best time to go: Leave/arrive early on a weekday to avoid crowds
TOTAL COST: Approximately 21 euros
For more info on Chartres, click here.
Dating back to the 17th century, Versailles began as a hunting lodge and later turned into a center of governmental power in France. It was built to represent the extreme opulence of the royal crown. The kings of France saw Versailles as a symbol of power and a celebration of the throne. The Treaty of Paris was signed here in 1783 to end the Revolutionary War, as well as The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 that formally ended WWII. What a history!
Coming to Versailles, you can not only tour the magnificent palace, but walk the grounds and canals that seem endlessly picture-perfect. Take a day to have a picnic, boat the calming waters, explore the gardens, or my personal favorite, rent a bike and get off the beaten path!
Train Time: 36 minutes
Train line: C Line from the RER from St. Michel or Invalides stations to Versailles-Rive Gauche
Price of train: 7 euros round trip
- 2 euros for the longer train, if you don’t mind a longer commute!
Price of admission:
- Free on Sundays
- Free for just the gardens
- Free if you are 18 years old or younger (there are also other guidelines listed on the website below for free admission!
- 18 euros full price for entire palace + grounds
- If you have a Paris Museum Pass, you can skip the line and go right in
- Try to avoid weekends and Tuesdays (On Tuesdays, the Louvre is closed, so Tuesdays are typically busy–weekends bring lots of tourists).
Best time to go: Monday, Wednesday-Friday to avoid larger crowds.
TOTAL COST: Approximately 24 euros
For more info on visiting Versailles, click here.
4. Giverny: Monet’s Gardens
Photo credit: Chamelle Photography
If you are an art lover, you NEED to go to Monet’s Gardens in Giverny! Claude Monet spent the last forty years of his life here reading, painting, and planting the beautiful gardens that you see today. Walk through Monet’s home for an intimate look at his art, and take a tranquil stroll through the two gardens. The Clos Normand is the large flower garden, located in front of Monet’s house; the second is a Japanese-inspired water garden (these iconic bridges are usually what come to mind when we think of Monet’s gardens).
In my opinion, this day trip stands out as unique from all of the others. Visiting Giverny feels as though you have been transported into one of Monet’s paintings (and really, you have been)!
Train time: 40 min- 1 hour
Train line: Gare St-Lazare in Paris to Vernon, plus a bus or bike rental-four miles to Claude Monet Gardens
- Arrive 20 minutes before scheduled departure time for wiggle room.
- Best to leave in the morning!
Price of train: 10 euros round-trip + 1-6 euros for the bus to Monet’s Gardens
Price of admission: 10.20 euros
- Purchase tickets online in advance to walk right in
Open: 9:30am-6pm until November 1
Best time to go: Tuesday, Wednesday
TOTAL COST: Approximately 26.20 euros
For more info on visiting Monet’s Gardens, click here.
5. Chateau de Fontainebleau
Photo credit: Fandrade, Getty Images
The charming town of Fontainebleau is a popular weekend getaway for Parisians. The big tourist attraction is the Chateau, with it’s iconic horseshoe-shaped staircase and classical Renaissance style. You can spend your time here admiring one of the most impressive collections of antique furniture in France, or meditate in the surrounding gardens outside. P.S. Napoleon lived here!
Train time: 40 minutes from Paris
Train line: Paris-Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau-Avon
Price of train: 18 euros round trip
Price of admission:
- Free on the first Sunday of Month
- 12 euros for general admission
Open: Year-round, 9:30a.m.-6:00p.m. (closed on Tuesdays)
Best time to go: Anytime!
TOTAL COST: Approximately 30 euros
For more info on Fontainebleau, click here.
These are just a handful of the fantastic day trips you can take from Paris without breaking the bank. I hope I’ve given you some ideas that you can put to practical use. Let’s be honest, anywhere you go in France is going to be worth your while.
Have you been to any of these locations? If so, let me know your experience in the comments! Please also feel free to share your favorite day trips that may not have been listed here. Travel far and travel often! Au revoir until next time.