Paris is such an amazing and enchanting city that, let’s be honest, it’s easy to spend a lot of time exploring its wonders and still feel you need more time to discover everything!
But, if you can pry yourself away from the city, then don’t forget there’s a whole heap of amazing day trips from Paris you can enjoy too.
For this reason, as well as many others (including good air connections and its central location) Paris can be an excellent base from which you can explore other parts of France – indeed this city is one of my top places to visit in Western Europe!
So if you’re looking some ideas to do just that, or to break up your time in the capital with something a bit different, check out these 11 epic day trips from Paris, plus the handy budget travel tips I’ve included, to help you enjoy them for less!
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#1 Palace of Versailles
Straight up on this list of the most epic day trips from Paris is the one closest to the capital and therefore one that’s very easy to access.
Versailles is essentially a huge palace which was used as the official royal French residence from 1682 until the country’s revolution in 1789.
If you’re after historic pomp and ceremony along with opulent decadence, then the Palace of Versailles is the day trip from Paris for you!
Only 20km from the capital and UNESCO-listed, Versailles boasts galleries, chapels, gardens, fountains, museums, stables and royal apartments.
A strong physical statement of power and grandeur, built to impress, Versailles is huge and getting your head around the whole site and history can be quite the undertaking.
As such, one of the best ways to experience the Palace of Versailles and get the most from your trip, is via a day trip from Paris, like this one.
Otherwise, the cheapest way to get there independently is to catch the SNCF train from Montparnasse station to Versailles Chantiers train station and then walk for around 15 minutes to the Palace.
Buy a skip-the-line guided tour in advance and waltz straight on through when you arrive!
Otherwise, to save money, consider buying a Paris Pass and getting your Versailles entry free as part of this package.
Learn more about these costs in my review article – is the Paris Pass worth it?
#2 Mont St-Michel
Mont St-Michel is the place where we went on school trips in primary school.
Growing up in Jersey in the Channel Islands, this Normandy landmark was just a short ferry ride and coach trip away for us… and we hated every minute of it!
Seriously, under the age of 10, you just think an enormous, ancient abbey that gets cut off by giant tidal movements and involves lots of stone steps is boring as hell!
But now, oh now, now I realise how wrong I was!
Because the UNESCO-listed Mont St-Michel is utterly unbelievable.
Essentially a tiny island, with a huge abbey built on top of it, this most famous of French monuments couldn’t be more picturesque in a landscape that forever changes thanks to the huge range of the sea surrounding it.
Beginning life in the 8th Century and developing in the Medieval period into a major European centre of monastic learning, Mont St-Michel is absolutely one of the best Paris day trips.
My top budget tip for getting here is to use the excellent services of Oui Bus, a budget-friendly coach company that run a direct service from Paris to this island abbey.
Also, bring all the snacks and water you’ll need to save buying anything at the tourist price rates because, let’s be honest, there’s not much choice in an Abbey that gets cut off by the sea!
#3 St Malo
And conveniently visited by the same bus service from Paris as that which runs to Mont St-Michel, is the beautiful and historic coastal town of St Malo.
With a large ferry port, St Malo often forms the gateway for those travelling from the UK to mainland France by boat.
And what a beautiful gateway, as well day trip from Paris, it is!
A walled town built to fortify the Brittany coast, the historic stone ramparts here are the greatest attraction and the coastal views they belie really are quite magnificent.
But in addition to this, the lovely beaches near this delightful town, as well as the delicious seafood restaurants and traditional Bretagne treats of cider and crepes, are all for the taking.
Get to St Malo cheaply from Paris by bus, as we’ve discussed, and if you decide to extend your stay or head home from here, then staying just outside the historic city in St Malo’s new town will save you a small fortune!
Check out the Mercure Saint Malo Balmoral, which offers excellent value for money, superb service and has a good location for exploring the city or catching the ferry.
#4 Disneyland Paris
Personally, this is not one of my top day trips from Paris, but I do know it’s an epic option for those with (big) kids!
Yup Disneyland Paris is definitely a family-favourite in France and there ain’t no getting away from that!
Easily accessed in just 40 minutes from the capital, via Line A of the RER train, limiting your trip to the magical playground to just one day is a great way to keep the costs down!
Other top budget tips include buying your tickets in advance here and bringing all your own food, snacks and water to limit the amount you spend in the theme park.
#5 Strasbourg & Colmar
And now we start moving over to the east of France to one of my absolute highlights in this country and that is the Alsace region.
Running alongside the German border, the architecture and cultural feel of this whole area definitely hints at its close neighbourly connections.
Jewels in the crown are the regional capital of Strasbourg and the nearby town of Colmar, both of which make for one of the most epic day trips from Paris.
Don’t miss Strasbourg’s amazing Gothic Cathedral with its astronomical clock along with the city’s riveting Rhine views, while the cobblestone streets, medieval buildings and an array of local vineyards around Colmar make it a must too.
Happy Strasbourg offer free walking tours in Strasbourg, which are a great option for learning about the history of this city from local people in English for next to nothing.
Heading back northwards, there’s no question that Reims in the northeast of France is definitely one of the best day trips from Paris.
The unofficial capital of the Champagne region, this city is most famous for its incredible Gothic Cathedral where, for more than 1000 years, French Kings were crowned.
Reims is also the site where Germany officially conceded defeat at the end of World War II in 1945.
Steeped in history and surrounded by vineyards with well-priced tasting tours aplenty, “what’s not to love about Reims?” is a question you’d definitely be forgiven for asking!
Get Reims on your Paris day trip list asap with easy and frequent trains, otherwise top-rated hostels such as CIS de Champagne make an overnight stay in Reims very affordable too.
Lille is definitely enjoying a revival.
Situated up in the north of France, near the Belgium border, this is a bustling university city that is quickly growing its name as a cultural hub with street art, festivals and performances aplenty coming to the fore.
Actually France’s 4th biggest city, Lille was long seen as an industrial hub with the surrounding area experiencing economic decline in recent years.
But now Lille is coming back!
With hipsters and artists having moved here en masse thanks to the low-cost living, this regenerated cultural city definitely makes for one of the most epic day trips from Paris.
Indeed it’s quick and cheap to get here from Paris (just one hour) and the city also boasts a metro system that makes it easy to get around on a budget too.
With mixed French and Flemish influences seen clearly in the city’s historic architecture, and with the country’s largest art collection after the Louvre, Lille is a must for culture vultures.
Gastama – The People Hostel is a super fun place to stay in this city on a budget and there’s a whole heap of attractions in the city (including the beautiful Old Stock Exchange and Botanical Gardens) which you can enjoy for free!
With number 8 on this list of the most epic day trips from Paris, we hit the breaks on the cultural options and instead turn to the natural world.
And surely it just doesn’t get better, in the vicinity of the capital at least, than Giverny.
In fact, this place combines culture and the natural world, because the stunning gardens are generally given the accolade of having inspired Monet’s famous paintings.
Situated in Normandy, just a few hours from Paris, this is the perfect place to come and enjoy for a few hours if you’re looking to take a break from the city hustle and bustle.
The town itself is lovely and enjoying an organised day trip here from Paris is an easy way to learn everything about the many artists that have made this place their home.
Otherwise, you can save some cash by travelling to Giverny independently.
Trains leave Paris’ St Lazare Station roughly every 45 minutes and cost less than 10 euros.
If you plan on visiting several of the museums in Giverny, buying a multi-entry ticket onsite can also save you some money, and there’s a lovely 5km walk between the towns of Giverny and Vernon here that you can enjoy for free.
#9 Le Perche
And next up on this list of the most epic day trips from Paris, it’s another nature-inspired entry.
Yes, le Perche National Reserve really is all about the nature, with this ancient wooded area offering visitors the perfect city escape just 140km from the capital.
You can travel via train or bike here, but probably the easiest option is to rent a car and drive – a very affordable option if there’s a group of you.
Free walks abound, but there’s also the chance to bike or horse ride through this beautiful rural area.
In addition, historical monuments, grand gardens and tons of local foodie experiences are on offer too.
With so many free, outdoor things to do here, Le Perche is undoubtedly one of the top Paris day trips.
And coming in at number 10, it’s another place I spent a lot of time in on school trips!
Yup Rouen up in Normandy was a common stop after Mont St-Michel… and we were just as bored by it!
Hard to believe now therefore, that I love hitting up this beautiful city on the River Seine with its Gothic Churches and Medieval half-timber houses.
Steeped in history, but with a distinctive Norman flair, Rouen is a delight for food lovers too and there’s also many museums as well as some beautiful gardens to explore.
Famous for being the place where Joan of Arc ended her days, Rouen has an important role in French national identity and is a perfect example of a living historical town.
Follow this great self-guided walking tour if you want to explore the city for free, then grab some picnic goods at one of the local markets (the one in the Old Market Square is an easy option) and enjoy them in Jardin des Plantes if you want a cheap way to taste the delicious local produce.
And finally, last on my list of the 11 most epic day trips from Paris, is the city of Tours.
Over in the west of France, the historic centre of this city is UNESCO-listed and the surrounding area, the Loire Valley, is famous for its wines – what a combo!
Just 2 hours by the Express TGV train from Paris, checking out the religious buildings, historic streets, beautiful gardens and Roman ruins of this town are a must.
And you can’t miss relaxing by the riverside with a glass of vino or 2 off your list either!
Renting a bike is a great way to explore the vineyards around Tours on a budget and the 150-year-old Les Halles de Tours market is a must for stocking up your picnic basket.
Otherwise, if you feel like a splurge, this top-rated day trip from Tours will take you to the most important and picturesque castles in the Loire Valley with a registered guide AND give you the chance to taste some delightful local wines and food… winning!
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And there it is, my list of the 11 most epic Paris day trips.
Do you have a favourite from this list?
Or perhaps one to add?
Join in the discussion via the comment box below…