If you are staying in Paris for a few days you may want to take a trip outside the city. While places like Versailles, Giverny and the Normandy D-Day beaches are very popular they can often get very crowded so we have listed some incredible and beautiful alternatives so you can skip the lines and enjoy a relaxing day outside the city.
Our list includes the Chateau that inspired the construction and design of Versailles, the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte and the beautiful Chateau de Chantilly. We also include quaint towns like Auvers-Sur-Oise which is also where Van Gogh lived for his final days.
Whichever you choose you are sure to have an incredible time at these beautiful and historic sites!
Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte is one of France’s more beautiful and most historic chateaux. Visiting the Chateau is like taking a trip back in time. It has several rooms furnished with original 17th-century decorations and furniture and its gardens still maintain their original design. It is a true sight to behold! There are also tons of activities for you to do while you are there like the 3D immersive sound guide or you can go to the castles dome at the top to get a 360° view of the entire chateau and its grounds! You can also opt to go at night for their candlelit evenings where the castle and its gardens are illuminated with thousands of candles, it happens every Saturday from May to October. Tickets are 16.90€ for the castle and gardens during the day and 19€ for the Candle Lit evenings.
How to get there
- From Gare de l’Est, board train Line P bound for Provins and get off at the Verneuil l’Etang station. A direct train leaves Gare de l’Est every 60 minutes and the travel time takes about 35 minutes.
- From the Verneuil l’Etang train station, board the “Châteaubus”, Vaux le Vicomte’s official shuttle to the château. The shuttle is in front of the train station exit and comes every hour. The ride to the estate takes approximately 20 minutes. A roundtrip shuttle ticket costs 10€.
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The Château de Chantilly is one of France’s best cultural heritage sites! Its expansive grounds and beautiful chateau is surrounded by water, so its a great place to both see and explore! In the château, you can discover the son of the last King of France’s personal collection. Louis-Philippe’s collection is also the second-largest collection of antique paintings in France, second only to the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Admission for the full grounds at the Château de Chantilly is 17€, including a free audio guide, and reduced tickets are 10€. Make sure to book your skip-the-line ticket here! Also in Chantilly, you can visit Chantilly Racecourse and enjoy the races for a day!
How to Get There
- You can take an SNCF train from Gare du Nord to the Chantilly-Gouvieux stop which is a 25-minute journey.
- If you have a Navigo Découverte pass you can use this and take the RER D in the direction Creil which will take you to the same station, it is a 45-minute journey.
- Once you get out of the station you can either take a 5-minute taxi to the chateau or walk 20 minutes to it. There are also two buses that can take you there the DUC bus (which is free), the stop is Chateau and the Selis bus, the stop is Chantilly Eglise Notre Dame. The buses, however, can take a while so make sure to check the timetable by the bus stop.
Another easy day trip from Paris is to the Château de Fontainebleau. Many French dynasties have lived here, including the Capétiens, Valois, Bourbons, Bonaparte and Orléans. You can explore the 1,500 rooms of the château as well as its remarkable 130 acres of land! It is a great day trip for the whole family to enjoy something different, especially if you pack for a picnic in the gardens. Full-price admission tickets are 11€, and reduced tickets are 9€. The château is free every first Sunday of the month and closed on Tuesdays
You can also go for a hike or rock climb in the national park in Fontainebleau, if you want to do something a bit more adventurous instead!
How to Get There:
- To arrive at the Château de Fontainebleau, you can take the Transilien train from Paris Gare de Lyon towards Montargis Sens, Montereau or Laroche-Migennes. The stop on each of these trains is “Fontainebleau-Avon”. Once you exit the station go to the bus stop and take the line 1 bus. From there you get off at the “Château” stop. The total travel time is about 20 minutes.
Many art lovers may want to consider taking a day trip to Auvers-sur-Oise to visit the former home of Vincent Van Gogh! In this town, you can also visit Van Gogh and his brother’s graves in the local cemetery as well as visit the famous church that that inspired his famous painting, The Church at Auvers, which can now be found in the Musée d’Orsay. The town is very quaint so its a lovely place to walk around and explore! They also have a lot of museums for you to see such as the Musee Daubigny and the Musee de l’Absinthe. Even better a majority of the attractions in this town are free of charge.
How to get there:
- From Paris, take the Transilien H train from Gare du Nord towards Pontoise, exiting when the train reaches “St. Ouen l’Aumône.” From here, you make a quick platform change and take another Transilien line towards Persan Beaumont, take this to the stop Auvers-sur-Oise. If you have a Navigo pass from Paris, this journey is completely covered.