Don’t get me wrong here. No, I have nothing against Versailles. From all the readings and photos on the internet, I bet it would be awesome to visit the palace one day. I still long to see and take photos around the lush garden and inside the royal chateau and see myself in one of those room mirrors.
For my first solo travel to the city of lights and locks, I only have 8 days of stay. I am not the museum and castle type. For this trip I made it more of a culture type of travel and I wanted see more of outside Paris. I spent a day of walking around Tour Eiffel and walked up to Museu de Louvré and had a lot of selfies around though.
Instead, I took to nearby small cities outside of Paris. One of the best decision I made in my entire life! Here are my top daytrips outside of Paris. Though I didn’t get to visit them all, they’re on my list when I get back to France. Soon!
Lille is located in the northern part of France almost near the Belgium border. It was early September during my travel to Paris, a perfect timing that the Grande Braderie de Lille was happening at that same weekend! I researched on this festival and found out that this is one of the grandest flea market festival in all of Europe.
Not knowing what awaits me in Lille, France, I head over to Gare du Nord and bought a return ticket in time to return that same afternoon. Excitedly, I boarded the Thalys train, took my assigned seat number and prepared my kindle to read for the 1 and half hour ride. The festive feel will greet you once you get off the train. No need to ask around for instructions or fear that you are lost in a whole new city outside Paris, because you will get carried away by the flow of the crowd and tourists all raring to join the famous festival that is Grande Braderie de Lille.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and head towards Fontainebleau to the Loing Valley. Stay for an afternoon in this medieval French city, get a hot air balloon ride, cross it off your bucket-list and still get back to Paris at the end of the day.
Combine your hot air balloon trip with a visit to Fontainebleau. Stay in a medieval French village, ride the hot air balloon one day and the next day visit the extravagant royal palace which for 800 years was the hunting lodge and home of 34 French kings.
- By Train: From Paris Gare de Lyon, go to “Moret-Veneux-les-Sablons” (1km from Moret-sur-Loing).
- By Car: From Paris take A6 highway to the Fontainebleau exit, or from Fontainebleau take the A5 highway 10 km to the exit Montereau/Moret S/Loing
For the hot air balloon ticket prices, here is the website link.
Coming to Strasbourg, Alsace is like stepping into those fairytale books that I once read during my childhood days. This place makes the fairytale come alive. I can even imagine Belle and Gaston’s gang singing around in one of the pub here.
Strasbourg is located in the Alsace region almost near the Germany border on the east of France. This is very evident in the architecture of the buildings and houses here.
On how to get to Strasbourg, Alsace from Paris, head over to the Gare del ‘Est and buy a return ticket to Strasbourg, or you can book the ticket online on the Thalys website. One cheapskate tip; the tickets are cheaper when you book it well in advance just like booking an airline ticket.
Another popular daytrip that you can make outside Paris is a 45 minute train ride from Gare Saint Lazare to Vernon. You may not be an art geek (I am not) but you will definitely fall in love with the tulip garden were a series of tulip paintings were made by famous impressionist Claude Monet.
From Gare Saint Lazare, arrive into Vernon and make a an hour-long walking tour towards Monet’s House and the famous picturesque tulip garden. Expect crowds when its tourist season and the garden is in full bloom. Claude Monet’s House is open to tourist for a fee of 9Euros from May to October. You can visit this link for more tourist information and operations. You can buy tickets to Claude Monet’s House online here.
If you don’t have time to make it to Giverny or you’ll be traveling during the colder months when the house is closed to tourist, you can check out Claude Monet’s water lily paintings at the Musee de l’Orangerie in Paris.
Amiens is located in north of Paris, in the Picardy region. To visit this lovely town home to the tallest cathedral in France, you head again to Gare du Nord and purchase a return ticket to Amiens which is the terminus station. There are a lot of train stops along the way but if you mind this mini stops you can purchase the “intercités” ticket so it’s kind of an express ride. When heading back to Paris, you should also get the same type of ticket.
The Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Amiens is the tallest cathedral in the whole of France and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 for the beauty and harmony of its art and architecture.
You should visit Jules Verne’s House and Museum, the famous French novelist, poet, and playwright, located just near the train station. This is the mansion where Jules Verne and his wife spent most of his lifetime. Make sure to check the schedules and operation hours as they close during lunch hour.
If you are able to visit during the spring or summer, you must walk through the hortillonages or the floating gardens. They are a series of small, man-made canals that have created a maze of little islands.
Video information: Laurent Gavory, chargé de mission Espaces naturels sensibles – Amiens Métropole
Read : My Paris Budget Travel Tips
Any amazing daytrips that you made while you were in Paris? I really don’t mind tips on visiting Versailles! You can share them below!
Liked this travel guide? Share it using the sharing buttons below! Sharing is caring!