Visiting France every year has taught me one thing: No trip to Paris is complete without a day trip from Paris to discover more of France. Parisians want to avoid crowded attractions just like the rest of us. They skip the obvious day trips like Disneyland Paris or Versailles. Instead, the French (my crazy French family included) escape the allure of Paris by heading to places with fewer tourists and a diverse offering. Paris is a cultural hub with a lot to offer, but some of the best day trips from Paris leave you with an experience impossible to have in Paris. If you have time to venture out of Paris, I encourage you to rent a car or jump on a train to one of these day trips from Paris. Here are a few of my favorite getaways from Paris:
You’re going to wish you pinned this post on your next trip to Paris 📌
Deauville: Great for Fashionistas and Beach Lovers
- 200 km from Paris (124 Miles)
- 2 Hour Drive or 2-2.5 Hour Train Ride from Gare St. Lazare
Not only is a trip to Deauville one of the best things to do in Normandy, but it’s also one of the best-kept secrets of France! Parisians and the British alike love day trips to Deauville, especially in Spring and Summer. Deauville is the closest thing to star-studded Monaco to Paris. Celebrities retreat the streets of Paris to sunbathe in Deauville. The streets of Deauville are swanky. You’ll find a luxurious casino, access to the beach, a harbor, golf courses, designer shopping, French cafes serving incredible seafood, and pastel-colored timber buildings belonging to Normandy. Deauville is my personal favorite day trip from Paris because it’s the only destination that involves the beach.
Provins: Great if you love UNESCO Sites
- 93 km from Paris (58 Miles)
- 1.5 hour Drive or 1.5 hour Train Ride from Gare de l’Es
If you’ve somehow run out of history to enjoy in Paris, Provins might have the archaic story you’re looking for. Provins became listed UNESCO in 2001 making it one of the many world heritage UNESCO sites near Paris. Make no mistakes here, Provins is not just another pretty French town. Its history is very much intact in an unspoiled manner. Don’t jampack your day in Provins with all of the historical sites, choose 1-2 that interest you the most and spend the downtime soaking up the history that’s around every corner.
The Route d’Cidre: Perfect Day Trip for Foodies
- 189 km from Paris (117 Miles)
- 2-hour drive
If you love the food and wine of Paris, you’ll love the apple-based beverages in Normandy. The Route d’Cidre is another one of the best things to do in Normandy. On this driving route, you’ll be trading the grape forward drinks of France with Normandy’s apple based alcohol – apple cider, pommeau, and calvados. The distilleries aren’t exactly what you might expect. Instead, they feature chateaus, parks, interactive experiences for kids, tours in English, and lots of samples. The best part of it? There are dozens of distilleries to choose from along the Route d’Cidre.
Reims or Epernay: The answer to your champagne dreams.
- 145 km from Paris (90 Miles)
- 1.5-2 Hours by Car, 45-60 Minutes by Train From from Gare de l’Es
Depending on who you ask in France, you’re going to get a different answer to their favorite city for Champagne. While most tourists head to Reims, referred to as “capital of Champagne”, most locals prefer Epernay. In my opinion, there are no bad choices when it comes to Champagne.
Neither Reims or Epernay have champagne vineyards, but they do have a ton of champagne houses to visit. Your fizzy day trip from Paris should include one of these Champagne Houses:
Billecart Salmon – This name may not be familiar because it is exclusivity distributed to the most ultra-luxurious and top restaurants in the world. For an elevated Champagne tasting, head here first.
J de Telmont – This Champagne House might as well be called the Charming House. The characters of this Champagne House are warm, engaging, and ready to sweep you off their feet. Parisians flock here primarily in September when the vineyard is open for tours to the public. J de Telmont is only 32 km from Reims making it a perfect add-on stop to your Champagne day trip from Paris.
Veuve Clicquot – Hop off the train, stretch your legs, and visit Veuve Clicquot located in Reims. This Champagne House had humble beginnings and the brand was transformed by Philippe Clicquot’s widow. Madame Clicquot is said to be the creator of rosé Champagne.
London: Perfect if you have extra time in Paris
- 2.5 Hours by Eurostar
Depending on who you ask, a “day trip” to London just isn’t worth it unless you’re staying the night. However, after doing it myself with my fiance in 2017 and chatting with a lot of Parisians, it’s actually very common to jump on the Eurostar for a day trip. I personally spent about 18 hours in London and I LOVED it. I didn’t find myself being exhausted because I slept on the Eurostar on my way there and back as a siesta.
Don’t get me wrong, London deserves much more than “a day trip”, but it’s important to know that if you’re really wanting to make this trip from Paris, do it. Don’t let the forums or cranky tourists try to talk you out of it. I’m of the school of the thought of “just do it”.
Tip for visiting London: Jump in a taxi! We were able to see and do a lot on our very short trip, but, we learned so much from the taxi drivers! As the taxi drivers explained to us, when you’re an official “taxi driver” it takes YEARS of taxi-training to get approved to drive as a city official taxi. The taxi drivers explained to me many of the drivers are retired police officers or firemen who know the streets, areas, and history extremely well. The taxi drivers do not depend on GPS and truly act as human compasses and tour guides. Every taxi we used gave us a block by block history as we drove (or sat at red lights) on our way to our destinations.
Is it safe to take the Eurostar in the early morning or late evenings?
Yes! I felt safer at the wee hours in Paris and London than I would if you asked me to take the train in my home state. We took the Eurostar at some bizarre hours and walking around the stations felt very safe. We didn’t once feel like we were ever in any danger. Getting to and from London from Paris is very straight forward once you are at Gare du Nord. Be aware that if you’re visiting London for a day trip, you won’t see everything you want, but it is still absolutely one of the best day trips from Paris. My fiance and I really loved the energy and cultural break from Paris especially after spending 30+ days in France.
Here’s another secret about a day trip to London from Paris: I’m not sure why, but England has always had a reputation for having less than favorable food. However, to our surprise, the food we had in London during our day trip from Paris ended up being some of the BEST food we had in Europe. To this day (two years later), we still talk about some of the dishes we had during our visit. Don’t be afraid to dive in and eat the food from the pubs, you won’t be disappointed.
Tips for a Stress-Free Day Trip
The idea of a day trip is great in theory, but the truth of the matter is that things can and do easily go off track. Here are a few tips I can share from my experiences and mistakes.
- Organization is key. Even if a day trip is a spur of the moment destination, take at least a solid 30-60 minutes to figure out a basic plan. I always check to see if my destination has car-sharing, how late the trains are running, and ask someone at the hotel their advice on getting to and from my day trip destination. Don’t forget to check how walkable your day trip city. Is the train station miles away from the attractions you’re dying to see?
On a recent trip to Sintra for a day trip from Lisbon, we took an Uber to Sintra which cost around $15. Turns out, the historic center of Sintra bans non-residential cars and the majority of the castles were only accessible with buses or tuk-tuks. While it didn’t bother us to be walking to town in 30-degree weather at first, going back to Lisbon was entirely different. Three Ubers canceled rides on us because they had no feasible way of finding us since the GPS kept rerouting them. We walked to each point of the center only to have to briskly walk to the other side to potentially meet up with another Uber. It took us almost two hours to get back to Lisbon, while the drive to Sintra took 25 minutes via Uber less than 10 hours earlier.
2. Be Flexible.
You may or may not end up getting to see everything you wanted to in 6-12 hours. For example, on our day trip to Sintra, I wanted to see Pena Palace and the Moors Castle and swing by the cliffs. However, it wasn’t until I saw how stunning Pena Palace was that I realized it was going to take a few hours just to soak it up. My fiance and I agreed to stop trying to see all the iconic Sintra sights and soak up Sintra slowly instead. Things change. Expect this and accept it. Your day trip isn’t ruined if you didn’t see everything recommended by Tripadvisor in 7 hours.
3. Get Your Rest.
While I loved our day trip to London, my fiance was lividly cranky the entire time. I was able to sleep very well the night before and slept on the train. On the other hand, TJ didn’t sleep a wink and was still adjusting to the jet lag. Upon arrival, I was ready to hunt down the Spice Girls and find a red telephone booth while TJ wanted to check into a hotel to nap. While we did see a few sights, the sound of walking around or taking a tour made TJ growl. Give yourself a few days in your destination before trying to coordinate a day trip and get your rest the night before to enjoy your day trip with all of your energy.
Do you take day trips while you’re on vacation? What was your favorite day trip?
Is Paris in your future? Pin this post to remember this list of Best Paris Day Trips! 📌⚜