There are so many attractions in Paris for visitors, many never even consider a trip outside of the city. Though you will certainly want to see all of the big attractions like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, it can also be well worth your time to get out of the city and into the surrounding area. There are many things to see, small villages to explore, and when you go off the beaten path, you find the essence of what it means to be a true traveller. Here are some suggestions of places to visit just outside of Paris.
Chateau de Versailles
About 60 minutes away from the centre of Paris, by train, sits the Chateau de Versailles. Most visitors to Paris try to make the trip to this magnificent residence. They are fascinated as it was the home of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, ill-fated figures of French history.
The home itself is also known for its famed “Hall of Mirrors” as well as the stunning gardens. Visitors to the Chateau de Versailles can see the private quarters of Marie Antoinette, her animal farm, and many other symbols of French history.
Get there from Paris by taking the RER C train to the Versailles-Rive Gauche. From there it is only a short walk to the grounds.
Chateau Vaux le Vicomte
On the opposite side of Paris from the Chateau de Versailles sits the lesser known Chateau Vaux le Vicomte. Though the Chateau Vaux le Vicomte is not as well-known as Versailles, it is certainly just as breathtaking. It is also less crowded, less imposing, and the palace that inspired King Louis XIV to build Versailles.
This is a very family-friendly location and even the children will enjoy dressing in period costumes and exploring the grounds. The gardens are stunning. You can explore the grounds at your own pace and don’t forget to see the remarkable natural fountains before you leave.
Get there from Paris by taking a direct shuttle from the centre of the city or come by car. The chateau is easy to find by taking the A4 or A6 from Paris to the A5. Exit at No.15, Saint Germain Laxis, then follow the signs.
The Medieval Town of Provins
It is not often that we are able to experience life as it was during the medieval times, but in the village of Provins, about an hour southeast of Paris, you can do just that. Provins is a fortified town that was built in the 11th century and historically is known for having some of the most extravagant fairs within Europe. The village has inspired artists and authors including Victor Hugo and takes its role as a modern medieval village very seriously.
There is a small museum in town as well as medieval re-enactments and shows. Fairs and festivals are held throughout the year, and you do not want to miss visiting the lovely rose garden. Accommodations are available if you wish to stay the night and restaurants will accommodate hungry travellers.
Get there from Paris by taking the SNCF Transilien from Paris Gare de l’Est. There are also mini buses available in the summer.
Foundation Paul Monet
Fans of the artist Paul Monet will love a day trip outside of Paris to his home and gardens where he lived for over 40 years. Monet himself designed these gardens, and his impression is still evident in his home and throughout the grounds. Some of the highlights include the water lily garden, the yellow dining room, and the Japanese bridge. Though the bridge was rebuilt, the wisteria around it was planted by Monet.
There is a restaurant onsite called Restaurant Les Nymphéas and down the road, if you want to take a walk, there are a few attractions like the Giverny Museum of Impressionisms and the Chateau de Misery Gardens.
Get there from Paris by taking the A13 towards Rouen to exit 14. Follow the signs to Giverny and then to Foundation Paul Monet.
Chateau de Fontainebleau
The Chateau de Fountainbleau is best known as being the home of French royalty for over seven centuries. It was the favourite royal home of Napoleon and housed other famous French families including the Bourbons, Orléans, and Capétiens. History books are filled with events connected to Chateau de Fountainbleau and today, you can walk through its doors just like the royals.
A guided tour is available and the grounds are filled with activities from horse-drawn carriage rides to boating. You can even get ice cream or snacks to enjoy as you explore the grounds. There are accommodations available near Chateau de Fountainebleau should you want to stay for a day or two and plenty of restaurants to please your palate.
Get there from Paris by taking the A6 to the exit for Fountainbleau. There is also a shuttle that is offered by Parisvision to bring visitors to the grounds.
As you can see, there are a number of wonderful attractions outside of Paris you might never see if you don’t leave the city limits. If planning your trip to Paris, make sure to save a day or two to take in some of these French wonders and experience some unforgettable places before heading back home.
Are there any off-the-beaten-path spots you’re excited to check out in Paris?