4 minute read

Paris! The City of Lights gave us, among so much else, the Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, Edith Piaf, Coco Chanel, part-time resident Ernest Hemingway, Gauguin, Rodin and Renoir. These 200 + city blocks that make up Paris-proper overflow with things to see, do and eat. But, by traveling just a short distance you can include many more sights and experience the culture that makes up the adjacent countryside. Get away from the crowds and the hustle and bustle of the city when you escape for a day trip from Paris.


Begin with the opulent Versailles. The town is centered around the Unesco-listed Palace of Versailles. An homage to 17th century French architecture, the palace was once the showpiece, pride and joy of King Louis XIV. Louis XIV believed in absolute rule and divine right of the monarch and it shows in his not-so-humble home.

The famous Hall of Mirrors with its extravagant gilded rimmed mirrors reflecting the sunlight and creating a sparkling venue, was designed to impress the King’s courtiers. The Queen’s Bedroom is a lavish representation of period decor with an exquisite Rococo ceiling. In the Hercules Salon you’ll find Francois Lemoyne’s rendering of the Triumph of Hercules on the ceiling and a few other masterpieces by Veronese there as well.

The Chateau is surrounded by nearly 2000 acres of parkland which includes Les Jardin, the formal gardens of the palace. Renowned landscape designer André Le Notre crafted the stunning gardens filled with fountains, shrubs and flower beds all manicured precisely to rival the lavish Chateau in terms of breathtaking beauty. 

There’s more to see in this suburb of Paris. The Cathedral of Saint-Louis is in Versailles oldest quarter, Satory, while the (other) church of Notre Dame is located in Le Chesnay, the newer quarter. Versailles is also an important military town with a military hospital and school of military engineering and artillery. Versailles is about 14 miles southwest of Paris, an easy day trip.


About an hour’s train ride from Paris is the region of Champagne. Whether you’re celebrating a significant event or simply a beautiful day there is no better place for your occasion than Champagne. The region is made up of five small towns, each one producing France’s famed gift to the world. 

As you are likely aware, only the bubbly, effervescent wines of this lovely region of Champagne are allowed to bear the name of their place of origin. Of course the main attraction is discovering the world of the bubbly potable. Many of the champagne tours include a trip to the caves, or cellars, where the celebrated quaff is stored. There are a series of medieval chalk tunnels that run beneath the towns of Reims and Epernay where the temperatures hover at a brisk 10° so bring a sweater. 

If you opt to travel the Champagne Trail not only will you see some of the world’s most famous vineyards but also the beautiful countryside of this region. The picturesque villages, rolling hillsides and boutique champagne houses and cellars. 

In Reims you’ll discover the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims. This is said to be one of the largest and first examples of gothic architecture in all of France. The Cathedral is filled with stunning medieval sculptures and it’s prized for the Chagall stained glass. This gorgeous gothic church was the site of the coronation of nearly 30 French monarchs spanning a period between 1123 and 1825.

There is a museum of Beaux-Arts and the Porte de Mars, the longest Roman triumphal arc in the world , dating back to 200AD.

The Marne river runs through Champagne and its balls are where Cezanne and Corot found their inspiration. The most notable resident of Champagne, however, is Pierre-Auguste Renoir who married and raised his family in the quaint village of Essoyes. 

The Loire Valley

To fully appreciate one of France’s most breathtaking regions a few days' stay is necessary, but for just a sip of the allure the Loire Valley is well worth a day trip. The Loire River Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and every bit a page out of a fairytale book. Here is just a sampling of what the Loire Valley has to offer; the highlights of a one day visit here.

The Valley is most notable for its abundance of chateaux. There are more than 300 chateaux in the Valley and they range from 10th century castle fortifications to regal residences dated centuries later. While it’s impossible to see them all, the Chaumont-sur-Loire, which was once home to Catherine de Medici should be at the top of your must-see list. Chambord, also, is an architectural wonder that has close to 300 chimneys, as well as separate but intertwining staircases for the wife and the mistress. And for those who want a little Disneyesque fairytale, D’Azay-le-Rideau will fascinate and charm you.

Another must-see chateau is the stunning Chateau de Chenonceau, a gorgeous renaissance structure that spans the River Cher, was given to Diane de Poitiers by Henry II in 1547. Diane de Poitiers was the kings mistress. Upon Henry II’s death in 1559 the chateau was taken over by his widow, Catherine de Medici, in a forced “exchange” with de Poitiers, for Chateau Chaumont. Catherine de Medici soon made Chenonceau her favorite home, adding even more lavish gardens and spending a fortune on outrageous evening parties. In fact, Chenonceau was the site of the first ever fireworks display in France, courtesy of Catherine de Medici. 

Of course, with such extravagant homes come lavish gardens and the Loire Valley has no shortage of those. The same environment that produces world class wines also nurtures these horticultural masterpieces. In fact Chaumont-sur-Loire hosts the prestigious International Gardens Festival where some of the leading garden designers in the world take over plots of land to exhibit their talents.

The celebrated dry white wines Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé and Chenin Blanc, are widely known as being from the Loire Valley. They are just a few of the wines produced here. The Valley has the second highest concentration of sparkling wine producing vines in France. Tour the impressive underground tunnels as well as captivatingly quaint family-run boutique wineries. 

Relax and Enjoy

The trips are ideal for a day’s getaway from Paris. The City of Lights is spectacular, there is no doubt, but these destinations offer an opportunity to get to know the people and the culture up close. Each of these one-day destinations offer an abundance of places to grab a quick nosh while you sit and enjoy the views of life outside the hustle and bustle of Paris. 

**We can help you with planning and logistics of these itineraries. Champagne and the Loire valley are seasonal. Ask us!

day trips from Paris