Paris epitomizes romance, personifies fashion, and fascinates visitors with its culinary heritage. There exists a vintage charm to the city that oozes from its many side-streets and a cultural ethos like nowhere else in the world. With a combination of the old and new around every corner attracting visitors, the allure of Paris is hard to resist. However Paris is also the perfect city to explore the beautiful surrounding regions of France through day trips that are as fascinating as the city itself.
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7 Incredible Day Trips You Can Easily Take from Paris
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If there's one location on the planet worth getting lost in, it's the Palace of Versailles. Once the royal home of Louis XVI, this 18th-century palace is an awe-inspiring residence packed with ornate furnishings, grand ceilings, and elaborate fountains. Situated less than an hour away from Paris, the Palace of Versailles will easily fill an entire day as you wander through its many rooms and gardens such as the extravagant Hall of Mirrors, the Chapels of Versailles, and the Gallery of Coaches. Those in the know of the country's history will find the home of Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France, along with her waterside retreat Hameau de la Reine, situated a short walk away from the palace, equally as captivating as the palace.
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Provins is a wonderful display of ancient France with its Cesar Tower, a 12th-century watchtower that offers sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding region. Known as the "Town of Medieval Fairs" Provins is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that hosts a range of markets and fairs. An hour and a half away from Paris via train, one of the biggest highlights of a visit to Provins is the spectacular bird show, the Eagles of Rampart. Get there early and take a seat in the front to get an up-close-and-personal view of the majestic eagles as they fly around performing. For another lesson in history, take a one hour guided tour of Les Souterrains de Provins, a maze of tunnels under the old town, or admire the rustic beauty of the medieval center, lined with pretty houses and quaint shops.
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A must visit for art lovers, Giverny was home to the impressionist painter Monet during the latter half of his life. His old house is now the Fondation Claude Monet museum which, along with the Museum of Impressionism, makes for some of the main attractions in this charming little town. The town also houses several private galleries of present-day impressionist artists that genuinely makes Giverny the leading hub of impressionism even today. For those not interested in art, Giverny is an idyllic escape from the crowds of Paris with its picturesque cottages and streets. Direct trains run from the city regularly, and the ride, which passes through the beautiful French countryside, takes roughly an hour.
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Champagne lovers rejoice as Epernay is only an hour and a half away from Paris and promises the best of the best when it comes to learning about the history of this magnificent drink. Although the town can be reached easily by road, if you intend to try the champagne, which to not would be unthinkable, taking the train is usually a better option.
The perfect day trip to Epernay generally starts at the Avenue de Champagne, a street lined with extravagant buildings housing the leading champagne manufacturers of the area. Next, pick a champagne producer of your choice and take a tour of their cellar along with a tasting session of their glorious product. The most popular champagne makers here are De Castellane, Mercier, and Moët with their 30 km long network of underground tunnels. In addition to experiencing the "champagne trail" tourists can walk around the Botanical Gardens and also admire the local architecture as seen in the Town Hall, Château Perrier, and Portail Saint-Martin.
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An hour away from Paris is the beautiful 1000-year-old town of Chevreuse. A quiet commune, Chevreuse is famous for the picture-perfect Yvette River that flows through the town, with little bridges connecting residential houses to the main street along its way. Château de la Madeleine, a castle situated on top of a hill, is another spot in Chevreuse well worth seeing. It offers spectacular views of the town, and a chance to learn about the historical past of the region. Chevreuse has a laidback appeal, best enjoyed on a sunny day in a leisurely fashion. It is the ideal spot to indulge in France's café culture and relish the local cuisine at any of the small eateries that dot the streets.
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Fontainebleau is famous for its grand 12th-century royal residence, Château de Fontainebleau. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the château consists of 1500 rooms and extensive gardens perfect for an escape to nature. Marie Antoinette's Turkish boudoir is perhaps the most popular room in the château, and rightly so, the lavish over-the-top design is enough to catch anyone's eye. For food lovers, the one-hour ride to Fontainebleau is a must to visit Fromagerie Barthelemy, known for the local specialty, Le Fontainebleau cheese. Those in search of tranquillity can walk along the many trails that are part of Forêt de Fontainebleau, a woodland area that also offers rock climbing, hiking, and horse riding.
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With the magical kingdom situated just over an hour away from the city's center, it's an excellent excuse for a family day out. Very much like any other Disneyland in the world, you will find all your favorite characters here along with the usual exciting rides and a chance to let loose and have fun. Regular day trips run from Paris to Disneyland, but if you want to make the event even more special, stay overnight at one of the hotels in the resort and convert your trip into a weekend getaway.
Day trips from Paris offer the curious traveler with a host of opportunities to explore the art and culture of France. Whether it about making everlasting memories at Paris Disneyland, spending romantic moments sipping champagne while appreciating French scenery, or admiring the pastoral magnetism of Provins, incredible experiences are just a short hop away from the capital.