Petite Paris Recommended Day trips from Paris

Before you journey: Don’t forget to validate your tickets before you get on the train. Sometimes you’ll walk through asubway-like turnstile, other times you’ll need to insert the end of your ticket into a small yellowmachine usually located at the start of the platform (or before it). Even other times you’ll need to insertyour ticket into a small machine that will punch out a corner/hole. Not validating your ticket can leadto a fine. (If you do forget to validate your ticket, find the ticket controller as soon as you realize it.They will manually stamp it and you won’t be fined.)

Provins (MAP)

Provins is a quaint medieval city located about an hour and a half SE of Paris and a wonderful day trip.Trains leave every 45 minutes past the hour from the normal train platforms at the Gare de l’Est.

 It is recommended buying your ticket from an Ile de France ticket machine (so you can skip the line atthe Ile de France ticket window), just make sure you either have a chip-and-pin card or the machineyou’re using takes cash. Since Provins is normally the terminus station, just look for it on the blueSNCF Ile de France screens to find your platform (updated about 10-15 minutes before departure).

Provins in made up of the ville haute (the old, medieval "upper”city) and the ville basse (the new,modern "lower” city). The train station is located in the ville basse, start making your way up, you’ll beable to see the ramparts and tower (tip: climb it for amazing views). Stop by the Office of Tourism toget a map and buy passes for any of the attractions you want to see or just maps and brochures. Theirwebsite also has lots of helpful information, so try to check that out before you leave.Some main attractions: the underground tunnels (les souterrains), the watchman’s tower (la TourCesar), the museum and the Tithe Barn (la Grange aux dimes). Provins is also famous for its roses andyou’ll find rose flavored everything. E.g rose flavored hot chocolate.

Rouen (MAP

A charming town in the Normandy region of France, about an hour and a half north of Paris. Trains toRouen leave twice an hour from the Gare Saint Lazare train station. Since you’ll be leaving Ile deFrance you’ll want to purchase your tickets either online, at the main ticket window (Grandes Lignes),or at one of the yellow ticket machines (keep in mind that these machines only accept chip-and-pincards). Lines can be long, so either purchase and pick up your ticket ahead of time or arrive at the trainstation with plenty of time to spare. For this trip you’ll use the small yellow machines located at thebeginning of each platform to validate your tickets (stamps the date/time on it).

In Rouen you’ll find brightly coloured half-timbered buildings, a gorgeous cathedral, and a fancyastronomical clock tower. Rouen is also known for being where Joan of Arc was executed and you canvisit a tower where she was held (la Tour Jeanne d’Arc).

Tip: Do the tour of the "gros horloge” clock tower. Definitely do this – you’ll have fantastic views ofthe city.

Versailles (MAP)

Versailles is located just southwest of Paris and is easily accessed by the underground RER C (leavingfrom several convenient metro stops in central Paris including Tour Eiffel, St. Michel/Notre Dame,Musee d’Orsay, and Gare d’Austerlitz). The line does split though, so make sure you get on a trainwith a terminus station of "Versailles Rive Gauche”. It will be confusing because a train might arriveon your platform with a terminus station of "Versailles-Chantiers”. Do not get on this train! Wait for"Versailles Rive Gauche”. (If you would happen to get on the wrong one). 

You will need to buy a different metro ticket than the ones you’ve probably been using around Parissince Versailles is in zone 4 (unless you have a Carte Paris Visite or a Passe Navigo that is validthrough zone 4, then use it!). Go ahead and buy a roundtrip ticket (aller-retour) and save yourself fromwaiting in line at the station in Versailles when you’re trying to get back. Also, make sure to hold on toyour ticket as you will need it to exit the platform once you arrive.

TIP: Visiting the Castle: purchase your tickets online and print them before you go. You’ll be able toskip a line! Also, leave early. Even if you hate getting up early on vacation, if you get a late train out toVersailles, you’ll spend at least an hour waiting in line.

The castle is only about a 5-minute walk from the RER station, just follow the hoards of people. Visitthe inside of the castle (an audioguide is included), eat lunch at a place on the grounds, and thenexplore the gardens in the afternoon. Don’t forget about the Grand and Petit Trianon and the Queen’sHamlet. The Queen’s Hamlet is where Marie Antoinette would go to get away from the hassle of castlelife and pretend she was in a quaint village. It even includes a working farm and vineyard that is stillfunctioning today!

Trains back to Paris run frequently, so you shouldn’t have any problems getting back.

Fontainebleau (MAP

Just as over the top as Versailles but no crowds. For your 45-minute journey you’ll take the RER Dfrom the Gare de Lyon. This RER is not underground and you will actually leave from the mainplatforms (Grandes Lignes) upstairs (do not head downstairs) Trains leave about every hour, so yourtrip will not be delayed by much if you miss one.

Because you’ll be staying in the Ile de France region (just like Provins), you can buy your tickets froman Ile de France machine or ticket window and check out the SNCF Ile de France screens to find yourplatform. Your Carte Paris Visite or Passe Navigo valid through zone 5 will also get you toFontainebleau.

Fontainebleau will most likely not be the terminus station for your train. Look for one of the followingcities that match up with your departure time: Laroche-Migennes, Montargis, Montereau, or Sens. Thiswill be your train. Once you know the platform number, check out the TV monitor at the beginning ofthe platform (before you actually get to the train) for a list of towns that train services. FontainebleauAvon should be listed. If it’s not, go back to the departure board and double check the platformnumber.

The RER D will take you to the Fontainebleau/Avon train station where you’ll hop on a bus that willtake you to the castle (Bus 1). The bus is waiting for you when you get off the train. Make sure to havecoins/small bills to pay for your ticket (about 2 euros). If you used a Carte Paris Visite or a PasseNavigo valid through zone 5 to make this journey, you can also use it for the bus.

TIP: Go on the first Sunday of the month when the castle is free and be met with basically zero crowdsto enjoy this opulent castle and manicured beautiful grounds.Lots of great lunch places within walking distance of the castle.Another bonus of Fontainebleau is the vast forest. If you have time, stop by the Office of Tourism for amap of the trails.

To get back to Paris, get back on the bus and head towards the train station. Once again, don’t forget tovalidate your train ticket. The machines will be quite small and, like Provins, it’s going to punch outthe corner, not stamp the date and time.

Giverny (MAP

Made famous by Monet’s gorgeous water lily paintings, Giverny is a wonderful place to visit duringthe spring and summer. You’ll be able to stroll through his gardens and home – it’s honestly likewalking through one of his paintings.

Purchase a train ticket to Vernon (online, at the Grandes Lignes ticket window, or by using the yellowmachines if you have a chip-and-pin card) and it will leave from the Gare Saint Lazare. It’s the sametrain as for Rouen, just getting off a few stops earlier, about a 45 minute ride. That being said, theterminus station for your train will probably be Rouen. Make sure to check the monitors at thebeginning of your platform to verify that Vernon is listed and validate your ticket in the small yellowmachine.

Once you arrive in Vernon, take the bus to Giverny (about a 20 minute ride). These buses will bewaiting outside the train station, but they are not included in your original train ticket. You’ll buy aticket directly from the bus driver, so make sure you have cash (about 6€50, roundtrip).

To avoid waiting in the super long line, you can purchase your tickets online and print them at home.There will be lunch places once you get to Giverny. La Capucine Giverny is a great place.

The gardens are breathtaking and his house is absolutely adorable. They’ve preserved it quite well withhis personal items, furniture, and a number of his paintings. Monet also has an impressive collection ofJapanese prints and engravings, so you’ll be able to see many of these around the house as well.

To get back to Vernon, you’ll catch the bus again. This timetable will show you what bus correspondsto your train, but you can of course take any of them.

Reims (MAP

Reims is the capital of the Champagne region and the perfect day-trip for anyone who loves a littlebubbly. Reims is also home to a beautiful cathedral where French kings were crowned.

Trains leave from the Gare de l’Est and you can purchase your tickets online, at the Grandes Lignesticket window, or by using the yellow machines if you have a chip-and-pin card. Make sure you selectthe main Reims station (also called "Reims Gare” or "Reims Station”) and not the ChampagneArdennes TGV station. The Champagne-Ardennes TGV station is quite a bit out of town and meansyou would need to switch trains or take a bus or tram the rest of the way to Reims.

TIP: book a direct train to central Reims, even if you do have to stop a little more along the way. Theterminus station for your journey will probably be Reims, so locating your platform should bestraightforward.Main attractions: The cathedral in Reims is, of course, gorgeous, and also has the extra history of beingwhere the coronation of France’s kings was held.

Your main reason for visiting is probably the champagne, so make sure to try a variety of it. There area few large champagne houses that will give tours of their cellars and a tasting afterwards. Try:Pommery champagne house, Mumm and Veuve Clicquot and Taittinger and G.H. Martel.