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Five Daytrips from Paris

Paris is a wonderful city, but sometimes you might want to escape the crowds and see something different. Why not get out of the town on a day trip?


Visit Monet's Home in Giverny

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Giverny is a charming village that offers a glimpse into the life and work of the famous impressionist Claude Monet, who lived there from 1883 to 1926. You can visit his house and gardens, where he created some of his most iconic works. You can admire the colourful flower beds, the Japanese bridge, the water lily pond, and the studio where he painted. 

Monet's house and gardens are open from March to November. You can buy your tickets online or at the entrance, but be prepared for long queues during peak season. You can also book a guided tour or an audio guide to enhance your visit. The house preserves the original furniture, paintings, and personal belongings of Monet.


Another place to visit in Giverny is the Musée des Impressionnismes, which is dedicated to impressionism's history and diversity. The museum has a permanent collection of paintings by Monet and his contemporaries and temporary exhibitions featuring other impressionist artists from around the world. The museum also has a café, a gift shop, and a garden that overlooks the valley.

If you have some extra time, you can also stroll around Giverny's village and see some places that inspired Monet, such as the church, the cemetery, and the Hotel Baudy, where many artists stayed and painted. You can also visit the nearby Museum of Natural Mechanical Curiosities, which displays a collection of old machines and inventions, or the Museum of American Art, which exhibits works by American artists who lived in Giverny.

How to get to Giverny?

To get to Giverny, you can take a train from Paris Saint-Lazare to Vernon, which takes about 45 minutes. From there, you can take a shuttle bus or a taxi or rent a bike to reach Giverny, about 4 km away. The shuttle bus runs every 15 minutes from April to October, costing 10 euros for a round trip. A taxi will cost you about 15 euros one way, and a bike rental will cost you about 10 euros for a day. You can also book a day tour from Paris, including transportation, entrance fees, and a guide.

Explore the Castles of Loire Valley

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The Loire Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its stunning castles, or châteaux, that date back to the Renaissance, and the surroundings are as beautiful as it gets, with its vineyards, forests, and rivers.


Each castle has its own style, history, and charm and offers a glimpse into the past. Admire the architecture, the gardens, the furniture, and the art collections that decorate the castles.

The Loire Valley has more than 300 castles, but you can't visit them all in one day. Therefore, you need to choose. Some of the most popular ones are:

Photo by AXP photography/Unsplash

This is one of the most visited and photographed castles in the Loire Valley, thanks to its unique location on the river Cher. It was built in the 16th century and was the residence of several influential women, such as Diane de Poitiers, Catherine de' Medici, and Louise of Lorraine. You can explore the elegant rooms, the chapel, the library, and the gallery that crosses the river. You can also admire the gardens, farm, and maze surrounding the castle.

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This is the largest and most impressive castle in the Loire Valley and a masterpiece of the French Renaissance. It was built in the 16th century by François I, who wanted to create a hunting lodge and a symbol of his power. The castle has over 400 rooms, 80 staircases, and 365 fireplaces, but the most remarkable feature is the double-helix staircase connecting the four floors. You can also visit the terraces, the chapel, the stables, and the park that covers 5,440 hectares.

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This is one of the most beautifully furnished and decorated castles in the Loire Valley and a model of the classical French style. It was built in the 17th century by the Hurault family, who still own and live in the castle. You can see the lavish rooms, the tapestries, the paintings, and the weapons that adorn the castle. You can also visit the kennels, where more than 100 hunting dogs are kept, and the gardens, where you can find a vegetable patch, an orangery, and a labyrinth.


Other castles that you can visit in the Loire Valley are Château d'Amboise, where Leonardo da Vinci is buried; Château de Villandry, famous for its Renaissance gardens; Château de Blois, where several kings and queens lived and died; Château d'Azay-le-Rideau, a romantic castle on the Indre river; and Château de Chaumont, which hosts an international garden festival every year.

How do you get to the Loire Valley?

To get to the Loire Valley without a car, you can take a train from Paris Austerlitz to Blois, which takes about 1.5 hours. From there, you can join a guided tour, take a local bus, or rent a bike to visit the different castles spread over a large area. You can also book a day tour from Paris, including transportation, entrance fees, and a guide.

Hike in Fontainebleau Forest

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If you are looking for some nature and adventure, you can head to Fontainebleau Forest, one of France's largest and most diverse forests. 

The forest covers 25,000 hectares and is home to over 5,000 animal and plant species, some rare and protected, such as the European pond turtle, the lady's slipper orchid, and the stag beetle. 

The forest is also a place of historical and artistic interest, as it has inspired many painters, writers, and musicians, such as Théodore Rousseau, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Frédéric Chopin.


What to do:

With more than 1500 kilometres of trails, the main attraction in Fontainebleau Forest is the hiking, biking, or horseback riding experience. You can choose from different routes depending on your fitness level, time, and interests. Some of the most popular ones are the Circuit des 25 Bosses, a 16-km loop that crosses 25 hills and offers panoramic views of the forest; the Circuit de la Roche qui Tourne, a 10-km loop that passes by a large rock that rotates on its axis; the Circuit du Rocher Cailleau, a 6-km loop that goes through a rocky area with caves and crevices; and the Circuit de la Mare aux Fées, a 4-km loop that leads to a fairy-tale pond.

Another attraction in Fontainebleau Forest is rock climbing, or bouldering, which challenges strength, balance, and technique. You can find boulders of all shapes and sizes, with different levels of difficulty, indicated by a colour-coded system. You can also join a guided tour or a course to learn the basics or improve your skills. You can also rent or buy the necessary equipment, such as shoes, mats, and chalk, at the nearby shops or online.

Photo by Barthelemy de Mazenod/Unsplash

If you want to take a break from the forest, visit the Château de Fontainebleau at the forest's edge. The castle is one of France's oldest and most prestigious royal residences and has been inhabited by several monarchs, from François I to Napoleon III. The castle has a complex and varied architecture, which reflects the different styles and periods of its construction and renovation. Some of the castle's highlights include the Courtyard of Honor, the Gallery of Francis I, the Ballroom, the Throne Room, the Apartments of the Kings and Queens, the Imperial Theater and the Grand Parterre, the most extensive European formal garden.

Photo by Pixabay

How to get to Fontainebleau Forest?

To get to Fontainebleau Forest, you can take a train from Paris Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau-Avon, which takes about 40 minutes. From there, you can take a bus or a taxi to the forest or the castle, about 3 km (2 mi) away. The drive from Paris to Fontainebleau takes about an hour. You can also book a day tour from Paris, including transportation, entrance fees, and a guide.

Marvel at the Palace of Versailles

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The Palace of Versailles was the seat of the French government and the court of Louis XIV, Louis XV, and Louis XVI until the French Revolution. The palace is one of the most visited attractions in France, with over 10 million visitors each year. The palace has more than 2,000 rooms, which display the lavish and extravagant lifestyle of the royalty and the nobility. It has a rich collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture, and tapestries, which illustrate the history and culture of France.


The palace consists of several parts, such as the Hall of Mirrors, a 73-meter long gallery that reflects the light and the gardens; the King's Apartments, where you can see the bedchamber, the council room, and the hall of abundance; the Queen's Apartments, where you can see the bedchamber, the antechamber, and the hall of guards; and the Gallery of Battles, which exhibits paintings of the military victories of France.

Photo by Alexandre Brondino/Unsplash

The gardens cover 800 hectares and are designed in the French formal style. You can walk, bike, or take a mini-train to explore the gardens, divided into sections, such as the Parterre d'Eau, the Parterre de Latone, the Parterre du Midi, and the Parterre du Nord. You can also admire the fountains, which have different themes and sculptures, such as the Fountain of Apollo, the Fountain of Neptune, and the Fountain of the Dragon. You can also enjoy the musical fountain shows and the fireworks displays, which are held on selected dates and times.

Photo by Reza Bina(Unsplash

If you have some extra time, you can also visit the Grand Trianon, the Petit Trianon, and the Hameau de la Reine located in the palace park. The Grand Trianon is a pink marble palace built by Louis XIV as a refuge from court life. The Petit Trianon is a neoclassical palace built by Louis XV as a gift for his mistress, Madame de Pompadour. The Hameau de la Reine is a rustic village built by Louis XVI as a gift for his wife, Marie Antoinette, who liked to play the role of a peasant. You can see the different rooms, furniture, and decorations that reflect the tastes and personalities of the royal occupants.


How to get to the Palace of Versailles?

To get to the Palace of Versailles, you can take a train from Paris Montparnasse, Paris Saint-Lazare, or Paris Invalides to Versailles Chantiers, Versailles Rive Droite, or Versailles Rive Gauche, which takes about 30 to 40 minutes. From there, you can walk, take a bus, or take a taxi to the palace, about 2 km away. You can also book a day tour from Paris, including transportation, entrance fees, and a guide.

Relax at the Château de Chantilly

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The Château de Chantilly is a hidden gem just north of Paris. The Renaissance castle belongs to the Institut de France, a prestigious cultural institution and houses France's second-largest collection of paintings after the Louvre. 

Initially built in the 14th century, it was destroyed during the French Revolution. It was rebuilt in the 19th century by Henri d'Orléans, King Louis-Philippe's son, an avid art collector and patron. The castle has more than 800 rooms, which display the rich and varied heritage of the castle and its owners. The castle also has a remarkable collection of manuscripts, sculptures, and decorative arts, which span from the 15th to the 19th centuries.

Photo by Pixabay

The castle and its museum consist of several parts, such as the Apartments of the Princes, where you can see the bedchamber, the library, and the chapel; the Gallery of Paintings, where you can admire works by Raphael, Botticelli, Delacroix, and Ingres; the Gallery of Prints and Drawings, where you can see works by Rembrandt, Dürer, and Da Vinci; and the Library and the Archives, where you can see rare books and documents, such as the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, a masterpiece of medieval illumination.


Another attraction at the Château de Chantilly is the park and the gardens, which cover 115 hectares and are designed in different styles, such as the French, the English, and the Anglo-Chinese or admire the water features, such as the Grand Canal, the Mirror Pond, and the Waterfall. On selected dates and times, you can enjoy the musical fountain shows.

If you have some extra time, visit the Grand Stables and the Horse Museum, which are located near the castle. The Grand Stables are a masterpiece of 18th-century architecture and can accommodate up to 240 horses and 500 hounds.

Photo by Pixabay

The Horse Museum is a museum that showcases the history and the culture of the horse, from antiquity to the present day. You can see more than 200 objects and works of art, such as paintings, sculptures, carriages, and saddles. You can also watch equestrian shows and demonstrations held regularly in the indoor arena or the outdoor ring.

How to get to the Château de Chantilly?

To get to the Château de Chantilly, you can take a train from Paris Gare du Nord to Chantilly-Gouvieux, which takes about 25 minutes. From there, you can walk, take a bus, or take a taxi to the castle, about 2 km away. You can also book a day tour from Paris, including transportation, entrance fees, and a guide.



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