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18 Best Day Trips from Paris by Train (3 hours or less!)

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Yes friends, Paris really is a city of dreams, romance, and lots of charm. But, in my opinion, so is the rest of France!

If you’re headed to Paris on an upcoming vacation, I highly recommend taking a day trip or two to see what I mean.

The rail system is efficient and affordable, making it super easy to see more than just Paris.

As a resident of a tourist city, I’m used to using a subway and rail to get around. I found the Paris metro system to be super easy to navigate, even for beginners.

Unless you live in a big city, I totally understand that you might not have experience or confidence in traveling by train.

To help you out, check out my post on how to use the Paris Metro. My tips will help you get around and outside Paris with ease!

Now onto the show – let’s learn all about the best day trips from Paris by train.

1. Bruges, Belgium

Photo of houses reflecting in a canal in Bruges, Belgium.
  • Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours one way
  • Stations: Gare du Nord to/from Brugge

Bruges, also known as Brugge, is a lovely UNESCO World Heritage City that showcases Gothic architecture.

A visit to Markt, the central plaza in Bruges is a must for first time visitors.

There are also several buildings that can be toured, such as the Belfry of Bruges and the Church of Our Lady.

Bruges also has a few oddly interesting museums, such as Frietmuseum, a museum dedicated to french fries, and Musea da Tortura Oude Steen Bruges, which is about torture.

A train ticket costs around $35, but can fluctuate.

2. Brussels, Belgium

Photo of old town Brussels in Belgium during sunset with an elaborate garden in the foreground and ornate buildings in the background.
  • Duration: approximately 1.5 hours
  • Stations: Gare du Nord to/from Bruxelles Midi

If the journey from Paris to Bruges seems a bit too long for a day trip, consider Brussels instead.

The ticket costs vary, but start at $35.

Art lovers will want to visit Monts des Arts, a lovely complex with museums, theaters, a gorgeous garden, a library, and other sites devoted to the arts.

If you’re more into history or Europe’s royal families, check out the Palace of Coudenberg and the Royal Palace of Brussels.

Both sites are massive, so you could easily spend your day split between the 2.

Another hot spot to check out in Brussels is the Grand Place, otherwise known as the central square in Brussels.

In Grand Place, you’ll find lots of lovely buildings to gawk at, restaurants, and shops. There are often events set up in the square, as well.

For those that enjoy odd attractions, check out Mini Europe, a park where famous structures across Europe exist in miniature form.

3. Chantilly

Photo of Château de Chantilly reflecting in the water.
  • Duration: 30 minutes one way
  • Stations: Gare du Nord to/from Chantilly-Gourvieux
  • Included in the Paris Museum Pass

Chantilly is home to Château de Chantilly, one of many châteaux that the public can tour in and around Paris.

The Great Stables and Living Museum of the Horse is also a notable attraction.

There are over 2 dozen types of horses housed here, with daily equestrian demonstrations. Antiques and art are also featured prominently.

4. Chartres

Photo of the Cartres Cathedral in France.
  • Duration: 1-1.25 hours one way
  • Stations: Gare Montparnasse to/from Chartres Gare Routière

The biggest or most well-known attraction here is the Chartres Cathedral.

The Chartres Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site and supposedly houses the tunic worn by Mary when she gave birth to Christ.

For a unique attraction, head over to La Maison Picassiette.

This unique home and all of its furnishings are covered in recycled glass and pottery pieces, creating wonderful mosaic art.

The work was done by the late Raymond Isidore, who lived in the home until his death.

It took Isidore nearly 30 years to completely cover everything on his property with his art.

5. Château de Chenonceau

Photo of Château de Chenonceau in the Loire Valley of France.
  • Duration: 2-2.5 hours each way
  • Stations: Gare Montparnasse to/from Château de Chenonceau

The Loire Valley is a hot spot of gorgeous French castles and palaces. If you’re just doing a day trip to this area, I recommend Château de Chenonceau.

This beautiful château is the 2nd most visited in all of France (with Versailles being the first). In my opinion, it is the easiest to get to via train, too.

I recommend going in Spring or Summer for the best experience so you can see the beautiful gardens, including a maze!

To visit, purchase your tickets online and reserve your entry time slot (this is required!).

Tickets for adults cost 15.5€ and 12.5€ for children 7-18. Children 6 and under are free. Discounts are available for students, seniors, and the unemployed.

6. Château de Fontainebleau

Photo of Château de Fontainebleau during winter with bare trees.
  • Duration: 45 minutes each way
  • Stations: Gare du Lyon to/from Thomery
  • Included in the Paris Museum Pass

The Château de Fontainebleau was once a residence for many French royals, such as Marie Antoinette.

Today it is a museum that features opulent artwork and furnishings, as well as several gardens.

The best time to visit Fontainebleau is in the Spring and Summer.

During the warmer months, there are horse-drawn carriage rides, homemade ice cream, canoeing, and hot air balloon rides.

7. Colmar

Photo of the town of Colmar, France with colorful buildings reflecting in a canal.
  • Duration: approximately 2.5 hours
  • Stations: Gare de l’Est to/from Colmar

Colmar is the cutest, sweetest medieval town in Northeastern France, right on the border of Germany.

It looks like it was plucked out of a Disney movie!

In fact, many people say it was the inspiration for the hometown of Belle, from Beauty & the Beast.

If you’re only in Colmar for the day, my recommendation is to tour the town’s architecture.

The homes look like gingerbread houses, and there are tons of churches, synagogues, fountains, and other structures to admire.

8. Dijon

Photo of the town of Dijon in France showcasiing medieval era half-timbered houses.
  • Duration: 1.5 to 1.75 hours
  • Stations: Gare de Lyon to/from Dijon Ville

Perhaps best known for its mustard, Dijon is also a great starting point for touring vineyards in the Burgundy wine region.

It is also home to France’s 2nd largest museum, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, where you can see the remains of the Dukes of Burgundy, Renaissance art from a variety of artists, and other collections.

The Notre Dame de Dijon has an owl that is carved into it called La Chouette, which supposedly brings good luck to all that touch it.

Perhaps one of the best ways to tour Dijon is to follow the Owl Trail, a play on the town’s beloved bird.

This self-guided tour is completed by following golden pavers with an owl etched into it throughout the city. 

Stops include Place François Rude, Maison Millière, and Tour Philippe le Bon.

To make your journey easy, get the official app (iOS / Android), which includes a map and information. It costs around 3 euros.

9. Disneyland Paris

Photo of Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland Paris.
  • Duration: approximately 45 minutes each way
  • Stations: Gare de Lyon to/from Gare Marne la Vallée Chessy

Disneyland Paris includes 2 Disney theme parks, Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios. They are located outside Paris city limits, but are very easy to get to via train.

This Disneyland park is much like one in California or Magic Kingdom in Florida, with lots of classic characters and princesses.

The Walt Disney Studios park is much like Hollywood Studios in Florida.

It is home to the Avengers Campus with 2 Avengers rides, character meet-and-greets, as well as a training center where you can learn how to become an avenger!

10. Épernay

Closeup photo of a giant champagne cap sitting amongst flowers that says: Epernay: Capitale du Champagne.
  • Duration: 1.25 to 1.5 hours each way
  • Stations: Gare de l’Est to/from Gare d’Épernay

While there are a few lovely churches that you can visit in Épernay, the main attraction is visiting champagne houses.

Perhaps the most known champagne houses in Épernay are Moët Chandon and Perrier.

If you’re staying on foot, I recommend heading to the Avenue de Champagne and hopping from house to house.

Moët Chandon and Perrier are just 2 of the several champagne houses on this avenue.

11. Giverny

Photo of a field of colorful flowers, such as tulips, in Giverny, France.
  • Duration: approximately 1 hour each way
  • Stations: Gare Saint Lazare to/from Vernon-Giverny

Giverny was the home of famous Impressionist painter, Claude Monet.

His home is preserved as a museum, and you can also visit the many gardens filled with water lilies and other scenery that he painted.

If you are a fan of Impressionist art, be sure to stop by the Museum of Impressionism, as well.

12. London, England

Photo of London from the air, showing the Thames River in the middle and the Tower Bridge with the city on each side.
  • Duration: approximately 2.5 hours
  • Stations: Gare du Nord to/from St. Pancras

London might be one of the most popular day trips from Paris, especially for those visiting from outside Europe.

The best way to get to London from Paris is via the high-speed Eurostar train through the chunnel, a tunnel that runs under the English Channel.

Some popular attractions to consider are riding the London Eye observation wheel, shopping at Portobello Road Market or Oxford Street, catching a glimpse of Big Ben, watching the Trooping the Colour at St. James Park, and touring Buckingham Palace.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, check out the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, too.

13. Luxembourg

Photo of a beautiful arch bridge and a castle-like building with trees in the foreground in Luxembourg City.
  • Duration: 2.5 to 3 hours each way
  • Stations: Gare de l’Est to/from Luxembourg

Head on over to Luxembourg, a teeny-tiny country less than 1000 square miles in size. 

Get a birds-eye view of the city and Alzette River valley from the glass bottom viewing platform at the top of the Panoramic Elevator of the Pfaffenthal.

Visit Beaufort Castle, a medieval castle with guided tours. It also has a distillery that is famous for casséro, a liqeuer made from blackcurrants and is used to make the Kir Royal cocktail.

Head to MuseumSmile, a mile-long stretch where 7 museums are located:

  1. Casino Luxemburg, a contemporary art museum
  2. Drai Eechelen Museum, an 18th-century fortress and museum
  3. Lëtzebuerg, a museum about the history of Luxembourg
  4. MNHA, the national museum of history and art
  5. Mudam Luxembourg, a modern art museum
  6. Nature Museum, the national museum of natural history
  7. Villa Vauban, the Luxembourg city art museum

Another fun attraction is the Bock Casemates, a series of tunnels that started in 1644. 

However, they have been closed for a few years due to water leaking that deemed the tunnels as unsafe. 

It is unknown when they will reopen, other than that the city is looking to repair and reopen it some day.

Last up is Vianden Castle, which has been around since the 4th century and is the most visited attraction in the area. 

It is located in Vianden, which is north of Luxembourg city, so you’ll have to hop on another train or book a tour to get there.

14. Lyon

Photo of a public square in Lyon, France with ornate buildings and a statue in a fountain.
  • Duration: 2 hours each way
  • Stations: Gare de Lyon to/from Lyon Part Dieu

Lyon is best-known as a foodie’s paradise. As of 2021, it is home to 21 Michelin-starred restaurants, such as Paul Bocuse, which was owned by Lyon’s most famous chef, Paul Bocuse. 

Art museum lovers can’t miss Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, one of the largest fine art museums in France.

Another interesting stop would be the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière, a Roman amphitheater that was built in 2 B.C.

15. Palace of Versailles

Photo of a gilded fountain in the gardens at the Palace of Versailles
  • Duration: 12-30 minutes one way
  • Stations: Gare Montparnasse to/from Château-Versailles/Rive-Gauche
  • Included in the Paris Museum Pass

Another famous royal residence that you can easily visit by train is the Palace of Versailles.

Depending on which station you leave from, the train from Paris to Versailles will take you an hour to an hour and a half to get there.

Since the Paris Museum Pass includes entrance, so you can hop in line once you get there if you have one. Otherwise, you have to purchase your ticket first before getting in the entrance line.

My biggest tip is to arrive EARLY because the entrance line gets insanely long super quick. I went in the Winter, arrived in the late morning, and still waited several hours to get in!

16. Reims

Photo of lush, green vineyards during sunset in Reims, France.
  • Duration: 46 minutes each way
  • Stations: Gare de l’Est to/from Gare de Reims

Reims is the most popular day trip from Paris to the Champagne region.

The bubbly drink with a front seat to nearly every celebration, also known as champagne, hails from this area.

In fact, champagne must be made in the Champagne region in order to be officially labeled as champagne.

This wine making region is also a newly-minted UNESCO World Heritage region.

So, as you might guess, one of the top reasons people visit the Champagne region of France is to hit up a handful of vineyards or champagne houses for a tasting tour.

Champagne houses in Reims include the ever popular Vueve Cliquot Ponsardin and Taittinger.

Reims is also home to 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The Notre Dame Cathedral of Reims and the Palace of Tau are two such sites.

The cathedral was used for the coronation of France’s past kings, while the palace is where said kings resided during the coronation.

The third site is the former Basilica and Abbey of Saint Remi.

Both buildings can be toured and there’s also a museum nearby.

17. Rouen

Photo of Les Gros-Horloge, an ornate clock in Rouen, France.
  • Duration: approximately 1.5-2 hours each way
  • Stations: Magenta to/from Rouen Rive Droite

Head to the capital of Normandy, Rouen, where Joan of Arc met her fate.

Here you can visit Historial Jeanne d’Arc, a museum dedicated to Joan of Arc, and the boat-shaped St. Joan of Arc Church, to learn more about this heroine. You can also visit place du Vieux-Marché, where she was burned at the stake.

A few other activities include the Rouen Museum of Fine Arts and Le Gros-Horloge, an ornate Renaissance era clock.

18. Strasbourg

Photo of the German inspired village of Strasbourg in France with colorful, half-timbered houses lining a canal.
  • Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours and 15 minutes, each way
  • Stations: Gare de l’Est to/from Strasbourg

On the way to Colmar is another adorable French town called Strasbourg.

The center of Strasbourg is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its blend of French and German culture.

It is surrounded by water, technically making it an island, too!

Which day trips from Paris by train are you planning to take?

Now that you have a handful of ideas on where you can go nearby Paris by train, I hope you’ll add a few day trips on your vacation to France.

This post was originally published on February 3, 2017. It was last updated on November 14, 2022.

Lisa Sorensen

Tuesday 8th of January 2019

Hi Meg. Love this blogpost - It's so well structured and helps travelers navigate easily. Would you like to leave the blog post URL on ZenMap? It's a platform that helps travelers discover blog posts based on where they want to travel: ZenMap. Would love having you on board and it would really help the travelers in our community. Sharing takes about 1 min.

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