Thursday, February 20, 2014

My 4 Favorite Day Trips from Paris

While I'm currently immersed in my steadfast love affair with Madrid, I must admit that the first city to truly capture my heart was Paris. It's for this very reason that I find myself returning to Paris again, and again, and again...

My infatuation with Paris intensified when I lived there during the summer of 2011. Technically speaking, I was there to study Surrealist art and literature. But in reality, I was there to bask in the magic of the city. While I learned my fair share about André Breton and his crew of surrealists, I spent most of my time eating macarons from Ladurée, frolicking through the Luxembourg Gardens, practicing my broken French in charming cafés and wandering aimlessly through my favorite museums. 

My time spent living there wasn't nearly long enough, but it did allow me to take some pretty memorable day trips. So if your travels bring you to Paris anytime soon and you feel the urge to explore outside of the city, allow me to share with you my four favorite day trips from Paris:



When the overwhelming number of tourist attractions in the city begin to tire you, there's no better escape than to the quaint town of Chartres. This provincial town situated only an hour away from Paris is everything you expect a quintessential small town in France to be. Chartres boasts a particularly stunning cathedral, as well as darling traditional buildings with brightly colored shutters. Chartres defines charm. I halfway expected the locals to spontaneously burst into song as if I were in a scene from Beauty and the Beast.

VISITING CHARTRES:

Travel time: 
~1 hour by train

How to get there: 
Take an SNCF / TER train from Gare Montparnasse to Chartres. 
The town center is a short walk away from the Chartres Station.



Let them eat cake, or at least macarons from the Ladurée shop situated inside of this gargantuan palace. Decadence is taken to a whole new level at this lavish château. Only a half hour metro ride from the center of Paris, there is no excuse not to spend a day soaking in the over-the-top glamour of this palace. It's worth it to pay a little bit of extra money to also visit Marie Antoinette's private estate and gardens.

VISITING VERSAILLES:

Travel time: 
~30 minutes by Metro

How to get there: 
Take the RER C (the yellow line) to Versailles Rive Gauche / Château de Versailles.
The palace is a short walk from the Versailles Station.



While not as grandiose as its flamboyant cousin Versailles, this ornate château is still worth a visit. While some European royal residences seem to blend together as one after a while, Fontainebleau still stands out as a memorable palace. My favorite part about visiting Fontainebleau was hiking through its vast forest, which used to be the residence's former hunting grounds.

VISITING FONTAINEBLEAU:

Travel time: 
~1 hour by train & bus or car

How to get there: 
Take a Transilien train from Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau-Avon.
From the Fontainebleau train station, take bus 12A to Château Fontainebleau.
For a quicker and easier journey, consider renting a car with EasyTerra.  



Brussels is a magical city brimming with history and beauty, and it doesn't hurt that it's also a stone's throw away from Paris. While this is a particularly fulfilling day trip, it also takes more energy than the three mentioned above. I would recommend this day trip to seasoned Paris travelers who already know the city well, and thus can afford to lose a long day of sightseeing in the City of Light. (Otherwise, I recommend extending your trip and spending a night in Belgium before returning to France.)

VISITING BRUSSELS:

Travel time: 
1 hour and 20 minutes by high speed  train

How to get there: 
Take the high speed Thalys train from Gare du Nord to Bruxelles-Midi. 
To get to the city center, take a taxi or a local train to Brussels Central Station.


Have you ever taken a day trip from Paris?
What are some of your favorite day trips in Europe?


Also check out the 5 best day trips from Madrid!


11 comments:

  1. I love your blog! What camera do you use?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I use a Canon Rebel T2i and a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens :)

      Delete
  2. Just beautiful! I am hoping to make it one day to Paris. Gorgeous images!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I hope you make it to Paris too - it's truly magical there!

      Delete
  3. Beautiful pics!! I love Paris, I need to spend more time there next time because both times have been whirlwind weekends and it deserves more than that :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed it does! Not even a month is enough! There's just way too many things to see, do and eat :)

      Delete
  4. You're pictures are so beautiful, Courtney! I feel like I'm the only person that's not completely enamored by Paris...I haven't given up hope, though! I really enjoyed the day trip I took to Versailles the last time I was there and now you have me dreaming of an extended Paris vacation next summer with lots of fun side trips. Maybe third time's a charm?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gracias chica! I think third time could definitely be the charm :) And take me with you, por favor!

      Delete
  5. I've totally been looking at finding good places to day trip from Paris for our trip in October (we've been to Paris a lot but not a lot around it) so I'm so excited with this post! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. So many beautiful places within reach... as if we needed another reason to love Paris! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I am so glad I found this! We are spending a week in Paris soon and while I'm sure we could easily spend that whole time (and much, much more) in the city itself, I'm itching to see a small town in France! Chartres looks perfect :)

    ReplyDelete