France is an amazing country. Arguably home of the world's greatest wines and finest cuisine, France is also renowned for its beauty, its culture, and its people. It's a place where you can do almost anything, from relaxing on sunny beaches to roaming around rustic villages, skiing atop snowy mountains, exploring big cities, admiring extraordinary scenery, and so much more.
France is the sort of country one could explore for years on end and still have so much left over to see and do, but a large percentage of travelers who visit France spend most, if not all of their time in just one city: Paris. The French capital, home of the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, certainly has plenty offer and can be a wonderful place to explore, but there’s much more to France than Paris alone.
So, the next time you’re planning a trip to Paris, you might want to consider adding a day trip or two onto your vacation. One of the best things about Paris is its location. The capital is in quite a central spot in Northern France, offering direct access to several cities and lovely locations, and only being a couple of hours away from some super spots. Here are just some of the best day trips you can do from Paris by train.
Day Trip to Rouen from Paris by Train
Paris is right by the region of Normandy, which is home to some beautiful cities and fascinating historic locations, especially the beaches of the famed D-Day Landings in World War II. One of the best places to go if you're planning a day trip from Paris to Normandy is the city of Rouen. Rouen is the capital of Normandy and has history dating back hundreds of years and architecture to match.
The city’s cathedral is truly breathtaking, and there are several other wonderful churches to be found around the city too like Saint Maclou and Saint Quen. The cobblestone streets and alleyways of this city are lovely to explore, lending Rouen a romantic air that couples will adore, and it’s a good place to do some shopping and dining too. Plus, it's only about 70-90 minutes away from Paris on an Intercités train.
Day Trip to Lille from Paris by Train
Located up in the Hauts-de-France region, not far from the border with Belgium, Lille is another amazing city you might like to visit on a day trip from Paris by train. If you take a super fast TGV train from the Gare du Nord, you can be in Lille in just over an hour, so it's one of the best and most convenient cities to choose for the purposes of a day trip.
Once you get to Lille, you'll find a lot of monuments and buildings to explore and admire. The city's historic center, Vieux Lille, is filled with gorgeous buildings and cobblestone streets, and the Place Charles de Gaulle is a super spot to take photos and really feel connected to the city's past. Lille Cathedral is another good location to check out, and no trip to Lille can be complete without exploring the Palais des Beaux-Arts.
Day Trip to Brussels from Paris by Train
If you want to do an international day trip from Paris by train, Brussels is one of the best options available to you. The Belgian capital seems quite far from Paris when observed on a map, but you'd be surprised to see how fast you can get there on the high speed French rail network. By taking the Thalys train from the Gare du Nord, you can arrive at Bruxelles-Midi in about an hour and 20 minutes.
When you arrive in Brussels, you'll be able to explore the city streets, shops, landmarks, and more. Some of the top sites to check out include the Mini-Europe attraction area, the Mannekin Pis fountain, and the Grand Place square. Brussels is also famed for its food and drink, so be sure to check out one or more of the many bars in the city for some good beer and the best fries in all of Europe.
Day Trip to Strasbourg from Paris by Train
If you want to see something very different to Paris and you love old buildings and charming cobblestone streets, Strasbourg is a lovely city to choose for a day trip. By taking the TGV from the Gare de l'Est, you can get to Strasbourg, which is situated over in the far eastern side of France, right by the border with Germany, in less than two hours. A great time to visit is during winter, as Strasbourg is famous for its Christmas markets and celebrations.
A gorgeous city in the Grand Est region, Strasbourg offers an interesting blend of French and German culture due to its interesting past. You'll find that many of the locals speak both languages, and you'll get to try some traditional German treats around the city, despite being on French soil. Some of the top spots to check out include the historic buildings of the Grande Ile, the Cathedrale Notre Dame, and the Palais Rohan.
Day Trip to Versailles from Paris by Train
If you're looking for a short but exceptionally sweet day trip from Paris, choose Versailles. Versailles is barely 10 miles outside of Central Paris, so you can take a few different train routes to get there and the journey can be completed in less than an hour. It’s one of the closest and easiest day trips to organize, and the Palace of Versailles has so much to offer.
Once used as the main royal residence for France's Kings and Queens, the Palace of Versailles was claimed by the people during the French Revolution. Now, it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited locations in all of France, famed for its stunning Hall of Mirrors and surrounding gardens. More people visit the palace than the Eiffel Tower, so it’s always quite busy, but is truly amazing to explore and enjoy.
Day Trip to St Malo from Paris by Train
Many of the day trips from Paris on this list have headed east to locations like Brussels and Lille, but there’s plenty to be seen over in the west as well. If you're willing to make the relatively long (3 hour) trip over to St Malo in Brittany, you'll be rewarded with a wonderful experience. To get to St Malo by train from Paris, you'll need to catch a TGV to Rennes and then change over at the Gare de Rennes for a connecting service north to St Malo.
Once there, you'll be able to enjoy the charms and beauty of this coastal fortress city. The huge city walls will tower around you, and walks along the ramparts are always popular with locals and visitors alike. The Saint Malo Cathedral and Grand Aquarium are a couple of the city's top sites of interest, but simply roaming around, enjoying the views, and tasting some traditional crepes are great ways to spend your time here.