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Best overnight trip options from Paris

Everyone was so helpful with my last question that I'm back with another (likely not my last!). We will be in Paris in April with my twin daughters who will turn 18 while we are there. And now my mom, 78, is also joining! We would like to go on an overnight trip somewhere. We will do a day trip to Versailles and perhaps Giverny but are thinking it could be fun to spend the night somewhere on a full overnight trip. Mount Saint Michel looks awesome, Senlis looks charming, as does Reims, Chantilly, etc. They all seem amazing so I'm hoping someone can weigh in with some advice. We would only go for one night and something very different from Paris, where we will be for the other 9 nights of our trip, would be ideal. Would love to give my daughters a feel for France outside of Paris!

Thank you so much for your help!

Posted by
14288 posts

I'm not the expert on this but Chantilly is an easy day trip.

I'm going in April as well and have decided on 3 nights in Colmar in the midst of my trip. That might or might not interest you.

Bordeaux is also just 2 hours away by TGV and is a very different feel from Paris (palm trees and banana plants, lol!!).

Would you keep your lodging in Paris so you could leave most of your luggage or would you check out/travel/check in again?

Posted by
8240 posts

Lyon is manageable and not far -- stay in the center and book a traboule guide ahead and make a restaurant reservation for a bouchon ahead

Mont St Michel is certainly memorable and we really liked Senlis (never book a small town on a Monday as touristy small towns tend to be locked down on that day -- we discovered this in our visit to Senlis)

St. Malo is fabulous. We did a 4 night side trip from Paris there and then visited other place in the region by bus -- but an early train there and one night with a later train return would be amazing -- definitely book dinner ahead as they have fantastic restaurants and also touristy not so good restaurants.

Posted by
31 posts

Thank you, this is helpful. We would keep our hotel in Paris and just bring small bags to make travel easier. St. Malo looks great (and I love your site, Jane!) and adored All the Light! Will check out Bordeaux as well.

Posted by
14288 posts

That sounds like a good idea if everyone can just take minimal stuff for the overnight!

I loved Saint-Malo as well, so that's a great suggestion from Janet.

Posted by
6670 posts

How about Chartres? Easy train ride, spectacular cathedral, charming town. Or Rouen? Or spend the night in Vernon before or after visiting Giverny?

I haven't looked at the logistics, but Bordeaux, MSM, and Lyon seem a long way to go for just one night.

If you can find this book in your library, it has lots of good ideas. It's about ten years old, so check the transportation for updates.

Posted by
932 posts

I would not recommend a single night away for MSM, nor would I spend a night there; I am not a huge fan of MSM as a solo destination in that region, would maybe do a half day trip to MSM from a base like Bayeux - spend at least 2 if not 3 nights in Bayeux, charming town, see the Tapestry, and if you have never done it, spend a day seeing the highlights of the Normandy D-Day invasion sights.

Another "easier" 2 or 3 night trip from Paris, consider Avignon via TGV. Lots to see, half day and full day mini bus tours of the region from Avignon, such as the Cotes du Rhone vineyards, or a whirlwind tour of the Pont du Gard and other hill towns (Roussilon, etc).

Posted by
27447 posts

Bordeaux wouldn't be my first choice. To me, it's a nice place to see if you're down in southwestern France to see the Dordogne, but you don't have time for that. I think Colmar or Strasbourg would be better/more interesting. The German-influenced architecture in Alsace is very different from what you'll have in Paris. Colmar's smaller than Strasbourg and probably has more tourists per square mile, but you're going in April, and I don't think the visitor load will be overwhelming then. Colmar's better positioned for making a trip (by bus, train or taxi, depending) to one of the little wine villages.

I'm a big fan of Lyon, but it's a large city with an awful lot of sights to try to squeeze into two partial days. It's not totally flat, either; some areas might be a challenge for your mom.

I liked Rouen a lot. It has gorgeous (rebuilt after wartime destruction) architecture in its historic center (also quite different from Paris), several good museums and the Joan of Arc connection. I remember it as being basically flat.

Reims has some actual sights (primary among them being the gorgeous cathedral), but I found it not outstandingly attractive as far as French cities go. I'd recommend it as a top choice only if visiting champagne houses is something you'd really like to do. I think it's basically flat, though. (I acknowledge that some other folks really like Reims.)

Posted by
2029 posts

Senlis and Chantilly are easy to combine. Troyes south-east of Paris, absolutely adorable, 1,5 hour by local train.

You can combine Chartres with a visit to Château de Mainthenon on the same railway line. Not so big as the one in Chantilly, but as well as the garden very cute.

Posted by
788 posts

A vote for the Loire Valley here. Train to Tours is about 1 hour, there is some good accommodation near the station, and Tours itself is an oft ignored gem - the cathedral and Musee are great, as are the medieveal buildings closer too the marketplace.

You can catch a train (or take a tour) to a couple of chateau, and it's a totally different vibe to Paris.

Posted by
1444 posts

Amsterdam is a 3-hour trip from Paris and a delight. The teenager will love it.

Posted by
1396 posts

I did an overnight to Colmar from Paris. Kept the apartment in Paris while I did this, only took what I needed for the overnight in my backpack. Took a morning train & dropped off my bag at the Colmar hotel before check-in, didn't want to carry it all day. Enjoyed the town for the day, made dinner reservations at one of the restaurants while I was out and about. Got up the next morning and headed to the Market building for breakfast, fresh bread and pretzels were being made by one of the vendors, then walked back to the train station w/some fresh fruit for the ride and was back in Paris by 2pm.

Chartes would be a good overnight as well, especially if they have the light show,

Posted by
8240 posts

K2 -- we have not yet visited Lille but always do sidetrips on our visits to Paris -- what makes Lille such an attractive spot for repeated visits? Sounds like something that should be on our list.