Please sign in to post.

HELP! I need info about day trips from Paris by train

Me & my husband will be going to France in June. We plan on using Paris as a base, then traveling to Loire Valley one day,
Champagne region one day, burgundy one day, & versailles one day. (We also spend a few days doing things in paris) Would it be a good idea to get a Rail pass or just buy one tickets one at a time. I'm still unclear about the Train travel, regardless of how much info I read.

After using Paris as a base and doing several day trips, we would also like to see Provence & the south of France and are unsure what to use as a base and how to continue seeing different areas of the region. Here are some of the things we are interested in seeing: Pont du Gard, Provence lavender fields, Carrières de Lumières, Nimes, Verdon Gorge, Gordes, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Nice, St. Tropez.

Any suggestions? We are desperate for help. I am really confused.

Posted by Jazz+Travels
Chicago
3685 posts

I would not do the Loire Valley as a day trip. To me It is too far too much too see in a day.

Nimes or Avignon are good base cities to explore Provence. If you do not rent a car you can buy a tour to see those out of the way places like Gordes. The Pont Du Gard is easy to get to on the bus from Nimes

Nice is better as a different base as it is too far a day trip from Provence.

Posted by Adam
Boston
3774 posts

Bunny,

As for the pass, it's tricky and depends on your plans. I'm tempted to just say no pass, because all TGV trains require reservations and passholder reservations are restricted in number. But plan your trips and cost them out, then compare with passes. There is a discount if you travel together.

For Provence, to see the places you mention you will want a car. And you may be too early for lavender. Treat the Rhone Valley and Nice as two separate regions, and if you do go to Nice, consider flying home form there.

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
9946 posts

The coastal area around Nice is generally very accessible by train, with buses coming into play for a lot of the trips up in to the hills (like Eze). St.-Tropez, though, is a bit more difficult since it's not on the train line. I'm not sure about the total length of your trip, but I have a feeling you're trying to get to a lot of different places in a short amount of time. If that is the case, I'd suggest you do some more reading in your guide book and try to select an easier-to-reach town in lieu of St.-Tropez.

Posted by bunnycathy1 OP
4 posts

Thanks to everyone for the suggestions!
We are planning a trip for 10 to 14 days and want to see as much as possible.

Posted by acraven
Washington DC
9946 posts

OK. Keep in mind that "seeing as much as possible" means not spending all your time on buses and trains, moving from place to place. Time spent getting somewhere detracts from time spent being there. You've already mentioned one huge city definitely requiring several days (Paris), one large city (Nice), and sights in twelve cities/towns. Some of your travel legs will be on buses or relatively slow regional trains. You'll need to do some significant pruning in the end, so start thinking about your priorities now. I am not sure the gorge is viable via public transportation in June. Even if it is, it may prove to be one of those it-takes-all-day-to-get-there situations. Check that one carefully. (I wanted to see it myself, but my opportunity came in May, and it was obviously not going to work.)

You can check train times on the Deutsche Bahn website to see what you're setting yourself up for. When you're ready to look at fares, use SNCF

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
11063 posts

You can go to Reims for a day by train, but Burgundy is pretty far. It's a huge region. There's a fast train to Dijon (about 1.5 hours), I don't see the point of the time and cost for a few hours there.

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
4100 posts

Two common day trips from Paris are Fontainebleau for its chateau (a royal palace which is less ornate but less crowded than Versailles) and Chartres for the cathedral. Both are quite atmospheric towns apart from their main attraction. The chateau at Fontainebleau as well as many other chateaus and museums within a day trip from Paris is covered by the Paris Museum Pass - if you look on the website you can see many other places you might want to visit.

Posted by CJean
Ontario, Canada
1439 posts

You've listed 14 places and say you only have 10-14 days. Can't be done. Or if it can, it shouldn't be done. You'll spend the majority of your time in transit to or from, and very little time actually seeing and experiencing what you want to see. I think you really need to look at scaling back. And look at how long it will take to get to where you want to go.

Given the amount of time you have, I'd pare this by half. Pick either Paris and nearby towns OR the south if France. Do the other half on your next trip. And if you go to the south of France, consider renting a car for your day trips. I doubt the lavender fields will be in bloom in June unless they have a very hot spring or you are there late in the month.

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
5222 posts

Yes, agree with others you'll have to trim some things. Rick says "Assume you will return" so you don't have to see ~everything~ in one visit.

Even his tours can't see your whole list and they are very fast paced and efficient.

Here's one of his tours that includes some of your list, so you might want to give it a look. They are a good way to get in a lot of sights and to leave the transportation and some of the planning to someone else.

https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/france/south-france

Even if you decided to take a tour, you'd still need more than 14 days as I like to arrive a day or two before a tour to allow flex for travel delays and to get over jet lag.

Posted by janettravels44
Chicago
4365 posts

There are literally dozens of great day trips from Paris within an hour by train. Just a few include Chantilly, Senlis,
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/moyen-age-visit-to-senlis/
Chartres, Auvers su Oise, Provins, Giverny
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/not-so-secret-garden-giverny/
Moret sur Loing, Crecy la Chapelle, Rambouilet, Conflans St. Honorine, Ecouen, the Guignettes of the Seine and Marne and many many more.
https://janettravels.wordpress.com/category/day-trips-from-paris/
You don't have to go great distances. Reims is also only 45 minutes away by TGV for a day of Champagne house visit, tasting, a good war museum and a great Cathedral and lovely Basilica st. Remy.

When we are in Paris we try to do a day trip like this about once a week at least and haven't run out yet. There are also many chateaux including Versailles, Fontainebleau and Vaux le Vicomte, Malmaison, Sceux, Ecouen, Rambouilet. And there are many cities including Reims, Rouen for starters. Rouen has entirely different architecture than Paris and some notable churches.

Many of these places are in the Ile de france and hence covered in the Navigo Decouverte rail pass so you can visit them during a week for 22.50 or so for all the travel. Some are a bit further e.g. Rouen and Giverny are in Normandy.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
3106 posts

Lots of good day trips suggested by others above. But I wouldn't dream of traveling to Loire or Burgundy or Champagne (other than Reims) as a day trip from Paris. You'd spend most of the day just getting there and back.

Try this website for clear and comprehensive info about train travel in France. And this one about rail travel in and around Paris.

Posted by Barbra
Burbank, CA
575 posts

"Loire Valley one day, Champagne region one day, burgundy one day"

This sounds brutal. I'd say no way. Each of these areas need overnights--more than one.

Daytrips from Paris means Ile-de-France--Giverny, Meaux, Versailles, Chartres, etc.--but not one after the other, at that.

Focus on Paris and the all the things to see and do there, all the different areas and neighborhoods--you won't regret that.

Posted by Adam
Boston
3774 posts

To the contrary, a day-trip to see the Fontenay Abbey, which is in Burgundy, is perfectly feasible. It's an hour from Paris by TGV to Montbard, and you'd need to hire a taxi (not far).

(There is a randonee from Montbard to the Abbey, and the countryside is very pretty, so if you like to walk (about 4 miles as I recall) you might walk back to the train. Or not.)

But this illustrates a more general point, which is that it is pointless to think that a day trip will acquaint you with an entire region or even its highlights. Day trips are to visit specific sights, though that may mean a city's old center (i.e. Rouen or Provins). That can be very worthwhile.

Do think of your plans on those terms, for best trip.

Posted by Wil
IJzendijke, The Netherlands
1197 posts

Closer, north of Paris and also a Cistercian Abbey like Fontenay is the one of Royaumont. Train to nearby Viarmes takes some 40 minutes, from there is a (limited) shuttle service to the abbey or you have to take a taxi. I have visited both and Fontenay is a better experience, but Royaumont comes close and is certainly worth a visit.

https://www.royaumont.com/en/access

Posted by Donna
Cleveland, OH
1357 posts

Hi bunny, this book might be helpful to you - An Hour From Paris by Annabel Simms. If this is your first trip to Paris, plan to spend at least a few days there. Honestly, I could stay in Paris for the whole trip and not get bored! Plan maybe one or two day trips to see Versailles, Chartres, Reims, or Giverny. Plan to return.

Posted by janettravels44
Chicago
4365 posts

We have done most of the trips in An Hour from Paris and it is a great guide to day trips in the region. We love Burgundy, but it is IMHO not worth it to go there for a day even for something as lovely as Fontenay. The regions of France are best done in week long chunks in a cottage with a car so you can explore the area. With so much so near Paris, taking long trips from Paris for day trips is unnecessarily grueling and expensive.

Posted by Barbra
Burbank, CA
575 posts

Fontenay is cool, but not for a day trip from Paris. Not worth the time, TGV ticket price, and then the taxi cost.

Posted by michael
Kelowna, Canada
66 posts

As others have indicated the Loire and Burgundy are too far for day trips.

As a suggestion you should try to read An hour From Paris by Annabel Simms as this has some excellent ideas for day trips

I would recommend Provins (old walled town about 90 minutes fro Paris).
I am going to Paris in May and have planned to go to Giverny (where Monet lived).

Posted by 75020
Paris
506 posts

One thing in your favor for extending the distance traveled on day trips . . . . .very long June days. For instance, on June 15th the sun will set at about 10pm.

Posted by vftravels
S.F. Bay Area, CA, United States
1536 posts

Are you set on the Paris as a base for day trips strategy? I'm not trying to be overly critical here, I just think the Paris as base for day trips is not optimal. This strategy makes the most sense when there is a single train station that you are staying close to, when the hotels are not too expensive, and the day trip destinations not too far away.

You will pay a lot for a decent hotel in Paris and then incur significant extra cost for the train, etc. And the train station that you need to leave from to get to your day trip destination may be on the other side of town. So 1:15 can easily add up to 2:00 each way, metro changes, etc. Murphy's law, the metro you need is the deepest underground and the escalator's not working, etc. My view is some cities are more conducive to a base + day trip strategy and Paris is not especially one of them. (Madrid is a good city for this strategy). It's your trip though so if you are set on it then go for it. Rome2rio give you basic information and cost estimates, but you want to go to a local site for more complete/up to date information. You will want to get a guidebook and figure out the practicalities of where trains leave from for a specific destination, how close does the destination train station get you to where you really want to go, etc.

Versailles is an easy one and it's just on the RER so not far or expensive. It will be very, very crowded in June; don't go on Sunday when it is mobbed. Chartres is very worthy and do-able at 1:16 according to rome2rio, but check on the cost of the tickets. rome2rio is showing $20-30 one way. Reims is less than an hour but for two people round trip, plus a $140 hotel room in Paris--you get the idea. Fointainbleau could be workable as well, I was not blown away by this one but maybe it's because I was tired and had already been driving for several hours that day. The town itself is very pleasant. Giverny is another one that is closer to Paris, again could be expensive to get to--I think you can only take the train as far as Vernon and then a taxi from there. (It would be great in June though!)

Rouen in Normandy is worth considering, too.

Depending on how much time you have, a couple of nights in Reims with a day trip to Epernay could make sense.

You can probably get a bus tour for the Loire that would cover two or even three chateaux--you can cover a lot in a little time in the Loire. We were there for one full day plus a morning and saw four chateaux.

There is enough to keep you busy in Paris for four full days minimum. You can probably save booking specific trains well in advance.

For Provence, Avignon is well situated as a base for train journeys and the "base + day trips" is more workable there I think. A lot of the train journeys are pretty short. Although Arles is usually recommended as a place to stay over Avignon, I think the latter is the most convenient.

Note: you do not have to go all the way back to Paris to fly home, go open jaw if you can. Actually I would probably fly into Marseilles and out of Paris.

Posted by amjinman
4 posts

In 2013, for one of our day trips we took train from Paris to Chantilly, only 30 min wait for bus to Senlis,was fast. Spent the day exploring the town, Roman wall, had a great lunch at hotel across park from bus station. Toured the church & nice museum, good shops & cafes for refreshment...was an easy relaxing day! & returned to Paris with plenty of evening hours left.

Posted by amjinman
4 posts

In 2013, for one of our day trips we took train from Paris to Chantilly, only 30 min wait for bus to Senlis,was fast. Spent the day exploring the town, Roman wall, had a great lunch at hotel across park from bus station. Toured the church & nice museum, good shops & cafes for refreshment...was an easy relaxing day! & returned to Paris with plenty of evening hours left.

Posted by larlock
Los Angeles
270 posts

Hi,
I too am planning my trip to France for May and as my perfect little trip was complicated by my travel partners, we too are making Paris our home base with side trips. I will be taking this day trip to Loire Valley. It is far from what I had planned but at least I get a taste for a future trip. http://www.accodispo-tours.com/join-in-tours.html

Posted by bunnycathy1 OP
4 posts

Thank you everyone for all the suggestions, you have really helped me think things through. I am now thinking of only staying in Paris for 3 or 4 nights, then maybe go to Avignon and venture off from there.
If I fly into Paris and Fly out of Marseille will it be more expensive? wouldn't I have to buy one way tickets with the airlines?

Posted by larlock
Los Angeles
270 posts

What you will need to do that is an open jaw ticket. I did it last year when I flew into Venice and out of Rome. Pick a Multi-City trip.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
9644 posts

"If I fly into Paris and Fly out of Marseille will it be more expensive? wouldn't I have to buy one way tickets with the airlines?"

Don't look for one way tickets, as these can indeed be more expensive. Instead, use the "multi city" or "multiple destinations" option (this is also called open jaw).

Sometimes it is more expensive to go into Paris and out of Marseille than a simple round trip to Paris, and sometimes it is not. But don't forget, you save time, hassle and money by not backtracking.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
9642 posts

I've done day trips from Paris to numerous places...Amiens, Beauvais, Meaux, Caen, Bayeux, Compiegne, Chateau-Thierry, Fontainebleau, Versailles, Giverny, ,etc. You have theses choices plus Soissons, even Metz. There are a lot of choices depending on which direction.