Please sign in to post.

Paris/Side Trips Ideas?

We're going to Paris with my mother next week for 8 nights. We've been before and did the most touristy things (Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Versailles), so looking for other ideas. She cannot do beach (for health reasons she can't be w/o shade for long) and doesn't want to do chateaus again (which eliminates most side idea trips I've seen when researching). We're staying close to Gare du Nord for part of the trip. She speaks intermediate French.

The problem is she gets tired easily, so she needs to rest often. I'm looking for things to do in Paris and within 2.5 hrs train ride (train and long cafe visits count as resting) that are a little off the most traveled path. Giverny is on the list.

Thanks in advance and sorry for the last minute request :).

Posted by
6647 posts

You could do a search on this forum since this question has been asked a lot. For example this is a very recent one: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/day-trips-from-paris-ace64709-508c-4162-afa9-3ebce6dfa933 and this one from late last year:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/must-see-do-day-trips-from-paris. Both have lots of ideas.

Also check out the book "An Hour From Paris" by Annabel Simms and her website.

Posted by
198 posts

Picpus Cemetery, where Lafayette and victims of the French revolution lie. The hours are erratic, but it is very moving.

St Denis is a beautiful basilica, also with ties to the French revolution.

Check out a day trip to Auvers-sur-Oise for a perspective on Vincent van Gogh. Nice addition to a trip to Giverny. Speaking of Giverny, a trip to Musee Marmottan is a good stop as well.

You didn't mention having been to Montmartre. A trip up the "back side" with switchbacks going up the hill is less onerous than tromping straight up the stairs and is a unique neighborhood.

I really love cemeteries, and Pere Lachaise is a must-see, and I love the more accessible but very interesting Montparnasse Cemetery.

I made up a "Julia Child" tour, as well as a "Paris Wife" tour after having read the book about Hemingway in Paris.

The Cinematheque Francaise is also a great visit.

Ooh -- a trip to Reims to see champagne houses, an incredible Cathedral, and the room where the Germans surrendered to end WWII in Europe.

Ok, I'll stop now....

Posted by
679 posts

Chartres is a nice town, and the cathedral is fantastic--one of the greatest in Europe, with gorgeous, original stained glass.

Posted by
22 posts

Pam, we have been to Montmartre and LOVED it. But she's sick and won't be able to climb the stairs again... It's also the reason I'm trying to avoid cemeteries (as much as I know they are a must in France).

Don't stop... what is the Paris wife tour? Anything Hemingway is good, and the trip to see champagne houses sounds intriguing. I know there is a train from Paris to Reims, but is there a way to get to the countryside w/o a car (pls excuse my ignorance).

Posted by
4557 posts

I second Chartres, perhaps a tour of the cathedral? The terrain of Chartres is pretty much flat. For something a little different, I enjoyed the evening light show, and more than just the cathedral is lit. Giverny is a great idea. Along the Monet theme, what about Rouen where Monet and others painted the cathedral? I can also imagine going to Honfleur and just sitting at a cafe on the harbor for a while, I'm just not sure if Honfleur is accessible by train. Strasbourg is accessible by train with a lovely cathedral and historic center.

Posted by
22 posts

Thanks Jules :) I'm looking at Chartres. Do you have a preference between Rouen and Strasbourg (it seems you need a car for Honfleur)? They both are the same distance from Paris.

Another question - would London be too much for a day trip? We wouldn't see it all of course, maybe get a quick overview of the city and have tea somewhere (which is fine). It could be a nice change from everything Parisian...?

Posted by
784 posts

You might look at this tour operator for day trips. I did 2 with them last September and enjoyed them. The trip to Giverny and Auver-sur-Oise was a small group - limited to 8, but there were only 3 of us - in a van with door to door service. The driver was very accommodating. I also did the trip by bus, to Fountainbleau and Vaux-le-Vicomte, but that entailed a lot of walking. If you do take organized tours, be sure to book through the operator, not a third party broker like Viator.

https://www.pariscityvision.com

Posted by
1981 posts

hey tskittles
going to london for a day trip is possible, but by too much do you mean a long day-yes, by too much in cost-outrageous-for 2 people (my own opinion) would be over $500 for train fare. you are the only one to make that decision. you can look at independenttravelcats.com and search french tea time: that has a guide for teas at different hotels/salons, take your pick. i also sent you a message, check your inbox. have a fabulous time.
aloha

Posted by
6647 posts

what is the Paris wife tour?

I believe the poster made her own tour based on the Paris locations mentioned in the book "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain - it's a novel about the time in Paris of Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley Richardson. You'd have to know the book to make your own walking tour of these sites. There are also some guided tours of locations from the movie "Midnight in Paris" if that sort of thing interests you.

Posted by
22542 posts

Another possibility is Troyes, a lovely place chock-full of half-timbered buildings. It's 1-1/2 hours by train. It definitely gets tourists, but they all seem to be French. Would perhaps be quieter on weekdays and now that we're into September; I was there in late June or July last year. It is a much prettier city than Reims but it lacks the champagne houses, incredible cathedral and Surrender Museum.

I think you'd be happy with either Rouen or Strasbourg, though I visited the latter many years ago and cannot compare the amount of walking they would entail.

Posted by
8293 posts

For an easy little day out from Paris, consider Chateau Malmaison, a 15 minute bus ride from La Defense.

Posted by
198 posts

Yes, I just cobbled together a "Paris Wife" tour from the book and other material. It helps that Hemingway is officially recognized in Paris, and many of the buildings have plaques on them. Here's a link from the Smithsonian. Julia Child is not a thing in France, so that was a little harder to do.

In Reims there are a couple of champagne tasting houses in town, but you will need to check the stair situation....The other sites in Reims are accessible, and you can always have champagne in a cafe.

How about a day trip to Guinguette Auvergnate? Haven't been there, but it's on my list....

Just walking around Paris is it's own pleasure -- here's a link to a little tour of covered passages, giving your wanderings a bit of a purpose.

Posted by
22542 posts

Andrew, that's not what I see when i check the schedules on the Deutsche Bahn website. The quickest trips at sane morning departure times for a day-trip (between roughly 8 AM and 10 AM) are:

Rouen 69 minutes
Dijon 97 minutes
Lyon 112 minutes
Strasbourg 129 minutes

Note: I didn't check the return schedules.

Of course, the train time is not the only factor. Paris has a lot of rail stations, used to reach different destinations, and those stations will not be equidistant from ones hotel. And there's also the question of how far one must travel from the train station at the destination to reach the part of the city of tourist interest.

Posted by
4557 posts

Rouen is closer than Strasbourg. While I enjoyed Strasbourg, there were other cities I liked better in Alsace. However, those cities are even further away from Paris than Strasbourg. Strasbourg's cathedral is quite impressive, especially the astronomical clock. There is no question that Strasbourg's old town is very picturesque. I like Rouen well enough, but I was looking at acraven's suggestion of Troyers. I have never been there, and now I sure want to go. The half timbered houses are appealing and perhaps you could taste some of the region's champagne. The images I see of Troyers look similar to Strasbourg (except for the water) so you could get similar architecture at a shorter distance than Strasbourg.

Posted by
4125 posts

I don't get the sense of what you and your mother enjoy, just what is off limits. So, hard to advise.

A 2-1/2 train radius gets you surprisingly far: Lyon, Beaune, Reims, Brussels, London, Rouen, Rennes, even Bordeaux.

Of all of those, I think you'd get a lot from Lyon, and as a bonus there are frequent trains to and from Charles deGaulle, so you could make your trip into a triangle rather than an asterisk (day trips in and out of Paris.)

Posted by
5678 posts

I'll just reinforce the advice not to try a London day trip. Beaucoup expensive this late and very tiring if you try to do much at all there. The Eurostar train service is great if you're spending several days or more in each city, or even (to some) for a high-intensity whirlwind day trip, but not for someone who needs to rest often.

Chartres would be a good choice if you and she like great cathedrals.

Posted by
13530 posts

With that radius I'll suggest Amiens, Arras, Soissons Fontainbleau, Chateau-Thierry, . Trains from Gare du Nord leave for Amiens, Arras and Soissons, Compiegne too.