You’re visiting Paris for a week or more. But wouldn’t it be nice to take a day trip elsewhere to get a different flavor? Here are some towns you can get to in two hours or less to enjoy a day trip from Paris that offers a different slice of this wonderfully varied country!

  1. Amiens

Amiens Cathedral

In Amiens, you’ll see the 13th-century Cathedral Notre Dame, the largest Gothic cathedral in France. It is one of the main attractions of Amiens. Then check out the nearby Saint Leu area for charming canals and historic architecture.   Maison à la Tour is the Jules Verne museum. Along with that, other museums, award-winning parks and gardens, and a river ride await you.

Nearby are the battlefields of the Somme, if you like WW I history. You can get a Somme One-Day Tour through the company, Terres de Memoire. Their site offers more details on which train to take in order to get to the tour by 9 am in Amiens.

By train: between 1 hour 7 minutes and 1 hour 43 minutes with 30 trains per day from Paris Gare du Nord.

  1. Champagne 

Day trips to vineyards and towns in this region are available from Paris. See the post for details about some organized tours you can take and other details. You can also get guided tours on site from local champagne producers. The lush green countryside is a great contrast to bustling Paris. (see post for more.)

By train: Go from Gare de l’Est to Reims, a main city in the Champagne region. It will take about 45 minutes.

  1. Chantilly/ Senlis

Chantilly is a city of art and history and so close to Paris. It has its own identity, though, charming and fun for a walk and lunch. Aside from that are the sumptuous Renaissance Château de Chantilly and surrounding formal gardens and ponds. Les Grandes Ecuries are stables where you can see horsemanship demonstrations, and inside is the Living Horse museum. Chantilly is known for horse racing, and you can take in one if your schedule allows. Check out the Chantilly Hippodrome for details.

By train: Start at the Gare du Nord and travel 22 minutes. Take the TER Picardie regional train (not the RER D) direction of Creil, and get off at Chantilly-Gouvieux. You can walk to the town and château from there.

Nearby is Senlis, a small town filled with a lot of history and a quaint downtown area where you can shop and enjoy a smaller town calm. It was a royal city from the 10th century on for several centuries. The cathedral is one of the main sights, and you can also see remains of the medieval castle.

Both of these towns and several others suitable for day trips are described in more detail in my book, Magical Paris in the special section “Near Paris.”

  1. Compiégne

There are several trains that will get you to Compiegne in under one hour. This historic city deserves a second look. See full details on the post.

By train: Get the train at Gare du Nord. It will take anywhere from 45 minutes to just over one hour.

  1. Dijon

This interesting city in the Bourgogne region is 1.5 hours TGV train ride from Paris. Check the company RailEurope (owned by SNCF) for times and good prices. Then sample the architecture, wines, and of course, mustard! (For more, see Post)

  1. Fontainebleau/Barbizon

Fontainebleau is a town about 35 miles south of Paris. It’s a beautifully chic place to stroll and lunch outdoors, but the main attraction is the impressive Château de Fontainebleau, one of Napoleon’s residences. Inside you’ll see beautiful artwork as well as period furnishings and historical details.

Chateau of Fontainebleau

Nearby is Barbizon, formerly an artist’s village, still with galleries and artists in residence. It’s small and calm and you can get a good meal there.

Not far from these two is the Fontainebleau forest, where you can hike and rock-climb. For this, you’d need to get there by car. More details on these in Magical Paris.

By train: travel time is about 35 minutes. By car, allow about 45 or so.

  1. Lille

Old Lille

Lille is the 4th largest city in France, and a center of art and culture. You’ll see lovely architecture in both French and Flemish styles in the Old Town and, of course, many museums, restaurants, and shops as well.

You can get to Lille from Paris in one hour on the TGV. Double that for travel by car. A train is better if you’re planning to stay in the city, which is likely the only thing you’d want to see.

By train: from the Gare du Nord there are about 20 trains per day. One hour.

  1. Metz

This important city is east of Paris. Much of the Old Town was built using an unusual yellow limestone, making it unique and picturesque. It’s a mid-size city whose historical significance and architecture span many centuries. See the impressive Cathédrale St.-Etienne, the nearby Esplanade, museums, city squares, and botanical gardens.

By train: Leave from the Gare de l’Est. The journey will take about 1.5 hours.

  1. Rouen

You can spend the whole day in this vibrant mid-sized city which celebrates Joan of Arc and surrounds you with medieval architecture in its center. Read More in the Post.

By train: From Paris Gare St. Lazare, take the intercity train. It will take between 70-90 minutes.

  1. Troyes

This charming medieval city has been considered by some as one of France’s most romantic. Everywhere you look you’ll see half-timbered houses and a small city vibe that offers a lot. It is in the Champagne region, so you’ll find more details in that post.

By train, count on 1.5 hours. By car, 2 hours.