The train network is very good in France. It only takes a few hours to go from the heart of Paris to the heart of another town in a totally different region. Some destinations may look far on the map, but they’re only a couple of hours away from Paris with the high-speed train (up to 320 km/h). The following places are the best day trips from Paris by train to see something different from the French capital during your trip. It can also be a good opportunity to find better weather if it’s raining in Paris.

Lille Flandres station; 1hr away from Paris by train
Lille Flandres, close to Paris via the high-speed train

How does this list of day trips from Paris by train work?

All these destinations would make great overnight trips, but it can be nice to do them as a day trip from Paris so that you avoid packing, checking in, checking out… To create this (non-exhaustive) list, I only kept destinations that were easy to reach by train with no bus transfer required from the train station.

I first decided to list them according to the time it takes to get there, but then decided to list them by types of destinations instead. The colour-coding on the map at the end of the article is a good way to see how long it takes to reach the places mentioned in this article (green = one hour or less, blue = one to one hour and a half, yellow = one hour and a half to two hours and maroon = more than two hours).

Regional train in France arriving at a train station
Regional train in France

How to book train tickets for your day trip

Booking your tickets in advance is highly recommended, but it’s not always necessary. You can use the SNCF website (Oui.SNCF) or Transilien website to plan your trip and buy your tickets. I always find it is the easiest way and you’ll get the cheapest deals there if you book in advance.

You can also buy tickets at the stations in Paris. However, you’ll need to find the right place, which isn’t always straightforward. If you’re travelling on the TGV (high-speed train) or TER (regional trains), you’ll have to go to the Grande Ligne area (often at the top level of the station). RER (suburban train) is often at the bottom.

Day trip from Paris by train: explore major cities

Lille | 1hr from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare du Nord | Line: TGV (high-speed train)

Region: Flandres (north of France)

Lille is the fourth biggest urban area in France (after Paris, Lyon and Marseille). It’s a lovely city to visit, but the weather in the north of France can be worse than in Paris. It wouldn’t be my first choice for a day trip from Paris, but some say you have to visit the capital of Flandres at least once in your life. It is a good destination to discover Flemish architecture from the 17th century – quite different from the rest of the destinations listed in this article. It takes only 10 minutes to walk from Lille-Flandres station to the beautiful town hall (the tower in the photo above).

Brussels | 1.5hr from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare du Nord | Line: TGV (high-speed train)

Region: Belgium (north)

The Belgian capital is only 1.5hrs away from Paris. After a 20-minute walk, you’ll reach the number one thing to see in Brussels: la Grand-Place and the lovely streets of the town centre. The famous Manneken-Pis is nearby too, and the Saints-Michel-et-Gudule Cathedral is still within walking distance.

Strasbourg | 1hr45 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare de l’Est | Line: TGV (high-speed train)

Region: Alsace

Strasbourg is a bit smaller than the other major cities listed. But as it is one of the four capitals of the European Union, it earned its spot in this category.

Strasbourg Cathedral is the fourth tallest in the world. But it’s not the only reason why you’ll want to visit Strasbourg. The “petite France” area is one of the most charming areas you’ll visit in France with its beautiful Alsacian houses and canals. There are also many local food specialties to try in Strasbourg. And wine lovers can join a tour* to visit the nearby vineyards.

Lyon | 1hr50 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare de Lyon | Line: TGV (high-speed train)

Region: Rhône (south-east of France)

Lyon - Basilique de Fourvieres 01
Fourviere Basilica

Lyon is France’s second-largest city and is known as the world’s capital of gastronomy. But visiting Lyon is not only about food: the city is surrounded by wine regions and full of stunning historical buildings. The high-speed train arrives in the heart of the city, and it’s easy to walk from there to the main attraction, including the old town (where you’ll find excellent restaurants) and the Fourviere Basilica.

Nantes | 2hrs05 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare Montparnasse | Line: TGV (high-speed train)

Region: Loire Atlantique (west of France)

Nantes is the last one of the biggest 10 French cities (urban areas) less than three hours by train from the capital. From an administrative point of view, Nantes is no longer in Brittany. However, the culture and history of the city are very linked to Brittany. A trip to Nantes is a great opportunity to learn more about this region.

It takes only 10 minutes to walk from Nantes train station to the castle, which was the principal residence of the Dukes of Brittany between the 13th and 16th centuries, before becoming one of the residences of the French Monarchy. It’s also lovely to walk around the pedestrian town centre.

Bordeaux | 2hrs15 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare Montparnasse | Line: TGV (high-speed train)

Region: Aquitaine (south west of France)

Why is Bordeaux worth visiting? The architecture.
Porte Cailhaux in Bordeaux

Bordeaux is France’s biggest city on the Atlantic Coast. Like Lyon, the architecture in Bordeaux is stunning, and the city has excellent wine regions nearby with tasty local products (if you’re not a vegetarian). It only takes 25 minutes to walk from the station to the stunning Porte Cailhaux (photo above). The stunning Place de la Bourse is not far away.

Day trip from Paris by train: beautiful towns on the coast

Deauville | 2hrs10 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare Saint Lazare | Line: TER (regional train)

Region: Normandy (north of France)

It takes only 20 minutes to walk from Deauville-Trouville station to Deauville Beach. The popular seaside resort is one of the closest beaches to Paris and Parisians love going up there for the weekend. Internationally known for the Deauville American Film Festival, the boardwalk along the beach is one of the most famous attractions in Deauville. The town centre with half-timbered houses is lovely too.

Vannes | 2.5hrs from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare Montparnasse | Line: TGV (high-speed train)

Region: South of Brittany (west of France)

It takes only 15 minutes to reach the ramparts from Vannes station, and the port is just a little bit further away. The old town is lovely to explore on foot with stunning half-timbered houses and beautiful gardens. You will have time to join a boat tour around the islands of the Gulf of Morbihan, one of the best things to do in Brittany and a total change of scenery from Paris.

Saint Malo | 2.5hrs from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare Montparnasse | Line: TGV (high-speed train) + TER (regional train) – direct trains from Paris are rare.

Region: North of Brittany (west of France)

Saint Malo is a medieval walled city on the English Channel and one of the most beautiful towns in Brittany. It is often visited in combination with the Mont Saint Michel, the second most-visited place in France after Paris. But you won’t be able to reach Mont Saint Michel by train. After walking half an hour from the train station, you’ll be on the beach and ready to explore the beautiful ramparts of Saint Malo.

Day trips from Paris by train: destinations for wine lovers

I’ve already mentioned Bordeaux and Lyon previously which can be good destinations to explore for wine lovers. Below are a few towns that you can easily access by train from Paris and will allow you to visit some of the best French vineyards.

Reims | 45 min from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare de l’Est | Line: TGV (high-speed train)

Region: Champagne

Reims is known as the Capital of Champagne, and it is also an important city in French history. You can walk from Reims station (be careful, not Reims Maison Blanche station) to the Pommery Domain, a reputed Champagne, in 40 minutes. You can break the walk with short detours to Notre-Dame Cathedral (less than 15 minutes from the station) and the beautiful Place Drouet d’Erlon.

Epernay | 1hr20 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare de l’Est | Line: TER (regional train)

Region: Champagne

Epernay is the second town also referred to as the Capital of Champagne. The Avenue de Champagne in the town centre has 110 kilometres of wine cellars with millions of bottles. Some of them are open for a visit. From the station, you can follow this 40-minute circuit walk to discover the most interesting places in the town.

Dijon | 1hr35 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare de Lyon | Line: TGV (high-speed train)

Region: Burgundy

You may know Dijon for its mustard. But there’s a lot more you should know about this charming town in Burgundy. You will have to catch an early train to see the many architectural gems in the town centre (follow the Owl trail “Parcours de la Chouette) and join a half-day tour of local reputed vineyards* in lovely villages or learn more about the Burgundy wines at the International Cité of Gastronomy and Wine. Don’t miss the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy and climb the Philippe le Bon Tower to get a panoramic view of the town.

Beaune | 2.5hrs from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare de Lyon | Line: TGV (high-speed train)

Region: Burgundy

Just outside Dijon, Beaune is a lovely small French town in Burgundy on the Route des Grands Crus (Great Vintage Road). The Hospices de Beaune (a hospital foundation from the Middle Ages) is the most famous attraction in Beaune and is rather unique. You can find many wine-tasting opportunities in Beaune, but if you want to visit the vineyards, you’ll have to book a tour as they are just outside the town. Château de Pommard* is one of the most famous nearby wineries.

As the train for Dijon is a lot quicker, you may prefer to go to Dijon and join a tour to Beaune* while you’re there.

Day trips from Paris by train: historic castles and buildings

Versailles | 30 min from Paris by train

Station in Paris: multiple (St-Michel Notre-Dame, Invalides, Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel, and more) | Line: RER C (Transilien network)

Do I need to introduce the Palace of Versailles? The former residence of the French royalty is one of the most famous world heritage monuments. The opulent complex is a popular attraction for tourists and locals who want to admire its architectural grandeur, but also imagine life during the monarchy and learn more about the political history of the place.

It takes only 10 minutes to walk from Versailles Château-Rive Gauche station to the main entrance of the Palace of Versailles.

Tours | 1hr15 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare Montparnasse (or Austerlitz but it takes more time) | Line: TER (regional train)

Region: Loire Valley

Tours is a charming medieval town with stunning architecture. The list of monuments to see in Tours within walking distance from the station is long: Saint-Gatien cathedral and la Psalette cloister, Saint-Martin basilica, the medieval castle, the town hall, Charlemagne Tower, the Beaux-Arts museum…

You can also join a tour* to explore Loire Valley castles from Tours. Most of them will be day tours but Villandry Castle isn’t too far from Tours so you should be able to find a half-day tour if you prefer. However, if you’re interested in visiting a Loire Valley castle you may prefer the next destination on this list. Alternatively, a tour from Paris* (rather than a train trip) may work better for you.

Nancy | 1.5hrs from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare de l’Est | Line: TGV (high-speed train)

Region: Meurthe-et-Moselle

Nancy is famous for its late baroque and art nouveau architecture, and for its stunning 18th-century Place Stanislas, known to be the world’s most beautiful square.

Blois | 1.5hrs from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Paris Austerlitz | Line: TER (regional train)

Region: Loire Valley

A day trip to Blois from Paris is an excellent opportunity to visit a Loire Valley castle. It takes less than 10 minutes to walk from the train station to the royal Chateau de Blois*. It is remarkable for its different architectural styles. No less than seven French kings and ten French queens across four different time periods had this castle among their favourites.

But Blois isn’t only about its castle. The streets are full of history and old houses, and there are no less than two cathedrals in the town. You can also hop on a boat for a lovely river cruise.

Amboise | 1hr50 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Paris Austerlitz | Line: TER (regional train)

Region: Loire Valley

Loire Valley - Amboise

Amboise is another good town to visit if you want to see the Loire Valley region. You’ll have a taste of everything the region has to offer: a beautiful Renaissance royal castle* next to a river and wine tasting in a 16th-century troglodyte cave dug in limestone*. Amboise is a destination not-to-be-missed by Leonardo Da Vinci fans. The artist retired in Amboise. You can visit his last house, Clos Lucé*, and go to his tomb in the chapel of Amboise Castle.

Hiring an e-bike* will allow you to see a lot in a short time in Amboise and its nearby vineyards.

Provins | 1hr20 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare de l’Est | Line: P (Transilien network)

Region: Seine-et-Marne

Provins is on the UNESCO World Heritage list as “the only surviving example of a merchant city from the Champagne fairs of the 12th and 13th centuries”. This 8-kilometre circuit starting at Provins train station will take you to the best sites in the medieval city.

Auxerre | 1hr45 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Paris Bercy | TER (regional train)

Region: Burgundy

Auxerre makes a perfect day trip from Paris by train. It takes less than 10 minutes to walk from the train station to Paul Bert bridge, where you’ll get one of the best views of the city. From there, you can easily follow the Cadet Roussel pedestrian circuit that will take you around the old town to see the main monuments in Auxerre.

Day trips from Paris by train: cathedrals and other religious buildings

I won’t list Reims again here as it is already listed in the wine-focused day trips from Paris by train. But I should still mention the stunning Notre Dame de Reims* here as it’s one of the most important cathedrals in France.

Chartres | 1hr from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare Montparnasse | Line: TER (regional train)

Region: Centre

Chartres is mainly famous for its splendid cathedral. Built in 1222, the architecture of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed monument has been preserved at 90%. It is France’s best-preserved gothic cathedral.

Orleans | 1hr10 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare d’Austerlitz | Line: TER (regional train)

Region: Centre

You’ll hear a lot of Joan of Arc when you visit Orleans, as it is where the French heroin was born. You can visit her house, and there are two statues of her in the town. The stunning Sainte-Croix cathedral is one of the five biggest gothic cathedrals in France and has stained-glass windows about Joan of Arc’s story.

It takes only 10 minutes to walk from Orleans station to the cathedral or Joan of Arc’s house.

Poitiers | 1hr15 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare Montparnasse | Line: TGV (high-speed train)

Region: Vienne

Poitiers is one of the stops on the Camino de Santiago. The town has two churches from the 11th century (Notre-Dame la Grande and Saint-Hilaire le Grand), a baptistery from the 5th century (baptistère Saint-Jean) and the cathedral Saint-Pierre with one of France’s oldest stained glasses.

Rouen | 1hr20 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare Saint Lazare | Line: TER or Nomad (regional train)

Region: Normandy

Rouen Cathedral

If you like religious buildings, Rouen is not to be missed. Between the splendid cathedral – the tallest in France and the fourth tallest in the world – and the stunning abbatial that are within walking distance, you’ll still have opportunities to take short detours to a few churches. The city centre is mostly pedestrian and lovely to explore for a day. Rouen is also the place where the British burned Joan of Arc at the stake.

Amiens | 1hr20 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare du Nord | Line: TER (regional train)

Region: Somme

The cathedral of Amiens is France’s biggest medieval cathedral. With a surface of 200 000 m3, it’s even bigger than Notre Dame de Paris. Visitors also love getting lost in the charming nearby streets with old houses and many canals that give the town the nickname “small Venice of the North”. Amiens also have a few other monuments like Perret Tower or a belfry that are worth seeing.

It only takes 10 minutes to walk from Amiens train station to the cathedral.

Metz | 1hr25 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare de l’Est | Line: TGV (high-speed train)

Region: Lorraine

Metz Cathedral is one of the most glazed Christian buildings with 6500 m² of stained-glass windows. History lovers will find Metz very interesting. The town has more than 3,000 years of history, and many monuments have been preserved. You’ll see different architectural styles from the Gallo-Roman era to more recent history when Metz was sometimes German, other times French… Your visit will start from the first second you arrive in the town as Metz station was named the most beautiful French station.

Bourges | 2hrs from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare d’Austerlitz | Line: TER (regional train)

Region: Centre

Bourges hosts one of the biggest cathedrals in France; it’s almost as large as Notre Dame de Paris. You can climb its highest tower (65m) to get a 360-degree view of the town. The Jacques-Coeur Palace is the other must-see in Bourges. If you’d like a short green break, Bourges has wetlands in its town centre.

It takes 20 minutes to walk from the train station to the cathedral.

Bonus: the most romantic day trip from Paris by train

Colmar | 2hrs20 from Paris by train

Station in Paris: Gare de l’Est | Line: TGV (high-speed train)

Region: Alsace

Colmar is very charming. The colourful half-timbered houses next to the river are postcard perfect. You will love walking around the town but also chilling during a boat tour on the canal. If Amiens, also on this list of the best day trips from Paris by train, was nicknamed “the small Venice of the North”, Colmar is “the small Venice of the East”.

What do you think are the best day trips from Paris by train? Share your experience in the comments below!

Map of these destinations for a day trip from Paris

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jaan

    Wow. I thought we had explored France extensively but you’ve given us many new ideas. Thank you

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