An Hour From Paris

Old Sep 8th, 2012, 01:46 PM
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An Hour From Paris

I will be traveling to France in early November. I will spend a few days with family in Laon and Reims, and then I will spend 10 days in Paris. This will be my 3rd trip to Paris, and I am looking for a place or two for a 1/2 day or full day trip. I have been to Versailles and Fontainebleau, so I am looking for somewhere a little more off the beaten path. After reading the book, An Hour From Paris, I think I'm most interested in Chantilly/Senlis, Rambouillet or Provins. I am also thinking about Ecouen, Poissy or Sceaux. I am asking for your thoughts on these options or other suggestions. I am a female traveling alone. Thanks!
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Old Sep 8th, 2012, 02:09 PM
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Loved Chantilly!

Tip: The shuttle bus from the station to the Chateau doesn't run very often. Check the schedule at the station for return time (because they aren't posted at the Chateau and anyone you ask will tell you the next one will be along in a little while - no.....).

Or, take a taxi from the station and ask the driver to return for you later.

One of my favorite day trips was to Malmaison after reading the Josephine trilogy by Sandra Gulland.
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Old Sep 8th, 2012, 02:22 PM
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I have done Senlis/Chantilly. It is a full day trip.

I got Paris Nord-Senlis ticket at Paris Nord station. It covered both the SNCF train segment Paris Nord - Chantilly Gouvieux and the local bus from Chantilly Gouvieux to Senlis.

I timed Paris departure so that I could get to Senlis, walk around, then take bus back from Senlis to Château de Chantilly just after the opening time, go to the stable, watch the horse show, walk over to the Château for lunch including Chantilly cream demonstration, walk around the garden, have more Chantilly cream at a cafe at the other end of the garden, walk back to the Château for a guided tour of the apartment. The whole trip took more than 10 hours Paris to Paris.
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Old Sep 8th, 2012, 05:02 PM
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Here is a brief list that summarizes many of the most popular day trips from Paris (within an hour and a half by train). There are certainly many others you could also do but this list covers most of the biggies:

Provins (an authentic walled medieval town):

Château of Chantilly (wonderful fairytale château, famous art collection):

Senlis (small medieval town can be combined with a visit to Chantilly):

Reims (champagne tours, great historic cathedral, museums):

Epernay (champagne tours):

Fontainebleau (former royal town with famous château):

Versailles (obvious):

Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte (the château after which Louis XIV based his garden renovations for Versailles and IMO one of the most elegant château in France):

Rouen (small city, lots to do, wonderful cathedral, medieval old center):

Giverny (Monet's house and gardens):

Chartres (the famous cathedral and wonderful old medieval town):

Compiègne (château with museums, wonderful old town. Can be combined with a visit to the château of Pierrefonds):

Château of Pierrefonds (Magnificent fairytale looking château. Reconstructed in the 19th century but magnificent nonetheless. Can be combined with a visit to Compiègne):

Troyes (lovely small medieval city):

Laon (medieval hilltop town with a spectacular cathedral):

Crécy-la-Chapelle (small charming renowned artists village):,203.html

Moret-sur-Loing (charming walled medieval village/artists village):

Auvers-sur-Oise (Van Gogh and other impressionist art history):

Malmaison (château of the Empress Josephine and a nice old downtown. On the RER A line and could be combined with a visit to Saint-Germain-en-Laye):

Saint-Germain-en-Laye (former royal town with a wonderful château now home to the national museum of archaeology. On the RER A line and could be combined with a visit to Malmaison):

Barbizon (famous artists village, can be combined with Fontainebleau):

These are the most popular day trips and all are worthwhile but there are many other less popular and equally worthy day trips. I could easily list a couple dozen more but only if what's on this list doesn't interest you. A good guide book for the Île-de-France region should give you more ideas.

You'll need to take a train from Paris to do these day trips. For info on trains in Paris and the nearby suburbs (métro and RER trains) use the website Use the interactive map on this website to plan your trip: Parts of this website are in French so you can use an English language companion site For trains that go a bit further out in the Île-de-France region use the website For trains that go further beyond the Île-de-France use the website (in French only) or A great website to learn about trains in France (and Europe) is if you have any train questions/problems.

Paris and many of the places nearby in Île-de-France are divided into zones, numbered 1 through 5. Paris is in zone 1 and areas outside Paris are in zones 2 through 5. Some of the destinations I mentioned are in zone 5. For these journeys it will be more cost effective to buy a one day Mobilis pass for 15.20€ for zones 1 through 5. This will be cheaper than the point to point tickets round trip. Plus, this pass is good for unlimited travel on all public trains and buses for one day in zones 1-5. Buy it first thing in the morning before your first métro ride and it gets you to your train station, your round trip tickets, any buses you need to use at your destination and any traveling you'll do in Paris when you return. Before you use the ticket make sure to write your name and the date on the ticket. Don't forget to stick your ticket in the composting machine (ticket validation machine) before getting on your train. You can buy these passes from the ticket machines in métro/RER stations. Sometimes these machines have an English language option. If so, look for the one day Mobilis pass option. When you get to the screen that lists your zones to choose from press zone 1 and then press zone 5. You can also buy them at any ticket counter or stores that sell RATP tickets. They are good for 60 days so you can buy it in advance if you want to be prepared. It's not valid until you write your name and date on it and validate the ticket on your first métro/RER trip or at the train station.

Some of the day trips I mentioned will require a bus transfer once you arrive at the train station. If you choose one of these I can help you with bus info.
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Old Sep 8th, 2012, 07:22 PM
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You have been offered some great advice above. You might also consider reading PARIS TO THE PAST: Traveling Through French History by Train by Ina Caro.

Caro is a real Francophile with extensive experience in France. She also recommends great restaurants in many of the suggested locations.

Enjoy Paris and beyond…
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Old Sep 8th, 2012, 11:09 PM
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Chateau de Chantilly is where the James Bond movie, A View to a Kill, was partially filmed.

I went to the Grand Prix de Jockey Club horse race. It was an amazing event, with horses from all over the world.

It's the only public event in France that I've ever been to, where the announcer spoke English. Many men in top hats, who come from London specifically for the race.
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Old Sep 9th, 2012, 12:59 AM
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I think there are tons of great ideas here( as usual Frenchmystic has posted his amazing list, with links, he rocks) but consider one thing when deciding:
The weather.

Some sites , like Provins for example, may alot less fun in pouring rain, as a great part of enjoyment is wandering around outside. Also , in "off " season some of the attractions limit or close down.

I would come up with one or two "plan Bs" in case of weather, and also decide what about a site is attracting you. For instance I love Chantilly, and part of the attraction is wandering the lovely gardens, but I would go there even in rain as I love the museum inside the Chateau.
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Old Sep 9th, 2012, 12:05 PM
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I have a soft spot for Sceaux... you can play on the grass (unusual in many formal parks) and in town there is the amazing chocolatier Patrick Roger as well as the impressive bakery, L'Etoile du Berger.
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Old Sep 9th, 2012, 12:41 PM
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Thank you all for the information and the great links! I can't wait to do more research. Thanks!
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Old Sep 11th, 2012, 01:16 PM
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Bookmarking for these great ideas!
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Old Sep 11th, 2012, 02:23 PM
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"An hour from Paris" is becoming an increasingly meaningless term. Lille is 55 minutes from Paris, Reims 45 minutes...
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Old Sep 11th, 2012, 03:44 PM
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True, those places are less than an hour from Paris but you take TGV trains to reach them and last minute TGV tickets to these places cost a lot more than some, not all, of the more commonly thought of "hour from Paris" destinations. Last minute one-way fares to Reims are between 32€ and 41€. Not exorbitant to be sure but still far pricier than a one day Mobilis pass for someplace in zones 1-5 (costs 15.20€). Of course, if you buy TGV tickets well in advance then they are a good deal indeed. A one way fare to Reims purchased 3 months in advance is as little as 15€. So if you are on a budget and want to visit Reims or Lille or other places accessed by the TGV then buy in advance.
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