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Day trips from Paris

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May 11th, 2015, 06:20 PM
  #1
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Join Date: May 2015
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Day trips from Paris

Hello everyone! My parents and I will be spending the Christmas holidays in 3 European cities. Since that trip will include Paris, what day trips are recommended? I thought of going to Versailles; are Fontainebleu and Vaux de Vicomte good ideas?

Thank you in advance
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May 11th, 2015, 06:49 PM
  #2
 
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If you want to go to anyplace that requires a reservation for train tickets (all TGV trains and many Intercités trains) you'll need to buy them 3 months in advance to get the cheapest ticket prices.

The cheapest train tickets are going to be the local trains near Paris that have fixed prices so you don't need to buy tickets in advance and you can also wait for the best weather day to do a day trip.

Here is a brief list that summarizes many of the most popular day trips from Paris (within an hour and a half by train). With the exception of Reims, Troyes and Rouen I haven't included places that require advance train ticket purchase to get the cheapest train ticket prices. The rest of the destinations are all local trains with fixed prices. There are certainly many other day trips you could also do but this list covers most of the biggies:

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Provins (an authentic walled medieval town): http://www.provins.net/
Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.
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Château of Chantilly (wonderful fairytale château, famous art collection): http://www.chateaudechantilly.com/fr/
http://www.chantilly-tourisme.com/
Trains depart from Gare du Nord and arrive at Chantilly-Gouvieux. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
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Senlis (beautiful small medieval town can be combined with a visit to Chantilly):
http://en.senlis-tourisme.fr/
Take train to Chantilly (see above). Take bus number 15 from Chantilly to Senlis. Bus schedules here: http://www.oise-mobilite.fr/index.asp
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Reims (champagne tours, great historic cathedral, museums):
http://www.reims-tourisme.com/
Take TGV train from Gare de l'Est. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices. Train tickets cheapest if purchased 3 months in advance.
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Epernay (champagne tours): http://www.ot-epernay.fr/
Trains depart from from Gare de l'Est. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
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Fontainebleau (former royal town with famous château):
http://www.musee-chateau-fontaineble...mmaire&lang=en
http://www.fontainebleau-tourisme.com/index.php/en/
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon arrive at Fontainebleau-Avon. Take Bus 1 from train station to château. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.
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Versailles (obvious):
http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage
http://www.versailles-tourisme.com/en/accueil.html
There are several possible ways to get here by train from Paris. Easiest (least confusing) is to take RER C from Paris to Versailles Rive-Gauche. Use www.ratp.fr for train info.
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Rambouillet (Royal château now Presidential palace, nearby forest for hiking/biking, pretty downtown. On the same rail line as Versailles and Chartres)

http://www.rambouillet-tourisme.fr/

http://chateau-rambouillet.monuments-nationaux.fr/en/

Trains depart from Gare Montparnasse. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.
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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):
http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/en/
http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/en/useful-information
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon and arrive in Melun. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5. Take taxi from Melun to château or in high season use the shuttle bus from Melun to château. See 2nd link above for further transport info.
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Rouen (small city, lots to do, wonderful cathedral, medieval old center): http://www.rouentourisme.com/
Trains depart from Gare Saint-Lazare. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules. Tickets cheapest if purchased 3 months in advance. Last minute tickets cost 22.80€ each way (45.60€ round trip).
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Giverny (Monet's house and gardens):
http://fondation-monet.com/en/
http://giverny.org/giverny/
http://giverny.org/gardens/index.htm
http://www.vernon-visite.org/index.shtml
Trains depart from Gare Saint-Lazare and arrive in Vernon. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices. Look at links above for info about shuttle bus to Giverny, or walking or renting a bike.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Chartres (the famous cathedral and wonderful old medieval town):
http://www.chartres-tourisme.com/en
http://www.discover-chartres.com/

Malcolm Miller Cathedral Tours:

Daily tours of Chartres Cathedral from Easter until late October are at 12 noon and 2.45 p.m. Not on Sundays, and during the winter occasionally or on request.

E-mail address is [email protected].

Trains depart from Gare Montparnasse. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ ______________________________

Compiègne (château with museums, wonderful old town. Can be combined with a visit to the château of Pierrefonds): http://www.compiegne-tourisme.fr/
Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
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Château of Pierrefonds (Magnificent fairytale looking château. Reconstructed in the 19th century but magnificent nonetheless. Can be combined with a visit to Compiègne):
http://www.pierrefonds.monuments-nationaux.fr/
http://www.pierrefonds-tourisme.net/
http://www.compiegne-tourisme.fr/Le-...errefonds.html
Take train to Compiegne (see above). There are shuttle buses from Compiegne to Pierrefonds but they are infrequent. Use www.oise-mobilite.fr for bus info. Easiest means of access is taxi from Compiegne to Pierrefonds. The tourist office in Compiegne will assist with taxi service.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Troyes (lovely small medieval city):
http://www.tourisme-troyes.com/
Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Auxerre (lovely small medieval city):
http://www.ot-auxerre.fr/
http://www.burgundy-tourism.com/page...erre-1034.html
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ ____________________________

Laon (medieval hilltop town with a spectacular cathedral): http://www.laon-tourism.co.uk/
Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ _____________________________
Crépy-en-Valois (charming little medieval town with 12th century châteaux, abbey ruin, quaint streets, nice park)
http://www.valois-tourisme.fr/ot_cre...nglish_version
Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.
__________________________________________________ _____________________________
Crécy-la-Chapelle (small charming renowned artists village): http://www.cc-payscrecois.fr/Crecy-la-Chapelle,203.html Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Transfer at Esbly to the next train for Crécy. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.
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Moret-sur-Loing (charming walled medieval village/artists village):
http://www.msl-tourisme.fr/index.php/francais/accueil
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon and arrive at Moret-Veneux-les-Sablons. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.
__________________________________________________ ___________________________

Auvers-sur-Oise (Van Gogh and other impressionist art history):
http://www.auvers-sur-oise.com/heading/heading899.html
Trains depart from either Gare Saint-Lazare or Gare du Nord. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules and prices.
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Rueil-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):
http://www.chateau-malmaison.fr/en
http://www.rueil-tourisme.com/EN/
Take RER A to La Défense and then bus 258 to Château de Malmaison. Also possible to take RER A to Rueil-Malmaison and then walk 1.5km to 2km to old downtown and then to château. Bus number 144 also available from RER station to get to downtown then walk to château. Use www.ratp.fr for transport info.
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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):
http://www.ot-saintgermainenlaye.fr/en/
http://www.ot-saintgermainenlaye.fr/...of-archeology/
http://musee-archeologienationale.fr/
Take RER A from Paris to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Use www.ratp.fr for train info.
__________________________________________________ __________________________

Barbizon (famous artists village, can be combined with Fontainebleau):
http://www.barbizon-tourisme.fr/
Trains depart from Gare de Lyon and arrive in Fontainebleau-Avon. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5. It is necessary to take a taxi from Fontainebleau to Barbizon.
__________________________________________________ ___________________________

IMPORTANT NOTE: When using the http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ website here are a few tips. When entering Paris as your arrival or departure point you will notice a drop down menu appears when you start to type the word ''paris''. Select ''Paris (all stations – FR)'' and this will automatically bring up the correct train station in Paris for your journey. Be sure to uncheck the box marked ''Direct Trains'' to see all options.

If you are redirected to the RailEurope then try again and select ''Antarctic'' as your ticket collection country to avoid being redirected to the RailEurope website. The RailEurope website usually doesn't show all the trains and shows higher ticket prices. Be sure to also look at other ticket purchase options. If you are having troubles with the SNCF website you can try using a new ticket selling website called www.capitainetrain.com. You can also use the German rail site www.bahn.de for schedules but it will not give train ticket prices.

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 and those TER trains that operate within zone 5) use the website www.ratp.fr. Use the interactive map on this website to plan your trip: http://www.ratp.fr/plan-interactif/carteidf.php?lang=uk. Parts of this website are in French so you can use an English language companion site www.vianavigo.com. You can also use www.transilien.com for métro and RER trains and those TER trains that are part of the Transilien network. Some TER trains on the Transilien network go beyond zone zone 5. It's a personal choice as to whether you prefer using the RATP or Transilien website.

A great website to learn about the Paris métro/bus/RER network is www.parisbytrain.com.

For trains that go further beyond the Île-de-France and outside of the Transilien network use the website http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ A great website to learn about trains in France (and Europe) is www.seat61.com 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 (Provins, Fontainebleau, Moret-sur-Loing, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Crécy-la-Chapelle, Barbizon). For these journeys it will be more cost effective to buy a one day Mobilis pass for 16.10€ 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. You can buy these passes from the ticket machines in métro/RER stations. The 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. 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. If you buy the ticket at a main line train station before boarding a train be sure to stick it in the machine that validates tickets and it will punch your ticket.
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May 11th, 2015, 07:05 PM
  #3
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Thank you very much FrenchMystique Tours! The info you shared is a lot to absorb, but really really absolutely helpful.
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May 12th, 2015, 01:32 AM
  #4
 
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jennifer1978 - if you just want to spend a day outside of Paris around Christmas, consider Versailles, Fontainebleau, Vaux le Vicomte, or Chantilly. Days will be very short and temperatures cold, and there is still much to do in Paris.
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May 12th, 2015, 10:22 PM
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Ok Sarastro. Thank you very much for your reply.

Question: How cold does it go in Paris, Amsterdam, and Milan during the Christmas season? And does it snow? Like crazy New York snow?

Thank you in advance
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May 12th, 2015, 10:58 PM
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You can easily find info about average temperature, snowfall etc. doing a google search. Try googling "average temperature paris december".
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May 12th, 2015, 11:20 PM
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No one can give you the perfect prediction on weather.. but .. assume it will be cool and damp ( wet ) in Amsterdam.. and likely also in Paris. Snow is a possibility.. but no , I don't think its anything like I have seen New York get( not in person.. just see it on the news every winter getting hit with at least one big snow storm)
Remember you will spend a lot more time outside walking about.. so .. if weather is iffy.. make sure you don't just plan a bunch of daytrips that involve walking around like some may do in the summer.. ie.. I love Provins.. but would not bother going there in middle of winter..
Also.. not sure how long you will be in each city.. but for me , if you have more then 4-5 days in Paris, plan on only one daytrip.. if you have less then 3-4 days in Paris , I would not bother( unless there is something you really really want to visit )
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May 13th, 2015, 01:26 AM
  #8
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Thank you JustineParis
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May 13th, 2015, 06:37 AM
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Visiting 3 European cities over how long?
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May 13th, 2015, 07:00 AM
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Hi Jennifer
Most winter we don't see snow... or if we do it is a few cm, for one-2 days, maybe repeated 2-3 times.
Enough to create absolute chaos on the roads, not really enough to make a snowball with the kids.
My exp. covers Paris and Bruxelles, never been to Milano in winter time.
Enjoy your trip.
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May 13th, 2015, 08:08 AM
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Note Sarastro's comment - all of the places you're visiting are at higher latitudes than NYC (read: further north). NYC is basically on a line with Rome. This means short days, especially around Xmas when the days are the shortest (Dec 21 is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere).
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May 14th, 2015, 01:59 AM
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@ Gretchen: Hi! We'll be visiting 3 cities for 2 weeks, minimum.... Planning to go to Paris( and stay for 6 or 7 nights), Amsterdam ( for 3 nights ) and Milan ( for 3 nights )
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May 18th, 2015, 07:46 AM
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We were in Paris one Thanksgiving when it was cold and wet. Not fun when you are wet so make sure you are prepared with rain gear and boots you can walk in.
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