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These Are the Best Small Towns Near Paris that You Cannot Miss!


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10/09/22

Beautiful Towns & Villages Near Paris to Visit

Paris is a great city, with many exciting things to see and do. But it can also be a busy and crowded city, and after some days of sightseeing from dawn till dusk, you may need a break.

Luckily, the Paris countryside is stunning and there are many picturesque small towns near Paris perfect to get out in the fresh air and see a different side of France. Most of these small towns outside of Paris make excellent day trips from Paris by train.

Best day trips from Paris

So if you are doing great visiting Paris and have an extra day in the city, why don’t you give these beautiful towns and villages near Paris a chance? Here’s the list of the best small towns near Paris (completed with a couple of small cities near Paris) to visit during your next trip to the French capital.

READ MORE: Click here for the best weekend getaways from Paris by train

Best Way to Explore the Small Towns & Cities Near Paris

train station in Paris

By Train

Most of the countryside near Paris is easy to reach by train. SNCF, the French rail network, links all the major towns and cities while also linking up many small towns in rural France.

Generally, trains are on time, comfortable, relatively cheap, and our favorite way to explore the towns and small cities near Paris. If you are also concerned about your carbon footprint and want to reduce it, trains are the best way to go around.

TIP: Check our France by Train Guide

By Guided Tour

A guided tour is not the cheapest option to explore the small towns outside of Paris, but it is definitely the most comfortable. Forget about planning, entrance tickets, or train schedules; just hop on a coach or minivan and enjoy your day!

Usually, guided tours include skip-the-line tickets and a knowledgeable English-speaking guide, making the place or attraction even more enjoyable. Also, half-day guided tours are perfect for people with short holidays in Paris but who still want to see more than the French capital.

Best Guided Tours to Visit the Paris Countryside

TOUR
DURATION
LOCATION
SUBJECT
TRANSPORTATION
PRICE
4 to 6 hrs
Fontainebleau
History, Castles
Private Minivan
9 hrs
Fontainebleau + Vaux-le-Vicomte castles
History, Castles
Air-conditioned bus
11 hrs
Fontainebleau Castle + Barbizon
History, Castles, Arts
Private Minivan
9 hrs
Versailles
History, Castles, Gardens
Private Minivan
5 hrs
Giverny
Arts, Monet
Air-conditioned Bus
5 hrs
Chartres
History, Cathedrals
Private Car (1-3 pax) or Minivan
10 hrs
Epernay & Hautvilliers
History, Champagne
Private Minivan

By Car

Cars are the best option to explore the countryside near Paris, especially those villages which are a bit off the beaten path.

If you need to rent a car, we recommend choosing a car rental office located on the outskirts of Paris: they usually have better prices, and you avoid the hassle of driving through the city. Reach the rental office by metro and avoid the traffic jams in Paris!

We use and recommend DiscoverCars.com. DiscoverCars compares 900 companies at over 53,000 locations to guarantee you the best price. Click here for our best tips for renting a car in France.

TIP: Check out this quick guide to driving in France

Best Towns Near Paris Map

Map of Small Towns near Paris made with Google My Maps

Click here to view this map of small towns near Paris on Google

TIP: We listed these small towns outside Paris by region. Click here to read more about the Regions of France.

small towns near Paris

Best Small Towns Outside of Paris (Ile-de-France)

1. Provins

Provins Medieval City
Provins Medieval Town

Provins is one of the best medieval towns near Paris. It is located 70 km southeast of Paris, in the region of Ile-de-France, and it makes a great day trip from Paris by train.

Provins was the capital of the powerful Counts of Champagne. Thanks to the counts’ protection and its strategic location, the town became one of the main actors in the early development of international trade fairs and the wool industry in Europe during the 9th to 18th centuries.

Walking around Provins is like a step back in time! The town is surrounded by impressive walls and the medieval architecture of half-timbered houses is beautiful to see. This medieval town near Paris is especially known for its medieval fair, usually held in June, and unique underground galleries that you can visit with a guided tour.

What to Do in Provins:

  • Sightseeing
  • Provins’ Medieval Fairs and Medieval Christmas Market

HOW TO GO FROM PROVINS TO PARIS

By Train: Paris to Provins is one of the easiest Paris day trips by train. Direct trains leave from Paris Gare de l’Est train station to Provins (1 hr 22 min, hourly).

By Car: Paris to Provins is a 91 km drive which takes around 1 hr 13 min, depending on the traffic.

EXTEND YOUR TRIP

There’s so much to see and do in Provins that it may be a good idea to extend your trip by spending one night in this beautiful medieval town.

>> Click here for the best hotels in Provins

2. Versailles

Versailles is one of the best small cities near Paris to visit, world-known for the magnificent Palace of Versailles. It is located 21 km southwest of Paris, in the region of Ile-de-France.

If this is your first visit to Versailles, we recommend visiting the Château, but you can also decide to spend all your time exploring the Gardens of Versailles or other parts of the city.

The list of interesting sites outside the Versailles Estate includes the King’s Kitchen Garden, the Academy of Equestrian Arts, the Carriage Museum, and the Chuch of Notre Dame. The local market, not far from the château, is also fun to explore.

What to Do in Versailles:

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO VERSAILLES

BEST DAY TOUR FROM PARIS TO VERSAILLES

Get the most out of your day in Versailles with this top-rated tour with a private guide, transportation, and lunch. Visit the Palace of Versailles and the Trianons with your guide, stroll through the impressive gardens, and have lunch at La Petite Venise.

EXTEND YOUR TRIP

There’s so much to see and do in Versailles Estate that it may be a good idea to spend one night on-site. You will also find yourself staying late if you watch the Saturday night Fountain Show.

>> Click here for the best hotels near Versailles Palace

3. Fontainebleau

Château de Fontainebleau

Fontainebleau is one of the most beautiful places near Paris worth visiting, with a lovely historical center and surrounded by a large forest. Fontainebleau is located 25km southeast of Paris, in the Ile-de-France region.

For many centuries, the forest of Fontainebleau was the French Kings’ favorite hunting place, and they built a magnificent castle to get the most out of Fontainebleau.

The Château de Fontainebleau is one of the most beautiful castles near Paris and Versailles’ eternal rival. Known as “the true home of the French Kings,” its different rooms and halls are grand and magnificent!

After visiting the castle, explore the surrounding gardens. The gardens’ main highlight is the Grand Parterre, the most extensive formal garden in Europe, and King Louis XIV’s most significant architectural achievement at Fontainebleau.

The Forest of Fontainebleau is Parisians’ favorite place for hiking, hiking, and bouldering, and the 25 bosses de Fontainebleau hike is one of the most famous hikes in the region. If you are visiting Paris in the fall, consider a walk in the forest of Fontainebleau, it is stunning with the fall colors!

What to Do in Fontainebleau:

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO FONTAINEBLEAU

By Train: direct trains Paris – Fontainebleau leave from Paris Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau-Avon train station (40 min, every 20 min). Once you arrive at Fontainebleau train station, a bus shuttle waits outside to reach the château (12 min ride).

By Car: Paris to Fontainebleau is a 69 km drive which takes around 48 min, depending on the traffic.

BEST DAY TOUR FROM PARIS TO FONTAINEBLEAU

This Paris-Fontainebleau private guided tour is a great option. This tour visits the Château of Fontainebleau and the gardens with explanations by an English professional guide. The tour includes pick up and drop off at your accommodation in Paris, transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle, and skip-the-line entrance tickets for the Château of Fontainebleau.

4. Barbizon

Barbizon - France

Barbizon is a cute village near Paris, nestled in the Forest of Fontainebleau. Barbizon is located 60km southeast of Paris, in the region of Ile-de-France.

Barbizon was home to the ‘Barbizon School’ of 19th-century French painters, including Théodore Rousseau and Jean-François Millet. This movement was born from the wish of certain artists to represent unspoiled nature.

After visiting Château de Fontainebleau, Barbizon is a lovely place to go for a good meal followed by a stroll. Admire its charming stone houses and restored inns and workshops. Enjoy its flowery walls and the heady smell of turpentine.

The Auberge Ganne is where penniless painters without money often shared the same rooms and drew on the walls to perfect their lines. The evenings in this modest inn always ended up late, with everybody heavily drunk. Even today, visitors can immerse themselves in this era which saw the birth of the very idea of ​​the romantic painter, in search of pure and beautiful nature.  

Art lovers will enjoy the Barbizon School Museum, Millet’s studio, and numerous art galleries.

What to Do in Barbizon:

  • Sightseeing
  • Eat & Drink
  • Biking and hiking

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO BARBIZON

By Train + Bus: direct trains Paris – Fontainebleau leave from Paris Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau-Avon train station (40 min, every 20 min). Once you arrive at Fontainebleau train station, take bus #21 to Angelus (22 min ride).

From Fontainebleau, you can also rent a bike. From Fontainebleau, it’s a mere 10km bike ride to Barbizon (one way).

By Car: Paris to Fontainebleau is a 70 km drive which takes around 40 min, depending on the traffic.

BEST DAY TOUR FROM PARIS TO BARBIZON

This Fontainebleau + Barbizon full-day private guided tour is a great option. The tour includes pick up and drop off at your accommodation in Paris, transportation in a luxury van, a professional guide, and entrance tickets to the Château of Fontainebleau.

5. Moret-Sur-Loing

Moret-sur-Loing France

If you are interested in pretty medieval towns close to Paris, you’re going to love Moret-sur-Loing. Moret is located on the eastern side of the Fontainebleau forest, 77km southeast of Paris, in the Ile-de-France region.

One of the cutest towns to visit near Paris, Moret-sur-Loing has a beautiful medieval heritage and a couple of interesting museums. It is also an excellent place for outdoor activities like kayaking, biking, or hiking.

Moret-sur-Loing was home to the impressionist painter Alfred Sisley, who found in Moret the source of inspiration for many of his masterworks. The Tourism Office in Moret proposes a self-guided walking tour to see all the spots that inspired the painter. You will quickly understand why Sisley fell in love with Moret!

Things to Do in Moret Sur Loing:

  • Sightseeing
  • Kayaking
  • Biking
  • Hiking

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO MORET-SUR-LOING

By Train: direct trains leave from Paris Gare de Lyon to Moret-Veneux-Les Sablons train station (48 min, every 30 min). Once you arrive at Moret-Veneux-Les Sablons train station, there is a 15-minute walk to Moret.

By Car: Paris to Moret-sur-Loing is a 77 km drive which takes around 58 min, depending on the traffic.

6. Auvers-sur-Oise

Auverge Ravoux - Auvers-sur-Oise

If you are looking for beautiful villages near Paris to visit, Auvers-sur-Oise is the place to go. Auvers-Sur-Oise is located 35 km north of Paris, in the region of Ile de France, and has many interesting things to do.

Auvers-sur-Oise is also known as the Impressionists’ Village because it attired many artists, especially the Impressionists, by the end of the 19th century. People like Cézanne, Pissarro, Sisley, and Monet lived or frequented Auvers-Sur-Oise and painted the village in some of their masterworks.

But most of all, Auvers-Sur-Oise is known for being Vincent Van Gogh’s last home. Van Gogh discovered Auvers by the end of his life, and although he lived in the village for less than two months, he painted 70 works in Auvers, most of them related to the village and its landscapes.

Here, there is a lovely self-guided walk, The Painters’ Pathway, which visits several views appearing in some Impressionist paintings. Also, you can see the room at Auberge Ravoux, where Van Gogh lived and passed away, the famous Church at Auvers, and Van Gogh’s tomb in the local cemetery.

What to Do in Auvers-sur-Oise

  • Sightseeing
  • Nature walks
  • A special place for Van Gogh’s fans!

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO AUVERS-SUR-OISE

By Train: Trains from Paris to Auvers-sur-Oise leave from Paris Gare du Nord. It is a 41-minute ride (one way).

By Car: Paris to Auvers-Sur-Oise is a 33 km drive which takes around 28 min, depending on the traffic.

7. Marly-Le-Roi

Marly Le Roi, France

Marly-le-Roi is one of the small villages near Paris worth visiting. It is located 20km west of Paris, in the region of Ile-de-France.

Marly was the location of Château de Marly, the famous leisure residence of King Louis XIV, which was more intimate than Versailles and far from the court etiquette. Only a few people had the honor to be the King’s guests at Marly, and they were appointed directly by King Louis XIV a few days before the departure.

The Château de Marly was totally destroyed after the French Revolution. However, a few remains are left, plus the surrounding park still keeps its original waterways, lawns, and sculptures.

In Marly-le-Roi, you may also want to visit Alexandre Dumas’ home, the Château de Montecristo, and its park. This beautiful and intriguing castle is an excellent opportunity to know more about the writer’s life and work.

Things to Do in Marly-Le-Roi:

  • Stroll around the gardens and the remains of the Royal Palace
  • Picnic in the Park
  • Visit the Château de Montecristo

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO MARLY-LE-ROI

By Train: Marly-le-Roi is one of the easiest Paris day trips by train, with many direct trains from La Défense to Marly-le-Roi. To reach La Défense train station, take the RER A or the Parisian metro line 1. Then take train L towards St Nom la Bretèche train station (1hr, every 20 min).

By Car: Paris to Marly-le-Roi is a 25 km drive which takes around 23 min, depending on the traffic.

8. Bougival

Bougival - France

If you are looking for cute towns near Paris easy to reach by train, Bougival is a good option. Bougival is located 17km west of Paris, in the Ile-de-France region.

During the 19th century, the Impressionists chose this peaceful place by the Seine River as their favorite open-air workshop. People like Monet, Sisley, or Berthe Morisot spent long periods in this village trying to catch the beauty of the river and its banks, and soon Bougival’s landscapes became the subject of some of their masterworks.

Visit Bougival’s picturesque historic center, with its beautiful Romanesque-style church, before heading to the Seine River’s banks to follow the Impressionist Walk. This walk has real scale panels showing the reproductions of famous Impressionist paintings at the exact point where the painters found the inspiration.

In Bougival, you will also find the remains of the Machine of Marly. This intriguing machine, built under the rule of King Louis XIV, transported water from the Seine River up to Versailles to feed the Palace’s fountains! The Machine de Marly was considered at that time the eighth-world wonder.

Things to Do in Bougival:

  • Sightseeing
  • Seine River walks
  • The remains of the Machine of Marly

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO BOUGIVAL

By Train: Bougival is the train station before Marly-le-Roi so you can visit both places on the same day.

There are many direct trains from La Défense to Bougival train station. To reach La Défense train station, take the RER A or the Parisian metro line 1. Then take train L towards St Nom la Bretèche train station (1hr, every 20 min).

By Car: Paris to Bougival i is a 15 km drive which takes around 14 min, depending on the traffic.

9. Montfort L’Amaury

Montfort l'Amaury, France

Montfort l’Amaury is one of the most beautiful villages near Paris with an interesting medieval heritage despite its small size. Monfort is located 45km west of Paris, in the region of Ile-de-France.

We arrived at Montfort L’Amaury following Victor Hugo’s steps. The famous French writer discovered this place when he was 23 and he wrote a beautiful ode to Monfort’s ruins (Tour d’Anne de Bretagne) ‘Aux Ruines de Montfort l’Amaury:’

  • Je vous aime, ô débris ! Et surtout quand l’automne
  • Prolonge en vos échos sa plainte monotone. Sous vos abris croulants je voudrais habiter, | Vieilles tours, que le temps l’une vers l’autre incline.
  • Et qui semblez de loin sur la haute colline, |Deux noirs géants prêts à lutter.

The historical center of Montfort still keeps its medieval layout, and you can see many beautiful half-timbered houses populating the streets around the church.

The list of interesting sites in Monfort l’Amaury is long. It includes the 12th-century fortified castle (Tour Anne de Bretagne), the impressive Saint Pierre Church (15th-16th centuries), and the old cemetery with a beautiful covered gallery. The French composer Maurice Ravel lived in Montfort for 16 years and it is possible to visit his house (Le Belvedère) where he composed the famous Boléro.

Things to Do in Montfort L’Amaury

  • Sightseeing

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO MONTFORT L’AMAURY

By Train + Bicycle: direct trains leave from Paris Gare de Montparnasse to Montfort Méré train station. From this train station, there is a 3.6 km walk to Montfort l’Amaury. You can take your bicycle on the train (or rent one in Paris) and explore Monfort by bike starting from the train station.

By Car: the car is the easiest way to visit Montfort l’Amaury. Paris to Montfort l’Amaury is a 50 km drive which takes around 35 min, depending on the traffic.

10. Chevreuse

Vallée de la Chevreuse, France

La Haute Vallée de la Chevreuse is a hiking paradise with the perfect mix of nature walks and cultural heritage. If you are looking for day trips in the Paris countryside, you are going to love Chevreuse, a small village nestled in the valley. Chevreuse is located 34km southwest of Paris, in the region of Ile-de-France.

Chevreuse is dominated by the Château de la Madelaine, a beautiful fortified castle (11th century) on the top of a hill with panoramic views of the valley. This village near Paris is also known for its Chemin des Petits Ponts along one of the legs of the Yvette River. This picturesque pedestrian walk is lined with old laundries, tanneries, and watermills.

Things to do in Chevreuse:

  • Nature walks
  • Sightseeing

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO CHEVREUSE

By Train: We usually visit Chevreuse on an (18 km) day hike, starting at La Verrière train station and ending at St Rémy La Chevreuse train station. If you want to visit the town of Chevreuse only, take RER B to Saint Rémy La Chevreuse train station (45 min, hourly), and from there, there is a 3 km walk to Chevreuse.

By Car: Paris to Chevreuse is a 34 km drive which takes around 40 min, depending on the traffic.

11. La Roche-Guyon

La Roche Guyon France

If you are looking for quaint villages near Paris to visit, you will love La Roche-Guyon, on the right bank of the Seine River. La Roche-Guyon is located 72km northwest of Paris and this is the only village in the region of Ile de France with the label ‘Les plus beaux villages de France.’

In the 19th century, La Roche-Guyon was a holiday resort that saw many celebrities of the arts and letters. This picturesque village near Paris is known for its 12th-century intriguing castle. The keep, built on the top of the hill, is connected to the main building through a 100-step underground staircase dug into the side of the plateau, and it offers panoramic views of the village and the Seine Valley.

The Kitchen Garden is another interesting place to visit in La Roche-Guyon. This French-style vegetable garden was created in the 18th century by the La Rochefoucauld family, the castle’s owners. This family shared the ideas of the physiocrats and encyclopaedists, and they wanted for their château a scientific and experimental garden rather than a pleasure garden.

Things to Do in La Roche-Guyon

  • Sightseeing
  • Nature walks

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO LA ROCHE GUYON

By Train+Bus: La Roche-Guyon from Paris by public transportation is not easy, but nothing is impossible! Take a train from Paris Saint Lazare Train Station to Gare de Bonnières (47 min, every 4 hours). The next step is to take a bus from Gare Routière Bonnières to Petit Pont station (9 min, every 4 hours).

By Car: Paris to La Roche-Guyon is a 72 km drive which takes around 53 min, depending on the traffic.

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Best Small Towns Close to Paris (Hauts-de-France)

12. Chantilly

Chateau de Chantilly, France

Looking for easy day trips from Paris by train? Head to the town of Chantilly to visit the Grand Stables and the Château. Chantilly is located 38km northeast of Paris, in the region of Hauts-de-France.

In the beginning, Chantilly was just a few hamlets scattered outside the Château, which turned into a cute small town with the years. Château de Chantilly was built in the 16th century for the House of Montomercy. Later, it was owned by the princes of Condé, cousins of the King of France.

In the 17th century, Les Grandes Ecuries (the Grand Stables) was built for the Prince of Condé, a passionate about horses, and they could host 240 horses and 500 hounds. Today Les Grandes Écuries hosts the Horse Museum, and it is a very reputed center of dressage for the most expensive horses in the world.  The ticket to the Horse Museum includes a very entertaining dressage show.

Since the construction of Les Grandes Écuries, the world of this small town near Paris has turned around horses. Today, Chantilly and the surrounding villages are home to the largest racehorse-training community in France. The Chantilly Racecourse (Hippodrome de Chantilly) hosts one of the most prestigious horse races in the world.

Things to Do in Chantilly:

  • Chic racecourses in the Hippodrome de Chantilly
  • Sightseeing
  • Nature walks

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO CHANTILLY

By Train: Paris to Chantilly by train is straightforward, with direct trains from Paris Gare du Nord to Chantilly-Gouvieux train station (30 min, hourly). From there, it’s a pleasant walk to the Château and the Stables.

By Car: Paris to Chantilly is a 42 km drive which takes around 40 min, depending on the traffic.

13. Senlis

Senlis, France

Senlis is one of the best towns in France near Paris, with a rich history and beautiful architecture. Senlis is located 42km north of Paris, in the region of Hauts-de-France.

Senlis is a royal town, the cradle of the Capet dynasty. Indeed, Hugh Capet was lord of Senlis before becoming the first French king of the House of Capet in 987. Since then and until King Henry IV, all his successors lived or spent some periods in the Royal Palace of Senlis.

Today the historical center of Senlis still keeps its medieval layout, with picturesque cobbled streets and beautiful architecture dating from the 10th-18th century. Senlis Cathedral may not be one of our favorite cathedrals in France, but no one can deny that it is imposing and probably the best remaining witness of Senlis’ power.

Senlis is also well known for its Roman heritage, and you can still see some remains of the Roman fortress and towers (3rd century) and a Gallo-Roman arena (1st century).

Things to Do in Senlis

  • Sightseeing
  • Nature walks

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO SENLIS

By Train + Bus: If you want to go from Paris to Senlis by public transportation, take the train from Paris Gare du Nord to Chantilly-Gouvieux train station (30 min, hourly) and then take bus #645 to Senlis (20 min ride every 30 min). The bus schedule changes often, so we recommend checking the tourism website here.

By Car: Paris to Senlis is a 51 km drive which takes around 35 min, depending on the traffic.

EXTEND YOUR TRIP

You can visit Senlis on a day trip from Paris, but the town is so charming that it is worth spending one night on-site. Book one night in Senlis and use the day after for visiting Chantilly, located only 10 minutes by bus from Senlis.

>> Click here for the best hotels in Senlis

14. Gerberoy

Gerberoy, France

Gerberoy is one of the cutest small villages near Paris. It is located 105km northwest of Paris and it is a dream destination for flower passionates, especially rose lovers.

Walking around this picturesque village and its gardens is an absolute delight, with its narrow cobbled streets, 17th-18th-century houses, climbing roses, wisterias, and other flowers and plants.

Gerberoy is one of the villages in Hauts-de-France with the label ‘Les plus beaux villages de France.’ It is the perfect place to wander aimlessly, looking at the flowers and the small details.

Gerberoy is best known for its Rose Festival (the third weekend of June) when roses and hortensias are in full bloom.

Things to Do in Gerberoy:

  • Sightseeing
  • The Rose Festival in June

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO GERBEROY

By Car: Paris to Gerberoy is a 105 km drive which takes around 1 hour 15 min, depending on the traffic.

Best Small Towns Near Paris (Normandy)

15. Giverny

Giverny, France

Giverny is one of the most famous villages near Paris, where the Impressionist painter Claude Monet lived and worked from 1883 until he died in 1926. Giverny is located 74km northwest of Paris, in the Normandy region.

Every year thousands of visitors travel from Paris to Giverny to visit Monet’s House and Garden to admire the water lily pond that inspired Monet for many of his paintings (click here for a quick guide). However, Monet’s house and studio are as attractive as the gardens; they are a visual experience of different spaces, colors, and materials where the painter left nothing to chance.

Apart from Monet’s house, Giverny has a main street with cute shops, cafes, and an Impressionist Museum.

Things to Do in Giverny

  • Sightseeing
  • Monet’s House and Garden

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO GIVERNY

By Train + Shuttle: There is no direct train connection from Paris to Giverny. First, you need to take a train from Gare Saint Lazare to Vernon train station (1 hr, hourly) where you can take a shuttle that drops you in front of Monet’s house.

>> Click here to book your train tickets to Vernon

By Car: Paris to Giverny is a 74 km drive which takes around 54 min, depending on the traffic.

BEST DAY TOUR FROM PARIS TO GIVERNY

If you’d rather not drive to Giverny yourself, you can take this independent tour to Giverny that will drive you there and back in comfort and let you explore on your own. The tour includes transportation from /to a central point in Paris, admission tickets, a tour escort, and an audio guide as an option. Once inside Monet’s House and Garden, you are free to explore the site as you want.

16. Les Andelys

Les Andelys Normandie

Les Andelys are two beautiful towns near Paris located in one of the meanders of the Seine River 90km northwest of Paris. A pleasant walk along the canal connects the two towns in the Normandy region.

Les Andelys are looked over by the splendid ruins of Château-Gaillard. This medieval fortress was built in the 12th century under the orders of King Richard Lionheart who was also Duke of Normandy to protect his lands against the French King Philippe Auguste. The view from the castle (see picture above), over Les Andelys and the Seine River, is terrific.

Les Andelys (and the Château Gaillard) make a nice stop, perhaps on your way to Giverny or Rouen by car. Apart from the ruins of the Château, the towns have different religious buildings from the 13th century and beautiful family houses from the 16th-19th centuries.

Things to Do in Les Andelys

  • Sightseeing

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO LES ANDELYS

By Car: This is the best option to visit Les Andelys because train connections are not good. Les Andelys is a 90km drive which takes around 1 hour, depending on the traffic.

17. Gisors

Gisors is one of the best towns near Paris to visit for history lovers. It is located only 70 km north of the French capital, on the banks of the river Epte, in the Normandy region. 

Gisors is the historical capital of the Norman Vexin (Eure) and is well worth a visit for its picturesque architecture of old half-timbered houses and listed heritage. The town is best known for its medieval château, which is one of the best castles in Normandy. The castle was an important fortress for the English Kings – who were also Dukes of Normandy – and was built in the 11th century to help protect the region from the King of France. From the top of its keep, visitors can enjoy a superb view of the town and Epte Valley.

Other interesting things to see in Gisors are the Church of St. Gervais and St. Protais from the 12th-16th centuries, which has a remarkable Renaissance façade, a Flamboyant Gothic nave, and a radiant Gothic chancel.

What to Do in Gisors:

  • Sightseeing
  • Nature walks

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO GISORS

By Train: there’s no direct train to Gisors but nothing is lost! From Paris Gare du Nord, take the Translien train line H to Pontoise, then line J to Gisors. The total journey usually takes less than 2 hours (one way, waiting time in Pontoise included).  There’s no need to book train tickets in advance.

By Car: Paris to Gisors by car is a 70 km drive which lasts less than 1 hour. Try to leave the French capital early in the morning to avoid the rush hours.

Beautiful Towns Near Paris (Centre-Val- de-Loire)

18. Chartres

Chartres Cathedral France

Chartres is one of the most attractive big towns /small cities near Paris to visit. It is located 96km south of Paris, in the region of Centre-Val-de-Loire.

Chartres is best known for its impressive Gothic Cathedral, one of the Grandes Cathédrales de France, and (like Amiens Cathedral or Saint-Denis Basilica-Cathedral) an essential milestone in the evolution of Gothic Cathedrals in Europe. The Chartres Cathedral is famous for its 13th-century labyrinth designed on the pavement, the largest one built in France! Pilgrims used to walk this labyrinth seeking healing or meditation.

Apart from the magnificent Cathedral, Chartres has a cute historical center with some half-timbered houses. We suggest walking down to the river Eure where you can see pretty small houses, some of them with their private boats.

Things to Do in Chartres

  • Sightseeing
  • Chartres en Lumières (sound and light show)

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO CHARTRES

Chartres is one of the easiest short-day trips from Paris by train. Direct trains leave from Paris Gare de Montparnasse to Chartres Train Station every 30 minutes (1h 10min ride).

>> Click here to book your train tickets to Chartres

By Car: Paris to Chartres is an 88.5 km drive which takes around 53 min, depending on the traffic.

BEST DAY TOUR FROM PARIS TO CHARTRES

Spend a relaxing day exploring the Chartres Cathedral and the medieval houses along the Eure River with this 5-hour guided tour. The tour includes hotel pickup and drop-off, transportation on a private vehicle, and a knowledgeable English guide.

EXTEND YOUR TRIP

The Chartres en Lumières Show (light show from dusk to 1 am in the summer) is a great excuse to extend your trip and spend one night in Chartres.

>> Click here for the best hotels in Chartres

Best Small Towns Near Paris (Grand Est)

19. Éperney & Hautvillers

Hautvilliers France

If you are willing to explore the countryside near Paris, Epernay and Hautvillers are the best small towns near Paris to visit. Epernay is located 140 km southwest of Paris, in the region of Grand Est.

Located in the heart of the Champagne vineyards, Epernay is the capital of champagne wine. In this small town near Paris, the most luxury champagne brands, like Moët-Chandon, Vranken, Mercier, Pol Roger, or Perrier-Jouët, have their headquarters and champagne cellars.

Epernay’s main avenue, Avenue de Champagne, is considered the most expensive avenue in the world! Beautiful private mansions line up on the surface. Below the ground, kilometers of galleries house millions of bottles of the best champagne wine.

The village of Hautvilliers, north of Epernay, is also worth visiting. Here, the monk Dom Perignon developed the method of champagnisation of wine. Dom Perignon is buried inside this abbey, just in front of the main altar.

Things to Do in Epernay & Hautvillers

  • Sightseeing
  • Nature walks
  • Champagne tasting and shopping from small producers
  • Champagne tours

HOW TO GO FROM PARIS TO EPERNAY

By Train: trains to Epernay leave Paris from Paris Gare de l’Est to Epernay train station every 2 hours (1h 15 min). If you want to add Hautvillers to your Epernay trip, we recommend taking a taxi (5km, 10 minutes drive).

>> Click here to book your train tickets to Epernay

By Car: Paris to Epernay by car is a 140 km drive which lasts about 1 hour 15 min.

BEST DAY TOUR FROM PARIS TO EPERNAY

Explore the Champagne wine-producing region with this small-group guided tour with private transportation and some tastings included. Learn the basics of champagne wine, from the growing to the tasting, and tour the House of Moët Chandon, the world’s largest producer of champagne.

The tour also includes a visit to Reims Cathedral, where the Kings of France were crowned.

And there you have it, the list of the best small towns and other beautiful places near Paris. If you can travel further, check out this France Travel Guide

Click here for more Side Trips from Paris

Back to Homepage

Some interesting articles in the blog

  • Read our Paris for the First Time Quick Guide here
  • Find things to eat in Paris here
  • Explore the Paris Districts here

Pin it now & read it later

Best Day Trips from Paris, Paris Day Tours, Cute Small Towns Near Paris, Day Trips from Paris, Paris Day Trips, Best Places to Visit in France, Beautiful Towns Near Paris, Medieval Towns Near Paris #france #francebucketlist


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  • Robert
    12/19/2017 at 10:03 pm

    I always believe in taking a side trip outside of major cities when I am traveling and blogging. There really are some hidden gems to visit just outside of metropolitan cities and you did an excellent job highlighting many of those close to Paris.

    • WorldInParis
      02/18/2018 at 8:20 pm

      Thanks! There are many more so it was hard to come up with a top 10 list 🙁

  • peter
    12/18/2017 at 1:25 am

    Hi guys,
    thanks for creating this article, i have searched hundreds of blogs and most of them always mention the same day trips from Paris. Very boring, but not this one. Well done guys!
    I’m going to Paris in two weeks and i’m printing this blog entry write now which i will use.
    Thanks heaps guys

    • WorldInParis
      12/20/2017 at 4:01 pm

      Glad that you enjoyed the post, Peter! And Bon voyage 😉

  • Francesca Murray
    12/04/2017 at 10:41 pm

    I’m going to pin this! A few of these were on my list to visit, but you also introduced me to a few. I used to live in Haut de France (formerly known as Picardie) years ago and loved it

    • WorldInParis
      12/06/2017 at 1:51 pm

      Did not know that Picardie does not exist anymore! :-O Glad that you found some new inspiring small towns on our article

  • Lauren
    11/29/2017 at 7:58 am

    It’s interesting because I haven’t been to France yet, but Paris has never really appealed to me. Although…these small towns do! I’m always drawn to the smaller towns anyway. These ones have so much to offer and I’d love to explore them!

    • WorldInParis
      11/30/2017 at 4:57 pm

      That’s great! There are many small towns around Paris I am sure you would love 🙂

  • Paige W
    11/29/2017 at 6:21 am

    Oh my gosh. This is like cute town porn! I want to see them all! I’ve only been to Chartres, so I think a tiny town road trip is in order! Giverny is a must for me (as with many others) because of Monet. That’s on my wanderlist for my next trip to France.

  • Megan Jerrard
    11/28/2017 at 3:53 pm

    Some great trip ideas! I love the sound of Chartres for unique history, and Le Chateau the Fontainebleau has been on my list of places I want to visit for a while now.

    Is Rouen a close enough day trip from Paris? I haven’t looked too much into it yet, though have a very keen interest in Joan of Arc. Thanks!

    • WorldInParis
      11/30/2017 at 4:59 pm

      Yes, Rouen is close to Paris (1 hour aprox by train) but I would not say it is a small town . . that’s why Rouen is not on this list 😉

  • Jennifer
    11/27/2017 at 12:07 pm

    I’d really like to see Monet’s Gardens in Giverny. Good to know what time of year the lilies blossom, so perhaps I’ll make the trip up this summer. And Chartes has been on my radar since I read this book that partially took place there. It was fiction, but even so it really made me want to visit and see the town that inspired the setting in the book.

  • Kirstie
    11/27/2017 at 11:35 am

    Your photo of Fontainebleau looks like it’s from a postcard! I wonder what medieval fairs in Provins are like! It must be a really fun experience!

  • Cathy
    11/27/2017 at 8:42 am

    I haven’t been to Paris. This is beautiful to know that there are pretty lovely towns that we can go on a day tour. And I’d like to choose MONTFORT L’AMAURY. This place looks like a fairy tale to me. Seems pretty calm and cozy, too! I love how green this small town is!

    • WorldInParis
      11/30/2017 at 5:08 pm

      Beautiful and calm, yes! I suggest not to go on Sunday, it may be too calm for visiting . .

  • Jenn and Ed Coleman
    11/26/2017 at 11:07 pm

    What a beautiful post. My mind is racing with escaping to the French countryside, perhaps with a loaf of bread and some cheese for a picnic and bike ride. First on the list would be the chateau at Chantilly and next would be Fountainblue. Hopefully in each, we could find a little bike ride and explore, not only the beautiful architecture but the town beyond the beaten path.

  • Silke
    11/26/2017 at 6:47 pm

    That’s a great list of very interesting day trip destinations. I would probably want to see them all but I would start with the small medieval villages. Senlis and Chevreuse both look very picturesque and quaint, I’d love to walk along the canal and picture medieval life with mills and tannery along the waterfront. The chateaus look equally stunning but of course in a different way. Fontainebleau and Chantilly ring a bell… there must be a lot of history here. Hopefully, I get to explore France some more in the next couple of years.

    • WorldInParis
      11/30/2017 at 5:09 pm

      Yes, lots of history in France, not only in Paris . . 😉

  • Linda de Beer
    11/26/2017 at 12:32 pm

    It’s so true. France is much more than Paris. Your ten towns have sparked the wanderlust in me! I’ll start with the Chevreuse High Valley. I like small towns that can be reached by train, and I don’t even consider a hike if there’s no beer at the end of it!

    • WorldInParis
      11/26/2017 at 5:44 pm

      Great pick! All the small towns on this post can be reached by train so no worries about it! For Chevreuse it is better to wait for next spring 🙂

  • Danijela
    11/25/2017 at 11:06 am

    Fontainebleau sounds like the place I’d go nuts about! Beautiful chateau, a lot of history. And you say – the former largest garden in Europe? Oh, that would be nice to see.
    I’ve been to Rouen and Giverny, but I have to say that I don’t often consider that I could do day trips from Paris when coming to the city. And here, you’ve pointed out to few very good reasons to do just that! 🙂

    • WorldInParis
      11/25/2017 at 12:28 pm

      Well, now that you know Paris a little bit why don’t explore its surroundings? There are nice surprises out there . . 😉