Paris in itself can occupy your time for several days. After all, you have the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Musée D’Orsay, the Latin Quarter, St. Germaine, Montmartre and Painters’ Square, and countless other museums. There are also the Luxembourg Gardens and the Tuileries. I can fill several pages of a list of things to see in the city.
But Paris is also a great place to base for day trips out of the city. And, just like it is impossible to list everything to see in Paris in one post, it is equally impossible to list all of the things you can do in day trips outside of the city. So, I will just settle for three.
France is going to have a very remarkable year next year. First, it will be the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and the liberation of France. It will also be the year when France will host the Summer Olympics. And, the Notre Dame Cathedral is planned to be reopened in April 2024, exactly 5 years after the fire that nearly destroyed it.
Mont St Michel
The cover picture shows the Monastery of Mont St. Michel, located on the northwestern coast of France, on the southwestern corner of the Normandy Region. The monastery sits on a very small island just off the coast, and at high tide, it is completely encircled by water. There is now a bridge connecting the island to the mainland.
Settlement on the island began in 708. A Benedictine abbey was then built on the site in 966, and the Abbey church on the site was started in 1017. During the French Revolution in 1789, the abbey became a political prison.
The island has three levels, with the top being the Monastery. In the middle was where the Abbot received guests and dignitaries. At the bottom was where soldiers and pilgrims would settle.
It takes about 4 hours to drive to the Monastery from Paris, so this will be a full day. For those wishing to visit Mont St Michel and the D-Day Invasion sites, I would recommend making this a 2-night trip from Paris.
The Palace of Versailles
In terms of time from Paris, the Palace of Versailles is a very short trip. This can be visited in just a half-day trip from Paris, so many tours will combine a visit to the Palace with a stop at Monet’s Gardens in Giverny. These gardens were often the subject of his paintings.
The land in Versailles was originally visited by the future King Louis XIII in 1607 while on a hunting trip. Over the next 30 years, the site was developed first into a set of hunting lodges and then into the beginnings of the Palace that we think of today.
Over the next 130 years, through the reigns of Kings Louis XIV and XV, the palace went through various stages of neglect and upgrades, largely to become what the Palace is now.
After Louis XV died in 1774 of Smallpox, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette resided in the palace until they were “removed” in 1789 during the French Revolution.
The Palace and surrounding grounds are a “must-see” for visitors to Paris. And, there is now a hotel on the palace grounds if you wish to spend more time there.
The French Wine Regions
A large part of the wine regions in France can be visited from Paris in one day as well. There are tours available from Paris to the Champagne and Loire Valley regions. Even the Bordeaux regions are available with a ride on the high speed trains from Paris.
All of the places listed here re available through guided motorcoach or private tours from Paris, with the exception of the Bordeaux region. For this area, I recommend taking the train to Bordeaux and have a private guide to take you to places in the area.