While there is much to see in Paris – perhaps more than one can see in a single trip – there are some incredible sites a mere train ride from the city. If you are looking to broaden your horizons beyond this dazzling city, these are the best places near Paris to visit by train.
Giverny (to see Claude Monet’s house)
Claude Monet was the initiator and unwavering advocate for impressionist art. Impressionist art was all about capturing the moment, and Monet did this famously through his depiction of nature and the intricate play of light and shadows on his environment. His home and gardens can be visited from Paris by train.
Monet lived in his Giverny home for 43 years, painting an array of famous works, including the renowned ‘water lilies’ series. This collection comprises over 250 paintings. Visitors can walk along Monet’s famed green Japanese bridge and marvel at the lilies that grow in the pond below.
Enjoy the bright interior of Monet’s two-storey home, exploring the blue sitting room, his bedroom with its gorgeous garden views, and his first art studio, which later become an entertainment room.
Paris to Giverny by train: Access Giverny from Paris via the Gare Saint-Lazare train station. The trip is usually between 45 minutes and an hour. Once at the station, take a shuttle or taxi to Monet’s house.
Enjoying the title of World Heritage site since 1979, this stunning palace was home to Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI. After Louis XVI was forced to flee the magnificent palace during the French Revolution, it was never a seat of royalty again. The palace is now dedicated as a home of French history, housing around 6000 paintings and 3000 sculptures.
A meander around this exquisite château should take a few hours. Walk through the awe-inspiring hall of mirrors, marvel at Marie Antoinette’s stunning bed-chamber, or revel in the acoustic and visual prowess of the Royal Opera House. Visitors can also enjoy a gentle stroll through the formal gardens with its impressive water features, planting trees, specimen beds, and canals.
If you’re lucky, you can catch a musical fountain show in the gardens between the late spring and early Autumn months.
Paris to Versailles by train: Access Versailles via the RER-C line, which stops at the Château Versailles Rive Gauche station. The journey from Paris to the palace takes about 40 minutes, and the palace is a 13-minute walk from the station.
The Normandy Beaches
Normandy is a historical region in the north of France. Known for its mixed coastline, beautiful beaches, and rural charm, it’s a must-see from Paris. Visitors should start at Omaha beach – the site of the famous D-Day Battle on June 6th 1944. This bloody battle saw allied forces storming the beach and engaging in warfare against the Germans. This moment signaled a clear advantage for the allied forces and led to France’s eventual liberation from Germany.
Those interested in World War II and the D-Day Battle should visit the Caen Memorial Museum and the D-Day Landing Museum at Utah Beach. Visitors can also walk along the chalky cliffs overlooking the English Channel, such as Pointe du Hoc, and revel in its unrivaled serenity.
Other points of interest include the old port at Le Vieux Bassin, the Neo-futuristic gardens at Jardins d’Etretat, and the famed light shows at the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Rouen. This gothic cathedral is also the final resting place of France’s savior, Joan of Arc, who was burnt at the stake in 1412.
Paris to Normandy by train: Access the Omaha beach by catching a train from the Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris to the Bayeux train station. You may have to change over at Caen station to get to Bayeux. You can then catch a taxi or Bus 70 to the beach. The train ride is around 2 hours and 17 minutes, so take a book or enjoy a little snooze before the day’s activities begin.
This charming medieval town is certainly worth a visit if you want to step back in time and explore the ancient architecture of the Middle Ages. Wander down the quaint streets and be sure to visit the 12th-century Tour Cesar medieval tower. Tourists will also delight in the Les Souterrains de Provins Medival tunnels, located beneath the city’s cobbled streets. Book a guided tour and learn all about the tunnels and their intricate history. For those keen to learn about the town’s history – from the Middle Ages to modernity – visit the Musée de Provins et du Provinois.
This endearing town also hosts some wonderful markets. Check out the Christmas market (Marché de Noël de Provins) in December. Visitors can enjoy the ice rink, visit Santa’s chalet, and explore the artisanal market stalls. Those visiting in June or December can also delight in one of the town’s medieval-inspired fairs.
Paris to Provins by Train: Get to Provins by catching the SNCF Transilien Line P from Gare de l’Est Station. The journey takes around one hour and 20 minutes.
There is so much for those with a sense of wanderlust to explore beyond Paris. Happily, many incredible spots can be accessed by train. Train rides offer travelers a fantastic way to witness the local scenery and are a relaxing way to get to nearby destinations. Whether you want to explore medieval history and bask in the wonder of world-renowned art or stroll through the sites where battlefields once met beaches, these destinations have it all.
If you love riding trains and want to see more of Europe, why not consider a Euro inter-rail adventure!