Paris is always a good idea. And after you’ve checked out the standard sights and marveled at some other unique things to do downtown, it’s time to break free from the city limits and explore the rest of the country. Road trip between the best cities in France, or consider some weekend trips from Paris. Yes, the beauty of France lies not only in its regional diversity, but in the fact that—in a matter of hours—you can be in an entirely different country. I called upon some of my fellow bloggers to dish their favorite getaways and here’s what they came up with!
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Best Weekend Trips From Paris
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam is the perfect destination for a weekend trip from Paris, being easily reachable by train or plane within just a few hours. From the iconic canal houses of the Dutch Golden Age to the dark years of Nazi occupation, the city is overflowing with history and culture to experience.
Must-do’s in Amsterdam include visiting the Anne Frank House, touring the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum galleries, and taking a leisurely canal cruise.
Amsterdam is also famous for legal marijuana and prostitution, which can be observed in a coffee shop or by strolling the Red Light District. It is best to do the latter by early evening to appreciate the historic sites of the oldest part of the city, as well as avoid the seedy late-night scene.
TIP: When you visit Amsterdam, act responsibly and respect Amsterdam’s campaign to discourage rowdy party behavior.
Don’t forget to try unique Dutch cuisine by taking a food tour through Amsterdam’s Jordaan neighborhood. Top local dishes include pickled herring, kibbeling (fried white fish), Gouda cheese, and Dutch apple pie.
Amsterdam is easy to explore by walking, biking, or public transportation, and the tram connects almost everything in the city. While it’s possible to drive to Paris from Amsterdam within six hours by car, bringing a car to this city is inconvenient and unnecessary.
Contribution by: Theresa from Fueled By Wanderlust
Annecy is a quaint alpine town in the southeast of France, just a short drive from the French capital, which is ideal for weekend away from Paris. Spending a few days in the alpine air is the perfect escape from the bustle of city life. With the turquoise blue waters of Lake Annecy, the cobbled streets of the charming old town, and the dominating surrounding mountains, Annecy is perfect for adventurous and laid-back travelers alike.
When in Annecy for a weekend, explore the lake from the shore or the water, visit historical buildings, and eat traditional food from the Haute-Savoie region where Annecy lies. Some of the best things to do in Annecy include the Palais de l’Île, Annecy Castle, water sports like paddleboarding or boating, hiking around the town, and indulging in some amazing fondue. As a small town, Annecy is easily explored on foot, or you could hop on a bike to see more of the lake!
Getting to Annecy from Paris is quickest by public transport. Direct trains run a few times a day, and there are regular trains with easy change in Lyon that will take 4-5 hours. If you prefer to drive, it will be a scenic five and a half hours through France.
Contribution by: Kirstie from Kirstie Will Travel
Avignon, France, is the perfect choice for a weekend getaway from Paris. Since it’s nearly a 3-hour TGV (high-speed train) ride from Paris, you’d be hard-pressed to see Avignon’s highlights in only a day trip. Instead, spend the weekend here to relax and enjoy all the city offers!
Once you’ve arrived in Avignon, the city’s historic center is where you’ll find all the top attractions. So, wear comfortable shoes and head out to explore Avignon on foot.
One of the top Avignon attractions is the Palais des Papes. In the 14th century, Avignon was the seat of the papacy. Tour the palace to see this incredible medieval Gothic building and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Take a stroll along the banks of the Rhône River and see the Pont D’Avignon, a 12th-century medieval bridge. You can take a free ferry to the other side of the river to get some great pictures of Avignon.
Avignon is chock-full of theaters, with entertainment throughout the year. If you’re a theater fan, you’ll want to visit in July for the Festival D’Avignon, an incredible celebration of the performing arts.
Contribution by: Lisa of Waves and Cobblestones
Brussels offers visitors a delightful blend of culture and modernity, with its stunning architecture, numerous museums and art galleries, wide variety of dining options, numerous shopping venues, and bustling nightlife.
It is only a short train ride from Paris, so it’s easy to make a day trip. Still, one must visit for an overnight stay to immerse yourself in Belgian culture, sample the famous cuisine, and explore the city’s many art and history exhibits.
Brussels has several must-see and must-do things to offer. Begin with the central square of Brussels, Grand Place. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site surrounded by ornate buildings with stunning architecture. Then experience a panoramic view of the city at Atomium.
There is also traditional food to eat in Brussels, including Moules-Frites and Belgian beer. Visit excellent museums and galleries like the Magritte Museum and Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium.
The fastest and most convenient way to get to Brussels from Paris is by taking a train for around 1.5 to 2 hours. Once there, it is best to explore Brussels via public transport as it is convenient and cost-effective.
Contribution by: Paulina from Paulina on the Road
If you’re looking for a great weekend trip from Paris, look no further than Dijon. Located in the Burgundy region of France, this charming city is teeming with history and culture. Not only that, but there are so many reasons why Dijon is worth visiting.
Undoubtedly, one of the most impressive sites is the Palais des Ducs de Bourgogne. This gorgeous palace was once the home of the Dukes of Burgundy. Today, you can tour the inside, now, the Musée des Beaux-Arts. But I recommend climbing to the top of the Philippe le Bon Tower for something truly special. Here you’ll have the most stunning panoramic view over Dijon.
Then, if you’re looking for fresh air, head to Arquebuse Botanical Gardens. It’s the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Of course, no trip to Dijon is complete without sampling some mustard at the original Maille Boutique. This city is, after all, the home of Dijon Mustard!
From Paris, Dijon is less than two hours by train. While you could rent a car, taking the train is much faster. Then, once you’re in Dijon, it’s easy to get around on foot. Public transport is available, but most attractions are not far from each other.
Contribution by: Jen from Dabbling in Jet Lag
About 300 km north of Paris, is the idealistic Belgian city of Ghent. Loaded with extraordinary cathedrals, splendid canals, and more beer cafes than you can shake a stick at, Ghent makes for a lovely weekend trip from Paris.
Ghent is known for its collection of medieval Gothic cathedrals in its city center. While most cities its size feature one cathedral in the city, Ghent has four. There is a spot in the city where you can look north and see three cathedrals and the bell tower of Ghent in one view. The four cathedrals are Saint Michael’s Church, Saint Nicholas Church, Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, and Saint Jacob’s Church.
In addition to cathedrals, check out the Ghent Bell Tower, Gravensteen (a medieval castle in the city center), and Ghent City Hall while strolling along the quintessentially Belgian streets and canals. Beer lovers will be in heaven in Ghent, with its charming beer cafes and local breweries. And don’t worry, waffle and chocolate lovers, Ghent has you covered, too. You’re in Belgium, after all.
Getting to Ghent from Paris is as easy as can be. The Thalys high-speed train will get you there in just under two hours. If you’d prefer the flexibility of driving, it will take about three hours by car. Parking is available at most hotels and guesthouses for reasonable rates.
Once there, explore Ghent on foot. The city is small enough to comfortably walk around for 1-2 days. If you get tired, though, a tram runs straight through the city center and gets you to all the city’s highlights.
Contribution by: Chris of Around the World With Me
Imagine strolling along the quaint and lively streets of a picturesque fishing village, with waves crashing in the distance and colorful boats bobbing in the harbor. That’s Honfleur – a charming port town nestled on the northern coast of France that exudes a delightful old-world charm.
Honfleur is a mecca for art enthusiasts, foodies, and history buffs, with its cobblestone alleys, quaint cafes, and chic galleries. Every nook and cranny is full of treasures, from handmade jewelry to vintage wines you can savor as you soak in the town’s delightful atmosphere.
But that’s not all – Honfleur is also steeped in history, with ancient sites such as the Vieux-Bassin, a bustling trading hub that dates back to the Middle Ages. The town’s half-timbered houses, some of which have stood since the 15th century, are also a must-see.
Getting to this charming French countryside of Honfleur is just a stone’s throw away from the City of Love. With the convenience of a direct car or train ride, you can be in the heart of Honfleur in as little as two and a half hours.
If you’re looking for a hidden gem in France that’s off the beaten path, Honfleur is the place to be.
Trust us; you won’t be able to resist its charm and allure.
Contribution by: Jolene from Wanderlust Storytellers
La Rochelle, France
La Rochelle, one of the most visited tourist destinations in France, is just over two and a half hours from Paris by train. It’s known for its rich cultural heritage, beautiful beaches, and scenic location. These things make it a great place for an overnight stay to explore the jewel in the crown of the Atlantic coast.
With breathtaking sea views, the town has a historic harbor dating back to the 10th century when it was just a fishing village. The three towers, Tour de la Lanterne, Tour Saint-Nicolas, and Tour de la Chaîne, date between the 12th & 14th centuries with stories of battles, legends, and even the Knights Templar. The harbor is lined with cafes and restaurants serving local seafood. A great place to enjoy the local delicacies.
It’s the perfect town to explore on foot with its narrow cobbled streets, half-timbered medieval houses, and museums, including the Natural History Museum located in a beautiful 18th-century mansion.
Surrounded by 14th-century ramparts, which you can walk along, it also has several beautiful beaches, including Plage des Minimes and Plage de la Concurrence, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing.
And if you have time, you can take a boat trip to the nearby islands of Ile de Ré and Ile d’Oléron, known for their oysters and salt farming.
Contribution by: Kylie from Life in Rural France
While Paris is renowned as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, London is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city you must experience. In just over 2 hours, the Eurostar will take you from Paris to London, so why not go on a quick weekend trip from Paris?
On your first day in London, visit world-famous sites such as the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, or check out Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and Covent Garden, where you can see street performers. To get the city’s best views, take a ride on the London Eye or walk across the iconic Tower Bridge to the South Bank.
On your second day, go to Camden Market to browse the shops and eat at one of the food trucks by Camden Lock. From there, walk west along Regents Canal to Little Venice, one of the many off-the-beaten-path things to do in London.
Since taxis are slow and expensive, the Tube is the best way to get around London. Make sure to take a double-decker bus at least once and cross your fingers that the upstairs front seats are free. Otherwise, you will walk a lot, so bring good shoes!
Contribution by: Kristin from Scotland Less Explored
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
It’s easy to explore the capital city of one of Europe’s smallest countries in a weekend. Luxembourg City is a pleasant 2.5-hour high-speed train ride from Paris, making for a memorable weekend escape. Because of its compact size, you can get around this picturesque destination on foot once you arrive in Luxembourg.
Although small in size, Luxembourg City is big on charm. It offers a distinct cultural experience blending modern amenities and conveniences, like free public transportation for everyone.
This incredible city is divided into two levels. The lower level of the city, the oldest part of Luxembourg, sits in the Alzette River Gorge, while the upper part was built upon a rocky canyon. You can take a lift or a scenic walkway between the two levels.
There are a lot of unique things to do in Luxembourg City, from wandering the streets of the oldest part of the city to exploring the casemates, a series of passageways built into the walls that the upper portion of the city is built on.
Be sure to check out the Notre Dame Cathedral, not to be confused with Paris’ famous church, and enjoy a relaxing lunch in the Place d’Armes, a central square in the heart of Luxembourg City’s pedestrian zone.
Contribution by: Melissa from Parenthood and Passports
Mont Saint Michel, France
Located 4 hours from Paris, you’ll find one of the most iconic islets, Mont Saint Michel.
Mont Saint Michel is unique because it sits in a bay where the scenery changes dramatically depending on the tide. At high tide, you’ll see some of the most stunning reflections of the island. Then, you can tour the bay at low tide and even (safely) experience quicksand.
Many things to do in Mont Saint Michel warrant a weekend trip from Paris, aside from experiencing both high and low tides.
First, the number one activity is visiting and touring the abbey at the top of the island. Settled by Benedictine monks in 966 AD, throughout history, the abbey was used as a religious site, a prison, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Other great activities include trying a famous puff omelet at La Mère Poulard, visiting museums, and admiring the views from all points of the island.
The best way to get there is by car or train, where you can get off at Pontorson and then take the free shuttle bus to Mont Saint Michel.
Contribution by: Alanna from Periodic Adventures
If you’re interested in hiking, shopping, or simply relaxing with a glass of wine, visit Roussillon – a hidden gem in southern France with magnificent red cliffs made from the largest ochre deposits in the world.
To get there, take a high-speed train from Paris in approximately 3 hours, which is perfect for a weekend trip from Paris. The journey by car takes about 6.5 hours, but it is a scenic drive through the French countryside. I preferred to drive so I could leisurely drive through the beautiful Loire Valley and have the flexibility to stop at small charming towns or villages along the way.
Hiking the Ochre Trail is one of the most memorable things to do here. This trail takes you through the breathtaking ochre cliffs and valleys surrounding Roussillon. The colors of the ochre cliffs are truly amazing, ranging from bright orange to deep red. The stark contrast against the sky is simply beautiful. The Ochre Trail experience will take roughly 35 to 55 minutes, depending on the route. Remember to wear darker colors as the ochre can discolor your clothing.
Explore the charming ancient village on foot, taking in the spectacular views while enjoying the local shops and numerous places to dine in town. I enjoyed the fantastic view from Restaurant David with a delicious menu, and it happens to be a hotel for a convenient night’s stay at Le Clos de la Glycine.
Also, visit one of the many local vineyards and sample some of the region’s famous wines. Roussillon is known for its excellent rosé and dry red wines, and there are plenty of vineyards to choose from.
Contribution by: Erin from Erin’s Travel Tips
Saint Emilion, France
One of the best weekend trip ideas from Paris is wine tasting in Saint Emilion! This picturesque destination is an ideal weekend getaway from Paris!
Traveling by train, you can reach Saint Emilion in just under 4 hours. If you would rather rent a car in Paris and drive through the French countryside, the journey will take around five and a half hours.
St. Emilion is known for being one of the oldest wine-producing appellations in France. You can join several wine-tasting tours to get an overview of the Bordeaux wine region. On my tour, we visited the most magnificent chateau and learned how their wine is produced while touring the grounds.
If wine doesn’t interest you, there are still many reasons to make this weekend trip from Paris. For instance, spend your time relaxing in this fairytale-like village and explore the 12th-century Monolithic church of Saint Emilion.
Foodies will especially love Saint Emilion! There are lovely little bistros that will rival even the best restaurants in Paris!
Be sure to stay in the heart of the city at Badon Boutique Hotel! It is the perfect place to stay when visiting for a weekend.
Contribution by: Melissa from A Solo Woman Traveling
The Luberon, France
The Luberon is one of France’s most charming corners, dotted with picturesque hillside villages and fields of lavender across its valleys. It’s that part of Provence made so famous by Peter Mayle’s 1989 bestselling memoir, A Year in Provence.
He wasn’t exaggerating, and over a day or two, you can visit five villages that have been officially designated “Most Beautiful Villages of France”: Gordes, Ménerbes, Roussillon, Ansouis, and Lourmarin, all within driving distance of one another.
Gordes was voted one of France’s favorite villages, with ancient stonework protected on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Ménerbes, which has long attracted artists, made it into modern lore as the home of Peter Mayle. Roussillon is a tantalizing collection of colorful houses sitting against a backdrop of ochre hills (it was long famous for its ochre mines). In addition to being a lovely village, Lourmarin has a stunning chateau, as does Ansouis, whose quiet medieval streets have often played a role in French films about Provence. And there are dozens more.
To visit the Luberon, take the train from Paris to Avignon (a three-hour journey) and rent a car at the train station. The Luberon begins a mere half an hour’s drive away.
Contribution by: Leyla from Offbeat France
Yep, Global Debauchery’s got you covered for everything just outside the normal itinerary. Planning a trip to the City of Lights? Be sure to duck out on one of these incredible weekend trips from Paris. There’s a whole country there to explore. And a whole bunch of really close neighbors, too. Don’t sell yourself short!
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