A day outside Paris – Versailles, Disneyland Paris, Asterix Park, a trip to the Loire valley, and more

אטרקציות מחוץ לפריז

Introduction
Disneyland Paris (Eurodisney)
Asterix Park
Versailles Palace
Vaux le Vicomte
A culinary tour at the Rungis wholesale market
Fontainebleau castle
Provins
Champagne region
The Loire valley
Giverny
Normandy

There is no doubt that there is so much to do in Paris, and that no matter how many times you visit it, you can never do everything. And despite that, after a few days, you may want to go outside for a short while, to change the atmosphere and get some time to start missing Paris again. The truth is that there are quite a few places you can get to for a single day outside Paris, starting from Versailles Palace, located about 30 minutes from Paris by RER train, and all the way to Mont Saint Michel, out there in far Normandy (or Bretagne, depends on who you ask).

My goal here is to provide you with a few ideas for that short time outside Paris, which will be your touristic “refresher” (a little dish in between dishes, what the French like to call Amuse Bouche), and will allow you continue to enjoy Paris even after some time, as much as you did on the first day, and perhaps even more. I will start by reviewing the two famous amusement parks outside Paris, and then move on to reviewing palaces, towns, and additional tourist attraction.

The attractions will be ordered by their distance from Paris (the first one will be the closest to Paris, and the last – the farthest from it). Since it’s highly recommended to book your tickets in advance in order to avoid standing in long lines, I did my best to try and provide several types of tickets to each attraction, from the cheapest basic tickets, and all the way to the most expensive and luxurious tickets. That way, for each attraction you can find an option suitable for your budget, and after your time there you’ll be able to return to Paris, filled with new experiences, and continue discover its magic.

Before we continue: A French cabaret - A perfect way to end a perfect day in Paris

I wholeheartedly confess that personally, I despise Disneyland Paris. It has something that is so… not French, and it simply feels like something foreign and unrelated, that is simply not supposed to be there. On the other hand, you can’t argue with success, and following the demand of many people who travelled to Paris, I decided to write about this park.

The Eurodisney park (that later change its name to Disneyland Paris) opened in 1992, and comprises two parks – the Disney theme park and the Walt Disney Studios park. This theme park is located east of Paris, and you can reach it via the suburb train RER A. Since this park contains 4 “lands” (Frontierland, Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Discoveryland), it’s very hard to do everything that this park has to offer in a single day, and therefore it is recommended to focus on only a few of the “lands”, or visit there multiple times.

  • Tickets for one day or more – they say this website offers the cheapest tickets (but remember to also check other options).
  • One day entrance ticket – for people who simply want to check that box, say they’ve been to Disneyland Paris, and get back to the City of Lights as quickly as possible.
  • A ticket for several days – for those who want to enjoy each and every attraction this place can provide.
  • A package of ticket + hotel – since it takes about 50 minutes to get from Paris to Disneyland Paris, and sometimes even more, it is recommended to stay at one of the hotels in the complex and save yourselves some time if you intend to go there for two or more days.

If you’re travelling with children and looking for an authentic French alternative for the typical USA Disneyland, then Asterix park is the perfect option for you. This is a theme park based on the comics series by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, which takes place at the era of the Roman occupation of Gaul, and it is located about 50 kilometres from Paris.

The park is open every year between April and November, and it is known for its rollercoasters. Unlike Disneyland Paris, it isn’t a huge park, and you can definitely spend one day there and then head back to Paris (once you’ve managed to get your breath back after trying all of the rollercoasters in the park).

Chateau de Versailles is the ultimate French palace, among all the other palaces and castles in France. Therefore, if you want to see only one palace on your trip, Versailles is without a doubt the best option (especially if this is your first time in Paris).

I recommend to take an entire day in Versailles, so that you can enjoy the main palace, its wonderful gardens, and finally, the town in which the palace is situated, which is definitely worth several hours of your time. Since the lines for tickets can be long, it is recommended to buy tickets to the palace in advance. Here are a few good options:

Not many know that the castle of Vaux le Vicomte was the inspiration to Versailles palace. Therefore, if you’re advanced Francophiles, you really should visit this castle, with its beautiful garden and rooms filled with treasures from the 17th and 18th centuries. You can get to this castle by taking a train followed by another bus, but in my opinion it’s a complicated way that will cost you some valuable time. So if you don’t intent to rent a car and travel in Île-de-France, I highly recommend to take an organised tour that will take you from Paris and bring you back.

Guided tour at the Rungis wholesale market

Until the 1960s, the wholesale market of Paris used to be located at Les Halles, in the 1st Arrondissement. However, due to problems of endless traffic, it was decided to move it to Rungis, located south of Paris. In this market you will find the freshest produce that arrives to Paris from all parts of France, and if you happen to be foodies that are willing to get up at 4am, you’re in for a culinary experience you wouldn’t want to give up.

You can find more information on the tour and reserve a spot in this link.

Fontainebleau castle is located south of Paris, and it is one of the most charming castles in Île-de-France. Therefore, it is no wonder that the 34 kings of France loved to visit it and its area, and both emperors, Napoleon I and III, turned it into their home.

This lovely castle and its gardens are worth at least half a day of your time, and the town that surrounds them is also worth a few hours of exploration. If you have a car and you like 19th century art, you should also visit the town Barbizon, not far away from there, which gave its name to an entire school of art.

Provins is a small medieval town located east of Paris. This town hosts fairs since the middle ages, and thanks to its ancient buildings, in 2001 it was turned into a World Heritage Site of UNESCO. It is highly recommended to check when the medieval fairs in this town take place, and visit there during those times. Additionally, if you have a car, I also recommend to drive to the town Troyes, a beautiful town with an important Jewish heritage, as the place of residence of Rashi, one of the most important commentators of the Talmud and the Old testament.

Before we continue: Are you visiting Paris with you children?

The historic Champagne region is much more than sparkly wine. Alongside a widespread wine culture, the region has two of the most beautiful cathedrals in France, the Reims Cathedral and the Chartres Cathedral. The combination between architectural beauty, culinary tradition and proximity to Paris make the champagne wine region a great option for a day-trip outside the City of Lights.

  • Wine tasting tour – the tour includes a ride from Paris, breakfast, visits to 3 wineries with wine tastings, and lunch in which each course is paired with proper wine.
  • A tour in Reims and Epernay – a guided tour that is most suitable for those who wish to combine history, art, and wine, and includes a ride from the hotel and back, a tour at the famous cathedral of Reims, a visit to Muet et Chandon, the famous champagne makers, lunch, and a visit to one of the wineries in the region. If you’re looking for a slightly cheaper option, which doesn’t include lunch, you can find it here.

To really make the most of the Loire valley, you should stay there for at least 3-4 days. However, if you don’t have the time for it, and you wish to spend most of your vacation in Paris, there are very good organised tours that can take you to 2-3 of the central castles, and bring you back to Paris on that same day.

Giverny is a small village in Normandy, where the Ept river flows into the Seine. The village is famous thanks to Claude Monet, who made it its place of residence. In Monet’s villa you can find two magical gardens and a pond with water lilies, paintings of which you can find at the Orangerie museum. A must-see place for lovers of impressionistic painting.

Much like the Loire valley, Normandy is also a world of its own, and deserves at least 3-4 days (and the more the better). However, since it is located only a few hours away from Paris, it can be an excellent day trip option, because of Mont Saint Michel, the Calvados, the wonderful cheese (for example the Livarot), and of course – the beaches on which the Allied Forces landed in WWII.

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