Cycling at the Chateau de Chambord
Cycling at the Chateau de Chambord

Keen to explore the sites in the regions surrounding Paris? Foodie museums, hot air balloon rides and garden festivals are just some of the attractions on offer.

Related articles: Day Trips from Paris: Champagne Country, Artist Villages and More
Where to Stay and Eat Outside of Paris

Gastronomy

Champagne region
Visit the village of Hautvillers, where, according to legend, the now world-famous Dom Pérignon is supposed to have first discovered champagne – it’s only a couple of hours’ drive from the capital. Meanwhile the famous champagne houses of Épernay – including Mercier, Bollinger, Lanson, Taittinger and Moët et Chandon, which invites guests to explore its network of underground cellars – are just 10 minutes away.

For more information visit ot-epernay.fr

Indulge your taste buds and enjoy a history lesson at the Museum of Brie
Indulge your taste buds and enjoy a history lesson at the Museum of Brie © Gilles Puech

Museum of Brie, Meaux
If you’ve always appreciated the sweet, creamy melt-in-the-mouth texture of Brie, this museum dedicated to the cheese and its legendary taste sensations is a must. Just 45 minutes from Paris, it invites guests to learn about the production process and enjoy tasting sessions, plus anecdotes about how the royals liked to eat theirs (Henri IV favoured it spread on toast).

For more information visit tourisme-paysdemeaux.com

The secret underground world of mushroom growers at the Cave des Roches © David Darrault

Visit a Mushroom Cave
The Loire Valley might be most famed for its fairytale châteaux, but it also has hidden depths, like the underground world at Cave des Roches, which farms 40% of the world’s supply of pied bleu mushrooms. An impressive100 tonnes are produced here each year and a tasting in this 72-mile labyrinth is the ultimate foodie adventure. Don’t forget to stop at the shop to stock up on fungi goodies.

For more information visit le-champignon.com

Adventure

Visit the hounds at Château de Cheverny
These magnificent Franglais hunting hounds – a cross between the English foxhound and the French Poitevin – have been creating a spectacle at the château for years, with daily feeding sessions drawing in animal-lovers from miles around. Also on offer at the château is the chance to take boat trips to see oak trees which are hundreds of years old.

For more information visit chateau-cheverny.fr

Feeding the very many hungry hounds at Cheverny
Feeding the very many hungry hounds at Cheverny is quite a spectacle © Wikimedia Commons

Hot Air Balloon Rides
It’ll take an early morning start – and for maximum convenience, we recommend an overnight stay in the area – but a hot air balloon ride at dawn to see the sun rise over the famous châteaux of the Loire Valley is a magical experience. Soar high in the sky, clink champagne glasses and then purchase video footage of the experience to look back on in years to come – and show your family!

For more information visit www.loire-et-montgolfiere.com

Art

Art Workshops
If following in the footsteps of art greats such as Van Gogh and Monet has activated your appetite for catching the region’s beauty on canvas yourself, why not join an impressionist art workshop in the area? The local tourist board at Auvers-sur-Oise can advise on the latest ones available for arty travellers to try out.

For more information visit tourisme-auverssuroise.fr

Graves of Vincent and Théodore Van Gogh
Graves of Vincent and Théodore Van Gogh © Héric Samson, Wikimedia Commons

Visit Van Gogh’s Grave
The Dutch Impressionist painter is now a legend around the world, but in spite of living at 38 addresses during his short 37-year life, his place of death, Auvers-sur-Oise, was said to be his favourite location by far. Take a poignant trip to his grave, where he rests alongside brother, Theo, to pay tribute to a tortured genius.

For more information visit tourisme-auverssuroise.fr

Culture

Musée de la Grande Guerre
The region of Meaux is often under-represented on tourist itineraries, despite being home to an excellent museum of Brie and boasting a location just 20 minutes from Disneyland Paris. To get your teeth into a more serious subject matter, however, visit the largest museum in the world dedicated solely to the events of World War I.

For more information visit museedelagrandeguerre.com

Garden lovers will want to head for the Chateau Chaumont garden festival
Garden lovers will want to head for the Chateau Chaumont garden festival © Chloe Govan

Gardens Festival
Every year the fairytale Château de Chaumont, which inspired the castle in Cinderella, hosts a world-class, months-long garden festival. Garden designers from all over the globe compete to create the best themes, even incorporating hidden meanings and secret messages into their shrubberies – one year a contestant used flower displays to convey symbolism about Heaven and Hell. Keep your eyes peeled!

For more information visit domaine-chaumont.fr

Cycling the Château Routes
There are many ways to discover the land around France’s most famous châteaux, but cycling is one of the most rewarding. More than 500km of cycling paths and country roads have been signposted, allowing travel between châteaux to take place entirely by bike. Plus the likes of Chambord are surrounded by beautiful forest – perfect for communing with nature, and enjoying some exercise to boot!

For more information visit en.francevelotourisme.com

From France Today Magazine

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Chloe Govan
Chloe Govan is an award-winning writer and channel-hopping Francophile with a penchant for Parisian life. After achieving degrees in Psychology and Magazine Journalism and working as a travel editor and columnist, she developed her freelance career, during which she authored 11 books. Whether she is sleeping in a bubble under the stars in the forests around Marseille or horse-back riding with the chateaux of the Loire Valley as a backdrop, her heart can often be found somewhere in France.

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