Chateau De Versailles
Chateau De Versailles © Château de Versailles & Christian Milet

Loved Chloe Govan’s recent feature on day trips from Paris? Here’s a quick reference guide to the essential trips. From natural wonders to stunning châteaux to the haunts of favourite artists, there’s something for everyone.

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What to See and Do Outside of Paris

CHÂTEAU DE VERSAILLES

Justifiably the most visited château in the country, Versailles often boasts musical fountains, fireworks and period re-enactments. The palace has played host to everything from Marie Antoinette’s wedding celebrations to scandal and subterfuge. chateauversailles.fr

Cliffs of Etretat
Cliffs of Etretat © Tobi 87 via Wikimedia Commons

CLIFFS OF ÉTRETAT

These scenic chalk cliffs, along with the distinctive rock formation L’Aiguille, are legendary landmarks on the Norman coastline. Much loved by the Impressionist painters, it was also the setting for Arsène Lupin crime novel The Hollow Needle. lehavre-etretat-tourisme.com

Auvers Sur Oise
Auvers Sur Oise © Lionceau95 via Wikimedia Commons

AUVERS-SUR-OISE

With its wheat, sunflower and poppy fields, this countryside idyll barely more than half an hour from Paris proved a favourite for many Impressionists, including Vincent Van Gogh – who spent his final days here – as well as Cézanne, Daubigny and Pissarro. tourisme-auverssuroise.fr

Chateau de Chambord
Chateau de Chambord © Benh LIEU SONG, via Wikimedia Commons

CHÂTEAU DE CHAMBORD

Surrounded by forest, this 440-room former hunting lodge is the largest and grandest of all the Loire Valley châteaux – and it even boasts a double helix staircase designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Horseback re-enactments are a highlight here. www.chambord.org

Chateau Cheverny
Chateau Cheverny © Chateau Cheverny

CHÂTEAU DE CHEVERNY

Despite its smaller stature, Cheverny is perhaps the best château for families, boasting a Tintin exhibition devoted to the cartoon detective and his faithful dog Snowy, pus dozens of on-site hunting hounds, incredible gardens and tranquil boat trips. chateau-cheverny.fr

Clos Luce, Amboise
Clos Luce, Amboise © Wikimedia Commons

CLOS LUCÉ, AMBOISE

This former home of Leonardo da Vinci brings to life the artist’s final years, ensconced in a château provided by the art enthusiast Francis I. Visitors can see his bedroom, his artwork and reconstructions of some of his incredible inventions. vinci-closluce.com

Chateau de Chantilly
Chateau de Chantilly © wikiemedia commons

CHÂTEAU DE CHANTILLY

Rebuilt after its destruction in the French Revolution, this château has since been restored to its former glory, hosting performances by Pink Floyd and even appearing in a Bond movie. Don’t miss the art gallery and Museum of the Horse. chateaudechantilly.fr

Monet's gardens, Giverny
Monet’s gardens, Giverny © Maison et jardins de Claude Monet Giverny 

MONET’S GARDENS, GIVERNY

The perfect place for an Impressionist art pilgrimage, visitors can explore the late Claude Monet’s house, now a museum, before strolling through the gardens that inspired his best work, complete with water lilies galore. fondation-monet.com

Disneyland Paris
Disneyland Paris © Disneyland Paris

DISNEYLAND

An undeniable family favourite, the Disneyland Park boasts a Sleeping Beauty castle inspired by Loire Valley châteaux and Perrault’s fairytales, plus a host of rides and attractions for every age group, from swashbuckling pirates to Alice in Wonderland. www.disneylandparis.com

Chateau de Chenonceau
Chateau de Chenonceau © Wikimedia Commons

CHÂTEAU DE CHENONCEAU

This is another legendary stop-off on the Loire Valley royal route. Henri II’s wife, self-styled ‘evil queen’ Catherine de’ Medici, and his much-loved mistress Diane de Poitiers clashed bitterly over architectural designs, before Diane was evicted altogether. www.chenonceau.com

Clelie Mascaret
Clelie Mascaret © Wikimedia Commons

REIMS CATHEDRAL

This is no ordinary cathedral – a UNESCO World Heritage Site where more than two dozen kings had their coronations, the building is even larger than Notre-Dame in Paris, yet it’s remained a well-kept secret in comparison. cathedrale-reims.com

Fontevraud Abbey
Fontevraud Abbey © Chloe Govan

FONTEVRAUD ABBEY

An abbey run by monks and nuns who lived in deliberate self-isolation away from the rest of the world, it was later turned into a prison and is now a cultural centre. The tombs of royalty rest here. www.fontevraud.fr

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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