Paris may have everything that sought by travelers, ranging from the romantic city atmosphere, Michelin-starred restaurants, to shopping spots that will make shopaholic shout “shut up and take my money!”.
But if you still want other variations of tourist attractions while in Paris, the 10 cool spots below can become a momentary affair in your spare time aside from the main tour schedule, because it can be reached within walking distance from Paris.
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Versailles is always at the top of the list of places to visit as a side-trip from Paris. Versailles itself is the name of a city located in the Île-de-France region, and the city is only about 20 kilometers away in the Southwest of Paris, making it ideal for side-trips when needing other tourist variations in Paris.
The main tourist attraction in Versailles certainly lies in the presence of Versailles Palace. The palace was originally built as a hunting lodging by Louis XIII in the 17th century. But over time, this hunting lodging continues to experience the expansion and building development, until finally become an official residence of Louix XIV. As the residence of the king, the Palace of Versailles has a very large size, and it is designed to highlight luxuries that still seem amazing to date.
As one of the popular side-trip attractions of Paris, this Versailles Palace is always crowded by tourists. To avoid long queues when buying tickets to get into the palace, it is advisable to buy tickets online and print them, so you do not need to queue anymore. Moreover, it is advisable to go as early as possible, so you can enjoy the atmosphere at the Palace of Versailles without having to jostle with other groups of tourists.
It’s always better to allocate the whole day to explore this spacious palace, so you can explore the inside of the palace, to walk to every corner of the park maximally. Another thing is, if you visit between March and October, you may be able to watch the magnificent Musical Fountain Show in Versailles.
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If you feel that the Palace of Versailles is too mainstream to visit, you can consider diverting your destination to Fontainebleau. This place is a sub-prefecture in the Seine-et-Marne department, and is about 55.5 kilometers from Paris or approximately 45 minutes by train. Quite ideal for a side-trip destination from Paris, isn’t it?
The main tourist attraction of Fontainbleau is located at the Palace of Fontainebleau, or Château de Fontainebleau, or Fontainebleau Palace, a medieval castle (12th century) that once used as a residence of the French rulers, from Louis VII to Napoleon III.
Therefore, this palace was designed with splendor and luxury that will be able to make you fascinated until now, especially because this palace is now functioned as a national museum and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The most interesting part of this Fontainbleau may lie in its crowd. Fontainebleau Palace has a grandeur that is not less than the Palace of Versailles, but with a much lower density level than Marie Antoinette’s favorite palace.
If you are lucky enough to come at the right time, you can enjoy Fontainbleau in a very lazy atmosphere where there are not many visitors, so you can explore it more freely and enjoy every corner of this palace, including a very well maintained garden. You can also take a horse-drawn carriage around the palace area, or take a hot air balloon to enjoy the scenery around the palace from a height.
After a satisfied castle exploration, you can start stepping your feet to find places to fill the stomach, because around this palace there are several places to eat that is quite fun and within pedestrian distance. Or, you can explore the forest in the surrounding area. You can get a map of the jungle track at the local Office of Tourism.
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Sceaux is the name of an area in the suburb of Paris, which is only 9.7 kilometers away from the capital city of Fashion. If traveling by car, it takes you about 30 minutes (if traffic conditions are fine) to reach Sceaux, so this place is very easy to visit in between your tour time in Paris.
Just like Versailles and Fontainbleau, the main attraction of Sceaux lies in its castle, the Château de Sceaux. The difference is, Château de Sceaux is not a former court of the king like the Palace of Versailles and Fontainbleau Palace. The Château de Sceaux is a country house that was once built for Jean-Baptiste Antione Colbert or Marquis de Seignelay, finance minister Louis XIV, which designed to follow the Louis XIII style.
Although the Château de Sceaux is not a former residence of kings, it was once owned by nobles and high-ranking officials of its time. So do not be surprised with the architecture of this building, even the interior and surrounding landscape was designed with amazing detail.
Unfortunately, the palace building was once destroyed and only some parts of the building was still intact. But then this palace and the park was restored successfully. The Château de Sceaux is now open to the public, and is now equipped with a museum called Musée de I’lle-de-France which houses various paintings by the School of Paris.
Other than that, Château de Sceaux is popular as a picnic place by the residents of Paris who want to find a short vacation spot. If you visit in April, you can enjoy Cherry Blossoms blooming in the palace area.
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Mont Saint Michel
Moving to the Normandy region, there is Mont Saint Michel, it’s one of the popular landmarks of the country of France. Mont Saint Michel is the name of an island which located about 1 kilometer from the nearest beach.
Historically, Mont Saint Michel is believed to have started functioning since the 6th century and 7th century, and per-year 2009 was inhabited by 44 people. Although the size is not too big, but Mont Saint Michel is claimed to be visited by up to 3 million people per year.
The main attraction of Mont Saint Michel lies in its monastery, the Mont Saint Michel Abbey (or Mont Saint Abbey Monastery). This monastery is located in the middle of the island, built approximately in 966, but gradually expanded to accommodate more pilgrims. The location of the monastery is in the highest place on the island.
Understandably, at that time, the location of the monastery was designed by emphasizing the structural concept of feudal society at that era, which distinguishes the level between the monastery and the common people.
While in terms of the concept of building, this monastery has a quite unique and distinctive architectural style, because it was built with a touch of pre-Roman architectural style. When viewed from the outside, the Gothic style is striking enough to dominate the look of this monastery.
Actually, the location of Mont Saint Michel is quite far from Paris. You need about 3.5 hours, and have to change train several times. If you find it difficult to arrange an itinerary to Mont Saint Michel, you can search for tours and travels that offer a day trip package to the monastery.
As an additional information, the price of food in Mont Saint Michel is on average higher than usual places. For budget travelers, it is recommended that you bring your own food.
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Moving back to the Île-de-France region, Yvelines precisely, there is a pretty interesting place to be visited during a trip to Paris, namely Saint-Germain-en-Laye. This place is just 19.1 kilometers away from Paris, and has a pretty popular tourist attraction to be visited as a side-trip from Paris, that is, the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye or the Palace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
The Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye is a palace built by Louis VI in 1122. Just like other palace buildings that once owned by the royal family, the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye also has a very beautiful and interesting architectural style.
Originally this palace had turned into various functions, ranging from the palace, cavalry school, prison, until finally now functioned as Musée d’Archéologie Nationale (National Museum of Archeology).
However, Saint-Germain-en-Laye is not merely a palace. The local community is also very interesting to be explored on foot. For additional information, Saint-Germain-en-Laye is also a home for PSG, a top-ranked soccer team in France. For football lovers, especially if you know about the PSG team, do not miss the opportunity to explore Saint-Germain-en-Laye when traveling to Paris, okey!
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Bored with the atmosphere of Paris that is too attached with romanticism and fashion? Then try to make Provins as one of the side-trip destinations of Paris.
Provins is a small town that has been built since the Medieval, and is only about 1.5 hours away from Paris. Until now, Provins still maintains the atmosphere of the old city, so the time seemed to stop in this city.
Although it does not have a magnificent gold-studded palace that designed in a dazzling architectural style, Provins is still very interesting to be explored on foot; you can either just to enjoy the atmosphere, or dropping in to various attractions that are available in the region.
There are some interesting things you can see in Provins. For example, the Church of The Saint Quiriace Collegiate that has been built since the 12th century. You can also visit the underground tunnels, museums, guard towers, and many others.
However, if you are still confused to decide on which objects to visit while in Provins, it is advisable to visit the local tourism office to get a map, ask questions, or buy the various freepass. It’s just that, before visiting Provins, at least you need to find out earlier the operational hours from the local tourism office which may be different during the middle of the season and during the high season.
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Moving to the southwest of Paris, there is a Chartres which is 96 kilometers away from the City of Love. Chartres is famous for its cathedral called Chartres Cathedral, or Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres. This cathedral is a catholic gothic cathedral that was built between 1194-1220, and until now still relatively preserved its authenticity.
From the first since it was built, only minor changes were made. And yet the process took place in the 13th century. So, do not be surprised if the cathedral is later recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and touted as one of the most beautiful church in the world.
Planning to stop by Chartres Cathedral? The best time to visit this cathedral is between April and October. In those times, every night there will be a special illumination show in the cathedral area, which will make the cathedral look even more amazing. After a satisfied exploration to the cathedral, spend a while to look around various souvenir shops and various bakeries that sell a variety of typical snacks of the area.
Besides owning Chartres Cathedral, Chartres also has several museums that are worth visiting, such as the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the Musée le Grenier de l’histoire, the Le Center International du Vitrail, and many more.
Chartres is also known as one of the culinary destinations, and in this place there are several Michelin-starred restaurants that deserve to be tasted (if there is a budget for it). Do not forget to buy Cochelin, a human-shaped pastry with chocolate filling, which is a typical Chartres product.
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There are so many amazing places around Paris that deserve to be visited as a side-trip. But if you want a place that has many tourist options, include Reims in your list.
Reims is just a 45-minute train ride from Paris. This place does have some tourist options for tourists, ranging from historical tours to culinary tours. For historical tours, Reims has a magnificent cathedral that has a prominent position in French history. Imagine, in this cathedral the coronation ceremony of the France kings was held in the past. No wonder many people equate this cathedral to Westminster Abbey in London.
Besides having a magnificent cathedral, Reims is known as the champagne capital. Reims has 319 vineyards that produce more than 321 million bottles of champagne per year.
If you claim to be lovers of alcoholic beverages, Reims champagne is one of the best that shouldn’t be missed, and you can visit the various champagne houses that often hold tours and wine tasting. But if you can not drink alcohol for one reason or another, Reims also has many cafes and restaurants offering a variety of delicious culinary.
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Ever heard of Oscar-Claude Monet? The famous painter Monet was born on November 14, 1840 and died on December 5, 1926, and was the founder of the Impressionist school in France. He produces many spectacular masterpieces, one of which is Monet’s Garden painting.
The location of the Monet house is located in Giverny, which lies at the north of France and is approximately 80 kilometers from Paris. Until now, the Monet house and the park that became the inspiration for Monet’s Garden paintings are still very well preserved, and opened to the public.
Even a variety of furniture, complete items and personal collections from Monet was still maintained until now. No wonder the Monet house and its gardens are then become the main tourist attraction for Giverny, which always succeed in attracting tourists who claim to be lovers of painting or just want to find alternative side-trip from Paris, to visit Giverny.
Some tips for those of you who want to visit Monet’s house in Giverny: (1) The Monet House is usually open between April 1 and November 1, so visit between those months only, and; (2) come when the flowers have bloomed, because the garden in the house is one of the main attractions of the Monet House.
Photos are taken from various sources (see captions) without any additional edits other than the resizing process.
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