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Small villages outside Paris

Memphis, Tennessee
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Small villages outside Paris

My wife and I have been to France many times, but have spent more time in the South of France. We enjoy exploring and relaxing in the smaller villages. Much of our time has been in the Luberon, Vaucluse, and Var departments.

However, in a few weeks we will be traveling to Paris with our adult children and grandchildren (9 & 13).

In addition to showing the rest of the family the essentials in Paris, it would be nice to be able to let them see the more rural side of France.

I would be delighted to have any recommendations for such a day trip from Paris using public transportation. Thanks.

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France
France
Europe
Luberon
Luberon
Vaucluse, France
Var
Var
Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur, France
Paris
Paris
Ile-de-France, France
18 replies to this topic
Rambouillet, France
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1. Re: Small villages outside Paris

Use my town of Rambouillet (population 26k) as a benchmark. It has a château, gardens, boat rentals, bike rentals, art museum, a model train museum, farm visits, 50 restaurants, bakeries, chocolateries, cheeseries and crêperies. All for an 8 euro train ticket and 30 minute train ride from Paris.

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Ile-de-France, France
Tehran
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2. Re: Small villages outside Paris

<<Use my town of Rambouillet>> Your town seems like an Idyllic place, no wonder you are always in good mood :-)

Paris, France
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3. Re: Small villages outside Paris

There are many easy to do day trips to small towns and villages near Paris that are easily, and inexpensively, accessed by public transport. Some that you can consider are Senlis, Moret-sur-Loing, Auvers-sur-Oise, Fontainebleau, Provins, Chartres and others. There are also châteaux and other sites that can be visited. If you have a look at my day trip list below you can get relevant website links and transport instructions to the places I mentioned above and many other destinations.

If you want to go to anyplace that requires a reservation for train tickets (all TGV trains and many Intercités trains) you'll need to buy them 3 months in advance to get the cheapest ticket prices. For some popular routes tickets may go on sale 4 or more months in advance and this is especially true for summer months.

The cheapest train tickets are going to be the local trains near Paris that have fixed prices so you don't need to buy tickets in advance and you can also wait for the best weather day to do a day trip.

Here is a brief list that summarizes many of the most popular day trips from Paris (within an hour and a half by train). With the exception of Reims, Troyes and Rouen I haven't included places that require advance train ticket purchase to get the cheapest train ticket prices. The rest of the destinations are all local trains with fixed prices. There are certainly many other day trips you could also do but this list covers most of the biggies:

________________________________________________________________________

Provins (an authentic walled medieval town): http://www.provins.net/

Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5 or Navigo Découverte.

__________________________________________________________________________

Château of Chantilly (wonderful fairytale château, famous art collection): http://www.chateaudechantilly.com/fr/

http://www.chantilly-tourisme.com/

Trains depart from Gare du Nord and arrive at Chantilly-Gouvieux. Use oui.sncf.com or trainline.eu for train schedules and prices.

____________________________________________________________________________

Senlis (beautiful small medieval town can be combined with a visit to Chantilly):

http://en.senlis-tourisme.fr/

Take train to Chantilly (see above). Take bus number 15 from Chantilly to Senlis. Bus schedules here: http://www.oise-mobilite.fr/index.asp

_____________________________________________________________________________

Reims (champagne tours, great historic cathedral, museums):

http://www.reims-tourisme.com/

Take TGV train from Gare de l'Est. Use oui.sncf.com or trainline.eu for train schedules and prices. Train tickets cheapest if purchased 3 months in advance.

______________________________________________________________________________

Epernay (champagne tours): http://www.ot-epernay.fr/

Trains depart from from Gare de l'Est. Use oui.sncf.com or trainline.eu for train schedules and prices.

______________________________________________________________________________

Fontainebleau (former royal town with famous château):

www.musee-chateau-fontainebleau.fr/spip.php…

www.fontainebleau-tourisme.com/index.php/en/

Trains depart from Gare de Lyon arrive at Fontainebleau-Avon. Take Bus 1 from train station to château. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5 or Navigo Découverte.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Versailles (obvious):

http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage

www.versailles-tourisme.com/en/accueil.html

There are several possible ways to get here by train from Paris. Easiest (least confusing) is to take RER C from Paris to Versailles Rive-Gauche. Use www.ratp.fr for train info.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Rambouillet (Royal château now Presidential palace, nearby forest for hiking/biking, pretty downtown. On the same rail line as Versailles and Chartres)

http://www.rambouillet-tourisme.fr/

…monuments-nationaux.fr/en/

Trains depart from Gare Montparnasse. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5 or Navigo Découverte.

________________________________________________________________________________

Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte (the château after which Louis XIV based his garden renovations for Versailles and IMO one of the most elegant château in France):

http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/en/

www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/en/useful-information

Trains depart from Gare de l'Est and arrive in Verneuil l'Etang. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5 or Navigo Découverte. See the château website for info on transport between the train station and the château.

______________________________________________________________________________

Rouen (small city, lots to do, wonderful cathedral, medieval old center): http://www.rouentourisme.com/

Trains depart from Gare Saint-Lazare. Use oui.sncf.com or trainline.eu for train schedules. Tickets cheapest if purchased 3 months in advance. Last minute tickets cost 22.80€ each way (45.60€ round trip).

_____________________________________________________________________________

Giverny (Monet's house and gardens):

http://fondation-monet.com/en/

http://giverny.org/giverny/

http://giverny.org/gardens/index.htm

http://www.vernon-visite.org/index.shtml

Trains depart from Gare Saint-Lazare and arrive in Vernon. Use oui.sncf.com or trainline.eu for train schedules and prices. Look at links above for info about shuttle bus to Giverny, or walking or renting a bike.

______________________________________________________________________________

Chartres (the famous cathedral and wonderful old medieval town):

http://www.chartres-tourisme.com/en

http://www.discover-chartres.com/

Malcolm Miller Cathedral Tours:

Daily tours of Chartres Cathedral from Easter until late October are at 12 noon and 2.45 p.m. Not on Sundays, and during the winter occasionally or on request.

E-mail address is millerchartres@aol.com.

Trains depart from Gare Montparnasse. Use oui.sncf.com or trainline.eu for train schedules and prices.

________________________________________________________________________________

Compiègne (château with museums, wonderful old town. Can be combined with a visit to the château of Pierrefonds): http://www.compiegne-tourisme.fr/

Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use oui.sncf.com or trainline.eu for train schedules and prices.

___________________________________________________________________________

Château of Pierrefonds (Magnificent fairytale looking château. Reconstructed in the 19th century but magnificent nonetheless. Can be combined with a visit to Compiègne):

www.pierrefonds.monuments-nationaux.fr/

http://www.pierrefonds-tourisme.net/

compiegne-tourisme.fr/Le-chateau-de-Pierrefo…

Take train to Compiegne (see above). There are shuttle buses from Compiegne to Pierrefonds but they are infrequent. Use www.oise-mobilite.fr for bus info. Easiest means of access is taxi from Compiegne to Pierrefonds. The tourist office in Compiegne will assist with taxi service.

______________________________________________________________________________

Troyes (lovely small medieval city):

http://www.tourisme-troyes.com/

Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Use Use oui.sncf.com or trainline.eu for train schedules and prices.

______________________________________________________________________________

Auxerre (lovely small medieval city):

http://www.ot-auxerre.fr/

burgundy-tourism.com/pages/…auxerre-1034.html

Trains depart from Gare de Lyon. Use oui.sncf.com or trainline.eu for train schedules and prices.

______________________________________________________________________________

Laon (medieval hilltop town with a spectacular cathedral): http://www.laon-tourism.co.uk/

Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Crépy-en-Valois (charming little medieval town with 12th century châteaux, abbey ruin, quaint streets, nice park)

valois-tourisme.fr/ot_crepy/…english_version

Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use oui.sncf.com or trainline.eu for train schedules and prices.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Crécy-la-Chapelle (small charming renowned artists village): cc-payscrecois.fr/Crecy-la-Chapelle,203.html Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Transfer at Esbly to the next train for Crécy. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5 or Navigo Découverte.

____________________________________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________________________________

Moret-sur-Loing (charming walled medieval village/artists village):

msl-tourisme.fr/index.php/francais/accueil

Trains depart from Gare de Lyon and arrive at Moret-Veneux-les-Sablons. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5 or Navigo Découverte.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Auvers-sur-Oise (Van Gogh and other impressionist art history):

auvers-sur-oise.com/heading/heading899.html

Trains depart from either Gare Saint-Lazare or Gare du Nord. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules and prices.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Rueil-Malmaison (château of the Empress Josephine and a nice old downtown. On the RER A line and could be combined with a visit to Saint-Germain-en-Laye):

http://www.chateau-malmaison.fr/en

http://www.rueil-tourisme.com/EN/

Take RER A to La Défense and then bus 258 to Château de Malmaison. Also possible to take RER A to Rueil-Malmaison and then walk 1.5km to 2km to old downtown and then to château. Bus number 144 also available from RER station to get to downtown then walk to château. Use www.ratp.fr for transport info.

______________________________________________________________________________

Saint-Germain-en-Laye (former royal town with a wonderful château now home to the national museum of archaeology. On the RER A line and could be combined with a visit to Malmaison):

http://www.ot-saintgermainenlaye.fr/en/

ot-saintgermainenlaye.fr/en/…

http://musee-archeologienationale.fr/

Take RER A from Paris to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Use www.ratp.fr for train info.

____________________________________________________________________________

Barbizon (famous artists village, can be combined with Fontainebleau):

http://www.barbizon-tourisme.fr/

Trains depart from Gare de Lyon and arrive in Fontainebleau-Avon. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5 or Navigo Découverte. It is necessary to take a taxi from Fontainebleau to Barbizon.

_____________________________________________________________________________

IMPORTANT NOTE: When using the http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ website here are a few tips. When entering Paris as your arrival or departure point you will notice a drop down menu appears when you start to type the word ''paris''. Select ''Paris (all stations – FR)'' and this will automatically bring up the correct train station in Paris for your journey. Be sure to uncheck the box marked ''Direct Trains'' to see all options.

If you are redirected to the RailEurope then try again and select ''Antarctic'' as your ticket collection country to avoid being redirected to the RailEurope website. The RailEurope website usually doesn't show all the trains and shows higher ticket prices. Be sure to also look at other ticket purchase options. You can also use the German rail site www.bahn.de for schedules but it will not give train ticket prices.

These are the most popular day trips and all are worthwhile but there are many other less popular and equally worthy day trips. I could easily list a couple dozen more but only if what's on this list doesn't interest you. A good guide book for the Île-de-France region should give you more ideas.

You'll need to take a train from Paris to do these day trips. For info on trains in Paris and the nearby suburbs (métro and RER trains and those TER trains that operate within zone 5) use the website www.ratp.fr. Use the interactive map on this website to plan your trip: www.ratp.fr/plan-interactif/carteidf.php… Parts of this website are in French so you can use an English language companion site www.vianavigo.com. You can also use www.transilien.com for métro and RER trains and those TER trains that are part of the Transilien network. Some TER trains on the Transilien network go beyond zone zone 5. It's a personal choice as to whether you prefer using the RATP or Transilien website.

A great website to learn about the Paris métro/bus/RER network is www.parisbytrain.com.

For trains that go further beyond the Île-de-France and/or outside of the Transilien network use the website http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ A great website to learn about trains in France (and Europe) is www.seat61.com if you have any train questions/problems.

Paris and many of the places nearby in Île-de-France are divided into zones, numbered 1 through 5. Paris is in zone 1 and areas outside Paris are in zones 2 through 5. Some of the destinations I mentioned are in zone 5 (Provins, Fontainebleau, Moret-sur-Loing, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Crécy-la-Chapelle, Barbizon). If you have purchased the Navigo Découverte Pass then it will cover your travel within all 5 zones. The Paris Visite Pass for zones 1 to 5 will also cover these destinations but this pass is often not good value for the money and is only worthwhile in certain circumstances. If you do not have these passes then for these journeys it will be more cost effective to buy a one day Mobilis pass for 17.30€ for zones 1 through 5. This will be cheaper than the point to point tickets round trip. Plus, this pass is good for unlimited travel on all public trains and buses for one day in zones 1-5. Buy it first thing in the morning before your first métro ride and it gets you to your train station, your round trip tickets, any buses you need to use at your destination and any traveling you'll do in Paris when you return. Before you use the ticket make sure to write your name and the date on the ticket. You can buy these passes from the ticket machines in métro/RER stations. The machines have an English language option. If so, look for the one day Mobilis pass option. When you get to the screen that lists your zones to choose from press zone 1 and then press zone 5. You can also buy them at any ticket counter. You can buy these in advance of your journey since it's not valid until you write your name and date on it and validate the ticket on your first métro/RER trip or at the train station. If you buy the ticket at a main line train station then before boarding a train be sure to stick it in the machine that validates tickets and it will punch your ticket. Click on the following link to see a photo of the composting machine for Mobilis Passes and other Île-de-France tickets: parisbytrain.com/paris-trainmetro-ticket-val…

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Memphis, Tennessee
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4. Re: Small villages outside Paris

Thank you. I will review these and see what fits best. Our interest would be probably not in grand chateaux or "cities", but in smaller villages.

Rambouillet, France
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5. Re: Small villages outside Paris

Boeing, good mood..) nah, my rising sign and moon are both in Libra so always looking for the win win.

As always FM, your list (that includes my town) is the best.

Speaking of, when I moved out of Paris the top 3 choices of places to move to are on the list. Rambouillet was simply the most optimal for me.

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Libra
Libra
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Champlon, Belgium
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6. Re: Small villages outside Paris

I don't think that you are going to find a "smaller village" accessible by public transport on a day trip from Paris.

Few smaller villages anywhere in France have public transport that is tourist-friendly because such public transport as they may have is orientated around getting inhabitants to work and school in nearby town(s) in the morning and back again in the evening.

You will find smaller towns (Provins, Moret/Loing are a couple) that are accessible but they are very definitely towns, not villages.

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Paris
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France
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Rambouillet, France
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7. Re: Small villages outside Paris

Saint Remy is a village and is in my backyard but their RER train tracks are a little messed up for the moment: https://www.lejdd.fr/societe/rer-b-un-train-… and https://www.ouest-france.fr/meteo/orage/le-d…

My express train tracks are fine, here's my downtown: https://www.petitfute.com/medias/photo/835_5…

Edited: 4:41 pm, June 12, 2018
8. Re: Small villages outside Paris

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Chicago, Illinois
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9. Re: Small villages outside Paris

I would go for Auvers sur Oise because of the Van Gogh sites there, or Crecy la Chapelle and its canals, or Moret sur Loing which is village like in its center and offers a long stroll along the Loing to the Seine (there is supposed to be boat trip there in summer but we did it in November) or Senlis for a lovely medieval town. You can see snapshots of the last three of these in my photo journal to see if they appeal to you. Generally you don't want to go to smaller towns like this on Mondays as that tends to be the day they close up.

janettravels44

www.janettravels.wordpress.com

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Senlis
Senlis
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Copenhagen, Denmark
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10. Re: Small villages outside Paris

A lot of towns have been mentioned, but fewer villages ... Montfort l´Amaury is a nice place with an enchanting Ravel museum.

Bus lines: www.ville-montfort-l-amaury.fr/Lignes-de-bus

Some sights ville-montfort-l-amaury.fr/-Decouvrir-Montfo…

Edited: 4:50 pm, June 12, 2018
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