Paris is a great base from which to do day trips. Normandy, Dijon or St Pierre des Corps all take under 3 hours by rail, with Bordeaux, Nice and Lyon taking more time, but still worth every second.
Of course, there’s plenty of opportunity to appreciate the countryside beyond the borders, which is why we can also help with Eurostar train tickets for combinations like Paris/London, Thalys train tickets for Paris/Amsterdam, and Lyria train tickets for Paris/Bern.
But let’s start with some incredible options within France. More details on French cities and activities from Rail Europe that you can upsell to enhance your clients’ experience.
Aix en Provence (3 hr from Paris Gare de Lyon)
Rolling into Aix-en-Provence by train is like being a paintbrush on a Cezanne canvas; fluidly moving through space and color. Enjoy the view of Cezanne’s subject matter of a number of paintings, the Mount Sainte Victoire, an impressive limestone mountain, which shows an endless range of colors depending on the light at different times of the day. Soak in the relaxing waters of the Sextius spa, named for Aix’s founder, the Roman General Caius Sextius Calvinus. Aix is known as the “city of a thousand fountains”, and on the famous Cours Mirabeau clients will find the city’s most notable spritzer, “La Rotonde.” Then stroll over to Les Deux Garçons for a café au lait, and have a seat in the same seats of Paul Cezanne, Emile Zola and Albert Camus.
Avignon (2 hr 40 min from Paris Gare de Lyon)
Avignon is a cultural center with painters and writers and great museums. Once a residence of the Popes, Avignon is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities of the Middle Ages. Little wonder that today the Palais des Papes has been classified, along with the historic center of Avignon, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The high speed TGV from Paris arrives at the Avignon TGV station, where clients can take TER regional SNCF train service to the city center.
Upsell: Avignon Palais des Papes provides entrance to Avignon Palais des Papes and Avignon Bridge.
Bordeaux (3 hr 14 min from Paris Montparnasse)
The history of wine production is an intrinsic part of Bordeaux’s cultural life and identity, so clients can spend the day immersed in all things oenology. Clients can also enjoy the Musée des Chartrons (Musée des Vins de Bordeaux), Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux, and the Musée d’Art Contemporain.
Dijon (1 hr 40 min from Paris Gare de Lyon)
Dijon is the capital of Burgundy region and has a rich history dating back to the Roman Empire.
Home to many museums, see where the city started with a visit to the Musée Archéologique, and tell your clients not to miss the Musée des Beaux-Arts featuring a superb combination of the prestigious architecture of a ducal residence and one of the richest collections in France; everything from
Egyptian Art to 20th Century modern paintings.
Lourdes (6 hr 11 min from Paris Montparnasse, 2 hr 48 min from Bordeaux)
All are welcome to this mystifying city nestled in a valley in the southwestern part of the Hautes-Pyrénées. Many Catholics pay homage to this revered city, but you certainly do not have to be Catholic to appreciate all it has to offer. You can visit the Grottes De Betharram, with five layers of caves stacked like floors of a house, added over time. Lourdes also offers the best view of the Pyrénées. Of course, there’s plenty of walking and hiking trails that many make a pilgrimage to as well.
Lyon (2 hr 10 min from Paris Gare de Lyon)
France’s 3rd largest city is known for its mouth-watering cuisine, abundant culture, and was once one of the world’s silk capitals. The city is in the heart of the Rhône-Alpes region, which today is the link between the north and south of France. Perhaps most impressive is Lyon’s position as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for illustrating in an exceptional way the progress and evolution of architectural design and town planning over two millennia. Simply, history is everywhere- whether it’s in the past, or in the making.
Upsell: Lyon L’Open Tour for a Hop-On Hop-Off open top bus tour of the city.
Marseille (3 hr 20 min from Paris Gare de Lyon)
Nestled right on the Mediterranean Sea and an inspiration for artists, Marseille is the oldest city in France, founded circa 600 B.C. by Greeks from Asia Minor. Known for its ancient architectural foundations, incredible art and amazing food, the hub of Marseille’s action is at the Vieux Port, or Old Town. You could even stay in Marseille taking day trips to the other charming towns of Provence and the Riviera such as Nice and Monaco – all just a short train ride away.
Upsell: Marseille City Pass covering city transportation and entry into 15 museums, Marseille L’Open Tour for a Hop-On Hop-Off open top tour of the city.
Nice (5 hr 35 min from Paris Gare de Lyon)
One of the most affordable places on the French Riviera, the city averages 300 days of sunshine a year. Nice is just the starting point to the rest of the French Riviera. Cannes, known the world over for its glamorous Film Festival is just 30 minutes away from Nice and the principality of Monaco, also known as Monte Carlo, is just a 20 minute train ride from Nice.
Upsell: Nice L’Open Tour for a Hop-On Hop-Off open top tour of the city.
Strasbourg (2 hr 20 min from Paris Gare de L’Est)
The blending of French and German cultural elements makes Strasbourg a unique destination for a day of sightseeing. Not to be missed attractions include the Palais des Rohan, Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, and of course, Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Tours (1 hr 12 min from Paris Montparnasse)
Centrally located in the culturally rich region of the Loire Valley, prepare your clients for a day of fine art, history, architecture, and wine. Château Chenonceau, Château Amboise, and the Touraine Wine Museum await.
Upsell: Loire Valley Tours, depart across the street from the rail station for a full day tour by minivan to 3 Chateaux. Includes lunch and wine tasting. Three tours offered.
You can see how high speed train advances have made traveling to major cities in France effortless. Clients may love the chance to have breakfast in Paris and lunch in a French gastronomic city of their choice.
Paris Airport to Train Connections
You’ll find the Paris CDG (Charles de Gaulle) airport connections to be dependable and easy for clients to navigate. They can choose between RER B links to Paris that depart the airport every 10-15 minutes (and take 30 minutes to get to Paris’s Gare du Nord), or TGV connections providing direct services to Brussels and several major French cities. Either way, they won’t be fumbling with cabs, communication or currency.
From Paris ORY (Orly) airport, clients can take a bus to Pont de Rungis and then RER train line C to the Paris’ Gare du Austerlitz station. Clients may also opt to take the ORLYVAL shuttle to Antony and then RER train line B to Paris’s Gare du Nord station. Both offering four connections hourly.
Air France coach services offer quick and easy transportation between Paris and Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly airports. To and from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport: Gare Montparnasse, Gare de Lyon, Place de l´Etoile, Porte Maillot. To and from Paris-Orly airport: Gare Montparnasse, Place de l´Etoile, Invalides.