LIZ HARROD

Day Trips from Paris

In France, Photo, Travel 2011 on April 30, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Okay, a bit more tourist time in Paris, but this time, day trip style.

I think it’s important when visiting a city to have a good look at the surrounding areas, and in Pars, this couldn’t be more true.

So, when in the city of lights, be sure to hop on the train to some surrounding areas and at least check out two of my favorites.

CHÂTEAU VERSAILLES

Once again, I found myself facing a castle. Don’t be fooled by the title “château.” It’s just the French word for castle.

Versailles is just under an hour from Paris on the RER, part of the Paris metro system. Once you get there it is super easy to follow the signs, and the masses of tourists from the station to the palace grounds.

I didn’t reserve tickets in advance. So much to my dismay I did have to wait in quite a lengthy ticket line, but thanks to Rick Steves’ free audio tour podcast, I was able to skip the line for the audio headsets, which, though included in the ticket pride are so not worth the more than an hour long peak season line.

I pulled the same stunt that I pulled at Sagrada Familia and bought the all inclusive everything ticket, figuring if I was going to go, I was going to see it all.

Versailles is, much to amazement, very cool; and I will agree with Rick that if you are going to see one palace, this should be it.

The lavishness of decor of the three, yes count them three, houses is pretty incredible. Then, there are the gardens, the fountains, and of course all of the history there to impress. Visiting Versailles really is the perfect way to get an idea of what life as a member of the court must have been like. It also gives a great picture of one of the most idealized bits of French history, leading up to their revolution.

Do beware of peak season (see image below), but Versailles is not to be missed, and if you don’t want to go to go inside, you can save the money and just visit the grounds for free.

GIVERNY

My second not to be missed day trip from Paris is a bit farther away, but so worth it, and so dear to my heart.

I visited Giverny for the first time with my mother in 2007. It was a bit of a pilgrimage for both of us since we had been visiting Giverny since I was a little girl, though the pages of Linnea in Monet’s Garden, a delightful book about a little girl learning all about impressionism and visiting the iconic pink house with the green shutters.

Unfortunately, it rained when my mother and I went there. So I had been looking forward to visiting Giverny in the sunshine…. Until it started raining.

Alas, I apparently am not meant to see the gardens in sunshine.

I still had a wonderful time, taking the train up to Vernon and then settling for the shuttle to Giverny – about 5km away. There are bikes for rent in Vernon or you can just walk, but since I already rode a bike to Giverny once in the rain with my mom (worth it), I decided to take the shuttle and attempt to stay dry.

After a walk through the gardens and the house, including his studio, any weary traveler must stop up the street at the little red hotel to have a crepe – a warm, rich treat, especially after a bit of drizzle outside.

You can also check out the impressionist museum if they have and exhibit on, and the church where Monet is buried – not to mention the number of little art and antique shops nearby.

See below for some pictures of my fun little day trips just outside of Paris. This weekend, I get a full weekend excursion – so excited for Normandy with Stéphane!


One of the absolutely stunning painted ceilings in the main palace.


Me in the Monet’s gardens – happy but wet.


The water gardens and the beautiful little rowboats he painted so many times.

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