12 amazing Weekend Getaways from Paris by Train!
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Are you living in Paris and are desperately in need of some fresh air? Or are you visiting Paris and are keen on a little side trip? Check out these amazing weekend trips from Paris that are – thanks to the French railroad system – absolutely easy to take and great when day trips from Paris are just not cutting it anymore.
Take a memorable weekend getaway from Paris by train
To be honest, even after 15 years of living in France, I still can’t wrap my head around how amazing train travel in France is. Taking a TGV (the French high-speed train) is in fact very often the quickest and most convenient way of transportation. Can you even imagine that it takes only 2 hours to travel the 600 km from Paris to Bordeaux?
It opens up so many possibilities on overnight trips from Paris, that it’s hard to make a choice where to travel to next. My first weekend getaway was from Paris to Étretat, a destination I can absolutely recommend, but there is so much more. The South of France? Wine tasting in Bordeaux? Or maybe Christmas shopping in London? Read on to know more about the best Paris weekend trips!
France – Weekend Trips from Paris
Everyone needs short breaks from Paris from time to time, and this is the best occasion to explore more of France and to get to know the country. A weekend getaway from Paris by train is easy to organize and easy to take. Thanks to the high-speed train, you can even travel to the south of France just for a short weekend break from Paris.
Check out the most popular activities in Aix-en-Provence right away:
Distance and location: 3 hours 5 minutes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
Best for: art, dining, wine, a “South-of-France-feeling”, and lavender fields
Where to stay: Maison Alberta – refurbished apartment right in the center of the old town with balcony, kitchenette, and Wi-Fi
Book your train ticket to Aix-en-Provence here
Meander down the streets of Aix-en-Provence and you will understand why this is one of the best weekend getaways from Paris. This charming town is full of impressive town-house style palaces, and manicured trees. The town is also known as the ‘City of a Thousand Fountains’, as beautifully carved stone fountains can be found on every corner.
Aix-en-Provence was also once the seat of power and aristocracy in Provence, giving it an opulent character. Sensational farmer’s markets come to life in the streets of Aix-en-Provence throughout the year. You will find rows of fresh produce, olive products, cheese, bread, flowers, linens, antique finds, and many more. If you’d like to try out a local delicacy, pick yourself up a box of calissons, a diamond-shaped sweet made from almonds and candied melons, covered in icing.
Keen on exploring more of the beautiful Provence region? Why not joining a Luberon Market & Village tour?
The famous 19th-century post-impressionist painter Paul Cezanne called Aix-en-Provence home. He is a point of pride for the Provencal locals. Visit the Atelier Cezanne where you can view the living conditions of Cezanne’s original house, and how he lived.
As a frequent visitor of Le Terrain des Peintres, Cezanne often used this garden for inspiration. Grab a picnic basket, buy a few ingredients and nibbles at the farmer’s market, and spend the day musing in the park.
Located in the centre of Aix-en-Provence is Maison Alberta. This self-catered apartment comes with one spacious bedroom and bathroom, kitchenette, and free Wi-Fi. Explore everything this beautiful town has to offer right outside your door.
Suggested by Haley of Haley Blackall Travel
Click here to book your entrance tickets for the most beautiful castles in the Loire Valley!
Distance and location: 1 hour and 40 minutes, Centre-Val de Loire
Best for: castles, wines, cycling
Where to stay: Clos d’Amboise– located in a 17th-century mansion with a large landscaped garden and a pool, in the center of Amboise.
Book your train ticket to Amboise here
It takes only a short train ride from Paris to Amboise in the Loire Valley. From the train station, just cross the bridge over the Loire River that leads to the charming town of Amboise.
Amboise is immediately recognizable by the château atop a steep hill that rises above the town. Visiting the UNESCO World-Heritage site Château Royal d’Amboise is a must – it has an intriguing history of royalty, death, deceit and is the resting place of Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci’s home in Amboise, Château du Clos Lucé is another must-see destination in this lovely Loire river town. Interestingly, both castles are connected by an underground tunnel, crossing the Parc Leonardo Da Vinci.
Amboise also has a large Farmer’s Market, Marché Dominical d’Amboise, in which foodies can easily spend two hours. It’s a great place to try some items from your French food bucket list! There are also many other castles, an old Clock Tower (Tour De L’Horloge), chapels, and old stone churches.
A very popular activity in Amboise is visiting a local wine cave to enjoy a wine tasting with paired food. If you’re looking for a stay in the Loire Valley for a few days, then Amboise is also a wonderful base for exploring nearby castles such as Château Chenonceau and Château de Chambord. Click here to get more information on this great Loire Valley castle tour!
Thank you, Monique at Trip Anthropologist
Distance and location: 3 hours and 5 minutes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
Best for: medieval architecture, sightseeing, South-of-France-flair
Where to stay: Le Magnan – for its colorful rooms, the nice garden, and for its great location right in the center of the old town of Avignon
Book your train ticket to Avignon from Paris here
Avignon is charmingly set on one of the longest rivers in France – Rhone. Avignon is almost 700 km away from Paris, so It’s hard to believe that by train, the trip only takes 2.5 hours. The Avignon Train Station is located 10 minutes away from the town centre, and busses are running all the time. Once you arrive in Avignon, there are plenty of things to do and see to make your trip worthwhile!
The old town of Avignon has been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site for its beauty and historical importance. It’s filled with historic buildings like the Palais des Papes (Papal Palace), which dates back to the 13th century when it was home to seven different popes over 130 years. There are also tons of smaller attractions like Saint Pierre Cathedral, one of the most beautiful churches in the south of France.
If you’re in the mood for food and wine, the La Fourchette restaurant is a must. They specialize in quality regional French cuisine and have lovely decors, plus Michelin recognizes them for their good cooking.
Avignon is also a great base to explore the beautiful Provence region, with its small villages, vineyards, and magnificent lavender fields.
Thank you, Ania from The Travelling Twins
Distance and location: 2 hours 7 minutes, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
best for: wine, museums, more wine, and architecture
Where to stay: Hotel Mercure Centre Ville– to be within walking distance from all the attractions and many restaurants
Book your train ticket to Bordeaux from Paris here
Bordeaux is an extremely underrated city in France and should be at the top of your list of places to see from Paris by train. The journey takes around 2,5 hours and is convenient and easy. Bordeaux is a city that is rich in history and culture. There is a lot to see and do in this beautiful city, and you’ll fall in love with the incredible architecture and historic buildings that make this city so popular among locals and tourists.
Of course, Bordeaux is known for its world-famous wines. The little town of Saint Emilion is one of the most famous wine areas in the world and is located just outside the city of Bordeaux. You can easily reach it by train, and it’s one of the best places to visit to try wines and learn all about the unique wine-making process. For your convenience, you can also simply join a wine tasting tour to Saint Emilion from Bordeaux. Click here for the most popular offers!
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced and centrally located hotel in Bordeaux, check out the Hôtel Mercure Bordeaux Cité Mondiale Centre-Ville. You’ll be within walking distance from all the attractions like the Place de la Bourse or the Quais de Bordeaux and close to lots of different restaurants and bars. Don’t forget to try the delicious Canneles de Bordeaux which are little pastries that are absolutely addicting.
Thank you, Victoria from Guide Your Travel
Distance and location: 1 hour and 58 minutes, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
best for: gastronomy, street art, sightseeing, roman ruins
Where to stay: Fourviere Hotel – a delightful boutique hotel with a spa area and sauna and amazing views over Lyon. For a cheaper place to stay, check the Hotel Lyon Charité, very central and full of charme.
Book your train ticket to Lyon here
Lyon is often bypassed by visitors heading from Paris to Provence. Yet it’s halfway between the two and a world-class city when it comes to beauty and history, and there are many things to do in Lyon.
Lyon is France’s gastronomical capital, and you could visit for the food alone. It is home to the famous Les Halles Paul Bocuse, and a range of restaurants, from its 17 Michelin-starred establishments to the city’s 22 “official” bouchons, or traditional eating establishments (not to mention all the other restaurants and outdoor markets).
If you are keen on combining a nice sightseeing activity with a foodie experience, check out the Rhône lunch and dinner cruises. They are very popular!
If you’re not a foodie, you can seek out some of the more than 100 giant murals of Lyon, explore the Old Town, take the funicular up to the Fourvière Basilica for a spectacular view from above, or discover the city’s “traboules”, the obscure little passageways once used by the city’s silk workers to carry their bolts of cloth to the ships along the river below. Lyon, once the capital of silk, keeps that heritage alive through museums and workshops.
Two more attractions that mustn’t be missed in Lyon: the ultra-modern Musée des Confluences (click here for tickets), all about human culture, and at the other end of time, the city’s impressive Roman ruins.
Thank you, Leyla Alyanak from Offbeat France!
Click here for the reasonably priced Nantes City pass that covers as good as every sight in Nantes!
Distance and location: 1 hour 56 minutes, Loire-Atlantique
Best for sightseeing, history, fun
Where to stay: Le Pérouse Hotel – for affordable luxury in the heart of the city
Book your train from Paris to Nantes here
One of the most unexpected weekend getaways that is easily accessible from Paris and yet many miss in favour of more popular destinations is the city of Nantes. Located in Western France and not far from the crashing waves of the coast of Brittany, the city is best seen over the course of several days due to the plethora of activities to see and do there.
Check out the Nantes City Card Pass – it’s not too expansive and grants free admission to most of Nantes’ top attractions.
During the Middle Ages, the city was home to the Dukes of Brittany, and today, vestiges of the past can be found throughout the city. One of the most notable landmarks is that of the medieval Château des Ducs de Bretagne. Head to the château to wander around the historic ramparts for one of the best views that Nantes has to offer.
Elsewhere in the city, the district that houses the Machines de l’Ile à Nantes is a fun area for all ages on account of the fact that it’s here where visitors will discover fantastical oversized machines that look like giant animals. For a small fee, there’s even the possibility to ride on the back of a mechanical elephant. Other highlights of Nantes include checking out all of the eateries in the largely pedestrianised Bouffay district and snapping photos of the luxurious Passage Pommeraye.
One of the nicest places to stay in Nantes is the four-star Le Pérouse hotel, which offers affordable luxury in the heart of the city.
Thank you, Sophie Nadeau of solosophie.com
Distance and location: 2 hours and 30 minutes, Brittany
Best for: beach, seafood, outdoor activities
Where to stay: La Maison des Armateurs – perfectly located in the old town of Saint-Malo
Book your train from Paris to Saint-Malo here
St. Malo is a medieval town, rebuilt after World War II, on the northern coast of Brittany. From Paris, it’s easy to get there by train. Depending on the train you catch, it can be a ride as short as two hours thirty from the Montparnasse station.
Located on a strategically important part of the French coast, St. Malo was the place where corsairs and privateers plied the water, searching for treasure in the 16th century and applauded by the king. Walking in the old town, it’s possible to walk the wide ramparts, visit the two forts, Solidor Tower, and of course the spectacular cathedral and beaches.
When the tide is out, it’s popular to walk across two of the nearby islands, Grand Be and Petit Be. Just be sure to head back to town when the alarm sounds, so you don’t get stranded. Other popular things to do include a state-of-the-art Aquarium (get your tickets here), boat trips to Dinard, or ferries to the British Isles of Guernsey and Jersey. As well as wandering the streets and looking for oysters or galettes (savory crepes) which are famous in this area.
Whether you are just stopping over or spending a few days, you will never forget St. Malo. It’s definitely one of the best places to visit in France, with its proximity to wonderful beaches and fishing towns, its views from the ramparts, and its amazing culinary tradition. You will love it.
Thank you, Corinne Vail
Distance and location: 1 hour 50 minutes, Alsace
Best for: sightseeing, Christmas markets, wine
Where to stay: Okko Hotels Strasbourg – modern design hotel at the old harbor of Strasbourg, close to historical center
Book your train ticket to Strasbourg here
Strasbourg is without doubt a perfect place to spend a weekend getaway from Paris. There’s easily enough to do to spend multiple days in this city, and it’s so charming that you’ll instantly feel on holiday! During its history, Strasbourg has been part of both France and Germany and therefore, you can clearly see these influences in the city. It is an absolute must to take your time to stroll around the old city centre, as the buildings are just so magnificent here! Also, make your way to Neustadt where you can clearly see the German influences in the architecture.
Other great activities are visiting Barrage Vauban, walking around Grande Île and visiting the impressive gothic cathedral. Strasbourg is also known for its magical Christmas market, the city is even called ‘the Capital of Christmas’! And there’s a good reason for that because its Christmas market of Strasbourg is huge, and the whole city is wonderfully decorated to convey the Christmas atmosphere. You might experience this incredible event when planning your getaway to Strasbourg in December.
During your visit, you can’t go wrong by staying at Okko Hotels Strasbourg Centre. This modern hotel is located at the old harbour of Strasbourg, which has recently been transformed into a hip neighbourhood. From there, it’s only a short walk to the city’s historical centre, or you can just take the tram which stops next door.
Thank you, Emma from Emma’s Roadmap
Belgium – Weekend Trips from Paris
If you are looking into exploring more of Europe, Belgium is a good start. It is actually the closest country to Paris and has lots of exciting destinations to offer.
Distance and location: 2 hours 2 minutes, Flemish Region
best for: art, shopping, architecture, Belgian beer, and fries
Where to stay: Hampton by Hilton – big rooms centrally located close to the station and with a good breakfast included
Book your train ticket to Antwerp here
Antwerp, the diamond capital of the world, is one of the best weekend getaways from Paris. Located within 400 km, one can easily reach this Belgian city from Paris by train in as few as two hours. The diamond district of Antwerp is where 220 million dollars worth of diamonds is traded daily. But besides being such an important trade hub, Antwerp has a unique multicultural landscape and a rich history.
The best places to explore in Antwerp for free are the Steen Castle, Schedlt river bank, Diamond district, Mier market, and the exquisitely beautiful Antwerp Central station. These can easily be covered in one day in Antwerp on foot, either on your own or by joining a free walking tour through Antwerp.
Antwerp’s busy skyline is dominated by the 123-meter tall tower of the Cathedral of our Lady of Victory and various sculptures related to Antwerpian folklore. These include the Brabo’s fountain in central square and brabo’s hand among others. Besides, one must visit the Plantin-Moretus Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and St Paul’s church. Take a stroll in the Stadspark and eat your heart out at the foodies’ street.
There are several amazing hostels in the city of Antwerp thanks to the student population. However, one of the best hotels to stay at in Antwerp is Hampton by Hilton situated near the Antwerp Central station.
Thank you, Sinjana!
Distance and location: 2 hours 36 minutes, West Flanders
Best for: canals, chocolate, waffles, history
Where to stay: Hotel Ter Brughe – located along a canal with incredible views of the water
Book your train ticket to Bruges here
Bruges in Belgium is another great destination if you are looking for trips from Paris by train. Known for its colourful gingerbread houses that dot the historic square of the city, it is easily one of the most picturesque places to see in Europe. Full of medieval buildings, beautiful canals, and cathedrals, Bruge is perfect for a weekend getaway from Paris.
Start your time in Bruges by strolling around Market Square, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a traffic-free zone in the city, so it is ideal to amble around without a plan and to take in the unique architecture of Bruges. The iconic Belfry tower is also situated here. You can climb the 366 steps to the top and get a unique bird’s eye perspective of the Old town. Next, located a few steps away, is another historic site called Burg Square. This is where you will find the Bruges City Hall, the Basilica of the Holy Blood, and an Old Civil Registry. This Basilica houses Michelangelo’s only sculpture that left Italy before his death. It is a truly noteworthy sight for art lovers.
Located right next to Burg Square, is Go.fre, a popular shop selling Belgian waffles on a stick. They offer many creative toppings and presentations. There are also many chocolate and other waffles shops nearby. The Hotel Ter Brughe is only a few minutes walking distance from this area and a good place to stay in Bruges.
Thanks for the recommendation, Charu from Travel with CG
Distance and location: 1 hour 22 minutes, Capital Region
best for: museums, Belgium beer and chocolate, comic books and murals
Where to stay: Hotel Indigo Brussels – beautifully decorated hotel with spacious rooms in an excellent location
Book your train ticket to Brussels from Paris here
Brussels is the easiest capital in Europe to reach by train from Paris, which makes it a great weekend getaway destination. But apart from its conveniently close location to Paris, Brussels is also a great destination because of its beautiful attractions and delicious beer and food scene. Click here if beer and food sound interesting to you!
There are so many things to put on your Brussels weekend itinerary. You can marvel at the beautiful buildings in Grand Place, visit the popular Manneken Pis, shop in the Royal Saint-Hubert Galleries, see the Royal Palace, and explore your favorite European cities in the Mini Europe Museum.
Once you’re done with sightseeing, an incredible beer, and food scene awaits you. Belgium is known for its many delicious things such as strong golden beer, fluffy warm waffles, and tasty Moules Frites (Mussels with fries), which you can find all over Brussels.
Apart from the many attractions and things to eat in Brussels, it’s also a great city to just go get lost in. Brussels city center is full of cobblestone streets, old churches, and several viewpoints, so it will take you more than a weekend to run out of new things to see. To make sure not to miss anything, plan ahead and sign up for one of the popular walking tours through Brussels. You can take the Thalys train directly from Gare du Nord to Bruxelles-Midi in 1 hour and 20 minutes. Just make sure to book your weekend getaway ahead because it’s a popular route that tends to sell out.
Thank you, Cecilie from Worldwide Walkers
Are you looking for things to do in Brussels? Those are the most popular activities:
United Kingdom – Weekend Trips from Paris
Visiting the UK for a short weekend is probably one of the most exciting weekend trips from Paris by train that you can take. Thanks to the Eurostar train that is crossing the channel, it is unbelievably easy to visit London and to explore the UK from there.
Distance and location: 2 hours 19 minutes, England
best for: sightseeing, shopping, museums
Where to stay: Shangri-La The Shard for a truly amazing experience and once-in-a-lifetime view over London. Alternatively at the DoubleTree by Hilton Tower of London (midrange) or at the Ibis Styles Southwark on the budget range
Book your train ticket for the Eurostar from Paris to London here
London is hands down one of the best weekend trips from Paris by train, simply because in just 2.5 hours, you’ll be in a completely different country. From Paris, take the Eurostar from Gare du Nord, which will take you directly to London’s St. Pancras International Station.
London has a wide variety of activities to offer any traveler (click here to get an idea). If you enjoy museums, the Natural History Museum is a must-see and has tons of educational and engaging exhibitions. They also have a photography gallery filled with intriguing wildlife shots.
If you love relaxing in cafés, there are plenty of cute ones around town, from Peggy Porschen to Elan Cafe. If you are an art and theater enthusiast, there are tons of musicals to choose from, from the comical Book of Mormon to the sentimental Come From Away.
Of course, no trip to London would be complete without stopping by the iconic Tower Bridge, Big Ben, or the Buckingham Palace, which is the official London residence of the royal family. These landmarks aren’t far from Soho, one of the best foodie neighborhoods in town. Be sure to stop by Palomar or Dishoom to get a taste of the wide range of international cuisine in town!
If you’re planning a longer trip, there are also plenty of amazing places to visit near London, such as the Cotswolds, Canterbury, and Dorset. For some of the best views in town, stay in Shangri-La The Shard and enjoy dining in the sky.
Thank you, Jiayi from The Diary of a Nomad
The Netherlands – Weekend Trips from Paris
Thanks to the Thalys train, which connects Paris with cities in Belgium, Germany but also the Netherlands, overnight trips from Paris to the Netherlands are a nice option for a getaway.
Distance and location: 3 hours 19 minutes, capital of the Netherlands
best for: Museums, coffee and tea houses, canals, cycling
Where to stay: Ibis Amsterdam Centre – for affordable comfort in the heart of Amsterdam
The capital of the Netherlands is a great destination for a weekend getaway from Paris. The beautiful city is just over 3 hours from Paris by train, making it a quick journey perfect for a long weekend. Amsterdam has plenty to do to keep you busy during your getaway.
The city has some of the best museums in the world, and you should add at least one to your Amsterdam bucket list. The Rijksmuseum is home to many works by Rembrandt, and the Van Gogh Museum has the largest collection of the famous artist’s works in the world. History buffs shouldn’t miss the Anne Frank House, where you can visit the actual house where Anne and her family hid during World War II.
With its picturesque canals and unique architecture, Amsterdam is one of the prettiest cities in Europe. You can easily spend hours roaming around the city, admiring the canals and historic buildings. For a unique perspective of the city, consider taking a canal tour, where you’ll learn more about the history of Amsterdam while cruising along its waterways. Click here to for more information on schedules and prices.
Amsterdam is the perfect city to sample Dutch Cuisine. The Albert Cuyp Market is a great place to try all kinds of different foods, including raw herring, poffertjes, and fresh, warm stroopwafels. Getting to Amsterdam from Paris is simple – just take the Thalys from Paris Nord to Amsterdam Centraal. The Ibis Amsterdam Centre is a great budget-friendly hotel close to Amsterdam’s top attractions.
Thank you, Sydney from A World in Reach