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Side Trips from Paris

created by fodors-partner on 2019-02-03

Side Trips from Paris

Just what is it that makes the Ile-de-France so attractive, so comfortingly familiar? Is it its proximity to the great city of Paris—or perhaps that it's so far removed?

Had there not been the world-class cultural hub of Paris nearby, would Monet have retreated to his Japanese gardens at Giverny? Or Paul Cézanne and Van Gogh to bucolic Auvers? Kings and courtiers to the game-rich forests of Rambouillet? Would Napoléon have truly settled at Malmaison and then abdicated at the palace of Fontainebleau? Would abbeys and cathedrals have sprung skyward in Chartres and Senlis?

If you had asked Louis XIV, he wouldn't have minced his words: the city of Paris—yawn—was simply démodée—out of fashion. In the 17th century the new power base was going to be Versailles, once a tiny village in the heart of the Ile-de-France, now the site of a gigantic château from which the Sun King's rays could radiate, unfettered by rebellious rabble and European arrivistes. Of course, later heirs kept the lines open and restored the grandiose palace as the governmental hub it was meant to be—and commuted to Paris, well before the high-speed RER.

That, indeed, is the dream of most Parisians today: to have a foot in both worlds. Paris may be small as capital cities go, with slightly fewer than 2.25 million inhabitants, but the Ile-de-France, the region around Paris, contains more than 12 million people—a sixth of France's entire population. That's why on closer inspection the once-rustic villages of the Ile-de-France reveal cosseted gardens, stylishly gentrified cottages, and extraordinary country restaurants no peasant farmer could afford to frequent.

The nation’s heartland isn’t really an île (island), of course. The green-forested buffer zone that enfolds Paris is only vaguely surrounded by the three rivers that meander through its periphery. But it nevertheless offers a rich and varied sampling of everything you expect from France—grand cathedrals, painters' villages, lavish palaces, plus the bubble gum–pink turrets of Disneyland Paris—all delightfully located within easy shooting distance of the capital.

The Ile-de-France isn’t really an île (island), of course. The green-forested buffer zone that enfolds Paris is only vaguely surrounded by the three rivers that meander through its periphery. But it nevertheless offers a rich and varied sampling of everything you expect from France—grand cathedrals, painters' villages, lavish châteaux, plus the bubble gum–pink turrets of Disneyland Paris—all delightfully located within easy shooting distance of the capital.
  • 1
    Maison de Van Gogh

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    Museum / Gallery

  • 2
    Maison-Atelier de Daubigny

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 3
    Musée Départemental des Peintres de Barbizon

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 4
    Atelier Jean-François Millet

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 5
    Le Relais de Barbizon

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    Restaurant

  • 6
    Les Pléiades

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    Hotel

    Hôtel Les Pleiades Hôtel&Spa Restaurant is located in Barbizon, just 9 km from Château de Fontain...

  • 7
    Château de Versailles

    24 votes

    Sight

    The royal residence of Lous XIV. The Palace of Versailles (French: Château de Versailles; English:...

  • 8
    Mois Molière

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    Museum / Gallery

  • 9
    Aux Colonnes

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    Shop

  • 10
    Les Délices du Palais

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    Shop

  • 11
    Théatre Montansier de Versailles

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    Theater / Opera

    The Théâtre Montansier is a French theatre in rue des Réservoirs, Versailles, near the royal chât...

  • 12
    Centre de Musique Baroque

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    Live Music Venue

  • 13
    Musée Lambinet

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    Museum / Gallery

  • 14
    Potager du roi

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    Park / Zoo

    The potager du Roi (fr: Kitchen Garden of the King), near the Palace of Versailles, produced fres...

  • 15
    Académie du Spectacle Equestre

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    Other Venue

  • 16
    Gordon Ramsay au Trianon

    0 votes

    Restaurant

  • 17
    Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace Versailles

    3 votes

    Hotel

    Located opposite the Chateau de Versailles, this unique 4-star hotel features a Gordon Ramsay res...

  • 18
    Hôtel du Cheval Rouge

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    Hotel

    Located just a 15-minute walk from Versailles Palace, Hôtel du Cheval Rouge offers a garden and o...

  • 19
    L'Angélique

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    Restaurant

  • 20
    Salle du Jeu de Paume

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    Museum / Gallery

  • 21
    La Cour des Senteurs

    0 votes

    Shop

  • 22
    Opéra royal de Versailles

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    Other Venue

    The Royal Opera of Versailles (French: Opéra royal de Versailles) is the main theatre and opera h...

  • 23
    Lenôtre

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    Restaurant

  • 24
    Hotel la Résidence du Berry

    1 votes

    Hotel

    Logis La Residence Du Berry is situated in the heart of the Saint Louis district, close to the wo...

  • 25
    Château de Rambouillet

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    Sight

    The Château de Rambouillet, also known in English as the Castle of Rambouillet, is a château in t...

  • 26
    Parc du Château

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    Sight

  • 27
    Bergerie Nationale

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    Sight

  • 28
    Auberge du Louvetier

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    Restaurant

  • 29
    Cathédrale de Chartres

    2 votes

    Sight

    The high point of French Gothic art. Partly built starting in 1145, and then reconstructed over a...

  • 30
    Fine and decorative arts museum of Chartres

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    Museum / Gallery

  • 31
    St-Pierre

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    Sight

  • 32
    Esprit Gourmand

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    Restaurant

  • 33
    Les Feuillantines

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    Restaurant

  • 34
    St-Aignan

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    Sight

  • 35
    Galerie du Vitrail

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 36
    Best Western Hotel le Grand Monarque

    1 votes

    Hotel

    Located in Chartres city centre, this elegant hotel offers an 800m² spa with sauna, hammam and sp...

  • 37
    Maison et Jardin Claude Monet

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    Park / Zoo

  • 38
    Musée des Impressionnistes

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    Museum / Gallery

  • 39
    Restaurant Baudy

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    Restaurant

  • 40
    La Musardière

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    Hotel

    Offering a restaurant, Hotel Restaurant La Musardiere is located in Giverny, just 200 metres from...

  • 41
    Le Jardin des Plumes

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    Hotel

    Located in Giverny, Hotel The Originals Le Jardin des Plumes offers art-déco furniture, a garden ...

  • 42
    Château de Fontainebleau

    6 votes

    Sight

    This ‘New Rome’ embodies the decadence of the French Monarchs. Used by the kings of France from th...

  • 43
    Hôtel de Londres

    0 votes

    Hotel

    Located a few metres from Château de Fontainebleau, Hôtel de Londres is an elegant-style hotel wi...

  • 44
    L'Aigle Noir

    2 votes

    Hotel

    A former private mansion dating from the 18th century, Aigle Noir Hôtel is 100 metres from the gr...

  • 45
    Les Prémices

    0 votes

    Restaurant

  • 46
    Frédéric Cassel

    0 votes

    Restaurant

  • 47
    Château de Malmaison

    0 votes

    Sight

    The Château de Malmaison (French pronunciation: ​[ʃɑ.to də‿mal.mɛzɔ̃]) is a French château. It is...

  • 48
    Château de Monte-Cristo

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    Museum / Gallery

  • 49
    Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye

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    Sight

    The Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye (French pronunciation: ​[ʃɑto də sɛ̃ ʒɛʁmɛ̃ ɑ̃ lɛ]) is a roy...

  • 50
    Musée Départemental Maurice Denis le Prieuré

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    Museum / Gallery

    The Musée départemental Maurice Denis "The Priory" is a museum dedicated to Nabi art located in S...

  • 51
    Fête des Loges

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    Other Venue

  • 52
    Cazaudehore La Forestière

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    Hotel

    Situated on the edge of St Germain Forest, this hotel in the style of a country house offers room...

  • 54
    Castle of Maintenon

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    Sight

    The Château de Maintenon is a château, developed from the original castle, situated in the commun...

  • 55
    Bistrot d'Adeline

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    Restaurant

  • 56
    Aqueduct

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    Sight

  • 57
    Château of Thoiry

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    Sight

    The Château of Thoiry is a 150-hectare (370-acre) castle, zoo and botanical garden that was opene...

  • 58
    Musée Camille Pissarro

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 59
    Musée Tavet Delacour

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 60
    Voyage au Temps des Impressionnistes

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 61
    Musée Daubigny

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 62
    Maison du Dr. Gachet

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 63
    Auberge Ravoux

    0 votes

    Restaurant

  • 64
    Château de Chantilly

    0 votes

    Sight

    Not only are the château and its gardens beautiful, but the château is also an important museum o...

  • 65
    Park

    0 votes

    Park / Zoo

  • 66
    Grandes Écuries

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 67
    Dolce Chantilly

    0 votes

    Hotel

    Set amidst verdant countryside in the heart of the historic Chantilly region, this large hotel is...

  • 68
    La Capitainerie

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    Restaurant

  • 69
    Auberge du Jeu de Paume

    0 votes

    Hotel

    This hotel is 850 metres from the famous Château de Chantilly, 1 km from Chantilly-Gouvieux Train...

  • 70
    Hippodrome des Princes de Condé

    0 votes

    Other Venue

  • 71
    Senlis Cathedral

    0 votes

    Sight

    Senlis Cathedral (French: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Senlis) is a Roman Catholic church and former ...

  • 72
    Musée d'art et d'archéologie de Senlis

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 73
    Parc Astérix

    3 votes

    Sight

    Parc Astérix is a theme amusement park in France, based on the comic book series Asterix (by Albe...

  • 74
    Le Scaramouche

    0 votes

    Restaurant

  • 75
    Musée Louis Senlecq

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 76
    Château de Dampierre

    0 votes

    Sight

    The Château de Dampierre is the castle in Dampierre-en-Yvelines, in the Vallée de Chevreuse, France.

  • 77
    Our Lady, Vernon

    0 votes

    Sight

  • 78
    Musée Alphonse-Georges-Poulain

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 79
    Château de Courances

    0 votes

    Sight

    The Château de Courances (pronounced [ʃɑto də kuʁɑ̃s]) at Courances (Essonne) is a French château...

  • 80
    Château de Compiègne

    0 votes

    Sight

  • 81
    Musée de la Figurine Historique

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 82
    Wagon de l'Armistice

    0 votes

    Museum / Gallery

  • 83
    Hôtel de Harlay

    0 votes

    Hotel

    Citotel Hôtel de Harlay is located in the city centre of Compiègne, just 700 metres from Château ...

  • 84
    Château de Pierrefonds

    0 votes

    Sight

    The Château de Pierrefonds (French pronunciation: ​[ʃɑto də pjɛʁfɔ̃]) is a castle situated in the...

  • 85
    Disneyland Paris

    8 votes

    Theme Park

    Disneyland Paris, originally Euro Disney Resort, is an entertainment resort in Marne-la-Vallée, F...

  • 86
    Disney Village

    0 votes

    Bar

  • 87
    Château de Vaux le Vicomte

    1 votes

    Sight

  • 89
    La Table Saint Just

    0 votes

    Restaurant

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