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Paris

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It may seem hard to leave Paris, but if time allows, there are a number of excursions worth considering. Lush countryside awaits you just outside the city, dotted with chateaux and cathedrals. Trains from Paris are a fast and efficient way to reach nearby sites like Versailles and Fontainbleau. Farther afield, the Normandy sites are accessible by bus. Renting a car is the easiest way to see the lovely Loire Valley.

Day Trips from Paris

D-Day Beaches

See where the Allied invasion to liberate Europe began on June 6, 1944. Nearby, the Normandy American Cemetery is accessible via the 2007-commemorated visitors' center. Arrange bus tours through Cityrama or Paris Vision.

, www.abmc.gov
Tags: culture | history | tour | day trip

Fontainebleau

This 1,900-room palace (another former royal residence) was a popular retreat for centuries of French kings. Surrounding forests provided fertile hunting grounds for the monarchs; today they attract visitors for biking and hiking.

, www.fontainebleau-tourisme.com
Tags: culture | architecture | history | day trip

Giverny

Monet buffs won't want to miss a visit to the home and gardens where the great painter lived and worked for more than 40 years - the Fondation Claude Monet operates public tours.

, www.fondation-monet.fr
Tags: outdoors | culture | history | tour | day trip

Mont St-Michel

The evocative silhouette of Mont Saint-Michel's towering, mist-shrouded abbey is worth the lengthy day trip from Paris. Bus tours can be arranged through tour operators like Cityrama or Paris Vision.

, www.ot-montsaintmichel.com
Tags: culture | architecture | history | tour | day trip

The Loire

The vineyard-bordered valley is equally famous for its wine as its châteaux (musts include Chambord and Chenonceau). Combine tours with hiking, bicycling or hot-air ballooning through the scenic countryside.

, www.loirevalleytourism.com
Tags: editor pick | culture | architecture | history | day trip | wine tasting

Versailles

The Château de Versailles, with its extensive fountain-speckled gardens, is testimony to the royal extravagance of 17th-century France's notorious "Sun King," Louis XIV, who embellished them to what they are today. A complete visit includes stops at the Petit Trianon, where Marie Antoinette lived, and at the Grand Trianon, once home to Napoleon and Peter the Great and today a presidential residence. To visit all three structures, plus Versailles' nearly 2,000-acre grounds, rent a golf cart for 30 euro per hour (The cars seat four. Driver's license required.) or hop on the Chateau's mini-train shuttle (6.50 euros for the complete circuit).

, www.chateauversailles.fr
Tags: family | outdoors | culture | architecture | history | day trip

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