Paris may be the romance capital of the world, the hub of fashion, and the site of treaties on climate change, and named the Top City Destination among a 100, by United Kingdom&rsquos Euromonitor International survey company, but it is also not the end of your visit to France. A few kilometres outside its city limits are places as enchanting as the capital city of France. Here are five day-trips you can take when you visit Paris next season.
Approximately 10 km from Paris, the Boulogne-Billancourt commune is one of the richest in France, and you should take advantage of it. Filled with parks and lakes, it is ideal for strolls, once you are done with the three top museums here. Sculpture lovers will not want to lose out on a tour of the Musee Paul-Belmondo, just as those of you into Art-Deco will want a round of the Musee des Annees 30. Lastly, there is the Musee Albert-Kahn for the garden and photography enthusiasts. When done with the sightseeing, you can head to any popular restaurant here and re-energise for the short trip back to Paris.
Reims, Champagne Region
The name reveals that this site is where the vineyards are. However, before you dismiss the Champagne region, do pay a visit to Reims, the region's unofficial capital. It was painstakingly restored after the Second World War and is home to the imperious sky-high Gothic cathedral, where more than a dozen monarchs were crowned. Enjoy delicious French cuisine at cafes or Michelin star restaurants, and of course, the champagne, a perfect end to a day spent on a walkabout of Reims. From Paris, it is about 148 km.
At a distance of about 34 km from Paris, the Auvers-sur-Oise hamlet has been described as "Seriously beautiful" by legendary artist Vincent van Gogh, who lays in final rest here. His house, where he spent his last days, is the only residence of van Gogh which remains intact. Hence, Auvers-sur-Oise is also a pilgrimage site for van Gogh worshippers. Through the ages, Auvers-sur-Oise has attracted artists from across Europe. You can get on to one of the two 'art' trails which have spots marked where van Gogh and other impressionist artists such as Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro, and Charles-François Daubigny, created their work. You could book yourself into a van Gogh-themed farmhouse or an art class, for which even novices are accepted.
Château de Versailles
You absolutely must visit the famed chateau, at a distance of about 44 km from Paris. The Palace of Versailles was once a hunting lodge and was transformed into a palace by Louis XIV. He had more than 36,000 craftsmen and labourers at his disposal, who created it to the scale and grandeur it is renowned for today. Spread over 800 hectares, including the gardens and the Palaces of Trianon, the Château de Versailles can be toured as per the planned route, or you can discover it on your own. Wander through the gilded hall of mirrors, which was made by the architect Louis Le Vau, and later worked on by Jules Hardouin-Mansart. The 73-metre-long hall was essentially created as a tribute to France's political, economic, and artistic success. Head to the Grand Trianon, commissioned by Louis XIV to escape from the hectic court life, and into the arms of his mistress Madame de Montespan. "A little palace of pink marble and porphyry, with marvellous gardens," wrote Jules Hardouin-Mansart about the Grand Trianon.
At 222 km away, the coastal region of Normandy is a bit further away from Paris than the rest of the above. However, it is a must-visit being as it is an integral part of the beginning of the end of the Second World War. Before you tour any site at Normandy, visit the American Cemetery, where lie the soldiers of the Allied Forces who fought against the Nazi occupation of France. Explore the Caen Memorial Museum, an important place to receive 20th-century world history from the perspective of the Second World War. You can then head on to the D-Day landing beaches. You may have to get an early start from Paris, as you may have a long day ahead.