One cannot go to France without peering into the inspiration and final moments of Claude Monet's life. Monet's Gardens is a tribute to the impressionists beautiful life and the paintings that he contributed to the art realm. Visitors can walk through the gardens, dine at bordering restaurants, and enjoy a calm serene before heading back to the bustle of Paris.
To Get There: Hop on the Central Paris train station for a twenty-five minute adventure to land of Monet.
Step Back into Medieval Times: Loire Valley
Loire valley, just west of Paris is the perfect day trip for those looking to drink vintage wines and enjoy the history of France. Better known as Chateau Country, the Loire Valley offers walking tours that introduce its patrons to medieval chateaus that were the homes of kings and queens hundreds of years ago.
After a long day of visiting the Loire Valley Chateaus, one has certainly developed a rumbling tummy. To get the best dining experience from Loire valley, which is well known for fresh produce, fish, and Chardonnay, it is imperative to have a plan. Hint: Make reservations. Le Petit Patrimoine is a must for Loire Valley visitors. The restaurant serves freshly pasteurized goat cheese and a pork dish that is from another era.
To Get Here: Take the Montparnasse-Paris train to Loire Valley (Chaumont, Loire, or Tours stations) in less than 35 minutes. This makes it easy to go through Loire Valley by hopping on and off the train throughout the day.
Work Up a Sweat: Fontainebleau Forest
The Fontainebleau province is for those that are outdoorsy and looking for an environmental experience of a lifetime! On the outskirts of Paris, the French Royalty held elaborate hunting competitions in the thick Fontainebleau forest. Tourists can get off the train and hike into the little town of Fontainebleau, which is home to the 16th century Chateau Fontainebleau, home of Napoleon.
If you want to schedule the entire day to this region, Fodor suggest traveling by taxi to the lesser-known town of Barbizon. It is the birthplace of art from Jean-Francois Millet and Theodore Rosseau. Here you can see the schools and living quarters of France's most famous landscape painters.
After you've worked up a sweat and enjoyed the history of art in Fontainebleau, check out the renowned bistros in the region. Le Caveau des Ducs is a beautiful bistro outside of the typical eateries seen in the area. They specialize in a medieval style bistro that aims to serve fresh and local fare.
To Get Here: Take the 40-minute train ride from Paris-Gare de Lyon to the Fontainebleau-Avon station.
Sip on Rich Reds: Ile-de-France Wine Region
The idea of French wine conjures up pictures of the famous Champagne and Bourdeaux regions, but little known Ile de France grows the most superb grapes in the countryside. For travelers to Paris, this means that one doesn't have to spend a fortune traveling to the better known wine regions since this is just an hour or two(depending on where you choose to go) outside of Paris.
Clos Montmartre, a remarkable vineyard in the region has 1,900 vines with twenty-eight grape varieties. The popular varieties are Gamay and Pinot Noir and the vineyard is said to produce over 1,700 bottles of delicious wine each year. Call the winery to set up a tasting and consider yourself a lucky soul- the winery does not sell the wine commercially. And there is no need to go in search of a hearty meal; the winery serves platters alongside the wine tasting for an additional fee.
According to Fodor's Travel Guide, they can't miss bistro in the region is Moulin de Ponceau located on 21 rue de la Tannerie, in Chartres. The restaurant offers majestic views of the River Eure, so be sure to ask for a table with a window. The menu changes regularly, but one can guarantee that rabbit terrine and foie gras to be on the menu.
To Get Here: Take a taxi. It is less than a fifteen-minute drive! It's like leaving Paris without actually leaving Paris.
Reims, The Champagne Capital of France
The French love wine, so much so that they store up to 75 million bottles of Champagne under the streets of Reims. Just an hour and forty-five minutes outside of the city lies the Champagne capital of France. The city is beautiful, modern, yet antiquated, and a must see for any love of French culture.
Be sure to visit the House of G.M. Mumms who stores 25 million bottles of Champagne under the streets and in the caves of the city. Tourists should set up a walking tour in advance. The tour includes several tastings and a delightful experience in the world of the Champagne king.
To Get There: Hop on the train from Gare d'lest to Reims.
France is far too expansive to see in one trip, but one can fill their vacation with many day trips without ever having to stay anywhere, but Paris. Day trips give visitors the flexibility to see French culture, beautiful scenery, and sip on French's delightful wine and avoid the need to book a number of hotels. The outskirts of France can make any trip memorable.