5 Can’t-Miss Weekend Getaways from Paris

Whether it’s a riverside mansion you seek or an escape into nature, these are our top picks for a quick Paris break.

White cliffs beside calm ocean water at Étretat

Just three hours from Paris, you’ll find the famous white cliffs of Étretat.

Photo by Melinda Nagy/Shutterstock

As anyone who has been to the City of Light can attest, there’s enough to see and do in Paris that you could easily spend your entire trip here. However, as travel numbers rebound—2023 visitor numbers are expected to be slightly down from 2019—and crowds return, it’s worth venturing outside the city, even if only for a weekend, to experience a different side of France as well.

Rent a car or head to one of the city’s regional train stations. Soon after you cross the city’s outer limits, Paris’s typical Haussmanian buildings begin to fade and reveal wheat fields, farmhouses, and eventually the sea along the horizon. Whether you are seeking the countryside, châteaux, or the coast, you won’t want to miss these five wonderful weekend getaways from Paris.

The Loire Valley

One of the main things to do in the Loire Valley is visit its various châteaux, including Château de Chenonceau, where the checkered-floor Grand Gallery juts across the Cher River. (You can also rent an electric bumper-like boat to float under it, which is quite spectacular and fun during spring, summer, and fall.) King Henri II originally gave this all-white, turreted property to his mistress Diane de Poitiers, and it feels straight out of a (slightly scandalous) fairy tale.

Continue following Henri’s sordid affairs by heading to Château de Chaumont. It’s a bit further toward the city of Blois and worth the journey if not to see where Diane de Poitiers was banished once Catherine de Medici took back Chenonceau, but for its annual International Garden and Art Festival. Along the way, keep an eye open for wineries and vineyards and drop in for a tasting at any that look enticing.

Sunny deck of a tree house at the Loire Valley Lodges, with seating and small tables

Book a tree house at the Loire Valley Lodges and you’ll get your nature and châteaux fix in one.

Courtesy of Loire Valley Lodges

Where to stay in the Loire Valley

While the region itself is known for its châteaux, at Loire Valley Lodges you’ll stay in a manor of a more natural kind: a luxurious tree house. Opened in 2020 by a Parisian art dealer, each of the property’s 18 tree houses was designed by a different artist, resulting in various themes such as the Nordic-inspired “Ekologic” and the feather-forward “O’Plumes” (with light fixtures made of quills). Each of the raised tree houses also has a deck (complete with tables, chairs, and a hot tub), and the property features unique wellness touches such as charcoal-infused water. Use one of the hotel’s bikes to get to and from the forest before relaxing in the pool and dining at the on-site restaurant where wood-fired lamb chops and stuffed chicken are among the offerings for lunch or dinner.

How far is the Loire Valley from Paris and how do I get there?

Most of the châteaux are located between the cities of Tours and Blois along either side of the Loire River, about 148 miles southwest of Paris. For a short weekend, your best bet is to ride the TGV high-speed train to Tours (1 hour and 20 minutes from Gare du Montparnasse; rates vary) and either take a 20-minute taxi to Loire Valley Lodges (if that’s your sole destination) or rent a car from the station if you want to bop around.


Bursting with lily pads and wisteria vines, Claude Monet’s former home and gardens in Giverny are a veritable wonderland worth visiting—and only 47 miles from Paris. Whether you go for the outdoor fauna and flora, much of which the French impressionist and gardener captured in his famous canvases, or the indoor rooms where he lived with his family for 43 years, prepare to be swept away to another time and place where art truly imitated life among scenic nature. Context Travel offers a customizable day tour to the property led by an art historian.

Interior of guest room at Domaine de Primard, with pale green walls, tall windows, and floor-to-ceiling curtains

Art and nature lovers visiting Giverny will be enchanted by a stay at nearby Domaine de Primard.

Photo by Benoit Linero

Where to stay in Giverny

At actress Catherine Deneuve’s former estate, Domaine de Primard, the idea is to relax in nature: Listen to the sound of the wind among the giant oak trees or walk through the property’s potager where strawberries and apples grow in summer and fall. You’ll spend your day moving from a lounge chair by the pool, to an Adirondack chair by the Leure River, to a cushioned deck chair on the terrace for an apéro.

The 39 varied-size rooms are spread among three separate buildings; each has its own design personality and dreamy tableau. In the main house, Maison sur Leure, your accommodation might face the river, while in Maison du Luc you may have your own outdoor garden. The Barn also has three rooms, not to mention France’s first spa from popular Austrian beauty brand Susanne Kaufmann, complete with Japanese dipping tubs and a cedar sauna. The on-site restaurants feature both hearty bistro fare and, on weekends, a multi-course gastronomic dinner experience from chef Eric Frechon, who has helped earn Michelin stars for several of his previous restaurants.

How far is Giverny from Paris and how do I get there?

To reach the Domaine, take the one-hour TER train from Gare St. Lazare to Bueil. It’s a 10-minute car ride to the property, and the hotel will arrange transfers. If you’re headed straight to Monet’s gardens, take the train to Vernon (also from Gare St. Lazare) or if booking with Context, meet your guide at the station.


While most will visit Versailles on a day trip, it’s worth turning it into a weekend getaway for an extra special experience. After snapping your obligatory photos in the Hall of Mirrors, you can roam the lawns of Marie Antoinette’s hamlet at the Petit Trianon or picnic along the Grand Canal. You can also spend hours lazily wandering around the temporary gallery exhibits, including Noël Coypel, Painter of Monumental Works (through January 28) in the Queen’s Guard Room and Grand Trianon, or the major retrospective of painter Horace Vernet, which occupies the Africa and Crimea Rooms from November 14 to March 17, 2024.

For an ultra-luxurious spin on a weekend in Versailles, you can make like a royal and stay at the newly opened Le Grand Contrôle, which gives guests access to private guided tours before and after the palace opens to the public, as well as golf carts to use to explore the grounds. Even if you’re not staying overnight, you can enjoy the property’s Alain Ducasse restaurant. Dinner is an especially theatrical experience with servers acting out a small play in between serving dishes such as creamy egg foam with caviar and blue lobster with aspic.

Interior of gold and white guest room at Le Grand Contrôle within the Château de Versailles, with canopied four-poster bed and chandelier

Escape to another century entirely at Le Grand Contrôle within the Château de Versailles.

Photo by Renée Kemps

Where to stay in Versailles

For history buffs and theater lovers, there is no better experience than Le Grand Contrôle on the grounds of the world-renowned Château de Versailles. That’s right—on the actual grounds of the château. From the time you wake up—literally, if you order the “Queens Wakeup,” someone will come to your door and say “Good morning, my queens!” before drawing open your brocade curtains—until the time you go to bed at night, when a lavender mist is sprayed on your feather pillow, you will feel like royalty. Each of the 14 rooms and suites features 18th-century antiques and decor, including canopies over the four-poster beds and mahogany desks with feather quills.

But it’s not all throwbacks. While rooms don’t have TVs, they’re outfitted with tablets, smartphones, and Marshall speakers for all your tech needs. Luxurious additions include modern Japanese toilets (the ones with built-in bidets and seat warmers), lemongrass scented toiletries, and Alain Ducasse chocolates upon check-in. Staff is dressed in period costumes, and each room comes with its own butler, who is there 24/7 should you want to, say, have your silk skirt ironed or can’t seem to start your mini golf cart to drive out of the L’Orangerie.

How far is Versailles from Paris and how do I get there?

Sadly, there’s no horse and carriage option, but the RER C is the cheapest, fastest way to reach Versailles, which is about 23 miles from Paris. Depending on where in the city you pick it up, it’s about 35 minutes to the Château Rive Gauche station. From there, it’s a 10-minute walk to the château.


This coastal town in Normandy became famous thanks to local artists such as Monet who gave its iconic failese, or cliffs, the dreamy, impressionist treatment on canvas. Ever since, it’s become a destination for those wanting to see the natural wonders with their own eyes—and, if adventurous, hike them.

Three massive chalk bluffs flank the white, rocky beach, and while the sea-level view is nothing to snub, the more striking sights are above. Those after a heftier hike should head south to climb up the Porte Aval cliff and along the dirt trail, through wild fields and cow pastures, toward the lighthouse.

If you’d rather stretch your legs without going as far, walk along the beach’s northern cliff, Porte Amont; after peering over the edge, you can also visit the Monument Nungesser & Coli, which honors the French pilots who attempted (but did not complete) the world’s first transatlantic flight in 1927.

Nearby, Les Jardins d’Étretat are also worth a stop for the manicured bushes and the modern sculptures arranged among them.

Interior of kitchen at villa Les Tilleuls, with brick wall, patterned floor, and counter topped by bowls of food next to large window

Visit coastal Normandy from the uber-hip villa Les Tilleuls.

Courtesy of Les Tilleuls

Where to stay in Étretat

High-class comfort? Yes. Hipster refuge? Also yes. Les Tilleuls, a five-room, 18th-century villa behind an unassuming facade in the center of town, was opened in 2019 by the daughter of a chef and hotelier from Belgium. Staying here will feel like staying at a (well-heeled) friend’s home—complete with Tilia the golden retriever nipping at your heels or napping in the entryway. Homemade chouquette pastries are left out to enjoy, and each of the stately sitting areas suggests another era, with touches like Monocle magazines at hand and dried flower arrangements as decor. The spacious and sunlit rooms are very Martha’s Vineyard meets Montauk, with floral drapes, wooden armoires, and, in one, a claw-foot bathtub. Some have balconies that overlook the overgrown garden where breakfast is served on sunny mornings. There’s also an attic for yoga and a basement screening room for when the weather isn’t cooperating or you just feel like lounging about.

How far is Étretat from Paris and how do I get there?

It’s slightly tricky to reach Étretat by public transport, which is about 140 miles from Paris, and parking can be difficult. Unless you’re heading elsewhere in Normandy, best to follow the schedules and save a few euros: First, take a regional train to Bréaute-Beuzeville from Gare St. Lazare; you’ll then transfer to bus line 17 to Étretat. The trip should take about three hours: two on the train, a 15-minute wait for the bus, and a half-hour to town. While there are only about three departures a day in the off-season, you can’t beat a commute that costs as little as 40 euros (US$42) round trip. If you’re driving, the trip is about three hours each way.

Colmar and the Alsace wine region

Straddling the border of Germany and heavily influenced by its neighbor, Alsace might trick you into thinking you have left France entirely. The region is best known for its world-class wines (in particular, white wine varietals, like riesling, gewürztraminer, and the increasingly popular, sparkling crémant d’Alsace), and charming small towns like Colmar and Eguisheim. To experience both, rent a bike or e-bike and head out on the region’s vineyard cycle route, a 131-kilometer (81-mile) path that takes cyclists past castles, idyllic countryside, historic towns, and wineries where you can drop in for a tasting.

On a weekend trip, you (likely) won’t have time to bike it all, so start in Colmar at Le Vélo Libre, a self-service e-bike rental shop. The shop has recommended routes for all levels posted inside, complete with QR codes to download the bike map onto your phone. Once done, fill up on regional specialties like bretzels (pretzels) and spaetzle (a type of small pasta) or simply wander and enjoy the Renaissance architecture in Colmar’s La Petite Venise (Little Venice) after stashing your bike for the evening.

If you’re visiting between November 24 and December 24, skip the bike ride and instead take a quick train ride to the region’s capital, Strasbourg, which is home to the country’s oldest Christmas market.

A row of colorful Renaissance style houses along a canal in Little Venice, Colmar, a small town in France. Bright fuchsia and white flowers are in the lower right corner of the frame, and the houses are reflected in the water.

Colmar is a small town known for its Renaissance architecture.

Photo by Shutterstock

Where to stay in Alsace

Cozy up in one of the 21 rooms at La Masion des Têtes, a five-star hotel in the heart of old Colmar; like many of the structures in this neighborhood, the hotel is also a historic landmark. It was built in 1609 and adorned with 106 sculpted heads (têtes) on the exterior walls that are impressively still intact. The hotel draws its name from this distinctive feature, yet its allure goes beyond this first impression. After entering through a breezy courtyard, guests can expect modern and minimalist rooms (which were updated in 2016), complete with comfortable, of-this-century beds, Nespresso machines, and luxurious marble bathrooms.

On site, guests can eat at one-Michelin star Restaurant Girardin, which serves a seasonally changing, seven-course, prix fixe menu in a light-filled dining room, complete with beautiful stained-glass windows. But where Girardin is light and airy, its more casual eatery, Brasserie Historique, embraces a more traditional side of the region, both through its dark-wood decor and modern interpretations of Alsatian classics like pike quenelles, a type of fish dumpling, and chicken suprême, a warm and buttery roast chicken dish.

How far is Alsace and how do I get there?

From Paris, it’s a direct train ride of one hour and 45 minutes on the TGV to Strasbourg, the region’s capital, or a 2.5-hour train ride to Colmar (also direct). Trains run regularly between the two cities and take 30 minutes each way.

This article was originally published in 2021 and most recently updated on October 19, 2023 with current information. Jessie Beck contributed to the reporting of this story.

Sara Lieberman is a New York–born journalist who lived in Paris for the better part of the last decade. Her writing also appears in Condé Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Hemispheres, and the Infatuation.
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