Take a quick train ride to live in a fairy tale for a day
One of the most awesome parts about Paris is its central location in France.
Okay – it’s maybe not the first thing you think of when you hear ‘awesome’ and ‘Paris’, but hear me out!
Spending time in France’s capital and busiest city Paris is a truly amazing experience. But the hustle and bustle is draining, isn’t it? Luckily, just a short ride from Paris are a handful of unbearably charming fairy-tale castles.
Why not broaden your horizons and check out some of the other gems France has to offer?
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
Image: Wikipedia Commons
What is it? This château (that’s French for castle!) is said to have been the inspiration for Versailles. So, we suggest you go back to the beginning and check out this beauty before heading to the bigger and badder version we all know as Versailles.
Where is it? Maincy, France (where this chateau is located) is 34 miles south of Paris.
How to get there? From Paris train station Gare de l’Est, take the direct train Line P (direction Provins). Get off at the Verneuil l’Etang train station. There are direct trains every 60 minutes, and it takes about 35 minutes to get there. Once you get off the train, there is a “Châteaubus” that takes visitors from the Verneuil l’Etang train station to the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. The shuttle located right outside of the train station exit. But be aware! The shuttle is cash only.
How far away and how much? This trip takes a little over 2 hours, train and bus ride included! To get to Vaux-le Vicomte, thanks to a reader we now recommend buying a special train ticket called the Mobilis! Mobilis is a 1-day travel pass that allows you unlimited travel in the zones located within and around Paris. There are different options to choose fun depending on how far you want to travel – for example, to get to Fontainebleau, Vaux-le Vicomte and Chantilly you must purchase the ticket for zones 1-5, which costs 17.80
Why I love it? Whether you check out this castle before or after you check out Versailles, it is interesting to see the similarities and differences between the two. Fun bonus for families: It is possible to rent period costumes for kids! Fun bonus for everyone: The castles offers candlelit visits after 7pm!
More info: Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte website
Château de Fontainebleau
Image: Wikipedia Commons
What is it? Fontainebleau, France is 35 miles southeast of Paris.
Where is it? The Château de Fontainebleau is one of the largest french royal castles. The castle was the home of many French monarchs like Louis VII and Napoleon III. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
How to get there? From the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris, take the train for either Montargis Sens, Montereau or Laroche-Migennes, get off at Fontainebleau-Avon station, then take the ‘Ligne 1’ bus destined for Les Lilas, getting off at the ‘Château’ stop.
How far away and how much? To get from Paris to this castle takes just over 1 hour! We told you it was close 😉 To get to the Fontainebleau, thanks to a reader we now recommend buying a special train ticket called the Mobilis! Mobilis is a 1-day travel pass that allows you unlimited travel in the zones located within and around Paris. There are different options to choose fun depending on how far you want to travel – for example, to get to Fontainebleau, Vaux-le Vicomte and Chantilly you must purchase the ticket for zones 1-5, which costs 17.80
Why I love it? This castle is the only royal château to have been steadily lived in for seven centuries. Famous French royal dynasties such as the Capétiens, Valois, Bourbons, Bonaparte and Orléans have all called this castle home. Fun bonus: the castle offers guided tours in English.
If you need another reason to go… watch this amazing video:
Chantilly and its Château
What is it? Chantilly, France is 24 miles northeast of Paris.
Where is it? The town of Chantilly is most famous for giving its name to Chantilly cream and Chantilly lace. The town is also known for the fairytale-esque castle!
How to get there? From Gare du Nord train station in Paris, take the RER line D (45 minutes), get off at Chantilly-Gouvieux. Once at the train station in Chantilly, there is an option to take a bus to the ‘domaine’. Best of all? The bus is free. Ride the bus until the stop Chantilly, église Notre-Dame.
How far away and how much? This journey is just 50 minutes! To get to Chantilly, thanks to a reader we now recommend buying a special train ticket called the Mobilis! Mobilis is a 1-day travel pass that allows you unlimited travel in the zones located within and around Paris. There are different options to choose fun depending on how far you want to travel – for example, to get to Fontainebleau, Vaux-le Vicomte and Chantilly you must purchase the ticket for zones 1-5, which costs 17.80
Why I love it? Aren’t those water gardens surrounding the castle dreamy? We think so too. Also located in the castle is The Condé Museum. This museum has one of the oldest collections of art in France and it’s only competition as far as quantity of paintings goes is the Louvre!
More info: The Domaine de Chantilly website.
Versailles and its Château
What is it? Versailles, France is 26 miles west of Paris.
Where is it? A list of enchanting castles close to Paris?! Well, this list would be incomplete with mentioning the ‘big daddy’ of castles – VERSAILLES! Versailles has been the inspiration for countless castles in France. It’s up to you to decide – check out this one first or last? Some of our *favorite* kings and queens called this place their crib over the years, including Louis XV, Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette. It was Louis XV that was responsible for the grandeur that Versailles is today aaaand… the best way to visit and get those juicy stories is hands-down with a tour. I encourage you to take a
How to get there? You can take the RER line C directly to the Versailles Château – Rive Gauche train station, which is just 10 minutes’ walk to the château. There are also 2 SNCF train options: one from Gare Montparnasse to Versailles Chantiers train station, which is 18 minutes from the castle and the second from Gare Saint Lazare arrive at Versailles Rive Droite train station, this one will get you to the castle in 17 minutes. The Versailles website suggests buying two ticket (two-way trip) from your point of departure to the Versailles train station – we agree!
How far away and how much? Depending on which Paris station you decide to leave from, this train trip is also under 1 hour! It’s amazing the places you can get to in such a short amount of time, isn’t it?! The price of the tickets also depend on the type of train you decide to take, but round trip will definitely be under 15€! Yahoo!
Why I love it? It’s kind of amazing getting to see where so many architects and gardeners got their inspo from first hand. I’m also a BIG fan of Sofia Coppola’s movie Marie Antoinette; getting to see where the movie was shot and where the actual Marie Antoinette hung out speaks to the movie buff inside me. Fun bonus: The castle’s grounds stretch out for miles, perfect for frolicking and picnicking at your leisure! Extra fun bonus: we offer a handful of Versailles tours – want to hang out for the day? Want to learn some incredible history about Versailles at the same time? You’re 100% in the right place!