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Friday, 20 July 2012
Top 5 days out in Paris
Paris has so many world-famous monuments and museums that if you’re only there for a short break it’s hard to think about leaving the city. But the attractions out of Paris are just as impressive as those on offer in town. Here are five of the most popular day trips you can take from Paris.
This royal palace, built by King Louis XIV in the 17th century and expanded in the following years to the magnificent building you can see today, is near the top of most people’s list of things to see in Paris. It’s hardly surprising as the opulence on display within the palace is truly breathtaking. Don’t miss the chance to wander through the extensive grounds too. You can even hire bikes and bring a picnic to Versailles, finding a secluded spot to enjoy a perfect French lunch.
Beware however that you’ll find what appears to be half of Paris queuing up for tickets at the entrance to Versailles. If you turn up without a ticket you’ll almost certainly face a very long wait before you get inside. It’s a good idea to arrive very early or towards the end of the day to avoid the worst of the crowds.
Think Claude Monet and you’ll probably have a picture of slightly out-of-focus lily ponds and gently bending willow trees. You can visit the garden where he drew inspiration for many of his later paintings in the small village of Giverny, around an hour north of Paris. It’s a lovely place to spend a warm summer afternoon. Those wanting to re-create some of the master’s works should take note: while drawing at Giverny is tolerated, taking any painting materials into the gardens is strictly off limits.
America meets France in what is the most visited tourist attraction in the whole of Europe. Come for exciting rides, giant-sized Disney characters, fairy-tale castles and plenty of good old fast food. There’s nothing particularly French about a visit to Disneyland Paris, but ask the kids where they want to go on a trip to Paris and Disney usually wins hands down!
This theme park celebrates the adventures of Asterix the Gaul, with a unique blend of Egyptian-Gallic related attractions. High adrenaline rides, lively shows and dolphin trickery (does anyone have any idea where they fit in?) await the visitors to Parc Asterix, which is only a short trip out of Paris.
Opened a few years before Disneyland Paris, Parc Asterix has received less attention and attracts fewer visitors than its American inspired rival. Perhaps as a result of this, a day out at Parc Asterix often involves less time queuing and more time actually enjoying the attractions.
This former royal hunting ground now attracts millions of visitors who come to escape the frenetic pace of Parisian life. The palace of Fontainebleau has a strong link to French royal history and has been home to several of France’s more flamboyant rulers over the past centuries. If you want to work off some of those Parisian patisserie indulgences, this is the perfect place to come and enjoy a wide variety of outdoor pursuits. People come to Fontainebleau for mountain biking, hiking, horse riding and even rock climbing.