Google+

Day Trips From Paris: Giverny and Loire Valley

If you’re spending enough time in Paris to consider day trips, here are two to put at the top of your list: Giverny and the Loire Valley.

First up is Giverny, home to Claude Monet’s famous garden and water lily pond.

IMG_2615

My friends Kris, Turner, and I took the train out to Giverny from Paris early on a Saturday morning. It’s an easy train ride, only about 45 minutes outside of the city, and you arrive in a town called Vernon that has an amazing Saturday morning farmer’s market. I’d recommend timing your trip to visit it, and getting provisions for a picnic lunch!

IMG_2600

Turner just finished up a PhD in art history, and was doing a fellowship this summer in Giverny with some fellow art historians and artists, so Kris and I were really excited to see where she’d been living! After hitting up the farmer’s market for lunch provisions, the three of us headed back to Turner’s place in Giverny (close to Vernon – there’s a shuttle if you don’t have a car) to dine al fresco.

lunch in giverny

We had cider:

IMG_2603

A big, fresh salad with radishes, carrots, and cucumber:

IMG_2605

Plus bread, cheese, roasted chicken, and the most amazing strawberries.

IMG_2606

After lunch, Kris and I went to check out Monet’s house! We started with the gardens, which were lovely.

IMG_2610

IMG_2612

And then made our way to the famous water lilies. It was crowded, but so beautiful!

IMG_2613

IMG_2614

IMG_2616

IMG_2617

If you have any time after your tour of Monet’s home/gardens and want to explore, the hills around Giverny are lovely for hiking.

IMG_2618

IMG_2619

IMG_2621

And the town is quite cute, too.

IMG_2622

We ended up getting rained on and had to cut our hike short, but it was still a lot of fun to explore! I’d definitely recommend checking out Giverny if you’re in Paris – such an easy train ride and totally worth the trip.

Another day trip to consider is the Loire Valley, a beautiful region of France that is known for its wine and castles. Wine and castles?! Sign me up! :)

IMG_2698

Kris and I had the pleasure of taking a Loire Castles & Wine Tasting Tour through City Wonders, who generously offered us both a complimentary tour in exchange for sharing our experience here on the blog.

City Wonders runs their Loire Castle & Wine Tasting Tour on Tuesdays and Saturdays; it departs from Paris at 7:30 a.m. and you arrive back in the city about 12 to 13 hours later.

IMG_2687

There were about 20 people on our tour and we all hopped on a comfy bus to take us a few hours outside the city to our first stop: Château de Chambord, the castle that inspired Disney’s Beauty and the Beast!

IMG_2688

The castle, which was never completed, was constructed by King Francis I of France. It’s the largest château in the Loire Valley, and was originally built to serve as a hunting lodge for Francis I. Ridiculous, right? Oh, just my humble hunting lodge, no big deal…

IMG_2691

In 1792, in the wake of the French Revolution, some of the furnishings were sold and timber removed, and the building was left abandoned until restoration attempts began in the 19th century. The building remains pretty sparse inside – the true beauty of this castle is the outside and the views.

IMG_2692

I especially loved all the towers!

IMG_2693

IMG_2694

Our next stop on the City Wonders tour was a private wine tasting and lunch at the Château de Nitray, a lovely, privately-owned castle and winery.

IMG_2706

Nitray is a small 16th century Renaissance castle – so cool that people still live in it!

IMG_2718

IMG_2717

IMG_2720

Lunch was fabulous – so simple and SO delicious. Roasted chicken, tomatoes, and potatoes! Plus some unpictured salad.

IMG_2709

And some house wine, of course!

IMG_2710

IMG_2711

We also enjoyed some delicious cheese and bread. And for dessert, apple pie! :)

IMG_2712

We were all raving about this lunch – absolutely loved it!

Bellies full, we hopped back on the bus and headed to our final stop of the day: the amazing Château de Chenonceau, which was hands down my favorite of the day. Stunning!

IMG_2737

The current château was built in 1514–1522 on the foundations of an old mill and was later extended to span the River Cher. It’s the second most visited castle in France, after Versailles, and it showed – it was MOBBED the day we were there. Even so, if you only have time to visit one castle in the Loire Valley, make it this one. It made me want to go back in time and live in it so badly! :) The inside was amazing, too, and much more decorated than Chambord was.

IMG_2739

Obsessed!

IMG_2735

Chenonceau also has some amazing gardens. Both functional…

IMG_2728

And just pretty. :)

IMG_2740

We also enjoyed another wine tasting there in the cellars. It was fun, but if you have limited time, skip the wine tasting and spend your time exploring the castle instead.

IMG_2733

A big thank you to City Wonders for the opportunity to go on this tour! I would absolutely recommend them if you’re in Paris and looking to do a Loire Valley day trip. (City Wonders also offer tours around Paris and in Italy, Spain, the UK, and here in the USA.) In addition to being a convenient way to see a bunch of places all in one day without having to plan it yourself, we also had a wonderful guide with us. He shared history and facts on the bus rides to the castles, and we had headsets when we were touring the two castles so he could give us a full tour without needing to shout. Once his brief tours were done, we had time to go off and explore on our own, too, which I liked. If I have one criticism of this day tour it was that we didn’t have nearly enough time at Chenonceau. I wish we had been able to stay longer – there was a lot to explore that we didn’t get a chance to see, which was kind of a bummer, and it was such a beautiful day we would have loved to see more of the grounds!

Have you done any day trips from Paris? Do you recommend them? I’ve been to Versailles before and that’s a lovely day trip, too!

Comments

  1. 1

    So so beautiful! Really, that castle is stunning! One day I’ll make it to Europe ;)

  2. 2

    Yay!! :D What a fabulous recap of our trips! The photos came out great! :) Come back again??? ;)

  3. 4

    You can kind of see why they might have had a little trouble finishing Chambord–that place is massive! And so cool that you got to see Monet’s waterlillies, I love his paintings!

  4. 6

    Beautiful photos! Adding both day trips to my dream list :) Also love your dress! Where’s it from??

  5. 8

    Loved seeing your pictures of the Loire valley! I saw the area 6 years ago but it was march, and very dreary outside so it’s fun to see how beautiful the area is when the weather is nice. Loved france!

  6. 10

    Paris is on my bucket list and now these two places are too! Beautiful photos and who wouldn’t love wine!

  7. 11

    The castle is stunning! Love a good simple lunch…all about the produce! Nothing better than being able to dine outside!

  8. 12

    Castles, wine and good food? SIGN ME UP! :)

  9. 13

    Your pictures are amazing. What kind of camera did you use?

  10. 15

    Oh my GOSH! I studied abroad in Paris and all of your trips are reminding me of my days outside of the city. Sometimes getting out of the hustle and bustle is the best part! We went to Giverny during the fall, but it was still so incredibly gorgeous. I’ve always wanted to go back in the summer! Thanks for sharing <3

  11. 16
    Jessica Gee says:

    Would you have stayed longer in the Loire? I’m heading over there next year and wondering if I make it a day trip from Paris or stay in the Loire for a few days?

  12. 18

    As a child I was in Chenonceau, too. I loved it. I don’t really like Paris but I can only recommend more of France. I love the region around Brest (although Brest itself is the ugliest city I’ve ever seen) and Bordeaux. One day I want to visit the Côte azur since I saw so many beautiful pictures of it… I can’t wait for it!

  13. 20

    Lived in Europe many years and visited France every chance I got! We often took our guests to the Champagne region to visit vineyards and tour the cellars (and drink champagne) at Moet and Chandon in Epernay. Great gift shop at M&C where I purchased many gifts and champagne accoutrements that I use often. Love your travel recaps and enjoy reading your blog.

  14. 22

    Beautiful pictures! I’m planning a trip to Paris and was wondering if the castles would be worth the trip. Looks like they are!

  15. 23

    Oh my, how wonderful! I’m so in awe of your trip to Monet’s house and gardens. I love art and art history and it sounds like the perfect place to study. Your friend is so lucky! And the wine tour – if I ever get the chance to go to France I will have to partake in that :)

  16. 24

    Love reading your blog! Thanks for sharing your trip with us. Fanntastic photos, what camera did you use?

  17. 26
    Sandra F. says:

    Beautiful!!! I love Monet, so on my next trip to Paris, I’ll have to visit Giverny. Thanks for sharing!

Speak Your Mind

*

Current ye@r *