With the arrival of fine weather and the possibility of travelling to other regions again, the time has come to take a breath of fresh air and treat yourself to a few rejuvenating weekends in areas and towns that are easily accessible by train from Paris. France has a highly developed rail network. Whether by TER or by TGV INOUI, it is very easy to escape the capital for a few days to discover the richness of the regions, in terms of heritage, gastronomy, natural environment and cultural offer. Fancy the sea, the countryside or the mountains? No problem, France is famous for its wide variety of landscapes and from Paris, a few hours by train is all it takes to feel a real change of scenery. And just in time, OUI.sncf allows you to travel by train at low prices this summer. What's more, until August 29th, tickets can be exchanged and refunded up to 3 days before departure. So without further ado, here are 10 destinations accessible by train from Paris for a weekend.
1- Brest and the call of Brittany
It takes about 3h30 by TGV INOUI to reach Brest from Paris. On site, the weekend begins with a stroll along the port, watching the boats and stopping off at a restaurant. Although the city was badly hit by the bombings of the Second World War, it has nevertheless preserved a beautiful testimony of the Brest of yesteryear, with the rue Saint-Malo. Here, the old stones and all the charm of Brittany are honoured. Another superb piece of heritage is the Motte-Tanguy tower, built in the 14th century. Not to be missed either, a tour of the main museums and sites of interest. The Fine Arts Museum, the Océanopolis dedicated to the oceans and the National Maritime Museum are all places to wander around. If you are interested in nature, head for the National Botanical Conservatory of Brest and the Moulin Blanc beach. The opportunity is also too good not to embark on the north side of a boat and join the Ponant islands
2- Beaune, a peaceful weekend in Burgundy
Beaune is the gateway to the beautiful Burgundy countryside, just 2h30 away from Paris by train. Before venturing out into the countryside, don't miss a walk through the charming town of Beaune. You can walk around the ramparts before going to the foot of the pretty Notre-Dame collegiate basilica. The narrow streets in the centre are cobbled, charming and ideal for shopping in the small shops. Of course, you can't miss the place that is the pride of the region: the Hospices de Beaune, a splendid site with its glazed tiles and its Gothic style with Flemish influences. As the capital of Burgundy wines, the rest of the trip takes visitors out of the city and into the surrounding countryside, including a visit to a wine estate for a tasting session. The great wines accompany the typical dishes of the region such as beef bourguignon or snails
3- Annecy, a detour to the heart of the mountains
Are you looking for mountains and long walks in the open air? Then Annecy is a destination worth considering. Direct INOUI TGV trains take travellers from Paris to this charming little town on the banks of the famous lake in 3 hours and 40 minutes. The old town is splendid with its canals and vaulted passages. Several monuments attract the eye such as the Isle Palace, the Annecy Castle and the many churches. The Thiou canal is another must-see, with its colourful facades and walking paths. At another time, it is the superb Lake Annecy that awaits travellers to enjoy its clear waters and take a boat or stand up paddle ride. And then around the lake, you can reach in no time on foot or by bike the various mountain routes, simply to enjoy the sumptuous panoramas and breathe the pure air.
4- La Rochelle, the sea air of Charente-Maritime
Several trains from Paris allow you to reach La Rochelle in just under 3 hours. In the city, you can enjoy a walk on the Old Port and observe its towers, before going to lose yourself in the streets and alleys of the old town once you pass the Porte de la Grosse Horloge. One is always pleasantly surprised by the medieval character of the place. Not far away, a visit to the Charruyer park will allow you to get away from it all for a while. The museums of La Rochelle also open their doors to better understand the history of the city, as in the Bunker of La Rochelle or to learn more about the past maritime life, as in the Maritime Museum. On the hottest days, the Minimes beach is perfect for a swim. And for those who want to, don't miss out on a trip to the neighbouring island of Ré, where you can stroll through the typical villages, ride your bike and then land on a sunny stretch of sand
5- Chartres and its unsuspected treasures
The city of Chartres is a perfect destination for a weekend getaway in a city on a human scale, which never ceases to surprise. It takes 1 hour to reach the city from Paris. Of course, the first thing to do is to visit its superb Gothic cathedral, which hosted the coronation of King Henry IV and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can then walk through the centre to admire the half-timbered facades or stroll along the banks of the Eure. To stock up on good produce, head for the Chartres market, Baltard-style halls built at the end of the 19th century. Chartres is not lacking in unusual visits either, with the Maison Picassiette, a temple of mosaics that is almost reminiscent of Barcelona's Parc Güell, but also with the Bel Air frescoes, 4,000m2 of trompe-l'œil! Finally, for those who wish to escape from the city for a few moments and rent a car on the spot, the proximity of the Maintenon castle and the Perche regional nature park in the vicinity are elements to be included in the programme of a weekend that does you good
6- Chambéry, a stopover in Savoie
After a direct journey of less than 3 hours on the INOUI TGV from the capital, visitors can spend a pleasant time in the city of Chambéry, which is steeped in history. The weekend can start with a stroll leading to the Place Saint-Léger, entirely pedestrian and sublime with its colourful facades. You should then take the adjacent narrow streets, full of medieval architectural treasures. We particularly like the rue Juiverie around which there are many traboules as well as the rue Croix d'Or, where old private mansions are located. From the inevitable Elephants' Fountain, you can go to the Savoisien Museum or take a guided tour of Chambéry's railway rotunda, which is Eiffel style and the largest rotunda ever built in France. For nature walks, you can go to the Nivolet cross to enjoy a superb panorama of the Chambéry basin. Other options include a hike in the Bauges massif and a walk on the shores of Lake Bourget.
7- Marseille, the oldest city in France
The inhabitants of Paris have the immense advantage of being only 3 hours by TGV from the beautiful city of Marseille. You'll barely have time to realise that you're strolling along the Vieux-Port before sitting on a terrace for a drink. In Marseille, we like to venture into these different districts to taste their unique atmosphere: let's mention the Cours Julien and its beautiful urban paintings or the Panier and its flowery and typical Provencal streets. The cultural offer is dense, and one can enjoy strolling to the MUCEM as much as going to the Friche la Belle de Mai to contemplate some exhibitions and relax on the roof terrace. Around the city, nature is idyllic, and it will only take a few minutes by bus to enter the Calanques National Park and discover the most beautiful shades of blue of the Mediterranean Sea. Sormiou or Sugiton, such are the names of its jewels of the Big Blue.
8- Bourges, a getaway in the Centre-Val de Loire
Bourges is a charming city with a long history that can be reached in about 2 hours by train from Paris. It has many monuments that are the pride of the city, such as the Gothic-style Saint-Etienne cathedral, the 15th century Jacques Coeur palace and the nearly 400 buildings that line its medieval centre. The Rue Bourbonneaux and the Place Gordien are places to go to enjoy the shops and restaurants. You can order a "pâté berrichon" or a potato cake. You should also know that as Bourges is located in a humid climate, swamps are still present in the city. They cover 135 hectares and can be explored on foot, by bike or by boat. Outside the city of Bourges, the countryside of the Berry region offers peaceful places such as the gardens of Apremont-sur-Allier and the vineyards of Sancerrois, where you can enjoy the delicious white wine
9- Grenoble, stop in the capital of the Dauphiné
Grenoble is a city with a thousand facets, located in an exceptional environment, between the Vercors, Chartreuse and Taillefer massifs. After a 3-hour direct TGV journey from Paris, you'll soon find yourself in the middle of Place Grenette, which is always bustling with shops and cafés. Notre-Dame de Grenoble cathedral, Saint-Hugues church, Lion fountain and Saint-Laurent footbridge over the Isère river are some of the city's must-sees. As well as a stroll through the Isère Resistance and Deportation Museum and the Grenoble Museum, which has an impressive collection of Western paintings. The Paul Mistral park is the green lung of the city, and how can you miss the Grenoble Bastille cable car that takes you to the Fort. Beautiful 360° views of the city and its surroundings guaranteed! There are also superb hikes to do in the countryside around Grenoble, like the one that takes place from Saint-Pierre d'Entremont to the cirque de Saint-Même. On the programme, a superb natural site shaped by water and glaciers
10- Nice, a trip on the French Riviera
With the reopening of the Paris-Nice night train, all you have to do is peacefully fall asleep to wake up facing the beautiful Mediterranean. What a pleasure to start by walking in the Old Nice, to contemplate the coloured facades with shutters to finish at the Cours Saleya and its famous flower market. Later on, you can go to the Cimiez district to see the arena, before taking the height and dominating the old town from the castle hill. Another monument is a must to see for superb shots, it is the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of Nice, simply the most important religious building of the Orthodox faith outside Russia. Matisse Museum, Marc Chagall National Museum, the great painters are also honored in Nice. And then, of course, there is the sea, present at every moment. You can appreciate its shades of blue from the Promenade des Anglais, from which you don't hesitate to go down for a swim under the beautiful June sun. The walkers appreciate the Sentier du Littoral and its panoramas which never cease to fascinate, and are ideal for beautiful pictures