by Fiona McMurrey

1. The Most Beautiful Trails: French Polynesia

Image courtesy of Must Love Roses Blog.

Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979, Mont Saint Michel, a tidal island and home to several monuments of medieval civilisation, including the monastery and abbey that are still in use. Make sure to visit during the right tide, as the island becomes water-locked, which served as part of its defense during multiple sieges throughout the centuries. Trains to Mont Saint Michel take roughly three hours from Paris but the long journey is absolutely worth it to see, the almost unearthly beauty that encapsulated Mont Saint Michel.

2. Rouen

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Three hours away from Paris by train, Rouen is known for its eponymous, imperious, and astoundingly beautiful Cathedral of Rouen, rendered in paint numerous times by the master himself, Claude Monet. While you’re there, be sure to see the Palais de Justice, gros horloge (an enormous 14th century astronomical clock), the old town of Rouen, and old market square, or promenade through the jardin des plantes.

3. Orléans

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If you’re looking to take a little wine tour without leaving Paris too far behind, head to Orléans in the Loire valley and borders on the river for which the valley is named. Visit le Musée des Beaux Arts, le Château de Chambord, la Cathédrale de Sainte Croix, Place de Martroi, and many more museums and art spectacles! If you’re in Orléans you must explore the old town in the Bourgogne quarter and was once a prominent merchants district. Trains to Orléans from Paris take around an hour and a half and leave from Gare du Nord.

4. Reims

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Located just scarcely more than an hour away from Paris by train, Reims, known for its champagne production and rich history, must be at the top of your list! Visit for the champagne tours, to study art deco architecture at the Carnegie library, stroll through la Porte de Mars, constructed in the 3rd century and the widest triumphal arch ever built by the Romans, and discover the UNESCO world heritage site, Cathédrale Notre Dame de Reims built between the 13th - 14th century.

5. Bruges

Image courtesy of The Intrepid Guide Blog.

If you’re visiting Paris, why not see two countries at once? Take the train from Gare du Nord in the 10th or Montparnasse in the 14th arrondissement to Bruges, Belgium and experience the Flemish Renaissance revival architecture, the beautiful Quai of the Rosary, climb the Bruges belfry, or explore the Groeningemuseum. Be sure to pick up a lace souvenir as this small city is known for its manufacturing of this delicate material - but be careful because the entire city is closed on Sunday!