Four Side Trips From Paris: A No-Nonsense Guide

by Christine Cantera on February 9, 2011

by Christine Cantera | February 9th, 2011  

So, you’ve booked a flight to Paris. Right on! But then you start planning your trip, and zooming out on that Google Map… and all of a sudden, you wonder if you could maybe sneak out of town for a couple days. Makes you feel giddy, doesn’t it?

Sadly, at this point, many of you will snap out of it and go on to book a hotel in Paris for your whole stay. I’m here to tell you, don’t do that just yet. Instead, I’d like to enable your wanderlust by tempting you with some delightful little side-trips from Paris.

The TGV, France’s super-fast train network, can get you pretty far, pretty fast – which gives you the opportunity to see a whole different side of this amazing country. That’s what we’ll be traveling on for these quick trips from Paris. You’ll need to book in advance – not far in advance, but don’t just show up, either – so on your first day in Paris, to keep yourself awake from jet lag, make a run to the nearest train station and pick up your tickets. (It doesn’t have to be the station from which you’re departing; any will do, as will any SNCF Boutique or travel agency you may see on the street.)

And away we go!

montpellier side trip from paris

Paris Side-Trip #1: Montpellier

  • TGV duration: 3.5 hours
  • Hotel suggestion: Hotel des Arceaux
  • Good eats: Le Monde à L’Envers, Le Boeuf Agile
  • Cool stuff to do: Hang in the Place de la Comedie, rent bikes from the tourist office and ride to the beach, check out the latest photo exhibit in the Pavillon Populaire.
  • Skip: The Musée Fabre.

lyon side trip from paris

Paris Side-Trip #2: Lyon

  • TGV duration: 2 hours
  • Hotel suggestion: Hotel Victoria
  • Good eats: Bocuse’s Nord Sud Brasseries, la Meunière
  • Cool stuff to do: Walk around the Old City. Eat and drink as much as you can.
  • Skip: The Gallo-Roman Amphitheater.

bordeaux side trip from paris

Paris Side-Trip #3: Bordeaux

  • TGV duration: a little over 3 hours
  • Hotel suggestion: Hotel de France
  • Good eats: La Tupiña, L’Autre Petit Bois
  • Cool stuff to do: Step into the Pey-Berland Cathedral (its tower has great views, too) and the Saint-Andre Cathedral. Stroll around Esplanade des Quinconces, Europe’s largest square.
  • Skip: The tourist boat.

marseille side trip from paris

Paris Side-Trip #4: Marseille

  • TGV duration: 3-4 hours
  • Hotel suggestion: Hotel Alizé
  • Good eats: Le Ruhl, Toinou
  • Cool stuff to do: Vieux Port, baby! Check out the view of and from Notre Dame de la Garde, the church on the hill (can’t miss it). Walk along the Corniche.
  • Skip: Château d’If.

Photos: me, webmasternic, steph0987, me

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