The best side trips and day trips from Paris

★★★ Versailles - Europe's grandest palace is a sprawling, rambling, exhaustive display of the French monarchs' wealth and foppery in those last generations before the Revolution. Versailles, with its extravagant 17th-century palace and gardens, is Paris's best and easiest day trip... Full story

★★ Chartres - The French sculptor Rodin, after a dazed day sitting in the rain just staring at the sculptures on the facade of Chartres cathedral, dubbed the building "The Acropolis of France." Napoléon declared that "Chartres is no place for an atheist" upon laying eyes on this greatest of High Gothic cathedrals (still the fourth largest church in the world), filled on sunny days with ethereal world of colored light streaming through an awe-inspiring 3,000 square yards of 12th- and 13th-century stained glass... Full story

Fontainebleau - Before they had Versailles to play with, French monarchs retreated to Fontainebleau, where they could hunt in the vast forest and escape the dirty, crowded streets of Paris into a sumptuous mansion built, renovated, and extended into a rambling palace over 700 years of construction.... Full story

Guided day trips