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Day trips with a toddler in January

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Melbourne, Australia
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Day trips with a toddler in January

I have researched day trips from paris but I would like some advice on which day trips you think are more suitable with toddler and a pram? We are travelling to Paris from Australia in January and we are excited to do a couple of day trips (we are there for 2 weeks) we want to visit Bruges but would like some other ideas. Places that are easy to get to and about an hour away would be great. Thank you in advance!

Paris, France
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1. Re: Day trips with a toddler in January

If you want to go to Bruges or anyplace that requires a reservation for train tickets (all TGV trains) you'll need to buy them 3 months in advance to get the cheapest ticket prices. For example, a one way ticket to Bruges tomorrow costs between 78€ and 123€ (depends on the time) whereas the one way fare on the random date of January 23rd (I picked a January date since that's when you'll be here) is 53€ to 73€.

I will also mention that Bruges is just over 2-1/2 hours by train from Paris, with one transfer.

The cheapest train tickets are going to be the local trains near Paris that have fixed prices so you don't need to buy tickets in advance and you can also wait for the best weather day to do a day trip.

Here is a brief list that summarizes many of the most popular day trips from Paris (within an hour and a half by train). With the exception of Reims and Rouen I haven't included places that require advance train ticket purchase to get the cheapest train ticket prices. The rest of the destinations are all local trains with fixed prices. There are certainly many other day trips you could also do but this list covers most of the biggies:

Provins (an authentic walled medieval town): http://www.provins.net/

Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.

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Château of Chantilly (wonderful fairytale château, famous art collection): http://www.chateaudechantilly.com/fr/

http://www.chantilly-tourisme.com/

Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.

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Senlis (beautiful small medieval town can be combined with a visit to Chantilly):

www.senlis-tourisme.fr/gb/accueil-senlis.php

Take train to Chantilly (see above). Take bus number 15 from Chantilly to Senlis. Bus schedules here: http://www.oise-mobilite.fr/index.asp

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Reims (champagne tours, great historic cathedral, museums):

http://www.reims-tourisme.com/

Take TGV train from Gare de l'Est. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices. Train tickets cheapest if purchased 3 months in advance.

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Epernay (champagne tours): http://www.ot-epernay.fr/

Trains depart from from Gare de l'Est. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.

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Fontainebleau (former royal town with famous château):

http://www.musee-chateau-fontainebleau.fr/

http://www.fontainebleau-tourisme.com/

http://www.uk.fontainebleau-tourisme.com/

Trains depart from Gare de Lyon arrive at Fontainebleau-Avon. Take Bus A from train station to château. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.

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Versailles (obvious):

http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage

www.versailles-tourisme.com/en/accueil.html

There are several possible ways to get here by train from Paris. Easiest (least confusing) is to take RER C from Paris to Versailles Rive-Gauche. Use www.ratp.fr for train info.

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Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte (the château after which Louis XIV based his garden renovations for Versailles and IMO one of the most elegant château in France):

http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/

www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/en/useful-information

Trains depart from Gare de Lyon and arrive in Melun. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5. Take taxi from Melun to château or in high season use the shuttle bus from Melun to château. See 2nd link above for further transport info.

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Rouen (small city, lots to do, wonderful cathedral, medieval old center): http://www.rouentourisme.com/

Trains depart from Gare Saint-Lazare. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules. Tickets cheapest if purchased 3 months in advance. Last minute tickets cost 22.80€ each way (45.60€ round trip).

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Giverny (Monet's house and gardens):

http://fondation-monet.com/en/

http://giverny.org/giverny/

http://giverny.org/gardens/index.htm

http://www.vernon-visite.org/index.shtml

Trains depart from Gare Saint-Lazare and arrive in Vernon. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices. Look at links above for info about shuttle bus to Giverny, or walking or renting a bike.

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Chartres (the famous cathedral and wonderful old medieval town):

http://www.chartres-tourisme.com/en

http://www.discover-chartres.com/

Malcolm Miller Cathedral Tours:

Daily tours of Chartres Cathedral from Easter until late October are at 12 noon and 2.45 p.m. Not on Sundays, and during the winter occasionally or on request.

E-mail address is millerchartres@aol.com.

Trains depart from Gare Montparnasse. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/for train schedules and prices.

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Compiègne (château with museums, wonderful old town. Can be combined with a visit to the château of Pierrefonds): http://www.compiegne-tourisme.fr/

Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use www.voyages-sncf.com for train schedules.

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Château of Pierrefonds (Magnificent fairytale looking château. Reconstructed in the 19th century but magnificent nonetheless. Can be combined with a visit to Compiègne):

www.pierrefonds.monuments-nationaux.fr/

http://www.pierrefonds-tourisme.net/

compiegne-tourisme.fr/Le-chateau-de-Pierrefo…

Take train to Compiegne (see above). There are shuttle buses from Compiegne to Pierrefonds but they are infrequent. Use www.oise-mobilite.fr for bus info. Easiest means of access is taxi from Compiegne to Pierrefonds. The tourist office in Compiegne will assist with taxi service.

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Troyes (lovely small medieval city):

http://www.tourisme-troyes.com/

Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.

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Auxerre (lovely small medieval city):

http://www.ot-auxerre.fr/

burgundy-tourism.com/pages/…auxerre-1034.html

Trains depart from Gare de Lyon. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.

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Laon (medieval hilltop town with a spectacular cathedral): http://www.tourisme-paysdelaon.com/

Trains depart from Gare du Nord. Use http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ for train schedules and prices.

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Crécy-la-Chapelle (small charming renowned artists village):

cc-payscrecois.fr/Crecy-la-Chapelle,203.html

Trains depart from Gare de l'Est. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.

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Moret-sur-Loing (charming walled medieval village/artists village):

www.ville-moret-sur-loing.fr/rubrique.php…

msl-tourisme.fr/index.php/francais/accueil

Trains depart from Gare de Lyon. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5.

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Auvers-sur-Oise (Van Gogh and other impressionist art history):

auvers-sur-oise.com/heading/heading899.html

Trains depart from either Gare Saint-Lazare or Gare du Nord. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules and prices.

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Rueil-Malmaison (château of the Empress Josephine and a nice old downtown. On the RER A line and could be combined with a visit to Saint-Germain-en-Laye):

http://www.chateau-malmaison.fr/

http://www.rueil-tourisme.com/

Take RER A to La Défense and then bus 258 to Château de Malmaison. Also possible to take RER A to Rueil-Malmaison and then walk 1.5km to 2km to old downtown and then to château. Bus number 144 also available from RER station to get to downtown then walk to château. Use www.ratp.fr for transport info.

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Saint-Germain-en-Laye (former royal town with a wonderful château now home to the national museum of archaeology. On the RER A line and could be combined with a visit to Malmaison):

http://www.ot-saintgermainenlaye.fr/en/

saintgermainenlaye.fr/en/…

Take RER A from Paris to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Use www.ratp.fr for train info.

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Barbizon (famous artists village, can be combined with Fontainebleau):

http://www.barbizon-tourisme.fr/

Trains depart from Gare de Lyon and arrive in Fontainebleau-Avon. Use www.transilien.com for train schedules. Train ticket is Mobilis Pass zones 1-5. It is necessary to take a taxi from Fontainebleau to Barbizon.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: When using the http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ website here are a few tips. When entering Paris as your arrival or departure point you will notice a drop down menu appears when you start to type the word ''paris''. Select ''Paris (all stations – FR)'' and this will automatically bring up the correct train station in Paris for your journey. Be sure to uncheck the box marked ''Direct Trains'' to see all options.

If you are redirected to the RailEurope then try again and select ''Antarctic'' as your ticket collection country to avoid being redirected to the RailEurope website. The RailEurope website usually doesn't show all the trains and shows higher ticket prices. Be sure to also look at other ticket purchase options. If you are having troubles with the SNCF website you try using a new ticket selling website called www.capitainetrain.com. You can also use the German rail site www.bahn.de for schedules but it will not give train ticket prices.

These are the most popular day trips and all are worthwhile but there are many other less popular and equally worthy day trips. I could easily list a couple dozen more but only if what's on this list doesn't interest you. A good guide book for the Île-de-France region should give you more ideas.

You'll need to take a train from Paris to do these day trips. For info on trains in Paris and the nearby suburbs (métro and RER trains and those TER trains that operate within zone 5) use the website www.ratp.fr. Use the interactive map on this website to plan your trip: www.ratp.fr/plan-interactif/carteidf.php… Parts of this website are in French so you can use an English language companion site www.vianavigo.com. You can also use www.transilien.com for métro and RER trains and those TER trains that are part of the Transilien network. Some TER trains on the Transilien network go beyond zone zone 5. It's a personal choice as to whether you prefer using the RATP or Transilien website.

A great website to learn about the Paris métro/bus/RER network is www.parisbytrain.com.

For trains that go further beyond the Île-de-France and outside of the Transilien network use the website http://en.voyages-sncf.com/en/ A great website to learn about trains in France (and Europe) is www.seat61.com if you have any train questions/problems.

Paris and many of the places nearby in Île-de-France are divided into zones, numbered 1 through 5. Paris is in zone 1 and areas outside Paris are in zones 2 through 5. Some of the destinations I mentioned are in zone 5 (Provins, Fontainebleau, Moret-sur-Loing, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Crécy-la-Chapelle, Barbizon). For these journeys it will be more cost effective to buy a one day Mobilis pass for 15.65€ for zones 1 through 5. This will be cheaper than the point to point tickets round trip. Plus, this pass is good for unlimited travel on all public trains and buses for one day in zones 1-5. Buy it first thing in the morning before your first métro ride and it gets you to your train station, your round trip tickets, any buses you need to use at your destination and any traveling you'll do in Paris when you return. Before you use the ticket make sure to write your name and the date on the ticket. You can buy these passes from the ticket machines in métro/RER stations. The machines have an English language option. If so, look for the one day Mobilis pass option. When you get to the screen that lists your zones to choose from press zone 1 and then press zone 5. You can also buy them at any ticket counter. They are good for 60 days so you can buy it in advance if you want to be prepared. It's not valid until you write your name and date on it and validate the ticket on your first métro/RER trip or at the train station. If you buy the ticket at a main line train station before boarding a train be sure to stick it in the machine that validates tickets and it will punch your ticket.

Pantin
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2. Re: Day trips with a toddler in January

You might want to stay in places with asphalt. A stroller on cobblestones will annoy you and annoy the todder if he is not toddling.

Melbourne, Australia
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3. Re: Day trips with a toddler in January

Thank you very much for your extensive reply I will have a look at all the links and decide. Very true about the cobblestones... I'll look into it. Thank you!

Victoria, Canada
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4. Re: Day trips with a toddler in January

Yes another thing to keep in mind,, it may be cold and rainy,, slight chance of snow.. so don't choose daytrip destinations where you will be walking outside all day.. you will be cold wet and likely not too happy.

Personally not seeing the joy in daytripping with a toddler in the middle of winter.

Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: Day trips with a toddler in January

Thanks for your advice about the weather. My husband surprised us with a trip to Paris, so I didn't have much of a choice in the season unfortunately. Because we are travelling all the way from Australia, I thought it would be nice to see more of France.. But your advice is great I might stay away from day trips and save them for our next visit to Paris.

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6. Re: Day trips with a toddler in January

Chantilly has a wonderful horse and pony show that was much enjoyed by the children in the crowd on the day we went. I'm pretty sure that a 2 year old would find it a lot of fun (and it's not very long). The grounds are beautiful, as is the chateau and of course, a quick look at the art is great too. Anyway, there were lots of children there.

Victoria, Canada
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7. Re: Day trips with a toddler in January

I love Chantilly,, been there 4 times already,, but if weather is bad there is seriously nothing to do but enjoy inside the palace,,which houses the Conde Museum( incredible) .. but would be seriuosly boring for a two year old..

and they don't do horse shows all the time.. winter is very off season.

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8. Re: Day trips with a toddler in January

Good point, Joan. The Chateau is actually closed from Jan 6 onward (not just the horses; horses can still be seen up until Jan 5; the spectacle is only one day a week in December - so that won't help the OP).

Many of these places would be boring for a toddler in bad weather; at least there are some animals at Chantilly. I can't imagine taking a toddler to Versailles (endless looking at the backs of peoples' legs). A city with some walking room would be nice, but that depends on OP's reaction to strollers and cobblestones.

The Hameau/Garden part of Versailles might be fun (I don't know how much fun for a 2 year old, but most of them like being outdoors).

I also can't imagine 5 hours on a train (to Bruges or similar) in one day with a toddler (plus the obligatory waiting at the train track part - which brings time spent in trains/train stations to about 6 hours).

FM's options are all closer. And the descriptions make me want to go to all the ones I haven't seen already - which is most of them.

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9. Re: Day trips with a toddler in January

I suppose Disneyland it too obvious to suggest? Toddlers galore, 45 minutes out of town, no advance tickets needed.

los angeles
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10. Re: Day trips with a toddler in January

This is off the topic of day trips, but I just want to say that you are very lucky to have such an extended stay in Paris. With a toddler and with possibly challenging weather, I think the time span you have will allow to to see many things in Paris. You will have the freedom to move slowly (and you'll probably need to), and what someone else would feel pressed to see in 5 days, you will have 2 weeks to see. You can plan around the weather--when it's bad, that can be a museum day for you, and when it's decent, you can get outdoors.