5 Things to Know for Your Visit to Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge is sight of one of the most historic battles of World War One. Canadian forces and German forces fought each other at Vimy Ridge. There were over 10,000 casualties between the two forces.

The Canadian forces gained control of Vimy Ridge after four days of battle. Germany didn’t attempt to regain control of Vimy, and the battle of Vimy Ridge is cited as the beginning of the end of WWI.

You can easily visit Vimy Ridge as a day trip from Paris, so it is easily accessible and doesn’t require you to relocate to a different French city to visit the sight.

It is an easy day trip, but there are a number of things you should know, so you are able to plan a well-organized trip and know what to expect before getting to Vimy Ridge.

1. You Will Have to Take a Taxi to and from Vimy Ridge

You will have to take a taxi from the Arras train station to the Vimy Ridge battle sight and back again. There is no public transportation that goes from the train station to the battle sight.

This is unfortunate because there are enough tourists that visit Vimy Ridge that it would be beneficial to both the bus company and the tourists to have a bus run between the two locations.

That, however, isn’t a reality at the moment, so taking a taxi is your only option if you don’t have a car.

The taxi ride costs approximately €20 each way, so it is quite affordable if you have multiple people taking the same taxi. There are always taxis outside the train station, so you can easily pick one up when you get off the train.

Your taxi driver will probably give you their card to call them when you are ready to return to the train station. The employees at Vimy Ridge are more than happy to call you a taxi when you are ready to return to the station.

You can either have them call the same taxi driver who drove you to the battle sight, or they can call one of the other taxi drivers in the area. They have a huge stack of taxi driver cards they can use to make sure you get a taxi back to town as soon as possible.

It is a bit of an inconvenience to have to take a taxi to Vimy Ridge rather than public transportation, but it really isn’t too much of a hardship. Many tourists do this everyday, so it is pretty standard practice.

Vimy Ridge Arras France 5 Things to Know for Your Trip to Vimy Ridge

2. It is Free to Visit Vimy Ridge

You don’t have to pay an admission fee to visit Vimy Ridge. It is completely free to tour the sight. They do accept donations, but it is not necessary.

You are able to tour the war trenches, the museum, and the war monument all for free. This makes up for having to spend money on a taxi to get there!

You have access to a lot of information about this historic sight, so there could easily be an admission fee. Your donations go a long way in helping operate Vimy Ridge, so you should consider donating a few Euros if you have the means to.

Vimy Ridge Arras France 5 Things to Know for Your Trip to Vimy Ridge

3. All the Employees are Canadian University Students

Vimy Ridge is operated by the Canadian War Museum. The land the battle sight is on was gifted to the Canadian government, and it was turned into a memorial sight.

All of the employees are Canadian university students. They take a leave from university to work a four month shift at Vimy Ridge. The selection process is intense, and there is a lot of competition for the jobs.

All of the guides are bilingual. They are required to be fluent in both English and French, so they can easily answer any questions tourists and locals have. They are highly knowledgeable on WWI and all of the political and military aspects of the war.

The students love engaging with guests, so you should ask them any questions you have! It is amazing how much they know. They also offer a Canadian perspective on the issues, so it is a perspective you don’t often get to hear unless you’re a Canadian or visit Canada.

Even though the students are there to teach you about the battle, you should ask them about their professional and academic lives as well. They are always incredibly accomplished and inspiring young adults.

Vimy Ridge Arras France 5 Things to Know for Your Trip to Vimy Ridge

4. There is a Free Guided Tour

The highlight of your trip to Vimy Ridge will be the guided tour. You tour the trenches and the underground tunnel where Canadian forces stood silently for 24 hours before the battle began.

You can’t access these areas on your own, so you will have to take the tour to see them. The tour is offered in both English and French. The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes.

You can ask an employee where the tour starts. There is a limited number of people allowed on each tour for safety reasons, so you will want to queue up a few minutes before the tour begins on busy days.

You are given a lot of information on this short tour. The tour guides do an incredible job of explaining the importance of the battle and what lead up to it. They also explain the hardships the soldiers faced and why WWI was unlike any other war.

You should not miss taking the tour- especially because it is free!

Vimy Ridge Arras France 5 Things to Know for Your Trip to Vimy Ridge

5. Visit Arras if You Have Time to Spare

Arras is a beautiful city. It has a gorgeous town square. There are a lot of restaurants around the square, so it is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before you go back to Paris. There is outdoor seating in the spring and summer, which makes it even more enjoyable.

Arras is a small town. You can easily walk around the centre of it in an hour or two. It is easy to visit the important parts of the town if you have a couple of hours to spare before your train leaves.

You can visit a church, the main shopping street, and the town square in a fairly short amount of time. The town is small, so you can easily walk everywhere including to the train station.

Arras France

Conclusion

Vimy Ridge is the perfect day trip from Paris for people who love history. You get to tour an actual battlefield while learning about its history. You learn about what happened while standing where it happened, so it is a very unique experience.

Vimy Ridge is an important part of history. The Canadian government has worked hard at creating a sight that tourists are able to visit to learn about WWI. It is well managed and makes for an educational experience. Europe is filled with history, but there aren’t too many places where you can stand in a battlefield.

You won’t regret visiting Vimy Ridge. You should definitely consider it as a day trip if you have extra time in Paris.

5 Amazing Day Trips from Paris

Paris is normally near the top of everybody’s itinerary for their first trip to Europe. While Paris as a city is a great place to visit, there are so many sights just outside the city that are worth visiting as well. And, well, who wouldn’t love to take a couple day trips from Paris? The best thing about all of these day trips is that they don’t require lots of travel time, so you can spend most of your day exploring rather than being on a train.

Spending a few extra days in the city and taking day trips from Paris allows you to see a number of important and iconic French landmarks that you would not get to see if you stayed in Paris the entire time. Day trips from Paris also allow you to get away from a cosmopolitan city and see some smaller, charming towns.

Why Take a Day Trip from Paris?

Paris is quite different from the rest of France. It has a different vibe and energy to it. I always find Paris to be fast-paced while other parts of France are very relaxed and idyllic.

Taking a couple of day trips from Paris will allow you to get a better sense of France as a country. When you only visit one city in a country, you only get a feel for the single city rather than the entire country.

France is an amazing country that deserves to be explored. Even somewhere as close as 90 minutes from Paris has a completely different atmosphere than Paris.

Taking day trips from Paris allow you to explore more of France without having to travel from one location to the next and pack and unpack your luggage.

Day trips give you the opportunity to see what else France has to offer with a low level of commitment. If you don’t like a place, you’re back in Paris that evening and don’t have to worry about staying in a city you don’t care for or changing your plans to leave early.

I always advocate for taking day trip if you’re only visiting one city in a country, and Paris has some of the best day trips to offer. There are a wide variety of choices, so people with varying interests can find something that appeals to them.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of day trips from Paris; however, these are my 5 favourites. They are all close to Paris and easy to get to. They are perfect for people visiting Paris for the first time and for veteran Paris travellers.

Now to get down to business. Here are the 5 best day trips from Paris!

1. Giverny

The main thing to do in Giverny is visit Claude Monet’s gardens. The gardens are breathtaking. Since they are so breathtaking, they are also quite popular even though other travel sites say Giverny is a “hidden gem”. While it may be a bit off the beaten track, it is still popular enough that you should try to be at the gardens right when they open.

Getting There

It is simple to get to Giverny from central Paris. The train departs from Saint-Lazare Paris train station. You will need to buy a ticket to Vernon-Giverny.

The train only takes 45 minutes, so it makes for a great day trip from Paris for people who want to spend the least amount of time travelling and a long time exploring the destination.

Once you arrive at the Vernon-Giverny station, you will have to take the shuttle bus the gardens. Because the gardens can get busy, you should try to schedule your train trip, so you are in Giverny in time to take the first shuttle that departs at 9:15am.

Admission

Admission to Giverny is shockingly cheap. At the time of writing, the most expensive ticket is €8! For the most up-to-date information on ticket prices, please consult the Giverny website.

Monet’s gardens are only open from mid-March to November, so be sure to double check that the sight is open when you’re visiting.

General Information

Giverny has more to offer than the two gardens and Monet’s house (although that would be more than enough to make a great day trip)! When you’re there, be sure to explore the surrounding village a little bit. There are a number of boutique stores and some amazing restaurants that serve beautiful french wine (Sancerre anyone?).

Claude Monet's Gardens Giverny France Five Day Trips from Paris

2. Château de Fontainebleau

Château de Fontainebleau is one of Napoleon’s lesser known palaces. However, this does not mean it is not worth a visit. I would even dare to say it is more worthy of a visit than the Palace of Versailles.

The rooms are magnificent, and the palace is home to some fascinating history. There is an audio guide included in the price of admission. You’ll want to use it because it is full of information that enhances your visit.

I know audioguides are a little gross, but if you have a wet wipe in your purse, you can wipe it down and be free of germs!

Getting There

Château de Fontainebleau is just as easy to get to as Giverny. You will need to take a train from Paris-Gare de Lyon to Fontainebleau-Avon. The train ride is about 40 minutes, so it is another perfect day trip from Paris for people looking to get the most out of their time.

After getting off the train, you will need to take a city bus to the château. Take the Ligne 1 bus in the direction of Les Lilas. You will get off at the stop called Château Fontainebleau.

That may sound complex for a new traveller, but I ensure you that it is incredibly easy. Fontainebleau-Avon is a small train station, so you will be able to see the bus stop from the train station. And you’ll know when to get off the bus because there is a sound system that announces the next stop. Simply listen for the Château Fontainebleau stop and exit the bus.

If you do feel a bit nervous about when to get off, watch the other tourists and exit when they leave, or ask the bus driver when you get on the bus when exactly you should get off.

Admission

Tickets range from €10 to €12 (at the time of writing) depending on whether you are eligible for a reduce fare or not. It is reasonably priced for travellers on a budget, which makes it a great choice for a day trip from Paris for budget travellers. For the most recent ticket prices, please refer to the Château de Fontainebleau website.

General Information

Château de Fontainebleau is pretty much in the centre of town, so if you have some spare time, be sure to wander through the town to get a sense of the local scene. The food options at the château are limited; however, they have a number of food trucks just outside the gardens in the summer that serve up some delicious food.

Chateau de Fontainebleau Paris France

3. Disneyland Paris

This is my favourite day trip from Paris because I am a Disney junkie. However, it is fun for everybody no matter whether you are a Disney fanatic or not! I mean who doesn’t love visiting a new theme park and indulging on all the delicious food? Plus Disneyland Paris has a couple of attractions that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Disneyland Paris is a beautifully designed theme park. It is full of colour and detailed buildings. There is a lot to see at Disneyland Paris, so you could easily spend 2 days in the park. But for moderate Disney fans, Disneyland Paris can be done in a day trip.

Getting There

Getting to Disneyland Paris requires riding the RER A to the end of the line and getting off at Gare de Marne la Vallée Chessy.

Depending on what part of Paris you’re staying in, this can take anywhere from 10 minutes if you’re staying on the outskirts of Paris near the park of 90 minutes if you’re staying in the heart of Paris.

Admission

Not surprisingly, admission to Disneyland Paris is a bit pricey. The average cost of a one day ticket to both parks for an adult ranges from €76 to €107 depending on what day you go. Prices vary depending on whether it is a busy time in the parks or not so be sure to refer to the Disneyland Paris website for the most current ticketing information.

You should seriously consider getting a ticket that allows you entry into both parks. They are extremely close together, and you can easily walk from one to the other in a matter of minutes.

Each of the parks has something unique to see and do. It would be a shame to go all the way to Paris and only go to one of the parks because you didn’t want to spend the extra money to be allowed entry into both.

That being said, if you only buy a single-park ticket, go to Disneyland Paris. It has a lot more attractions, a parade and nighttime show, and all the classic sights and sounds. You will get more bang for your buck if you go to Disneyland rather than the Studios park.

General Information

If you’re going to Disneyland Paris (and you should), be sure to get to the parks when they open to avoid the mid-day crowds. Getting there early will help you maximize your time and money. You should also make sure to use fast passes to further maximize your time. There is no sense waiting in a long line if you don’t have to!

Pro tip: Be sure to go under the castle. You won’t want to miss it.

Disneyland Paris Castle

4. Vimy Ridge

Vimy Ridge is a true historical sight. The Battle of Vimy ridge was a turning point in World War One. To read more about it, visit The Battle of Vimy Ridge website. As a Canadian, visiting Vimy Ridge was an emotional experience, and I believe it is important to understand history in order to better understand the current world order and prevent future conflicts from starting.

Getting There

Not to dissuade you from visiting, but Vimy Ridge is the most difficult sight on this list to get to. You have to take a train from Paris Gare de Nord to Arras. The train ride is approximately 2 hours. After arriving in Arras, you will need to take a taxi to Vimy Ridge. The taxi costs approximately €20 one way.

It is unfortunate that there is not a bus that can take you from Arras to Vimy Ridge because that would be far more economical, and there are normally enough tourists that it would most likely be profitable to run.

In any event, getting to Vimy Ridge is a tad inconvenient, but it is worth the trip if you have any interest in history or WWI.

Admission

Vimy Ridge offers free admission as well as a free guided tour to visitors. Donations are optional but in no way required.

General Information

Be sure to chat with the guides and staff members during your visit. They are all young Canadians who are incredibly knowledgable and really help deepen your understanding of the events that took place during the Battle.

This is by far the most emotional day trip from Paris on this list, but it is an important one to do if you have the time. Getting there is a time commitment, but it is worth it to learn about the history of the battle field. You always hear about how close the trenches were in WWI but to see them is an unreal experience.

Vimy Ridge Arras France 5 Things to Know for Your Trip to Vimy Ridge

5. Palace of Versailles

How could I have a list of day trips from Paris and not include the most well know? If you’ve done any research on Paris, you most likely know that Versailles is the most popular day trip from Paris. It is an incredible palace, but I think the gardens are the real showstopper.

Getting There

Getting to the Palace of Versailles from Paris is easy. You take the RER C to Versailles-Château/Rive Gauche then walk for a couple of blocks before you get to the palace gates. You won’t get lost walking to the palace because there will be throngs of other tourists you can follow as well as signs and maps along the walking route.

The train ride takes approximately 1 hour from central Paris.

Admission

There are many different types of tickets that are offered at the Palace of Versailles. I recommend the one day passport for €20. It gives you access to the palace, the gardens, and temporary exhibits. To view all the ticket options, visit the Palace of Versailles website.

The palace gets extremely busy, so I would highly recommend you purchase your ticket online ahead of time to avoid standing in line to buy a ticket upon arriving at the palace.

General Information

The gardens open an hour before the palace, so if you’re wanting to avoid as much of the crowds as possible, you may want to consider getting to the gardens when they open in the morning, exploring them, then entering the palace as soon as it opens.

Versailles Palace

Transportation Tips and Tricks

Buy Your Return Ticket Ahead of Time

If you are taking day trips from Paris that requires riding the RER or the underground train system, you can purchase your return ticket ahead of time. This saves you time at the end of the day when you’re tired. You can simply pull out your ticket, validate it, and get on the train.

You can purchase your return tickets at the automated machine. Simply change the departure and return destinations. As long as you don’t validate it, you are good to use that ticket whenever you want.

You are also able to purchase your return ticket from a ticket booth with an employee. Tell them that you want a return ticket as well, and they will sell you on.

Validate Your Ticket

If you are taking the national train, you need to validate your ticket before you board. There will be a yellow box as you enter the platform. Simply stick the end of your ticket in there, and you’re officially validated.

If you’re not sure what to do, either watch the locals and follow their lead or ask an employee how to do it. It is an easy process, so you shouldn’t have any trouble.

Printing Tickets

You have to print physical paper tickets if you purchase tickets online. This is easy to do if you’ve planned your trip and booked your tickets before you leave. All you need to do is print the tickets that are sent to your email and bring them to the train station with you.

It gets difficult/annoying when you’re like me and plan things last minute.

If you’re staying at hotel, you can ask the front desk to print your tickets for you. They may charge you a small fee, but it will be worth it to have your tickets.

If you’re staying at an Air B&B, you have two options:

1. Print Your Tickets at a Cyber Cafe

This option will require you to find a cyber cafe in the neighbourhood where you are staying then print your tickets from there.

I have had issues when I have tried to do this. My email security did not like that I was using a public computer, so it sent me a validation code via text message. The validation code, however, did not show up because I had my phone data off. I had to turn my data on, receive the code, then input it. It was a very annoying process.

Cyber cafes are inexpensive and won’t cost you more than a couple of euros to use the computer and print your tickets.

This isn’t an ideal option, but it works if you’re in a pinch and need your ticket.

2. Buy Your Tickets at the Train Station

This is another mildly annoying option, but it is what I prefer to do.

You have to purchase the train ticket from the station that you are leaving from. In order to do this, you, obviously, have to find your way to the train station. This is annoying if you’re not planning on doing anything in the neighbourhood the train station is in, and it can take away some of your sightseeing time in Paris.

You are able to buy the tickets at an automated SNCF ticket machine. These are different from the ordinary ticket machines that you buy metro tickets at. You will be able to tell the SNCF machines apart because they will be in an area by themselves away from the metro ticket machines and be purple on the side.

Conclusion

You should try to make time in your itinerary to take a couple of day trips from Paris. There are many day trips from Paris that are easy to get to, inexpensive, and filled with cultural and historical information.

As previously stated, you will be able to learn so much more about France by taking a few day trips from Paris. They are a great way to save time and the hassle of packing and checking into a new hotel.

All of the day trips from Paris on this list are designed to be done in one day without having to get up too early or get home too late.

They are perfect for people travelling with children or solo travellers because they give you the opportunity to see a lot without having to burn the candle at both ends.

There are plenty of other day trips from Paris you could go on, but they often have longer transportation times or are more difficult to get to. Some require renting a car or going on an organized tour while others require you to spend so long on a train that you only have a few hours at your destination.

I love these 5 day trips from Paris because they really do allow you to see a lot without spending too much time in transit. To me, that is the perfect combination for a day trip.