Places to stay

Accommodation outside of Paris

Paris is undoubtedly beautiful, but there's some lesser-known places for you to explore just outside the city.

Drive to Paris and stay in the ‘burbs

A city break in Paris can be greener than you’d think. If you drive to Paris via Eurotunnel Le Shuttle and stay on the outskirts, not only will your carbon footprint be considerably lower than it would if you flew, but it also means you can stay in a gorgeous leafy suburb, an excellent base to escape to after a busy day in the hustle and bustle. 

We’ve picked four places to choose from: one north, one south, one west and one east of the French capital. All four are within 50K of the centre of Paris and they’re all on an accessible train line into town. We’ve tried to accommodate for a mix of budget, location, and age group in our selections. Is the car packed? Let’s go!

Check out our guide to driving to Paris here.

East: Les Villages Nature Paris

If sustainable travel is high on your list of priorities – and if you don’t mind a break with a bit of a split personality - this is the perfect destination for you. Les Villages Nature Paris (LVNP) is a multi-award-winning eco-resort that opened in 2017 and is a great place for families to have a fresh-air week away while also squeezing in a couple of days in the big smoke.

Blue sky and a panoramic aerial view of a large lake surrounded by houses and in the foreground an empty pool complex

A green break in Paris

At its core is the environment: from the huge lake and abundant wild planting, the wooded areas and honey-producing beehives, to the living-wall disguised buildings, you’re surrounded by - and encouraged to get out in - nature. Cars are a no-no; instead, hire bikes or Segway’s to get around and hoik your kit to and from the huge swimming pool complex that is heated to 30-degrees all year round by geothermal energy. There is an impressive selection of slides and a long lazy river, inside-outside pools to enjoy. 

LVNP may be owned by Center Parcs, but traditional sports are replaced by activities that are designed to encourage time spent in nature like accrobranching (tree-top thrills), pedalo, stand-up paddleboarding, farm-based and culinary workshops and more.

Accommodation ranges from cottages in the woods to apartments and luxury lakeside lodges and, although they’re all self catering, there’s also a good selection of restaurants on site (try Cépages for excellent platters and wine, Vapiano for crowd-pleasing Italian food and Chez Meunier for your pain and pastries). On paperless check-in, everyone gets a dinky wristband which is linked via an app to their credit card for fuss-free spending.

Stay next door to Disneyland Paris

LVNP is 32K from Paris and 6K from Disneyland Paris and Marne-La-Vallée-Chessy train station, the first stop on the RER A line into Paris. This means you can get into the centre in about 35 minutes and for just 17€ return, and it also means you’re tantalisingly close to Disney should the excitements of the eco-resort and the pull of Paris not be enough for you. Honestly, on a warm sunny day, it’s a little slice of summer holiday heaven just outside Paris. What’s not to love?

North: Chantilly

Chantilly, although the furthest from Paris of our four picks (50K), is a great option because It’s on the northern fringe so is only a 2.5-hour drive from the tunnel.

Art, history and horse racing in Chantilly

It’s also a beautiful location for a few days break; Chantilly itself has enough to occupy a mini-breaker, with its Versailles-rivalling chateau, its horse-racing heritage, its eponymous and exquisite edible (how can just adding vanilla sugar make a cream so amazing?), loads of boutiques (put Rue-du-Connétable in Google Maps and GO!) and restaurants, and that’s before you consider the short 30-minute train journey into Gare du Nord.

The Chantilly estate boasts over 800 masterpieces in the Condé collection – reputed to be the largest in France outside the Louvre – as well as a horse museum and a 17th century garden designed by André Le Nôtre. It’s one of the best examples of French formal garden style and if Versailles is a few miles too far for a long weekend, you won’t be compromising anything if you opt for Chantilly instead.

a pale-stone palatial arch and low building alongside, with horse racing track in the foreground

This is our closest pick – at just 10K from the centre of Paris - but it’s still just outside the Péripherique which makes access by car much simpler (read our guide to driving in Paris here) and it’s just 25 minutes on the RER B line to Châtelet-les Halles.

The best of French breakfasts

Our top tip for accommodation is Hotel-Le-Chantilly, a small and elegant detached and shuttered maison which is central (about 20 minutes’ walk from the train station). It does what the French do so well: drooly décor, cool and comfort in equal measures, and unforgettable petit-dej. Imagine a dining table laden with the biggest selection of artisan jams, homemade yoghurts, pastries, cakes, charcuterie and cheese you’ve ever seen…

West: Versailles

Who’d have thought you could do a camping trip to Paris? Well, it’s surprisingly easy. Huttopia is a chain of natural-vibe campsites dotted around France. This one sits, rather unbelievably, just a few minutes’ walk from the famous Palace of Versailles, an iconic emblem of the French Revolution and fascinating place to visit. 

It’s also just 25K from the centre of Paris. Kilometres are by-the-by when you have a speedy overground train around the corner from the campsite; just board the RER C and you’ll be at the Eiffel Tower in just 20 minutes.

Looking down over Versailles’s elegant gardens designed in the French tradition and beyond to a lake

A campsite near Paris

Staying here is a great family option and you can really mix up a regular camping holiday – think wood-fired pizzas from the on-site takeaway, a heated pool, wooded play areas and fresh pastries from the shop – with an exciting trip or two into the city of light.

If you bring your own tent, camper, or motorhome, it’s an option that is truly kind to both wallet and world, but if you’re not kitted out, Huttopia offers a range of options from safari tent to cabins to chalets; they all blend in with the leafy surroundings and offer a different level of comfort and cost depending on which you choose.

South: Sceaux

This is our closest pick – at just 10K from the centre of Paris - but it’s still just outside the Péripherique which makes access by car much simpler (read our guide to driving in Paris here) and it’s just 25 minutes on the RER B line to Châtelet-les Halles.

Two adults, with their backs to the camera, walk alongside two young children riding small ponies.

Stay south of Paris

This area seems conducive to a very restorative couples’ break; it offers art and nature in equal abundance with the nearby Chateau of Sceaux and its recently restored park. It’s also close to an arboretum in La Vallée aux Loups and neighbour’s writer Chateaubriand’s house. 

In fact, if literature is your thing, you’ll love our accommodation pick. Le Clos des Princes is a peaceful and romantic old house and garden which used to be home to poet, philosopher, member of the French Academy and winner of the first Nobel Prize for Literature, Sully-Prudhomme at the turn of the 20th century. The current owners are wonderful hosts who are dedicated to keeping the spirit of the poet alive in the house.

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About the Author

I am a journalist and editor, covering a wide range of lifestyle and travel subjects but always returning to my first love, France. Born unfortunately to non-French parents, I have spent my life trying to make up for it by spending as much time as I can in France or writing about it, studying the language, tirelessly dragging my children round all six sides of l'Hexagone, and endlessly chuntering to my husband about moving there.

To read more from Rachel, click here.

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