What to see in France

Holidays in Ile-de-France, a change of scenery on a campsite near you

Base de loisirs de Jablinnes en Seine-et-Marne
Base de loisirs de Jablinnes en Seine-et-Marne

After more than two months cooped up at home, now that the warm weather is here, we are all dreaming of a holiday and we especially want to breathe the fresh air while many of us feel a lack of physical activity. It is easy to meet this demand for escape, for a weekend with family or friends, or for a longer stay, just a few kilometres from your home. Hiking, swimming, playing, relaxing and going to the beach are all possible in Ile-de-France!

Exciting hikes in the Ile de France...

In the Yvelines department first of all, and more precisely between Chevreuse and Port-Royal in the Haute Vallée de Chevreuse park, the Petite Vallée Champêtre is a hike that will take you through the heart of the Pommeret valley. Between two and four hours of walking, you will explore rolling fields, orchards, farms and hamlets.

Walking in the forest in Ile-de-France
Walking in the forest in Ile-de-France© iStock

Les Châteaux de la Vallée de Chevreuse is a mountain bike ride with three beautiful climbs and two steep descents. Here you will discover castles and their parks standing at the bottom of the valley or on ridges.

The Etang de la Tour is a two-hour walking tour, located in the heart of the Rambouillet forest. Here you will understand the ecological richness of this characteristic place. You will have the freedom to picnic by the pond and to visit the charming village of Vieille-Eglise-en-Yvelines. The level of hiking here is rated as easy. The Huttopia Rambouillet campsite, seven kilometres away, will allow you to enjoy the area.

 

Also in the Haute Vallée de Chevreuse park, the Coteaux de l'Yvette is a walk lasting about two hours, part of which is very uneven. Thanks to the blue and white signposting you can walk without getting lost and without a map. At each start a signpost explains the route. A nice way to explore the rural landscapes of the Vallée de Chevreuse where many artists have found inspiration.

 

On the banks of the Marne this time, in the department of Val de Marne, between Joinville-le-Pont and Nogent-sur-Marne, a circuit that is a change of scenery, even in time, since it has a 19th century "guinguette" atmosphere. A quiet path of only three kilometres that invites you to contemplate the beautiful landscapes it offers. A calm and serene walk a few kilometres from Paris where the only sounds are those of the lapping of the water and the wind in the trees... In short, a relaxing walk!

Beach of the Marne in Ile-de-France
Beach of the Marne in Ile-de-France© Istock

From Paris, you can also follow another route, but a longer one, by stopping at the RER station of Saint-Maur-Créteil, a loop of 12 kilometres, that is to say three hours of walking if you decide not to stop to admire the landscape or to enjoy the "guinguettes" (small restaurants) on the barges, it could be longer!

 

Finally, it was difficult to talk about places to discover in the Ile-de-France without mentioning Vétheuil, the only commune in the region classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Located in the Val-d'Oise department, Vétheuil is part of the Vexin regional nature park. It is also where Monet settled to paint his landscapes and thus give the village a real tourist reputation.

The proposed circuit follows the GR 2 hiking trail and offers a bird's eye view of the river and its valley. Several signs provide information on the flora and fauna of the region along the way. As you go deeper into the vegetation, you can see the rocky peaks above the valley and the Seine below. Further on, you come to the château des comtes de la Rochefoucauld, a listed historic monument, as well as the vegetable garden, which has been awarded the Jardin Remarquable label.

 

In the field of art, Auvers-sur-Oise is famous for impressionist painters such as Paul Cézanne, Camille Pissarro and Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh came here in search of inspiration and in the last years of his life painted 70 of his paintings. Some of his works can be seen in the Daubigny Museum.

... and the best leisure facilities in the region

If you want to feel like you're on holiday just a few kilometres from home, you need water, a beach and activities for those who don't like to laze around. The leisure centres combine all these elements at a lower cost! For example, the one at Jablines-Annet in Seine-et-Marne is the largest artificial beach in France. Covering more than 500 hectares, it welcomes you, your friends and your children. Swimming is supervised and water skiing is available. The International campsite of Jablines*** is located 650 metres from the leisure centre and will welcome you to enjoy your day on the site.

Jablinnes leisure centre in Seine-et-Marne
Jablinnes leisure centre in Seine-et-Marne© iStock

Still in Seine-et-Marne, the Buthiers leisure centre does not offer a beach but a swimming complex with a 1400 m2 swimming pool, 7 water slides, as well as a 600 m2 children's area with water games. You will also enjoy the largest slide simulator in France, an adventure course, a multi-sports area, mountain biking, laser games and archery. We recommend the Ile de Boulancourt*** campsite which will welcome you for a weekend, a night or a stay as it is located 5 kilometres from the leisure centre.

 

In Essonne, the Port aux Cerises leisure centre is highly rated. Located in the commune of Draveil, just 20 minutes from Paris, it offers all the facilities to relax and have fun. The stadiums and the aquatic centre will remain closed for the summer of 2020. You will find a campsite in the commune of Draveil.

 

Also in Essonne, the Etampes leisure island offers a 1750 m2 swimming area, with water games, slides and a 200 m2 paddling pool as well as a grassy beach open in July and August. There is also a 6-hectare lake for pedal boats and canoes. There is a playground for children, a multi-sports area, a fishing area and a wilderness area with free-roaming Camargue horses. We recommend the Paris Sud*** campsite in Saint-Chéron (20 km) to extend the pleasure of your holiday and to make your children happy.

 

Located in Moisson in the Yvelines, the Loops of the Seine leisure centre invites you to swim in the lake and to enjoy its sandy beach. There is a children's playground, an Accrobranche course, a mini-golf course and mini climbing rocks. You are also welcome to fish for carp or play tennis. Camping des Groux is located 3 kilometres south of the leisure centre.

 

Finally, the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines leisure centre covers 600 m2 around the largest lake in the Île-de-France region. It is also the only leisure centre to have a national nature reserve classified as Natura 2000. This does not prevent it from also having a wave pool. A playground and relaxation areas with barbecue are available.

When holidays mean camping

Let's be honest, to really feel like you're on holiday when you go near home, and near Paris, all the conditions have to be met, and one of the most important is the accommodation. We all agree that camping in the Ile-de-France is probably the accommodation that best evokes holidays. Often less expensive than a hotel, it provides all the comforts today and moreover it pleases the children because they know, especially if they already know, that camping is not just a place where you sleep, but first of all a place where you have fun!

Camping in Ile-de-France, happy children
Camping in Ile-de-France, happy children© IStock

 

 

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