Ile-de-France: Places to Explore


  • Auvers-sur-Oise

    The tranquil Oise River valley retains much of the charm that attracted Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Camille Corot, Charles-François Daubigny, and Berthe Morisot to Auvers-sur-Oise in the...

  • Barbizon

    On the western edge of the 62,000-acre Forest of Fontainebleau, the village of Barbizon retains its time-stained allure despite the intrusion of art galleries, souvenir shops, and busloads of...

  • Chantilly

    Celebrated for lace, cream, and the most beautiful medieval manuscript in the world—Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry—romantic Chantilly has a host of other attractions. Most notable among...

  • Chartres

    If Versailles is the climax of French secular architecture, Chartres is its religious apogee. All the descriptive prose and poetry that have been lavished on this supreme cathedral can only begin...

  • Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

    A manifesto for French 17th-century splendor, the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte was built between 1656 and 1661 by finance minister Nicolas Fouquet. The construction program was monstrous. Entire...

  • Compiègne

    This bustling town of some 40,000 people sits at the northern limit of the Forêt de Compiègne (Compiègne Forest). The former royal hunting lodge here enjoyed its heyday in the mid-19th century...

  • Courances

    Set within one of the most lavish water gardens in Europe, the Château de Courances is a byword for beauty and style.

  • Dampierre

    The unspoiled village of Dampierre is adorned with one of the most elegant family seats in the Ile-de-France.

  • Disneyland Paris

    Disneyland Paris is probably not what you've traveled to France for. But if you have a child in tow, the promise of a day with Mickey might get you through an afternoon at Versailles or...

  • Fontainebleau

    Like Chambord in the Loire Valley or Compiègne to the north, Fontainebleau was a favorite spot for royal hunting parties long before the construction of one of France's grandest residences....

  • Giverny

    The small village of Giverny (pronounced jee-vair-knee), just beyond the Epte River, which marks the boundary of the Ile-de-France, has become a place of pilgrimage for art lovers. It was here...

  • L'Isle-Adam

    Despite its actual proximity, this exclusive residential enclave feels far removed from Paris. The town has a sandy beach along one stretch of the River Oise (via rue de Beaumont), a curious...

  • Maintenon

    The beautiful Château de Maintenon was the home of Louis XIV's unacknowledged second wife. Its splendid Le Nôtre-designed gardens and graceful aqueduct are as pretty as a picture.

  • Pierrefonds

    Dominating the attractive lakeside village of Pierrefonds, a former spa resort, is its immense ersatz medieval castle.

  • Pontoise

    A pleasant old town on the banks of the Oise, Pontoise is famous for its link with the Impressionists.

  • Rambouillet

    Haughty Rambouillet, once favored by kings and dukes, is now home to affluent gentry and, occasionally, the French president.

  • Rueil-Malmaison

    Rueil-Malmaison is a slightly dreary western suburb of Paris, but the memory of Napoléon and Joséphine still haunts its neoclassical château.

  • Senlis

    Senlis is an exceptionally well-preserved medieval town with a crooked maze of streets dominated by the svelte, soaring spire of its Gothic cathedral. For a glimpse into the more distant past, be...

  • St-Germain-en-Laye

  • Thoiry

    Thoiry is most famous for its 16th-century château, with beautiful gardens, a wild-animal preserve, and a gastronomy museum. The village makes an excellent day trip from Paris, especially if...

  • Vernon

    The Vieille Ville of Vernon, on the Seine, has a medieval church, which Monet painted from across the river, and several fine timber-frame houses (the most impressive, on rue Carnot, houses the...

  • Versailles

    It's hard to tell which is larger at Château de Versailles —the world-famous château that housed Louis XIV and 20,000 of his courtiers, or the mass of tour buses and visitors standing in front...


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