Heading to Alsace?
Our stopover suggestion: the ramparts of Provins
Provins – once the capital of the Counts of Champagne, and home to a famed trade fair in the Middle Ages – is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. This beautiful medieval town in the Seine-et-Marne départment is surrounded by well-preserved defensive walls 1,200 m2 in length. Once you have entered through the Saint-Jean gateway, you can walk along the ramparts and survey the town’s impressive architectural heritage. Visitors are allowed into the Tour César, a hilltop keep offering spectacular views over the medieval rooftops of Provins. A visit to the Musée de Provins housed within the Maison Romane, one of the town’s oldest civil buildings, provides an opportunity to learn about the history of Provins and its environs. You can browse a selection of archaeological, religious and art treasures dating from prehistoric times to the 19th century in this charming museum. Whether you’re travelling with family or with friends, Provins is the obvious choice for a stop on your way to eastern France.
More information on the website of the Provins tourist office
Heading to south west France?
Our stopover suggestion: La Forêt de Rambouillet
Located merely 60 kilometres from the capital, the magnificent Rambouillet National Forest attracts visitors from all over France with its wealth of hiking trails and extraordinary diversity of fauna and flora. Its 14,000-hectare expanse is managed by the National Forests Office, which preserves and sustainably manages the unique environment of the forest to ensure people have an enjoyable visit in harmony with their natural surroundings. Criss-crossed by 92 km of hiking trails and 60 km of cycle trails, the forest draws families, groups of friends, sport lovers, photographers and cyclists.
Espace Rambouillet, a wildlife haven deep inside the forest, is a popular day out for families and groups of friends. Red deer, roe deer, fallow deer and wild boar can be observed here, living free in their natural environment. An instructive half-day visit with a guide is available on request.
More information on the website of the Rambouillet tourist office
Heading to Normandy?
Our stopover suggestion: The Yvelines - Impressionist country
Walking four trails in the footsteps of the Impressionists, amid the landscapes depicted in the late-19th century paintings of Renoir, Sisley, Monet and Pissarro, is an experience that blurs the line between fantasy and reality. Each of the 3-to-5km long trails is devoted to one of the four painters. With only a slight elevation gain, they are suitable for people of all abilities. Bougival, Carrières-sur-Seine, Louveciennes, Rueil-Malmaison and Saint-Germain-en-Laye are among the towns that inspired these world-famous painters. The routes meander through picturesque countryside reminiscent of Monet’s garden in Giverny. The Île des Impressionnistes (Island of the Impressionists) is the perfect cultural outing with the kids. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through this island on the Seine, with flowers creating a riot of colour everywhere you look and magnificent 19th-century villas. The Musée de la Grenouillère along the Monet trail provides insights into the beginnings of Impressionism and retraces the lives of the painters in its wonderful permanent collection.
More information on the website of the Yvelines tourist office
Heading to Picardy ?
Our stopover suggestion: Enghien-les-Bains
In 1823, King Louis XVIII was cured of a leg ulcer after taking the waters in Enghien-les-Bains. As a result, it became a spa town much frequented by high society of the time. These days the town with gracious 19th-century architecture is a hub for digital art, which can be admired at the exhibitions hosted by the Centre des Arts. Enghien-les-Bains is a relaxing day out: enjoy a bathe in the thermal waters of the historic Spa Diane Barrière followed by a stroll around the lake along a 3-km footpath. The lake’s waters reflect the huge cocoon-shaped glass building and belle époque façade of the Casino Barrière, a must-do for gambling enthusiasts as well as architecture lovers.
More information on the website of the Val d’Oise tourist office
Heading to Burgundy?
Our stopover suggestion: Fontainebleau
Besides its famous chateau, the Fontainebleau forest has all manner of treasures for people of all ages, be they sport lovers or just casual visitors. Landscape and travel photographers have immortalized its sweeping landscapes and astonishingly varied flora. The forest can be explored in a variety of ways: by taking a ride in a kart drawn by sled dogs (this will appeal to thrill-seeking children in particular), on an electric all-terrain scooter, or on a hike or trail run. A visit to the Château de Fontainebleau is highly recommended. Built between the 16th and 18th centuries, it is a French heritage treasure only a short distance from the capital.
More information on the website of the Fontainebleau Tourisme