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Ill de France

The Ill de France region of France

Ile-de-France is the area of northern France including the French capital, Paris, and the towns of Versailles, Sèvres, and St-Cloud. Paris is easily reached by air. However, you’re likely to need a car if you want to visit some of the outlying villages.

The Ile-de-France is drained by the Seine river and its main tributaries, the Marne and Oise rivers. The sub regions of Valois, Beauce, Brie, and Soissonais are flat, limestone plains. The forests of Fontainbleau and Compiegne, occupy sandy areas between the plains. The Ile-de-France offers a wide range of hotels of all prices and the best way to visit the region is by day trips from Paris.

Bicycles can be rented at train stations throughout the region, as most of Ile-de-France is fairly flat. There are plentiful forests and woodlands for hiking and rock climbing, numerous golf courses, and fishing and canoeing on some of the waterways.

There’s no shortage of things to see and do. The Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Sacre-Coeur are some of Paris’ best-known attractions. There are more than two thousand buildings classified as historic, seventy theatres and hundreds of museums in Ile-de-France.

The prettiest countryside in Ile-de-France can be found on route for Versailles. Picturesque villages abound including Châteaufort with its 12th century fortress, Saint-Rémy-les-Chevreuse, Dampierre, the site of a 16th century château, and Les Vaux de Cernay, one of the loveliest valleys in France. Chateau de Versailles, the 17th century residence of Louis XIV, is a popular attraction with its manicured gardens and the well-known Hall of Mirrors. Euro Disney is also located here, the European home to Disney-themed rides and attractions.

Regional specialty foods can be found at the farms and markets in Ile-de-France. Honeys, fruits and foie gras are the highlights of Essonne. Brie cheeses and products prepared on the farm from ducks, geese and turkeys are available in Seine and Marne.

Fontainebleau Château, forty miles southeast of Paris in the forest of Fontainebleau, is one of the largest and most magnificent of France’s royal residences. The present structure was begun in 1528 during the reign of Francis I. Later sovereigns enlarged and embellished the building, which was refurnished by Napoleon after the French Revolution. The gardens were planned by the celebrated seventeenth century landscape gardener, André de Nôtre, during the reign of Louis XIV.

There’s no way that all of the sights of the region can be taken in on one short visit. Paris alone offers enough diversions for every taste. To appreciate the area, you’ll want to visit again, and again…and again.