My velvet escape travel tip: Paris

  • SumoMe

My velvet escape travel tip” is a guest series about what the name ‘Velvet Escape’ evokes and what that would be in the hometown of the guest writer. With this series, I hope to uncover travel tips from places around the world to help visitors have a truly local experience.

Bièvre from Fôret de Verrière

Bièvre from Fôret de Verrière

You’ve done all of it: sightseeing, fashion shopping and boulangerie hopping searching out the best French macarons in Paris. For a change, why not take those twitchy feet off the concrete circuit of city pavements and go walk on green grass and fill your lungs with fresh air? Go for a hike in the lush Forest of Verriere (Fôret Domaniale de Verrières). This enchanting area just outside Paris is our idea of a velvet escape.

Although not considered part of the Ile de France region, Verrière is still considered by many as a Parisian village due to its proximity to the city (13 km maximum from Paris). Located at the south-west border of Paris, it is only 45-60 minute train ride from Gare du Nord (RER train to Igny). Your hike starts as soon as you leave the train station. Sitting atop a hill overlooking the Bièvre Valley, the Forest of Verrière was a former hunting ground in the time of Louis XIV. Later, the entire hill was heavily fortified and used by the French artillery to defend Paris in 1815 then in 1870. Towards the end of the 18th century, the family Lévêque de Vilmorin (horticulturists) bought it and transformed it into a botanical haven.

Trois Mares

Trois Mares

The Bièvre Valley also inspired some of the fête champêtre paintings of Antoine Watteau. Later, midway through the 19th century, it became a frequently used motive for painters such as Corot and Redon, not least because this part of the outer Ile de France was one of the most convenient to reach by the new suburban railways.

It is a lush 550-hectare forest canopied by oak, chestnut, ash, lime and birch trees (some of which have been standing for more than 100 years). With very few steep trails, the hike in Fôret Verrière is really a walk in the park. The trails are well marked (map; or with a high resolution camera or phone camera, you can take a picture of the maps found in the park itself). You can have a long or a short hike depending on the circuit you choose.

Next time you visit Paris, a day’s hike through the Forest of Verrière may just be the idyllic and unique way to wrap up your stay in Paris. And don’t forget to pack a picnic.

About this week’s guest writer
Paris Buff Michael Schuermann, journalist, author of guide book Paris Movie Walks, hubby to Marlys. The Schuermanns, Montmartrois since 1993, form the @ParisBuFF15 team on Twitter. They own and run a vacation rental studio aimed at budget travellers in Montmartre, Paris.

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14 Responses to “My velvet escape travel tip: Paris”

  1. Andy 23/05/2012 5:31 pm
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    Here’s a few more off-the-wall tips for the French capital: http://grownuptravelguide.com/5-things-you-shouldnt-miss-in-paris

  2. Zoë Dawes aka Quirky Traveller 27/07/2010 11:48 am
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    Beautifully written – makes me want to go straight away and have a picnic sur l’herbe or somesuch!
    Zoë

  3. dar arsanis 20/11/2009 2:55 am
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    Bonjour/soir,

    I’ve already put Fôret Domaniale de Verrières in my Paris notebook for places to visit for my upcoming trip to Paris. (Please, dollar go up!!) . I can’t wait to see this new (to me) area. I am a serious walker/hiker so I should thoroughly love it. Keep those tips coming. Travelers love them.

  4. rose 18/11/2009 5:39 pm
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    Lovely piece, lovely pictures, you guys are always giving such tips, I have been to Paris many, many times, but you always manage to give me a tip to an unkown treasure….

    A bientot

    Rose
    @rskemps

  5. Bob Watson 18/11/2009 1:32 am
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    We love the city of Paris, but it is when you start to investigate the countryside, the true beauty of France unfolds. I can imagine spending the day in Fôret Verrière reliving the history of the centuries. A couple of crisp baguettes, pate, marmalade….some wine. What an enjoyable day!

  6. Amy Hume 18/11/2009 12:22 am
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    Merci Beaucoup for this interesting piece. Lovely picture!

    Next time I am in your city again, I’ll surely try this one. Definitely farther than our Butte Chaumont. I shall take the baguette, brie, some wine, and my favorite, crepe grand marnier. Looking forward to this one.

  7. Lisa Byles 17/11/2009 4:31 pm
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    This sounds like a lovely hike and very manageable to get there by train. Next time we stay in your wonderful studio, Max and I will have to try it!

  8. Leila Florentino 17/11/2009 8:40 am
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    Thank you so much for sharing. It is good to know about places outside the city where one can relax and breathe fresh air, walk surrounded by beautiful trees, live a couple hours of peace. It is tempting. I’m already planning a trip there. I picture myself laying on the grass, watching the ducks, listening to the birds, eating from my picnic basket, glass of wine in hand. Thank you!

  9. velvet 17/11/2009 1:34 am
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    Thank you Nori & Kyle for your comments. I’m a big fan of Paris but I haven’t been to this forest before. Absolutely great idea by Paris Buff, I must say.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  10. Kyle 17/11/2009 1:02 am
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    What a great option for getting out of the city! I love your tips and information about Paris, and hopefully I’ll get the chance to venture out to Verriere on my next trip to Paris in January.

  11. nori sagun 16/11/2009 7:42 pm
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    hmmm, hmmmm, forest hiking is not really my thing but i love the sight of nature anywhere. they are restful and to be able to rest is what i need much of these days./
    hmmm, sis and i are passing by paris again when we travel next year.let’s see if we can do a short forest hike or do similar experiences in places near paris.

    thanks!
    nori

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