Wednesday, July 11, 2018

5 Artsy & Cool Day Treks from Paris

By Jacquelin Carnegie
In addition to all the wondrous things to see and do in Paris, there are also really interesting places to visit within a short Metro (subway) or RER (light rail) ride from the center of town.

Fondation de Coubertin
Coubertin Park (photo: JCarnegie)

Domaine de Coubertin, Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse
Tel: +33(0)1 30 85 69 60;
(Open: April-July; Sat & Sun, 2pm-7pm. Entrance fee.)

This gorgeous place is only open to the public for a few months each year, so plan ahead. The stunning property was once the Coubertin estate. You can visit: a small museum (just a few exhibit rooms within the mansion) with a permanent collection and a changing exhibition each year; a lovely sculpture garden; and a magnificent sculpture
park. The rest of the year, the Foundation is a training facility for apprentices in: Woodworking; Metal/Ironwork; Stonecutting, and Sculpting.
Dine/Do More: Le Chalet Café (3 Rue Ditte) is right across from the train station if you need a cup of coffee or a snack. Next store is La Giostra (5 Rue Ditte) an Italian restaurant. If you're feeling energetic, you can also walk or take a bus (#39.17 or #39.03) or a taxi into the pretty little town of Chevreuse for more options, plus a visit to the hilltop castle, Chateau de la Madeleine. You may like it there so much, you may want to stay overnight!
Getting There: From Paris, take RER (B) to the Gare de Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse, about 20 minutes, then a 5-minute walk from the train station in the direction of Chevreuse.

Maison Caillebotte
Maison Caillebotte
(photo: Ville de Yerres)

Caillebotte, Portraits in the Countryside
8 Rue de Concy, Yerres
Tel: +33(0)1 80 37 20 61;
(Open: Garden-Park, daily, all year. Free; Mansion, Tues-Sun, 2pm-6:30pm. Entrance fee.)

After a 20-year restoration project, the Maison Caillebotte, a 19-century mansion--surrounded by 25 acres of beautifully-landscaped, garden-park--is open to the public. This lovely spot is the former home of the cultured Caillebotte family. One son became a priest; the other--Gustave Caillebotte--became a talented Impressionist painter. Even if you've never heard of him, a visit here offers a charming glimpse into the lifestyle of an affluent French family in the late-1800s. The Maison Caillebotte is tastefully furnished, the English-style garden-park is splendid with several follies and a potager (kitchen garden). Weather permitting, you can picnic on the grounds, go boating from a river landing right on the property, and see art exhibits in the l'Orangerie. This is such a pleasant place to spend an afternoon--so close to Paris--you'll want to return again and again.

Dine/Do More: There is a cafe/tea salon right on the Caillebotte property with a prix-fixe menu. Or, wander into the town of Yerres for more options. 
Getting There: From Paris' Gare de Lyon, take RER (D) to Yerres (direction Melun), about 20 minutes, then a 7-minute walk downhill or take the bus (line F).

Jean Cocteau Maison
Cocteau's Chapel
Françoise Signeyrole)

15 rue du Lau, Milly-la-Forêt
Tel: +33(0)6 28 52 06 28;
(Open: May-Nov; Wed & Sun, 2pm-6pm. By reservation at other times. Entrance fee.) 

Jean Cocteau was one of the most influential creative figures in the French avant-garde movement in the early 19th-century. He was a poet, writer, designer, playwright, artist, and filmmaker. While he grew up and lived in Paris, Cocteau bought this house in Milly-la-Forêt in 1947 as a refuge and lived here until his death in 1963. In the house, see several decorated rooms in his unique style as well as exhibits of his work and those by his illustrious friends. In the town, stop by the tiny Chapel of Saint-Blaise-des-Simples. It's decorated with stained-glass windows and frescos by Cocteau, illustrating medicinal plants that can be found in the chapel's herb garden. (Cocteau is buried here.)
Chapel interior
F. Signeyrole)

Dine/Do More: The ancient town of Milly-la-Forêt is absolutely lovely. Download a walking tour and wander around. (In French, but it's easy to follow the map.) It's worth visiting on a Thursday afternoon for the market in La Halle, a covered-wooden marketplace, that's been in operation since 1479. 
For lunch or an overnight stay, Hotel/Restaurant: Le Cygne (23 Place du Marché). 
Getting There: From Paris' Gare de Lyon, take RER (D) to Gare de Maisse (direction Malesherbes), about 25 minutes, then a 15-minute taxi ride to the Maison. Be sure to call a taxi in advance; it costs around 20€ each way, another reason to stay for longer than a day! (Taxis: 06 07 72 29 39; 06 77 42 01 86; 06 80 40 50 58.)

Musée de la Toile de Jouy
Chateau de l’Eglantine, 54 rue Charles de Gaulle, Jouy-en-Josas
Tel: +33(0)1 39 56 48 64;

(Open: Tues-Sun; Entrance fee.)
Toile de Jouy
This museum is a fascinating place devoted to the history of the iconic French fabric Toile de Jouy, first manufactured here in 1760. The printed-cotton fabric, made popular by French royalty, was used for both clothing and home decorating. In Jouy-en-Josas, engravers created designs for the famous Toile de Jouy cloth, known for bucolic, country scenes--printed in either red, blue or black on a cream-colored background. Learn all about it on an excellent guided tour.
Toile de Jouy

Dine/Do More: The Jouy-en-Josas tourism office has information on walking tours, dining, and accommodations (
Getting There: From Paris' Gare Austerliz, take RER (C) to Petit Jouy-Les Loges (direction Versailles Chantiers), about an hour. The museum is a short walk from the train station.

Sèvres - Cité de la Céramique
2 Place de la Manufacture, Sèvres
Tel: +33(0)1 46 29 22 00;

(Open: Wed-Mon, 10am-12:30pm/1:30pm-5pm. Entrance fee.)
17-Century Faience, France 

Since 1740, Sèvres has been considered one of the finest porcelain manufacturers in the world. If you love ceramics, plan to spend hours in its incredible museum, Musée National de Céramique, showcasing the history of ceramics. The collection includes pieces from every time period--antiquity to modern, in every material--pottery, earthenware, stoneware, faience, porcelain, etc., and from all the places known for producing quality ceramics. You'll see Islamic creations, Greek vases, Delft tiles, Chinese and Japanese designs, pieces of Art Nouveau and Art Deco as well as works by contemporary artists.
Gustavo Perez, 2010

Dine/Do More: The town of Sèvres, considered a suburb, is right across the river from Paris. Sèvres' Cité de la Céramique, an enclave of 25 historic buildings, is on the edge of the Parc de Saint Cloud (where Louis XIV's brother lived). If you have any energy left after your museum visit, stroll through this magnificent park. Pack a picnic or dine at any of the nearby, local restaurants.
Getting There: Metro: #9 to Pont de Sèvres in Paris, about 20 minutes. Get off in the front of the train (sortie n°2), then walk across a small bridge to Sèvres and the museum, about 10 minutes. 

Where To StayTo get the most out of Paris, stay in a variety of places all around townEditor's Note: There are also 5 other lovely, artsy places to visit about an hour by train from Paris. 

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