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10 destinations to get closer to nature when you live in Paris

Many people living in Paris want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a weekend or a few days. For this, there is no need to go far away, as the Ile-de-France region has many charming towns where you can enjoy a country atmosphere. Historic villages, flower gardens, thick forests where you can hike for hours, the possibilities are wide to relax and feel a real sense of change. So for those Parisians who dream of escaping and resting far from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis, here are 10 destinations where you can get closer to nature in no time

1- Senlis, Oise

Located 45 km north of Paris, the town of Senlis is home to an incredibly rich heritage. You start by strolling along the ramparts before joining the cobbled streets of the old town and admiring the main monuments. The castle, the flamboyant Gothic Notre-Dame de Senlis cathedral, the Hôtel des Trois-Pots and the royal chapel of Saint-Frambourg are all marvels to be examined in detail. Not forgetting, of course, the beautiful houses that line the streets. Around the city, you can walk in the forests of Chantilly or Halatte. You can also take advantage of the presence of the Oise-Pays-de-France Regional Nature Park to marvel at the greenery and breathe in the fresh air

2- Provins, Seine-et-Marne

Parisians who wish to plunge into the heart of the medieval era during a getaway must go to Provins, a fortified town located less than 1h30 from the French capital. It is quite simply one of the most beautiful fortified villages in France, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ramparts are impressive and you can admire the pretty half-timbered buildings. The collegiate church of Saint-Quirance, Caesar's Tower and the fortified gates are all medieval testimonies that offer a journey through time. Not forgetting the museums and the Grande aux Dîmes, whose playful staging allows you to put yourself in the shoes of a merchant of the past. Beautiful valleys also border the town, and it is very pleasant to walk or cycle there

3- Fontainebleau, Seine-et-Marne

Let's stay in Seine-et-Marne to go to Fontainebleau, a great classic at the gates of Paris. It is possible to get there in only 40 minutes by public transport. Once there, it is difficult not to take the time to contemplate the sublime castle, the most furnished in Europe. Then, we head for the forest, recognized by UNESCO as a World Biosphere Reserve. It has a multitude of marked trails and is home to more than 1,200 animal and plant species. Fontainebleau is also the gateway to the beautiful Seine-et-Marne countryside in no time, where you can enjoy bike rides, horseback riding and stops in villages with character

4- Auvers-sur-Oise, Val d'Oise

Located in the heart of the pleasant and picturesque valley of the Val d'Oise, Auvers-sur-Oise is known for having attracted many artists, including Van Gogh. A stroll in the town also includes a visit to the Ravoux inn, where the painter lived the last years of his life. The route of the painters is to follow to discover the landscapes that inspired so many impressionists. As for the castle, built in the 17th century, it is embellished with pretty French gardens. Auvers-Sur-Oise also offers the possibility to stroll in the charming low walls covered with ivy. Nearby, there is also the forest and wheat fields in summer. A perfect getaway to get closer to nature at less than 40 km from Paris

5- Giverny, Eure

Located in Normandy, Giverny is a village with a timeless charm, where the light is like nowhere else, as the great Claude Monet said so well. Giverny is a quiet, soothing town that has retained its charm of yesteryear. Many visitors come here to visit the Claude Monet Foundation. One can admire its sublime residence, its living room-workshop, its collection of Japanese prints as well as its impressive gardens with numerous flowerbeds. In the Water Garden, the weeping willows, the water lilies and the Japanese bridge immediately give the feeling of entering a painting by the artist. The place is strikingly beautiful. Giverny is also the pleasure of strolling through its narrow streets and visiting the Hotel Baudy, where Rodin and Cézanne once stayed. Nearby, a retro train also allows you to cross the beautiful valley of the Eure

6- Blandy-les-Tours, Seine-et-Marne

Welcome to the heart of the French Brie region, about sixty kilometres from Paris. This is where you will find the charming village of Blandy-les-Tours, with an interesting heritage and a calm atmosphere. It is a place where you can go for many walks along the streets and alleys. It is a sweet journey to the middle ages, the time of the dungeons and knights, since the town houses a remarkable castle with high towers very well preserved. It is also from Blandy-les-Tours that you can discover the Val d'Ancœur, which has seven sites recognized Natural Areas of Ecological, Faunistic and Floristic Interest (ZNIEFF). The walks in full nature are thus memorable

7- Barbizon, Seine-et-Marne

Located on the western edge of the Fontainebleau forest, Barbizon is another charming village ideal for pleasant strolls. This former lumberjack hamlet is one of the mythical places of pre-impressionist painting in France. In the 19th century, the Ganne Inn, now a museum, was home to painters who came here to seek inspiration and who founded the Barbizon School. There are museums, art galleries and the houses are all more beautiful than the others. And for nature lovers, the forest is very close, as well as the Regional Natural Park of the Gâtinais Français and its contrasting landscapes

8- Chevreuse, Yvelines

In Yvelines, Chevreuse is considered as one of the most romantic places in Ile-de-France. It is here, about thirty kilometres from the capital, that one can discover a village with a remarkable heritage, with the Saint-Martin church, the Saint-Saturnin priory, the Maison des bannières as well as the Madeleine castle and its keep which offer a splendid view of the town. You can also discover the pleasure of strolling along the banks of the Yvette. And how could you not fall under the spell of the Promenade des petits ponts, a path along a canal lined with old houses, bridges and old wash houses? And then, for those who love walking or cycling, there are many paths that cross the gentle Chevreuse valley and its Regional Nature Park

9- Moret-Loing-et-Orvanne, Seine-et-Marne

This town is one of the most beautiful detours in France! The town has indeed preserved its medieval splendour, with monuments such as the Burgundy and Samois gates, churches and old fortifications as well as superb Renaissance facades. With the banks of the Loing, bridges and plenty of greenery, the place has all the assets of country villages and it is not surprising that the painter Sisley once settled here to paint. You can see his house, visit his grave and discover the sites he painted. From Moret-Loing-et-Orvanne, you can also cycle along the bucolic paths and canoe down the river to marvel at the fauna and flora

10- Gerberoy, Oise

You have to drive a little further and do about two hours to reach the village of Gerberoy in Oise. But the journey is worth it! Part of the "Most Beautiful Villages of France", we discover splendid streets and alleys with irregular cobblestones, and revealing remarkable dwellings, in brick for some and in cob and colored wood sides for others. Multicoloured rosebushes adorn the façades and the flower is celebrated on the occasion of the "Rose Festival", the first Sunday in June. In the 19th century, the post-impressionist painter Henri Le Sidanier fell in love with the village, where he created superb gardens that can be visited, where numerous rose gardens flourish and are decorated with elegant furniture. Not to be missed either: the path that runs along the Caumont state forest, which offers superb views of Gerberoy and the rolling agricultural landscape

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