This week Sphere Travel Club takes you on a trip to France. In view of the end of the general lockdown and the opening of borders following the Covid-19 crisis, we reveal in this article the best excursions around Paris.
If you live in the French capital of more than 2 million inhabitants, or simply in a city in France or Belgium, you will surely have imagined a getaway away from the crowds, pollution and noise for this summer. As far as possible given the current situation, many of you dream of fine sandy beaches and turquoise waters for this summer, but the reality is likely to be quite different. So why not travel close to home, discover the wonders of the country at your fingertips and do it in a sustainable way?
Article by Viviana Piccolo.
Known globally for the city of lovers, Paris, France is of course not only the world capital of art, culture and French gastronomy. Indeed, this country has many resources for all tastes. Mountains, beaches, seas, cliffs, hills, metropolises, the list is long. Thus, find here the best addresses and excursions around the capital in the center of the country.
Barbizon – Little French Tuscany
Just an hour’s drive from Paris, but miles from the hustle and bustle of the French capital, the village of Barbizon, nicknamed the Little Tuscany of France, has recently become a popular destination for holidaymakers in the countryside. Visit the heart of the Gâtinais Français Regional Nature Park, on the edge of the Fontainebleau estate, from where the many hiking trails start and where the sumptuous 17th century royal residence, now home to 4 museums, is located. Walks, bike or motorbike rides, let yourself be charmed by the enchanting and romantic landscapes of the surrounding woods and particularly the forest of Fontainebleau so much appreciated by Parisians in search of peace and quiet.
Too often forgotten by city dwellers, there are many activities offered by country life. Go on an adventure in the woods of La Colinette, Rocher Couradin or Tartinois, crossed by numerous walking trails. In particular, the “Promenade des Gorges de Franchard” will show you the typical landscapes of the Fontainebleau forest, amidst rocks, oaks and ponds. This 1h30 circuit is ideal for a family walk.
The Fontainebleau Tourism Office organises activities such as visits to Barbizon centred around the village painters, relaxation and sylvotherapy sessions in the forest, or in another register sled dog rides. Reconnecting the senses to nature and evacuating stress is the motto of the place.
Another icon of the place is the Hippodrome de la Solle in Fontainebleau. A source of pride for the locals since 1776, when in honour of King Louis XVI the dukes of the region organised the first horse race. Today the racecourse has more than twenty race meetings per year on the calendar.
From a cultural point of view, Barbizon is world-famous for its school of painters. The famous Barbizon Painters’ Museum, organizes painting and music workshops or explanatory visits.
Our favorite of the region is La Folie Barbizon. This artists’ residence organizes numerous workshops in all artistic fields (painting, ceramics, photography, permaculture, culinary, theater, dance). This guesthouse also offers complete immersions in the heart of the Fontainebleau forest: mystical and holistic retreats (yoga, meditation, astrology, digital detox, etc), forest discovery (plant and mushroom picking, herbalism, etc), rituals and special events (solstices, equinox, full moon, etc). In addition to the many experiences offered, this place is also a culinary discovery. The restaurant de la Folie offers for 25€ a complete menu of the day prepared around a mainly vegetal, local, organic and convivial table. And on Sundays it is around a communal barbecue that you will have the opportunity to taste the chef’s dishes.
In the same vein, we reveal below our culinary favourites in Barbizon and the surrounding area:
– L’Inédit, a gastronomic restaurant with one Michelin star has enough to make you salivate with its generous dishes which “mix gourmet traditions and authenticity of the French soil”. This restaurant also offers cooking classes with chef Kévin Kowal, followed by a tasting of your own preparations.
– La Petite Corne Biche, this semi-gastronomic restaurant will make you dream both in the plates and in the fairy-tale setting of the surroundings of the Fontainebleau forest.
– Ma Su, its Asian flavours will undoubtedly make you travel! Inspired by Japanese bistros, drink the typical beers and traditional sake accompanied by the delicious cold and hot dishes offered à la carte.
In order to fully enjoy the region and moreover in a sustainable way, why not travel through an exchange of property? Sphere Travel Club offers you a charming country house located in the commune of Saint-Martin-en-Bière, 5 kilometres from Barbizon. Here you will find the quietness and space you need for the perfect holiday with family or friends.
Le Mans – Travel in time
Our second favorite is in the Pays de la Loire region, and more precisely the city of Le Mans in the French Grand Ouest. Indeed, 200 kilometers from Paris, this city of France has something to offer to the most urban dwellers. Two hours drive from the capital, this region promises you an immersion in nature while having many leisure activities at your disposal. Indeed, ballooning, parachute jumping or golf courses are all close to the city. To refresh yourself and have a good time with your family why not spend the day at the aquatic center Les Atlantides, between jacuzzi and 80 meters slide. Of course, nature lovers will not be disappointed by the miles of hiking trails around the city and through the surrounding woods. For the more courageous, 400 kilometres of cycle paths are available from the town where you can also rent bicycles. L’arche de la nature, at the gates of Le Mans, offers 41 kilometres of hiking trails. For the more adventurous, the Perche Nature Park, home to hundreds of animal and plant species, is an hour’s drive from the castle.
Second greenest city in France, Le Mans is a charming little town, also overflowing with indoor activities such as escape games, bowling alleys, skateparks, playgrounds, etc. A city of art and history with a romantic character, built around the Sarthe river and sheltered by a Roman wall, stroll through the streets of the Plantagenet city, the historic heart of the city and admire the Saint-Julien Cathedral, half Romanesque, half Gothic and one of the largest in France. Wine bars or theatres, the Saint-Nicolas district offers many nightlife attractions. From Tuesday to Sunday, some markets will present you with fresh and local products from the region, which you can taste on the terraces of the restaurants around the castle.
A little (or a lot) hungry? Here are the best addresses in the region:
– La Ciboulette, originality and tradition have been on the menu for 35 years in this gastronomic restaurant in old Le Mans. A menu concocted by the chef will share with you the culinary secrets of the region, or an à la carte service is also provided.
– Le Beaulieu, a bistronomic restaurant whose dishes are based on fresh and local products. The chef’s gourmet recipes modernise the traditional dishes of the Sarthe region.
– Le Tablier de Jaurès, from a family of artists, the chef of this gastronomic restaurant offers à la carte formulas based on fresh local and seasonal products.
– L’Auberge des 7 plats, a traditional and emblematic restaurant in Le Mans, the conviviality and warmth of the inns of yesteryear has been preserved in this place through time and through the 7 starters, 7 main courses and 12 desserts proposed à la carte.
Le Beaulieu, Le Mans.
Sphere Travel Club offers you the opportunity to discover the region by staying in one of the magnificent properties at your disposal. Indeed, located 25 kilometres west of Le Mans, the Château Beausoleil is a masterpiece of neo-classical architecture and a landmark in the History of France. The vast medieval moat that surrounds the castle now houses the peony conservatory. Experience 18th century castle life in all its splendour. Breathe in the fresh country air in the large park surrounding the castle and let yourself be surprised by what nature has to offer, which varies with each season.
Chateau Beausoleil, Le Mans.
Only 15 minutes from the city of Le Mans we also offer you the Château de la Groirie. Immerse yourself in the decor of the 17th century, the heyday of the French monarchy, during which the famous King Louis XIV reigned. This domain will make you dream from a historical point of view but also with its decoration between forests, meadows, canals and ponds on the 100 hectars surrounding the castle. Let yourself be pampered by the heated swimming pool from May to September or in your room with room service, and many other surprises!