Quick Guide to Ile de France
Departments in Ile de France/Paris
Ville de Paris, Seine-et-Marne, Yvelines, Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne, Val-d'Oise
Popular Towns in Ile de France/Paris:
Paris, Versailles, Fontainebleu
At the core of Île-de-France lies Paris, which both conforms and confounds stereotypes. For those who want them, there are the bohemian cafés lining the wide tree-lined boulevards as chic women browse couture nonchalantly in the shade of the Eiffel tower. But there is also the other side, which boasts artist hangouts crammed onto winding cobbled streets, as jazz echoes along the Seine.
Outside of Paris, it's not easy to live in the shadow of the most-visited tourist destination in the world, but if you look closer, Île-de-France offers its own treasures which shouldn't be missed either. From the parks and towns of the suburbs Seine-Saint-Denis, Hauts-de-seine, and Val-de-Marne, the castle at Versailles, a rather different castle in Disneyland, to the royal residences of Fontainebleau, and the wilder departments of Val-d'Oise, Yvelines, Essonne, Seine-et-Marne there is a lot more to Ile de France than just Paris.
Top things to see...
- The twelve points of the "star", including the Champs Élysées which radiate out from the Arc de Triumphe.
- The ultimate tourist attraction, the Eiffel tower, with views over Paris and the Seine.
- A master-class in renovation at the Musee d'orsay, a one-time railway station now a world class art museum.
- The sumptuous decadence of the Palace of Versailles, a highlight of which is the Hall of Mirrors.
- The coming-together of old and new with a huge glass pyramid nestled in a palace at the Palais du Louvre with view out to the impeccable Jardin des Tuileries.
Top things to do...
- Eat some world class falafel in the fashionable Place des Vosges at the heart of the old Jewish quarter of Paris, the Marais.
- Escape the hustle and bustle of Paris and don your hiking boots to explore the fantastic Fontainebleu forest.
- Climb the steps of the Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre to earn an alternative (and free) incredible view over Paris, then tumble down to the door of Moulin Rouge.
- Wander the cobbled streets of the Latin Quarter on the Left Bank, soaking in the ambience and café culture that was the birthplace of the French Revolution.
- Mingle with Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Disneyland Paris, the most popular paying tourist attraction in Europe.
Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Arc de Triumphe, Versailles, the Seine, art, literature, history...the list goes on.
Did you know...?
If the whole of France was as densely populated as metropolitan Paris, the entire population of the world could live there.
By road... Getting to and away from Paris by road is easy, as it is linked to nearly all the main motorways. It is only a couple of hours from the Shuttle tunnel, but the only problem is that driving actually in Paris can be a real headache as there is always a lot of congestion.
By air... As home to the capital city, the region has excellent national and international air links. Nearly all airlines in the UK fly to Paris from all over the UK, either to Orly or Charles-de-Gaulle, both of which are easily accessible. However, Ryan Air flies to Beauvais Airport, which although still fairly nearby is 1½ hours out of Paris, although may be closer to your destination if you are staying in the wider Île-de-France region.
By public transport... There are many options for taking public transport to Paris, the best of which is the Eurostar, which makes hopping from the UK to Paris unbelievably easy and takes you from the heart of London to the heart of Paris. There are also many bus options, as well as ferry and bus transfers.