Ile-de-France is the region encircling France’s beloved capital, Paris. This region is considered the heartland of France, and it certainly has much more to offer than just the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. As you venture outside of Paris’ city limits, you will find charming countryside, extravagant chateaux, quaint farms and picturesque vineyards. There’s so much to do and see in Ile-de-France that it can be hard planning your vacation itinerary. Since I recently explored Ile-de-France myself, I have a few great tips on where to visit.
Whenever I embark on spur-of-the-moment trips, like my recent Ile-de-France adventure, I rely on HotelTonight to book my last-minute hotels. HotelTonight makes it easy to find great deals on hotels at a moment’s notice, so I am never stressed about booking my accommodations. Rather, I just sit back, relax, and let my travels take me to exciting new destinations.
Naturally, I made Paris my first stop on my Ile-de-France tour, mainly since it is so easy to fly in and out of. Paris is a great home base for anyone who wants to explore the surrounding towns of Ile-de-France. This wasn’t my first time in Paris, but it was one of my most memorable, as I chose to stay away from major tourist spots and instead experience Paris like a local. I took afternoon strolls along the Seine, I people-watched at charming corner cafes, and I brought a picnic to the Champ de Mars. Since I booked my last-minute hotel in Paris through HotelTonight. I had a room in a fantastic, central hotel and was able to explore the City of Lights more like a local than a tourist.
If you love French architecture and history, you definitely should take advantage of Fontainebleau’s proximity to Paris and visit this exquisite palace. Just 45 miles south of Paris sits one of the most impressive chateaux in France, and it once hosted some of France’s most famous royals, including Marie Antoinette and Napoleon I. While the chateau of Fontainebleau is certainly the showstopper in this region, there is also plenty else to do and see in Fontainebleau. The town itself is charming French town that offers quaint cafes and cobbled streets. Then, of course, there’s always the Forest of Fontainebleau, which is a great place for those who want to get out and hike, mountain bike or even rock climb.
After spending time in the bustling French capital of Paris, a trip to the quiet medieval village of Provins may be a welcome respite. Provins is about an hour east of Paris, and it features dozens of ancient monuments from the Middle Ages. This town has a long, rich history, but sadly today it is largely overlooked by tourists. If you find yourself in Ile-de-France and want to wander among old medieval buildings, you should visit Provins and let this town take you back in time.
Some of the most famous impressionist painters found inspiration in the town of Auvers-sur-Oise, a small town surrounded by greenery and a beautiful river. This is the town where Vincent van Gogh spent his final days, and here you can the artist’s resting place. Once you visit this idyllic French village, you too will understand why so many artists found inspiration here, as its stone houses and pretty country lanes look as if they belong in a painting.
While you may have to fight crowds during your Versailles visit, this is definitely a destination that should be on your Ile-de-France list. The main attraction in Versailles is, of course, the Palace of Versailles, which is considered one of the most exquisite palaces in the world. However, there is more to Versailles than just the palace. The town of Versailles is also worth a visit, and it feels almost like an extension of Paris. This pretty town has a number of great restaurants and cafes, and since it’s just about an hour by train from Paris, Versailles is an easy day trip if you’re staying in the French capital.
Ile-de-France is home to one of the most popular cities in the world, but this pretty region has so much else to see than just the romantic streets of Paris. On my recent tour through Ile-de-France, I wandered past medieval relics, walked through opulent ballrooms and meandered through idyllic gardens in charming provincial towns. If you really want to get a good feel for France’s heartland, you should explore much more than just Paris. Venture out of the city and explore some of Ile-de-France’s other gems – you’ll be glad you did. And if you need to book a last-minute hotel in Ile-de-France, know that HotelTonight makes it easy for travelers to book great hotels at a moment’s notice. Since you don’t have to worry about finding good accommodations in Ile-de-France, you can spend more time planning your tour throughout this beautiful region.