2 days exploring the Gâtinais Français
How about a jaunt along the paths of the French Gâtinais Regional Nature Park to explore Milly-la-Forêt, Courances Chateau and the surrounding natural areas? Don’t miss this green escape with walking trails, local-produce tasting and a deep dive into the world of plants!
Day 1: a dose of nature
Start the weekend in the French Gâtinais Regional Nature Park with an easy short hike to the engravings carved over the centuries on the stone blocks in Fontainebleau Forest. After parking in the Rocher Cailleau car park in Vaudoué, immerse yourself in this astonishing journey through history on the Memory in Stone trail. There are educational posts along the route with images and sound too!
A few kilometres away, under Fontainebleau Forest’s hundred-year-old trees, the Dame Jouanne restaurant awaits. Here, you can enjoy lunch made using fresh seasonal products in the unusual setting of a chalet that blends in with the surrounding trees. You’re sure to feel revitalised.
If you enjoy the plant world, next, stop at the Conservatoire National des Plantes in Milly-la-Forêt. Discover the specifics and benefits of each species presented according to the season and lose yourself in the palette of colours and scents provided by the garden’s flowers and medicinal plants. Ask for the audio guide on arrival to become a subject expert and top off your visit with a look round the shop so you can leave with some local gourmet produce.
End your first day with dinner in the understated and refined atmosphere of Les Coqs restaurant. On the menu is French à la carte cuisine which is updated regularly to suit the time of year and made with artisan ingredients.
Next, head to your accommodation either the “Milly Jardin” or “Milly Ciel” gites a 5-minute walk from the historic centre. Choose between two comfortable studios with intimate decor for your night’s rest.
“Milly Jardin” and “Milly Ciel” gites - 3 rue Pachau, Milly-la-Forêt - +33 (0)6 49 08 14 70
Day 2: a day for new lovers
Your second day in the Gâtinais Français begins with a 13-kilometre walk to explore the rest of Milly-la-Forêt: its wooden covered market built in the 15th century, Jean Cocteau’s House (his final residence) and Jean Tinguely’s Cyclop (a monumental metal giant), before reaching the wilds of nearby Fontainebleau Forest. Continue your walk on the path leading to Le Coquibus in a landscape with a surprisingly romantic atmosphere where a chaos of moorland vegetation covers stone blocks, occasionally interrupted by temporary pools.
For lunch, why not buy the ingredients for a picnic at the Milly-la-Forêt shops?
At 16 Place du Marché, get fruit and vegetables from Séchoir du Père Jules, and be tempted by products made from peppermint or poppy at Herbier de Milly. You may prefer homemade syrups from Distillerie du Gâtinais. And for dessert, take advantage of your journey to the next stage of your tour and buy some homemade gourmet biscuits from Le Marché des Délices in Moigny-sur-Ecole.
Having travelled a few kilometres by car, prepare yourself to be bewitched by the chateau and gardens of the Courances estate. The immense park is home to a Louis XIII-style chateau that is still inhabited today and open for guided tours. Forget your cares on an intimate stroll along the large alleys lined with plane trees. Discover the different water features and the dome in the undergrowth before reaching the Japanese Garden: the highlight of the walk with its colours that change by the season. Don’t miss the impressive 1235 acres of gardens that produce organic vegetables, which are sold locally.
Finish at the Gâtinais Honey House in Boutigny-sur-Essonne. Find out how tireless bees make honey and propolis and be tempted by a jar of each of the honey varieties available.
A nature weekend to sharpen the senses and make you want to hit the road again to explore the Paris region!
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- Copyright image: OT Milly