Cycling weekend in the Melun and Vaux-le-Vicomte countryside
Set off for Essonne
From Paris, hoist your bike aboard the RER D and head to Corbeil-Essonnes. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, you can hire some when you get there – at Giant Saint-Spire (1) for example, or Culture Vélo Corbeil (2).
Cycle to Melun along the banks of the Seine
Once you reach Corbeil, it’s only 27 km to Melun. It’s a pleasant ride, too: the route runs along the Seine, and stays flat all the way! As you go, you’ll see the riverside become increasingly idyllic, especially when you get to the Affolantes – gorgeous holiday homes that have stood here since the 19th century and Belle Epoque era.
Make a cultural pitstop at Les 26 Couleurs
The Leroy factory at Saint-Fargeau-Ponthierry was famous for making wallpaper (1842-1982), and remains a proud witness to the industries that once prospered along the banks of the Seine. It has since been transformed into an independent cultural space known as Les 26 Couleurs, featuring everything from theatre to cinema, arts and crafts workshops and more. Visit the Leroy Memorial Site to learn more about this industrial adventure, as well as the old machines that are now listed historic monuments.
Take a detour to a craft brewery
Located in one of the old quarries excavated from the slopes along the Seine, the Brasserie des Grottes (3) in Boissise-la-Bertrand was opened by young beer-lovers in late 2019. Make the most of your visit with a drink at the outdoor bar!
From there, the boldest bikers can loop off to see the pretty tiled roofs and stone houses of the village of Seine-Port, which you can get to along a cycle path through the forest (D 50).
Explore sacred ruins
Before arriving in Melun, one last leg to Dammarie-les-Lys is a must, where the ancient royal abbey of Notre-Dame-du-Lys dates all the way back to the 12th century, and the remains of its abbatial church still stand in a beautiful clearing. The Gothic carvings on the lonely walls are a sight to behold against the green surroundings!
Enjoy lunch in Brie country
After a morning in the saddle, you’ll need to refuel: and in the heart of Melun, you can’t beat the Brasserie Le Saint-Jean (4) for some traditional fare.
You can’t come here without checking out the local cheese, either: the famous Brie de Melun. Stock up before you leave at Fromages & Cie (5).
Take a tour of Melun old town
Originating on the Île Saint-Etienne, the Seine-et-Marne prefecture was a prosperous city in the Middle Ages, as shown by the Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame – which celebrated its thousandth anniversary in 2013! – and the fascinating Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Melun. On the right bank, don’t miss the childhood home of famous Renaissance humanist Jacques Amyot, and the town hall, an elegant legacy of the 17th-19th centuries.
Become an expert on the National Gendarmerie
Melun is also home to the Musée de la Gendarmerie Nationale (Accueil Vélo-accredited). Explore its vast collection and trace the development of the military force from the 14th century all the way to the present day, reliving the history of France as you go…
Enjoy a romantic evening
Dine under the stars…weather permitting, of course! Once you’re away from the town centre, the sweeping restaurant terrace at L’Escapade (6) is undoubtedly the star of the show. The menu features a host of classic, seasonal dishes.
Last but not least, recharge your batteries with a good night’s sleep by setting your saddlebags down at La Closerie des Trois Marottes (7): with delightful gardens all around to enjoy, guests at this former bourgeois home will be well and truly spoiled!
Take a day trip to Maincy
From Melun, it’s less than 5 km – no more than a few pedal pushes – to the traditional Brie village of Maincy on the outskirts of town. It’s the perfect place for a stroll: there’s the central square, lined with lime trees and home to an old wash house surrounded by covered wooden walkways, the picturesque Ruelle du Ru following the stream that once powered the village’s mills, the stone walls of the Église Saint-Etienne dating all the way back to the 13th-17th centuries, the wooden bridge over the Almont river immortalised by Cézanne in his famous painting (which now hangs at the Musée d’Orsay) and more.
A royal luncheon in Vaux-le-Vicomte
Climb back into the saddle to get to the jewel in Maincy’s crown: the Grand Siècle wonder that is the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. Before heading off to explore, why not enjoy some lunch? For a quick bite on the go, check out the Kiosque Gourmand, or try the self-service Le Relais de l’Ecureuil.
Delve into the splendour of the 17th century
The man behind Vaux-le-Vicomte was Nicolas Fouquet, the Superintendent of Finances under King Louis XIV. The king became fiercely jealous of the splendour of Fouquet’s estate, and so decreed that work should begin on none other than…Versailles! With architecture by Le Vau, interior design by Le Brun, and the classic French-style gardens by Le Nôtre, it was here in Maincy that the three maestros earned their stripes, delivering a masterpiece on all fronts. It’s worth noting that the full extent of the estate’s magic is revealed during the candlelit evenings held over the summer months…
Last few pedal pushes to Corbeil-Essonnes
You’ll have to press on if you want to get back by the end of the day. The shortest route from Maincy back to Corbeil is 21 km (including 3.5 km of cycle tracks) through the Rougeau Regional Forest in Nandy. If you’ve still got a bit left in the tank though, you might enjoy a loop through the Sénart National Forest, a former royal hunting ground that’s home to over 800 ponds and lakes.
- Giant Cycles Saint Spire 92 Rue Saint-Spire 91100 Corbeil-Essonnes Tel: +33 (0)1 60 89 18 74
- Culture vélo Corbeil 12 Rue Jacques Anquetil, ZAC Espace Coquibus, 91100 Corbeil-Essonnes Tel: +33 (0)1 60 90 42 21
- Brasserie des Grottes 1806, rue de seine à Boissise-la-Bertrand
- Fromages & Cie, 9 Rue Carnot, 77000 Melun Tel : +33 (0)1 64 37 09 30
- Le Saint Jean, 13 place Saint Jean 77 000 Melun Tel : +33 (0)1 60 59 00 26
- L’Escapade, 18 Rue Saint-Barthélémy, 77000 Melun Tel : +33 (0)1 64 10 82 45
- La Closerie des Trois Marottes 13 bis, rue Louviot, 77000 Melun Tel: +33 (0)7 87 52 73 96