Weekend bike ride in the Haute Vallée de Chevreuse
Keen for a taste of the great, green outdoors? Then why not try a two-wheeled adventure through nature – with a good dose of history along the way – in the Haute Vallée de Chevreuse Regional Nature Park. It’s a great route to enjoy as a family, or with that special someone.
Day 1: on the bike with the wind in your hair
Once your train reaches Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse at the end of the RER B line, head straight for the Maison de l’Aiguillage hire shop opposite the station to collect an e-bike for your adventure. There’s a whole range to choose from, from mountain bikes and ETs to family cargo bikes. Whatever you need, there’s something here for everyone.
Just a few miles from the station, make a pit stop at the Ferme de Coubertin to buy a few delicious local goodies for your picnic later on. Everything you see – from their cow and goat’s cheese to their terrines – are all made right here on the farm. (Please note that the farm is closed to the public on Sundays).
And new for 2021, the Natural Park of the Haute Vallée de Chevreuse is partnering with Lebonpicnic.com to give taste to your discovery of the Park and to support the local trade. Until 6pm the day before your visit, order online your gourmet basket to be collected from a local shopkeeper in Saint-Remy-lès-Chevreuse, Bullion or Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines. Combine the discovery of local products with a responsible approach! (Attention, some offers are reserved for groups).
Ferme de Coubertin, Chemin de Coubertin - Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse
At an incline of over 10%, getting up the hill to the impressive Château de La Madeleine is no walk in the park. But the view over the valley once you get there makes it all worth it! Make the most of your efforts with a tour of the medieval castle, where the ramparts and towers are still in excellent condition. The fortress, which stood here through the Hundred Years’ War, is now home to the Maison du Parc where you can learn all about this protected natural area, its history, and its wildlife.
After your visit to the castle, it’s time to saddle up once again for the next leg of your journey. Keep your eyes peeled for a quiet corner of the forest as you ride, for a well-deserved break in these idyllic surroundings. It’s time for lunch, and a taste of all the goodies you bought this morning.
Not far away is the Ferme de Beaurain, which is worth taking a few minutes to explore. Occupying a former manor estate, the large farm building that currently stands there is an excellent example of traditional 19th-century smallholding architecture in this area of southwestern Paris.
You get another chance for a short stop a few miles on with an educational walk along the Maincourt-sur-Yvette discovery trail. Complete with signage and information boards to make it accessible for all, the route follows a tranquil waterway and lets you in on the secrets of the local wildlife. If you’re quiet – and patient – you might even be lucky enough to see some migrating birds.
Then it’s back on the road until you hit the village of Dampierre-en-Yvelines. Stop off on the way to check out the charming church in Lévis-Saint-Nom.
In Dampierre, the Comptoir de Marie is the perfect place for a simple dinner in modern, bistro-like surroundings. The menu features a selection of homemade burgers, and if the weather’s nice, relaxing out in the garden and terrace is the perfect way to round off your first day.
A well-deserved rest at the cosy, welcoming Gîte du Château awaits.
Gîte du château - 7 Chevreuse street, Dampierre-en-Yvelines - 06 26 21 46 52
Day 2: come face to face with kings and fairytale characters
On the second day of your short stay in Haute Vallée de Chevreuse, you’ll get the chance to explore the Château de Dampierre just a stone’s throw from your gîte.
Featuring work by Jules Hardouin Mansart and Le Nôtre, two of the greats of 17th-century architecture and garden design, the estate has been home to no less than three kings (Louis XIII, Louis XIV and Louis XV) who were said to love the peace and quiet of its vast grounds. Don’t miss out on the exhibition of horse and carriage equipment, which has all been taken from the owner’s private collection.
After that, it’s back on the bikes and off to Cernay-la-Ville for lunch. The Ferme du Bout des Prés serves up a “rustic” lunch of terrines, a hog roast, and apple tart. Perfect for an afternoon energy boost!
The last leg of your weekend adventure is a trip to the historic estate of the Château de Breteuil. Step back into the 18th century as you wander through the rooms, and get up close and personal with some of the famous faces that have stayed here over the years or had a connection to this prestigious family, with waxworks of Marcel Proust, Louis XVIII, and even Edward VII, future King of England. A visit to the gardens, meanwhile, is an adventure into the fairytales of Charles Perrault. Puss in Boots, Cinderella, Bluebeard and Little Thumb are all here to entertain younger visitors – and older ones, too! – with their wonderful tales, in short plays staged around the castle.
Afterwards, it’s time to make your way back to Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse. On the way, you’ll get the chance to admire the incredible architecture and amazing features of the Château de Méridon as you pass by the entrance, including its gritstone walls, turret, sculptures and windows.
Return your bikes to the Maison de l’Aiguillage, and make your way home with a head full of memories.
See the route
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- Copyright image: stock.adobe/PackShot