Ile-de-France Tourism – Visit the Ile-de-France region of France

It’s easy enough to say that Ile-de-France is Paris, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Of the 26 administrative regions in France, Ile-de-France is the most densely populated and the wealthiest. Over 11 million people live here, and 90% of Ile-de-France is covered by the Paris metropolitan area, but there are many other cities in Ile-de-France too: Châteaufort, Versailles, Eragny, Nogent-sur-Marne, Fontainebleau, Marne-la-Valée, and Rueil-Malmaison, for instance.

It is also easy to rattle off the top five things to see in Paris: La Tour Eiffel, The Louvre, The Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, and Les Invalides make quite a few “top” lists. But the truth is, you can visit Ile-de-France, miss all these things, and still have a vacation for the history books. The region simply has so much to offer, it’s hard to go wrong, even if you spend your days wandering little streets, eating in bistros, and people-watching.

Île-de-France is not all urban, however. In fact, 80% of the region is covered by green space, and there are numerous navigable waterways, plus four regional nature parks. With such a wide ranging geography, and a thousand years of history in evidence, Ile-de-France is one of the world’s top destinations, and it is little wonder why.

Getting around Paris is easy, with a combination of walking and use of the Metro, which is cheap and easy to navigate. Cycling is also popular, as long as you are able to cope with heavy traffic at morning and afternoon rush hour. There are also countless open-top bus tours and boat tours of the Seine. Many visitors like to start in the center of Paris, the First Arrondissement, location of the Louvre, and work their way outward, the way the Arrondissements do, like the unwinding of a snail’s shell.

Exploring other parts of Île-de-France is easy by train. One of the most popular day trips is to Versailles. The Palace of Versailles functioned as the capital of France from 1682-1789 and is now considered a wealthy suburb of Paris and is home to various judicial and administrative functions. It’s an easy 10 mile train ride from the heart of Paris. Yvelines, the department that includes Versailles, is also known for its beautiful forests and regional parks that are best explored by bicycle.

Provins is another great day trip while you’re in Ile-de-France. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s an easy 50-mile train journey from Paris’ Gare de l’Est. The town is famous for its medieval fortifications and amazingly preserved city walls. The town is also known for its underground tunnels and rooms, home to secret societies in earlier eras. Rose cultivation is important in Provins too. Foods from roses are a speciality, including rose honey and rose candy.

Giverny is just outside the Ile-de-France, but it is nonetheless a popular day trip from there. This is where Claude Monet moved and created his famous gardens around the turn of the 20th century. His Japanese bridge paintings and water lily painting were of his Giverny gardens.

Ile-de-France has earned just about every travel-related superlative there is. As once-in-a-lifetime vacations go, it’s hard to beat Ile-de-France. Books could be and have been written about the huge number and variety of things to see and do in Ile-de-France. Your biggest challenge when travelling there will be to narrowing down the possibilities enough to fit within your itinerary.

Leave a Comment