Ile-de-France

General Info

Regional Map
Conseil Régional
Tourism: Ile-de-France Tourisme
Capital: Paris
Departments: Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Paris, Seine-Saint-Denis, Seine-et-Marne, Val-de-Marne, Val-d'Oise, and Yvelines
Arrondissements: 25
Cantons: 317
Communes: 1,310
Population: 11,713,159 (2008 est.)
France Ile-de-france map

Overview

Château de Versailles
Ile-de-France was originally named the "District of the Paris Region" in 1961 and was renamed "Ile-de-France" in 1976 when its administrative status was aligned with the other French regions. Although it has the country's capital of Paris as its hub, it has a rich countryside that extends well beyond the very densely-populated suburbs of the city with its nearly 12 million residents. Traversed by the Seine and Marne rivers, the region is a patchwork of wheatfields, forests, and chalky plains. Ile-de-France became a favorite area for French royalty after François I transformed Fontainebleau into a Renaissance Palace in 1582. Louis XIVth maintained the region as the political axis of France when he started building Versailles in 1661. The Classical château of Versailles is the country's most visited sight and reflects the power of the Sun King.

Ile-de-France Departmental Information

Notable Towns and Sights in Ile-de-France

Abbaye de Royaumont (Val-d'Oise) is a Cistercian abbey located near Asnières-sur-Oise approximately 18 miles (30 km) north of Paris. It was built between 1228 and 1235 with the support of Louis IX and his mother, and many members of the French Royal family have been buried here. The abbey proper was dissolved in 1791 during the French Revolution and some of the stonework was used to build a factory. Fortunately, the sacristy, cloister, and refectory have remained intact. In the early 20th-century, the abbey was bought by the Goüin family who created the Royaumont Foundation in 1964 which was the first private French cultural foundation. Presently, the abbey is a tourist attraction, serves as a cultural centre, and hosts concerts in the summers on weekends. France Ile-de-France
Basilique Saint Denis (Hauts-de-Seine) is located in Saint-Denis, a northern suburb of Paris (20 minutes away) and for 1200 years was the burial site of almost all the French royalty since Clovis I (465 - 511). Many queens were crowned here while the kings were usually crowned in Reims Cathédrale. Saint Denis is a patron saint of France and according to legend, was the first bishop of Paris. The basilique is an architectural landmark since it was the first major structure built in the Gothic style, but only part of the original Gothic ambulatory at the east end remains. It was the first church to be built in the Rayonnant style with stained-glass windows in the chevet (east end), a rose window, and, originally, statue columns. Also in the town is the Stade de France stadium with a capacity of 80,000 spectators. France Ile-de-France
Château d'Ecouen (Val-d'Oise) is a monumental Renaissance château between Saint Denis and Royaumont and contains the Musée National de la Renaissance. Ecouen was built in 1538 for Anne de Montmorency whom was advisor to François I and Commander-in-Chief of his armies. He employed artisans and craftsmen from the Ecole de Fontainebleau to decorate the palace which has a quadrilateral exterior design. It provides an authentic setting for an impressive collection of paintings, tapestries, coffers, carved doors, and staircases taken from other 16th-century châteaux. France Ile-de-France Château d'Ecouen
Château de Fontainebleau (Seine-et-Marne) is a beautiful historic town 34 miles (55 km) south of Paris and is a favorite weekend getaway for Parisians. It is renowned for the large and scenic Forest of Fontainebleau as well as for the historical Château de Fontainebleau of the kings of France. The original Château is a cluster of styles and was begun in the early 12th-century then enlarged by Louis IX one hundred years later. It has around 1900 rooms and has undergone many architecturl alterations by other royalty such as François I (1515-1547), Henri II (1547), Catherine de Médicis, and Henri IV (1589). The spectacular Forêt de Fontainebleau (forest) covers 3,300 acres (20,000 hectares) and surrounds the town. There are many trails for jogging, hiking, cycling, horseriding, and climbing on the sandstone ridges.
Musée Château Fontainebleau and Tourisme
France Ile-de-France
Château de Malmaison (Hauts-de-Seine) is in the city of Rueil-Malmaison about 9 miles (15 km) from Paris. It was bought by Josephine in 1799 as a retreat away from the formalities of Emperor Napoléon's residences at Fontainebleau and the Tuileries. After her divorce from Napoléon, Joséphine secured Malmaison as her own property, along with a pension of 5 million francs a year, and remained there until her death in 1814. After Napoléon's defeat at Waterloo (1815), he returned and lived in the house before his exile to Saint Helena. France Ile-de-France Château de Malmaison
Château de Rambouillet (Yvelines) lies beside the Forêt de Rambouillet which was once a hunting ground for royalty. The unusual yet beautiful ivy-covered red brick château has five stone towers. The interior has oak-panelled rooms decorated with Empire-style furnishings and tapestries from Aubusson. The original fortified château was acquired by Louis XVIth in 1783 as a private residence and since 1897, it has been the official summer residence for French presidents. France Ile-de-France Château de Rambouillet
Château de Sceaux (Hauts-de-Seine) sits in the Parc de Sceaux which is bounded by elegant villas, formal gardens, woods, and classical gardens designed by Le Nôtre. The original château was built in 1670 for Colbert, Louis XIVth's minister of finance, was demolished, then rebuilt in 1856 in the Louis XIII style. The château now contains the Musée de l'Ile-de-France which has paintings, furniture, sculpture, and ceramics representing the landscapes, history, and châteaux of the region. France Ile-de-France Château de Sceaux
Château de Versailles (Yvelines) is in the very bourgeois suburb of Versailles 13 miles (21 km) southwest of Paris. It started as a hunting lodge for Louis XIII-th and the present palace was developed around that by Louis XIV in 1668 with ongoing additions and later, Louis XVth adding the Opera House in 1770. Famous landscape designer André Le Nôtre enlarged the spectacular gardens and set new standards of design by abandoning strict symmetry and using expanses of water and terraced levels (photo). It served as the french kingdom's political capital and the seat of the royal court for more than a century (1682-1789) ending with Revolutionary mobs killing the palace guard and taking Louis XVIth and Marie-Antoinette back to Paris where they were later beheaded. Versailles is famous not only as a building, but as a symbol of the system of absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime France. Because it is so utterly spectacular and vast, Versailles attracts around three million visitors a year and early-morning is the best time to arrive to avoid long lines. There are roughly 700 rooms, 2153 windows, 6,000 paintings, 2,100 sculptures, 67 staircases, 5,000 objets d'art and much more.
Versaille Tourisme and Paris to Versaille (transportation info)
France Ile-de-France Château de Versailles

France Ile-de-France Château de Versailles

Disneyland Resort Paris (Paris) is located in the Paris suburb of Marne-la-Vallée and is the Disney Empire's European version of their "Magic Kingdom" theme park. It was the second Disney theme park resort to open outside the United States after the Tokyo Disney Resort. The resort consists of two parks including Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney Studios Paris, and a shopping district, Disney Village which also has stores and restaurants. France Ile-de-France
La Defense is the modern skyscraper district located west of the arrondissements of older and central Paris. It is the site of the Grande Arche, one of Paris' most modern and imposing landmarks and is situated at the western end of the axis formed by the Champs-Elysées. La Défense was built in the 1960s by Charles de Gaulle whom led an effort to level the area and concentrate skyscrapers in a single business district, rather than altering the character of historic Paris. France Ile-de-France La Defense Grande Arche
Provins (Seine-et-Marne) was a Roman outpost that commanded the border of Ile-de-France and Champagne and provides a snapshot of the medieval world. The Ville Haute (upper town) is contained within high 12th-century ramparts many of which are well-preserved on the west end. The focal point of the town is the Tour César (photo) with its four corner turrets, pyramidal roof, moat, and fortifications. Provins' floral specialty is the crimson rose and the town has a celebration every June at the riverside rose garden along with a medieval festival. Office de Tourisme France Ile-de-France Provins
Saint Germaine-en-Laye (Yvelines) is located 12 miles (20 km) from the center of Paris and is considered the wealthiest suburb of the Capital. The Château de Saint Germain (photo) in the place Générale de-Gaulle was the birthplace of Louis XIVth and was originally built by Louis VI in 1122. Today, the château houses the Musée des Antiquités which has archaeological exhibits from prehistory to the Middle Ages and was created by Napoleon III. In this collection are a 22,000 year-old carved female, a 3rd-century bronze helmet, Celtic jewellry, and Gallo-Roman mosaic pavement.  Saint Germaine-en-Laye (non-officiel) France Ile-de-France Saint Germaine-en-Laye
Vaux-le-Vicomte (Seine-et-Marne) is a privately-owned in arural setting château near Fontainebleau. It is one of the finest French châteaux and was created as a result of Louis XIVth's powerful court financier, Nicolas Fouquet, engaging architect Le Vau, decorator Le Brun, and garden architect André Le Nôtre to collaborate to produce the most sumptuous palace of the time (1656-1661). The success of the project caused Louis XIV to become jealous of Fouquet due to the fact that the château boasted more luxury than the royal palaces. He consequently threw him into prison where he later died. The stunning gardens are not to be missed and every second and last Saturday from March to October there are fountain displays or jeux d'eau.
l'Association des Amis de Vaux-le-Vicomte (official site) and Vaux-le-Vicomte (non-officiel)
France Ile-de-France Vaux-le-Vicomte

Les Plus Beaux Villages in the Ile-de-France Region

Essonne

Hauts-de-Seine

Paris

Seine-Saint-Denis

Seine-et-Marne

Val-de-Marne

Val-d'Oise

La Roche-Guyon

Yvelines


Complete List of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France

Natural Parks in the Ile-de-France Region

Additional Resources for the Ile-de-France Region

Essonne

Hauts-de-Seine

Paris

Seine-Saint-Denis

Seine-et-Marne

Seine et Marne - Ville-de-Fontainebleau

Val-de-Marne

Val-d'Oise

Yvelines

Other

RATP - Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens
(Autonomous Operator of Parisian Transports)

Average Monthly Temperatures in the Ile-de-France Region

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