Pierrefonds is a captivating lakeside village with a seriously impressive backdrop. The gigantic Château sits on a hilltop behind the village centre and ticks every ‘fairytale château’ box: towers, turrets and a medieval fortress. Originally constructed in the 15th century, the Château had a starring role in the hit BBC’s series, Merlin.
Towns & Villages of Paris
If a day of style and substance are in order, visit the Palace of Fontainebleau. This elegant renaissance château dates back to the 16th Century and Napoleon lived here until he went into exile. Explore French nature at the nearby Forest of Fontainebleau, formerly a royal hunting park and now a top spot for hikers.
A visit to the town of Compiègne is top of the list for history-hunters. Not only was Joan of Arc imprisoned here, the Armistice Treaty of 1918 was signed in the Forest de Compiègne in a railway carriage similar to the one there now featuring a museum. Those searching for a breath of fresh air should amble through Forest de Compiègne, a leafy, lush area next to the River Aisne.
Head 28km southwest of Paris to lay your eyes on France’s finest and most famous chateau: Château de Versailles. Formerly a Royal Palace home to Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, Versailles oozes luxury. Wander through the ornate, spectacularly landscaped gardens before taking take a trip through the elegant Hall of Mirrors where the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919.
Step into the picture frame in Giverny, the French village painter Claude Monet called home from 1883 until his death in 1926. Visit Monet’s house and see the water lily gardens that inspired the founder of Impressionism and his most famous painting.