• The "capital region", the most densely populated region in France, still has many fine environmental references, oases of green and rural atmospheres, as can be seen in the 4 regional nature reserves: the Vexin français
, the Oise-pays de France and the Haute Vallée de Chevreuse have some huge areas of forest, with a remarkable biodiversity. To the southeast, the forest of Fontainebleau
is extremely famous, with 25,000 hectares mainly preserved by the ONF (the French forestry commission), rich in many different species and geological curiosities: sand clearings, peat bogs, massifs of huge rocks (very well-known to climbers): a very particular world to explore in all directions...Gastronomy and local produce
• The Gâtinais français resembles a huge vegetable garden, where watercress, peppermint and even saffron, that precious spice, are cultivated. This "heart of France" extends as far as the immense grain fields in the Beauce (around Chartres) and Brie (in Seine-et-Marne to the east of Paris) known especially for its cheese. Hiking
• To the south, the GR 111 hiking trail takes you around Milly-la-Forêt (in the Essonne department south of Paris).
• At the north border of the region, very close to the Champagne region, the city of Provins
is a former prosperous trading town, with an exceptional medieval heritage listed by UNESCO. This is a wonderful pretext for themed hikes. Fontainebleau forest is another attraction for walkers and cyclists, with 300 km of marked paths managed by the association of friends of Fontainebleau forest
• As part of the network of Paris cycle paths
, the path along the banks of the Ourcq canal links the Villette basin to the Pont de la Rosée, in Claye-Souilly, avoiding the "périphérique" ring road around Paris, and offers 27 km of "freewheeling
" (one way). Beyond that, cycling goes further into the countryside and marks the first links in the Paris region of the future "Paris - Moscow" veloroute, towards Mareuil-sur-Ourcq. Navigable waterways
• If the "bateaux mouche" show off the Seine in the city, a summer cruise programme will show you Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, a former boating capital located at the confluent of the Oise and Seine rivers. To the south, the Loing canal offers many opportunities, especially in Moret-sur-Loing
, a delightful village which was one of the favourite subjects of several great impressionists, including Sisley and Pissaro.