Walks near Paris
A Fine Weather Walk in Maur-Creteil
There are many ways to categorize hikes or walks. You can, for example, classify them on the basis of the kind of shoes you will have to wear (proper hiking boots – or will a pair of comfy trainers do?); on what you need to take with you (can I buy food on the way or do I have to bring a big backpack?); and on the level of fitness that is required (do I have a chance of reaching the finishing line even though I am not an Olympic athlete?).
The weather is fine, we have nothing urgent (or better) to do: let’s go for a walk!
For the purposes of today’s walk, however, I shall introduce another criterion: time, or more precisely, preparation time. Because there are walks and hikes for which you will need a lot of that: to establish the route, the best way to get there and to get out again, bus and train schedules, perhaps even addresses of hostels.
But there are also other walks – the ones that you can do on the spur of the moment, because they are more or less on your doorstep and so short that you can decide that you want to go on the day itself, even as late as early in the afternoon. The weather is fine, we have nothing urgent (or better) to do: let’s go for a walk!
Today’s fine weather walk belongs to the second variety of walks that welcome spontaneous decisions and that are not overburdened with days or even weeks of anticipation. It is a delightful, two-hour promenade through an unknown part of Paris (yes, such parts still exist), and I can recommend it highly, whether you are a permanent resident, staying there for a while or just spending a brief vacation.
This fine weather walk begins at the RER station St Maur Creteil (line A2 eastbound from Etoile, frequent trains). Turn right out of the station and cross the intersection diagonally into Rue Chevreul. Turn right into Rue Machefer and follow the street on to the bridge …
… turning left on the other side of the river Marne. Look for the footbridge on your left hand side to walk onto the little river island called the Ile de Brise. Turn left, around the tip of the island through a strange bit of urban wilderness – there must have been a factory here once of which today only the gates are still standing.
Continue underneath the bridge before turning right and then left into the central alleyway of the island, called, properly enough, the “Allee Centrale”.
I have never seen such a large concentration of Saabs and Volvos in my life!
This is an amazing area of Paris, apparently very popular with the old “soixante-huitards”, the student revolutionaries from the late 1960s – at least those among them, who, on their “Long March through the institutions”, have landed safely on cushy jobs in academia and the media.
I have never seen such a large concentration of Saabs and Volvos in my life! You can also find a surprisingly wide range of architecture here: from the old French-style country home (actually a well-known restaurant called the Domaine Sainte Catherine) …
… via colonial wooden houses and granny-style pavilions to the downright daring and Modernist.
Cross the wooden footbridge (that spans the “Guyère” which connects the river Marne with its side arm) over to the Ile Sainte Catherine and turn right into Rue des Uzelles across another bridge before descending to the level of the water and turning back (towards your right hand side on the “Chemin du Bras de Chapitre”) down the side arm of the Marne. This is the prettiest part of the walk, past the well-kept gardens and pleasure boats of the local inhabitants …
… and great for a picnic if you have thought of bringing something along. (You may be able to do this walk on the spur of the moment, but if you want to be fed, you better go shopping first because there are no shops or bakeries anywhere near the trail.)
After that, just continue straight ahead until you return to the bridge across the Marne – from where you can make your way back to St Maur station.
There are not many more pleasant ways to spend an afternoon – not even in Paris!