Our Beaujolais Nouveau Hike

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Hiking near Paris

Chevreuse and our Beaujolais Nouveau Hike

Out of all the walks we have done in Paris, the Chevreuse walk is the best. It provides a balanced blend of the rustic and the civilized, the rough and the smooth, nature and culture. (A perfect easy hiking trail near Paris.)

To anybody staying in Paris for longer than the standard three or four days, this is the hikeI would recommend without qualification and most particularly if you happen to be in the capital during the Beaujolais Nouveau week-end.

If you have already ticked off all the major sights of the capital, the sun is out and you don’t feel like wasting a beautiful day inside a museum, this is just the ticket for you.

As most things in life, however, even the Chevreuse walk is not perfect. The catch: it is a little hard to get to.

The RER trains on the Parisian suburban network only take you as far as Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuse (the final stop on line B4.)

That journey alone – starting at the Gare du Nord – is almost an hour long and from here, it is another 30 minutes on foot to Chevreuse proper.

There are buses from St Remy station (the “red” lines 03, 17, 31 and 35, all leaving from the second row of the bus stop behind the station), but they circulate infrequently and irregularly. Better not count on catching one and expect to walk. If you do the entire walk as described below, you should leave Paris early – not later than eleven – and expect to be outdoors the whole day.

If, however, you feel obliged, for whatever reason, to cut the hike short in one way or another, make sure you do not upset the balance which is this Paris hiking trail’s unique selling point, i.e.make sure you walk up to the castle, explore the town of Chevreuse and spend at least some time in the forest.

If you follow this recommendation, I promise you that you will have agreat day excursion.

"The Church in St Remy les Chevreuse, Beaujolais Nouveau hike near paris"

Take the RER service from central Paris to Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuse station (trains leave roughly every 15 minutes), cut through the bus station to the main road and follow the “Centre Ville” sign, over on your left hand side, into Rue de la Republique.

Walk past the church and turn left at the roundabout a little further down (direction Chevreuse and Rambouillet). Follow the road – initially called Avenue du General Leclerc, later changing into Rue de la Porte de Paris – around the bend.

"Crossing towards forest of St Remy les Chevreuse, the Beaujolais Nouveau hiking trail"

Admittedly, this particular hiking trail near Paris will not be through the most exciting landscape anywhere in the world, but if you are in a positive mood, as you should be, there are enough views to keep you entertained and reasonably upbeat.

"A view of St Remy les Chevreuse the Beaujolais Nouveau hiking trail from afar"

After about 20 minutes, you will reach the entrance to the village of Chevreuse. Just keep on straight ahead.

Soon you will see a sign on your right that points the way to the Chateau de la Madeleine.

If you want to cut short the nature part of the trail, walk straight into the street called Chemin de la Butte des Vignes – that will take you uphill and to the castle.

However, it is more fun and, in a way the point of the exercise, to approach the castle from the other side, through the forest. Bear with me and continue straight ahead – on what has now become the Rue de Paris.

Where the road forks, leave the Auberge la Brunoise to your left and stay on the right hand side.

That means: walk past the town centre, too. (Although I allow you a stop for a quick cup of coffee.) Just keep on straight ahead, even when the Rue de Paris becomes the Rue de Versailles which leads you – past the STOP sign and the intersection with the Rue Pierre Chesneau – out of town.

About 500 metres further down, you will come to the Place Simone Weil on your left hand side. This is where you must cross the road. Continue on the path in the middle, past the stone wall on your right.

"Orientation arrows in our Beaujolais Nouveau hike in the forest of St Remy les Chevreuse near Paris"

A couple of hundred meters further up, we reach the above sign. We continue straight, following the Chemin Jean Racine which is marked with the yellow bar, what the French call balisage. Racine, by the way, was a French 17th century dramatist, whose classical tragedies have always been much admired by people of somewhat austere and formal literary tastes – such as Voltaire, for example, the man who famously called Shakespeare a “drunken savage”.

Racine is said to have walked frequently from St Madeleine Castle – where he lived for a time while overseeing some building works for the castle’s aristocratic owner – to Port Royal Abbey about 5 km north of Chevreuse. This is where the forest really begins. The trail starts with a steep incline, but once you have mastered that, it continues on fairly even ground and is physically not very taxing.

"Yellow trail markings in our Beaujolais Nouveau hike in St Remy les Chevreuse"

The yellow balisage – here on the stone in front – is mainly there for your reassurance, because, frankly, you can’t go much wrong, since there are wire fences on either side of the trail. Continue – past some farm buildings on your left hand side with sheep and horses – until you reach a place called the Carrefour du Roi de Rome. This is where we leave the Chemin Racine – which continues straight to the ruins of Port Royal Abbey – and turn right instead.

"Blue trail markings on hiking trail in St Remy Les Chevreuse near Paris"

From here onwards, we will need to follow the blue balisage. Continue straight for some time until you reach the next intersection of forest trails, the Carrefour de Milon. Continue straight and follow this alleyway when it makes a right turn into Claireau Forest. After a while, Claireau farm should appear on your right. Follow the yellow balisages right up to the castle.

"Medieval Castle in hiking trail near Paris"

The Chateau de la Madeleine is actually as old as it looks: a real 11th century building which has preserved much of its medieval fortress-like character. In fact, it’s so old that the stone walls are a later modification. When the castle was originally built, it was protected by a wooden palisade, like something straight out of Asterix.

"View from top of hiking trail St Remy les Chevreuse near Paris"

Out of the tourist season, the castle is not open every day, but even if the main building is closed, you can enjoy a pretty view downtown. From here, just follow the stone path and walk to the town centre.

Cross the Rue de Versailles and also the Place du Marche Au Ble – the one we had left on our left hand side earlier while walking towards the forest – into Rue Lalande and Rue de la Division Leclerc, the local high street. At least that’s what we did, when our attention was drawn to a building on our right decked out as though to celebrate a children’s birthday.

"Butchers in the town of St Remy les Chevreuse near Paris"

Despite Racine and the slowly descending mist in the autumnal forest, what followed, I am not ashamed to confess, was the highlight of the day. You must understand, it was getting late (and nearly dark), and we had been walking for hours on what had been a dry but fairly cold November day. In short: we were weary hikers in need of some comfort.

"Meats and wine at the butchers in St Remy les Chevreuse near Paris"

The balloons, it turned out, were there to celebrate not a children’s birthday but Beaujolais Nouveau week-end, and to mark the occasion, the local butcher had prepared a seasonal stew with cabbage, potatoes and salted meats. This was simply too good to resist.

But don’t be disappointed when you come down this way and there is no food stall in operation (they only do this for three days a year). The butcher is open for business six days a week, and sells many other French specialties that looked very appetizing.

At any rate, down the high street on the way to the Town Hall, I spotted at least one traiteur (French luxury take away), and there is also a branch of Nicolas the wine merchant chain. In other words: everything you need to cap your day of hiking with a veritable feast.

This is the Town Hall at the end of the high street where the buses stop. We were unlucky, however, inasmuch as a bus to Saint-Remy-Les-Chevreuse had just left – so we walked again all the way back to the RER station. This time, however, with a spring in our step.

"Bus stop at St Remy les Chevreuse near Paris"

And, yes, that stew tasted as good as it looked (accompanied by a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau, of course).

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14 comments to Our Beaujolais Nouveau Hike

  • I would love to do this the next time I go to Paris! Sounds like it was nice to escape the hustle and bustle for a while :)

  • Those bright warm colours at the boucherie must have really raised your spirits after such autumnal weather ! I thought you only got weather like that here in Scotland !

  • Thanks for your kind comment, Alexandra. I hope you and the kids will have as much fun in Les Chevreuse as we had.

  • Sandra

    Thank you for this lovely post. I lived in Chevreuse as a young girl – have been living in Texas since 1981. Our family is planning a trip to Paris in March 2012, and having seen your post I cannot wait to take the children on a hike around Chevreuse. Thank you so much for the very helpful information!

  • Thanks Tiffany. Good choice. Possibly the best easy hiking trail in the Ile de France (near Paris). Keep on hiking!

  • Tiffany

    Txs for posting this blog! We stayed w/ the school at Burres sur yette over the summer (a couple of metro stop), and stumpled on your post when trying to find out what our locale has to offer.

    We enjoyed our walks through the farm trail and back through the town, but we have two little ones and didn’t follow the exact route that you had taken (next time hopefully). On our way back, close to the metro stop, we saw a Picard store(the frozen food store). I would highly recommend that place. Guess what we had for dinner, on a budget, and mom didn’t even have to do much besides pop open the open?

    Again, thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Oh, I do not underestimate the natural beauties of Europe at all, Petar. I come from Germany myself and I know what it can offer as natural vistas in its hiking trails.

  • Petar

    Michel .. do not underestimate natural beauties of Europe ..
    Maybe you just did not have chance to discover it ..

  • Not having old buildings to see on a hiking trail in the US doesn’t undersell US national parks, Ted. It has its unrivaled natural awesomeness where Europe can’t compete (as we discovered on our last visit there.)

  • We have a city close to Chicago called Racine, Wisconsin, so this article might explain the derivation of the name.

    This is what is awesome about Europe. You can hike in the woods and then come upon an 11th century building. You don’t find that here obviously.

  • It’s always good to know that one has an alternative after all the sightseeing in a big city like Paris, Jeremy.

  • I love all of these hikes Michael. I do a few around in California every year but it’s great to learn about so many of these hikes in Europe. I actually like Paris but it is great to get a look at the outdoors away from the city.

  • Most certainly you will like this hike, Cathy. Hopefully, when you do come to Paris, you’ll set aside a day for an easy hike, particularly here in St Remy-Les-Chevreuse.

  • This might very well be my favorite of your hikes so far! The village, castle, views (especially of the town from the castle) and food are just what I like!

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