Villepreux a microcosm of French history

During the confinement we had a lot of time to walk around our town, Villepreux, 11,000 people situated in the Yvelines department west of Paris. A usually quiet, non-descript town, we hadn’t thought too much about it before but there were a couple of spots that intrigued us while out walking within one kilometer of the house. One of them was the path that we walked called the Chemin entre Deux Murs or the path between two walls. What two walls? What was that all about? Then there’s the old village with a couple of houses that look pretty old including one with visible half timbers. There’s a chateau, in fact there are two, plus centuries-old farms and a neighborhood called the Prieuré or priory. The new center of town is a 1960s construction out of cement. Town houses and a shopping area that hasn’t worn very well over the years. The first impression is that Villepreux is a rather ordinary suburban bedroom community of Paris or closer Versailles. But once you start lookin…

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The traffic report for highways in France is called Bison Futé

Traffic report for Highways in France or Bison Futé

Bison Futé or the "Clever Bison", is the national traffic website for Highways in France and now also available as a phone app. The Bison gives the current incident reports (accidents, closures, construction) for all highways in France as well as predictions of traffic volume for holiday weekends. It is a very helpful site for avoiding notorious traffic jams on French roads. But why on Earth is the traffic reporting system called "Bison Futé"? The "clever" part makes sense as the clever traveler avoids traffic, but why the "bison"? Well apparently the alternative suggestions for a mascot were a dolphin, giraffe, bird, and rat, so why not a bison? Bison Futé is an eye-catching, smart, affable American Indian, invented by the publicity man named Daniel Robert in 1976 as a gimic to get people's attention as France rolled out a campaign to encourage people to use alternative routes and depart at different times…

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Explore new territory on your bike, Forest of Senart

Here’s an idea to get out of town, hop on the train with your bike to get out of the city a little ways. Then pedal to another station to ride back to Paris. You can travel with your bike on the SNCF Transilien (suburban) trains on weekdays before 6:30, between 9:30 and 16:30 and after 19:30 and all day on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, for no extra charge! And now that Navigo covers all zones there’s nothing to stop you. To whet your appetite here’s a set of rides along the Seine and in the forest of Senart beginning and ending at RER C/D stations. 3 different lengths make them accessible for all riders. The family - 6 km loop begin/end at Juvisy. Ride along the water’s edge of the «Port aux Cerises» recreation area. Touring - 10 km begin at Evry Val de Seine, end at Juvisy. A ride along the Seine and ponds in the recreation area. Longer - 13 km begin at Evry Val de Seine, end at Montgeron Crosne. Ride between the valleys of the Seine and the Yerres, then in th…
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Remarkable trees in France

France is remarkable in many ways, including in trees. We recently published an article about the remarkable trees in Paris and now below you'll find some for the rest of France. We were out on a bike ride a few kilometers from home the other day and came across a tree planted in 1556! It was huge! And in great shape. The tree is called the Platane de Diane because it was planted by Diane de Poitiers, favorite of Henri II when she received the hunting property at les Clayes. A beautiful plantain tree that has seen not only Diane, but certainly Louis XIV walk beneath during a hunting trip, saw a first chateau built under Henri III, destroyed partially during the Revolution and another chateau built in the 19th century, burned by the Germans as they retreated at the Liberation, the telegraph line running past up on the hill, the writer Tristan Bernard and the artist Edouard Vuillard and who knows how many other famous people and events. All that in the Paris suburbs Les Clayes…
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Get Out of Town to the Ile des Impressionnistes

Meandering along the Seine meanders: A walk from St Germain-en-Laye to Chatou Ile des Impresisonnistes, 2½ hour walk one way This walk is lovely at any time of year, and in fact views of the rivers are easier in the winter when the light is soft and you can see through the leafless trees. But the cooler air outside the city in the summer is also a reason to take this short trip west of Paris. You’ll enjoy bird life, impressionist history, passing barges, superb mansions and people to watch. Take the RER A to St Germain-en-Laye. Walk across the terrace past the château of St Germain-en-Laye built in the time of Henri IV (17th century). Exit the park through the Boulingrin gate on the right. Follow rue des Arcades to the left, then left on rue Thiers. Go past the Pavillion Henri IV. At the foot of the stairs take the rampe des Grottes on the right. Cross the street and continue down the steps to place de l’Eglise St Wandrille. Continue down to the bottom then go straight to t…
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