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Ile-de-France Travel Guide
Vaux-le-Vicomte Castle, Ile-de-France (© Dan Breckwoldt | Dreamstime.com)
Vaux-le-Vicomte Castle.

Introduction

Île-de-France (literally 'Isle of France') is the name given to the Greater Paris region. With 11.7 million inhabitants, it makes up 18.3% of the country's population. It is the wealthiest and most densely populated (974 inhab./km²) of France's 27 regions. The Île-de-France is actually the world's fourth-largest and Europe's wealthiest and largest regional economy, ahead of London. If it were a country, it would rank as the 15th wealthiest in the world.

The economy of Île-de-France represents 30% of country's GDP, while its GDP per capita is twice the national French average. The Île-de-France has the world's second highest number of Fortune Global 500 companies' headquarters (after the Kanto region).

The administrative region was created as the district de la région de Paris in 1961, and renamed in 1976 after the historic province of Île-de-France. Its boundaries correspond roughly to the northern part of the royal domain in the 12th century. The origin of the name Île is uncertain, but it is thought to refer to the rivers (Oise, Marne, Seine, Eure) that delineate the territory on all sides.

As of 2006, about 35% of people (4 millions) living in the region were either immigrant (17%) or born to at least one immigrant parent (18%), including a quarter of African origin (Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa).

The local gastronomy includes Brie cheese (from the Seine-et-Marne department) and the orange-flavoured Grand Marnier brandy liqueur.

Attractions

Département des Yvelines

Palace of Versailles
Palace of Versailles, Ile-de-France
must-see Often considered the world's greatest palace, Versailles was the life's work of Louis XIV, the Sun King.
Château de Dampierre
Dampierre Castle, Ile-de-France
outstanding A ducal château built by Mansart in the French Baroque style.
Château de Rambouillet
Castle of Rambouillet, Ile-de-France (photo by Kim - Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)
outstanding Rambouillet is the summer residence of the French president. Formerly a royal castle, it witnessed the death of Francis I, while Louis XVI and Napoleon both sojourned there.
Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye
Dampierre Castle, Ile-de-France
outstanding Saint-Germain-en-Laye was one of the principal residences of the Kings of France from the 12th to the mid-17th century. The present castle is mostly Renaissance reconstruction from the reign of Francis I. It now houses the Museum of National Archaeology.

Other attractions

outstanding Castle of Breteuil
very good Castle of Groussay
very good Château de la Madeleine in Chevreuse
outstanding Castle & Safari Park of Thoiry
good Montfort-l'Amaury

Département de l'Essonne

very good Castle of Chamarande
outstanding Castle & Park of Courances
very good Castle & Park of Courson
very good Castle of Le Marais
very good Castle of Mesnil Voisin
very good Château des Roches in Bièvres
very good Castle of Saint-Jean de Beauregard
very good Castle of Saussay
very good Castle of Villeconin
very good Dourdan
good Étampes
good Méréville
good Milly-la-Forêt

Département du Val d'Oise

very good Castle of Auvers sur Oise
very good La Roche-Guyon

Département des Hauts-de-Seine

very good Castle & Park of Sceaux
very good House of Chateaubriand in Chatenay-Malabry
Paris
Eiffel tower, Paris
best in Europe Paris

Département de la Seine-et-Marne

Provins
Provins, Ile-de-France
must-see Provins is a well-preserved medieval town encircled by massive city walls. Medieval fairs are held most of the year from spring to autumn.

Palace of Fontainebleau
Château de Fontainebleau, Ile-de-France
must-see Fontainebleau is an enormous palace built, modified and expanded by French monarchs from the Middle Ages until the 19th century. It was the favourite residence of Francis I and Napoléon I and the birthplace of Louis XIII.
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte
Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, Ile-de-France
must-see This lavish baroque château was built for Nicolas Fouquet, superintendent of finances of Louis XIV. Designed to impress the king, it exceeded its purpose. Fouquet was arrested on charges of misappropriation of public funds and the castle was seized by the envious king.
Château de Ferrières
Castle of Ferrières, Ile-de-France
outstanding Ferrières was built by Baron James de Rothschild and designed in English Jacobean style by Joseph Paxton, the architect of the Crystal Palace in London and Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire.

Other attractions

very good Barbizon
very good Blandy-les-Tours Castle
very good Castle of Bourron
very good Castle of Champs-sur-Marne
very good Château-Landon
outstanding Disneyland Resort Paris
good Grez-sur-Loing
good Jouarre
very good Maincy
good Meaux
very good Moret-sur-Loing
very good Nemours
very good Moret-sur-Loing
good Château royal du Vivier (ruins)

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Eupedia's Rating System

Cities, towns, villages & historic buildings

  • : Moderately interesting - nice for a quick stop
  • : Recommended - to visit if you have time
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Natural attractions

  • : Moderately interesting
  • : Recommended
  • : Highly recommended
  • : World-class natural attraction
  • ※ : UNESCO World Heritage site


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