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There are so many reasons to spend time in and around the French capital but hiking is seldom the one people think of first. Walks around Paris just prove this city has everything though, because you’ll find a wide range of trails here that will make you fall even deeper in love with the area.
Paris is the kind of city that captures the imagination and fills up your camera’s memory card. When you need a breather from the busy, historic streets, a quick trip out takes you into ancient forests, alongside lazy rivers and into extraordinary parks.Hikes near Paris have much to give all year round and you’ll never be too far from a patisserie. From rocky hills to glorious beech forests, you’ll certainly need your hiking boots along with your beret.
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The City of Light is also a city surrounded by forests and you’ll never have to travel too far to find yourself in the shade of trees. The Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye is an old royal hunting forest, once reserved for kings staying at the nearby chateau. Filled with oak and beech, this forest remains a wonderful place to come for peaceful walks near Paris.
One of the most famous forests near the city is Fontainebleau. This phenomenal landscape is where you’ll find the best hiking trails around Paris and beloved of boulderers and walkers alike. It lies within the Gâtinais Français Regional Nature Park and has hundreds of paths within its territory. The forest is popular in summer but it’s so huge, you’ll always find peace if you want it.
Just across the Seine from Orly airport is Senart Forest. One of the oldest in Île-de-France, this forest is another royal hunting ground and has plenty of beautiful paths to explore. Hornbeams, oaks, birch and chestnut trees all work to give it a magical feel.
There is yet more woodland on the outskirts of the city, filled with charming paths and providing a respite from the busyness nearby. Verrière Forest, Fausses-Reposes Forest and Montmorency Forest all offer wonderful hikes near Paris.
Lovingly tended gardens are marvellous but not often a place for a lengthy walk. Unless, of course, you find yourself in the vicinity of France’s great capital. Here, the châteaux have gardens that go far into the distance and if you’re looking for a gentle walk, they’ll whisk you away to a time gone by.
Versailles is Paris’ most famous gilded neighbour and has almost 2,000 acres (809 ha) of gardens. That’s quite a walk. The Château de Rambouillet dates back to the 1300s and has a pretty, formal garden too. After you’ve taken in the perfectly maintained flower beds, you can explore the vast Rambouillet Forest next door.
The Paris region gets hot in summer when sunshine fills the skies. The forests offer shade and the ability to walk much longer in particularly high heat. Spring and autumn can be changeable, warmer some years and cooler others. This is when the colours are most vibrant as well, with stunning spring blooms and rich, golden autumn leaves.
Winter is another fantastic time to enjoy walks around Paris. Snow can fall across the region and there are few more astounding sights than château lawns under a blanket of the white stuff. Whatever time of year you go hiking here, you’ll find a little spark of je ne sais quoi.
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