Sometimes the hustle and bustle of the city can make you crave something a little more down-to-earth, shall we say. If you fancy a forest or simply a break from the crowds, you’re in luck!
The local train lines – RER and Transilien – can carry you away to greener pastures. You’ll discover lush landscapes, rambling wildlife, and picturesque parks all within arm’s reach.
Check out the list below of three of our favorite greenspaces reached by public transportation.
1. Forêt de Fontainebleau
Just beyond the grounds of the Chateau Fontainebleau lies the Fontainebleau Forest – all 25,000 hectares of it! In fact, it’s the second-largest national forest in France. This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is a nature lover’s dream, offering a wealth of recreational activities from bouldering to hiking to cycling.
For those seeking something a little less active, the forest is also the perfect place to picnic. If you aren’t on a tight schedule, why not be a Flâneur for the day (French, for “someone who strolls”) and get lost in the stillness…The beauty of this forest remains throughout every season of the year.
Entry Fees: Free
Directions: From Gare de Lyon, take Transilien Ligne R in the direction of Paris-Montereau/Montargis. Get off at the Fontainebleau/Avon train station.
Duration: 40-min train
Pro tip: The Tourism Office organizes a range of very unique activities for visitors. Dog sledding, anyone?
2. Forêt de Rambouillet
As the former hunting estate of the kings of France, the Rambouillet Forest covers 14,000 hectares southwest of Paris. Today, it offers varied reliefs and landscapes appreciated by walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
The park is dotted with treasures: the Queen’s Dairy, built for Marie-Antoinette, the English Hermitage Park, the shell cottage, the Lovers’ Cave and the National Sheepfold.
In the heart of this forest, you’ll find the family-friendly l’Espace Rambouillet wildlife park that offers visitors the chance to observe large forest fauna – including deer, roe deer, fallow deer, and wild boar – in their natural environment.
Opening Hours: Open weekdays (except Mondays) from 9:30 am- 6 pm and 10 am-7 pm on weekends and public holidays
Entry Fees: L’Espace Rambouillet costs €15 for adults; reduced price €12 for kids aged 3-12
Directions: Take the Transilien Line N from Gare Montparnasse in direction of Rambouillet. Get off at Gare Rambouillet. The forest entrance is a short 15-min walk from the train station. But getting to l’Espace Rambouillet is an additional 2.5 miles (4 km) on foot, by bicycle, or taxi.
Duration: 1 hour 7 minutes train + 17 min-walk to forest
Pro Tip: Don’t miss the main attraction: Spectacle Rapace. Gaze at owls, falcons, eagles and vultures perform open-air flight demonstrations led by the falconers.
3. Parc de Sceaux
The Parc de Sceaux is often skipped over in guidebooks, which is why we are adding it here! This is not a forest per say, but a proper ‘jardin à la française’. It’s sort of like a miniature version of the Versailles Gardens, created by the same famous landscaper André Le Nôtre.
A quick 20-minute train from Paris will plant you in the charming village of Sceaux. From there, the entrance to this public park is just 10 minutes by foot. If you care to learn more about this exquisite estate, shuffle through the museum dedicated to its history housed inside the chateau.
Park Hours: 7:30 am – 7 pm
Entry Fees: Free to the public
Directions: Take the RER B from Saint Michel Notre Dame in the direction of Massy-Palaiseau. Hop off at either stops: SCEAUX (city centre) or PARC DE SCEAUX (entrance of domaine) + 10 min walk
Duration: 20-minute train ride + 10-minute walk
Pro Tip: The train from Paris runs every 15 minutes. But if you’re really feeling adventurous, you can cycle here with ease! Sceaux is located between Paris and Versailles on the Veloscenic route and the town is part of the Paris bike rental network Vélib’.