The Ile de France is one of the pre-eminent regions of France, because it is the district that surrounds that pearl of the French tourist crown, Paris - the City of Lights. It sits in the centre of northern France, dissected by the meandering Seine. To the north lie the regions of Haut-Normandie and Picardy, to the south the Centre and Burgundy regions, and to the east the Champagne-Ardenne. Although the region is dominated by the metropolis that is Paris, and the gites in Ile de France rank as the most expensive in the country, there is a lot more to the region.
This area extends up to 50 km around the main urbanised parts of Pairs. It is home to many beautiful and important towns, and a gentle, pretty landscape of rolling hills, and wooded plateaux. The Seine itself marks a sinuous path through the region, breathing life and light into the urban and rural areas alike.
Outside of the central attractions of the city of Paris, what is there to tempt the visitor away from the shining attractions of the capital city? One of the most well known, and genuinely gorgeous, is the gold plated splendour of Versailles. This town to the west of Paris housed the monarchy of France for some time in the 17th and 18th centuries, in the Palace of Versailles. It was here that Louis XIV built himself a palace unsurpassed in its lavish use of gilt and décor and innumerable rooms. Today it is a national treasure and museum and art gallery rolled into one.
Close by to Versailles is the Vallée de Chevreuse, an intriguing panorama of small plateaux carved by the Yvette River, known across Paris for its dainty prettiness. This is a National Park that seeks to protect its landscape of meadows and forests from the encroaching urban onslaught. Close by is the 12th century castle of Châteaufort, and the pretty villages of Saint-Lambert and Saint-Rémy-les-Chevreuse. Dampierre is known as the site of a château built in the 16th century. This area makes for a lovely location for villas or gites in Ile de France, close to Paris, yet rural and serene.
One way to ease your travel costs to and from your gites in Ile de France is to get hold of a Paris Visite Pass. These discount cards allow you unlimited use of the public transport system, throughout the Ile de France region, including Versailles. Another great money saver, and also a queue buster, is the 'Paris a la Carte – Museums and Monuments card'. With this, you get discounts to most of the top attractions and museums in the Ile de France, and can even jump to the head of the queue.
As you might expect, getting to the Ile de France, with Paris at its centre is simple. Two major airports serve the region, Charles de Gaul and Orly, and most of France's motorways converge on the outer ring road here. Similarly, all railway lines meet in Paris, and getting over to Paris from London is fast and direct these days, on the Eurostar.
Once in the Ile de France, the public transport network, including the buses, metro and railways offer a dense and frequent network to get you anywhere in the region. That includes to/from your selected gites in Ile de France. Travelling by car is not recommended, due to the parking restrictions and costs in the Paris metropolitan area.