A 2-day loop to discover 3 majestic châteaux – Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte and Blandy-les-Tours – the Fontainebleau Forest and the painters’ village of Barbizon.
Perfect for a weekend of bicycling just outside Paris.
The northern section of this loop will lead you to three prestigious historic sites, from the banks of the Seine River on the edge of the Fontainebleau Forest to the Ancoeur Valley and its two fascinating châteaux: Blandy-les-Tours Castle with its medieval military architecture and sumptuous Vaux-le-Vicomte with its French formal garden. You’ll also admire picturesque villages and verdant landscapes of forests and fields.
However, please do be careful crossing certain heavily used roads, especially if cycling with children! This first northern section of the discovery loop is not recommended for children under 12 years of age.
The southern section of the “Three Châteaux Loop” will take you from Bois-le-Roi to Fontainebleau and its famous château, the former residence of French monarchs, for a sylvan excursion passing through the painters’ village of Barbizon before returning to Bois-le-Roi. The loop takes advantage of dedicated greenways passing through the forest for peaceful peddling.
This southern section is well suited to younger cyclists, but certain portions are not tarred/paved.
max. 150 m
min. 41 m
Styles : BaladeDiscoveryIn the country
Theme : Patrimony
Departing from the Bois-le-Roi railway station, turn left and pedal to Quai de la Ruelle, via the first street on the right: Rue Chantemerle. Bike left up the Seine River. After the last house, you reach a pleasant tarred greenway, for a tranquil bit of biking along the water.
Le centre d'hébergement de l'île de loisirs de Bois-le-Roi...Read more
In La Rochette, you reach a two-lane road taking you to Melun. At the stop sign before the railway bridge (at the river port), continue straight on along the Seine
Cross the Seine as soon as you arrive in town. Cross the first bridge, accessible on the left just before the bridge, via Rue Augereau. Passing through Melun can prove dangerous for inexperienced cyclists: for less traffic-hardened bikers, we recommend walking the 800 metres of this urban section. After the bridge, at the traffic light, continue straight on along Boulevard Gambetta, ending at the Place Saint-Jean square. Diagonally cut across this square to reach Rue Bancel. Here you can once again mount your bike. After a few dozen metres, bear right on Rue des Trois Moulins. Pass two traffic lights, then under the D605 secondary-road bridge. Immediately afterwards, turn left at the fork in the road to bike up Rue des Trois Moulins. At the end of this short climb, bike along the garden wall to reach slightly to the right (just prior to the road sign for entering Rubelles) Rue de Praslin, heading towards Maincy. Then turn right to once again bike along Rue des Trois Moulins, to pedal through fields and woods. After the last house, enter the forest via the path straight ahead, accessible by crossing the road where it loops just before the bridge. Careful crossing the road where it turns, for visibility is poor. At the first fork, take the right-hand path. A few dozen metres further, you reach a field via a grassy path, then the D82E2; turn left onto this secondary road. Here a slight climb awaits, but no need to wear the yellow (or polka dot) jersey, it’s perfectly surmountable! Pass by a few houses now dotting the landscape, then turn right onto Chemin des Temps Perdus.
Continue along this forest path that then turns right, taking you to the park wall surrounding Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte. Follow the wall left to arrive at the road. Pedal to the château by turning right at the car park. And here you are, before a crown jewel of 17th-century French heritage! The château is treasured for not only its amazing architecture, but also its French formal gardens designed by André Le Nôtre. All that we owe to one Nicolas Fouquet!
After your stroll through French history, jump back on your bike to pedal to another château, that of Blandy-les-Tours. Bike a few hundred metres up along the road passing in front of the château. Reach Moisenay via the second road on the right.
Upon entering the village of Moisenay, turn left onto Rue du Marronnier. Immediately after the cemetery, turn left at the roundabout onto the D126, then take Rue des Buttes and Rue des Sirènes in Le Petit-Moisenay. Pass under the high-voltage power lines: no better time to practice your sprinting! Leaving Moisenay behind, you can continue your speed session by pedalling against a TGV high-speed train or cars cruising along the motorway down below. Continue straight on. A lovely downhill section awaits, with a splendid view of Blandy Castle. Take advantage of the downhill to better attack the steep climb into the village, where you arrive at the castle. Climb up the keep steps and walk around the parapet. Château de Blandy-les-Tours is an exceptional vestige of medieval military architecture in Île-de-France. After your tour of the fortress, hop back on your bike and pedal around the castle to the bakery crossroads.
At the bakery, turn right onto Rue Kourilsky. After exiting the village, pedal straight on along Rue du Verneau, a dead-end road that ends in the midst of fields. Where the road ends, you’ll find three paths: take the left-hand path. At the first intersection in the fields, turn right and pass under the high-voltage power lines, the motorway and the TGV railway. Continue straight on along this path, passing multiple crossroads as you pedal through the undergrowth along this bumpy sloping trail. Cross the D126 secondary road straight on. Head towards the water tower and turn left just before you reach it. Carefully cross the D408 secondary road, remaining vigilant for traffic. Continue straight on, then pass through the midst of farmsteads; the road turns slightly left before the first building. At the next crossroads, take the left-hand road.
Arrive at Sivry-Courtry by first skirting the sports ground, then turning left onto the road at the entrance to the small wood. Arrive at Rue de la Libération. Turn right to immediately arrive at a traffic light. Cross the road and bear left to continue a few metres along the D605 (you’re protected from the main traffic flow by the traffic light). Immediately turn right onto Rue de l’Église. At the end of this road, head left in the direction of Bois-le-Roi and Chartrettes. Bike along the tarred secondary road. At the intersection after a copse, turn right onto the D115 towards Bois-le-Roi and Chartrettes. Continue along this road for 5 km to reach Chartrettes.
Upon entering the village of Chartrettes, turn left onto the first street: Rue des Ecoles (RD 135) and pass by the town hall. Continue straight on along Rue Omer Tan. At the end of this road, at the fork in the wood, turn right onto Rue du Buisson. Next, take the 2nd right-hand road, after the turn: Rue des Soupirs. At the end of this road, turn right to bike along the village’s main street: Rue de la Chevalerie. Be careful on this relatively narrow, descending road, notably when passing through the tunnel beneath the railway. At the end of this road, upon reaching the Seine River, turn right then cross the road a dozen metres further to arrive at the towpath. At first narrow, the path eventually widens. Continue along the towpath until the dam on the Seine, just after the water skiing club and river port. A few tourist-information panels here present the history of Chartrettes and its close link to the Seine.
To cross over the Seine, take the ramp that turns and climbs up to the dam footbridge. Careful: the dam footbridge is rather narrow and the ground can be slippery in rainy weather, so don’t hesitate to walk over. After crossing the Seine, if you’d like to head to the Bois-le-Roi railway station, turn right onto Quai Olivier Métra and continue on to the bridge. At the bridge, take the path passing under the bridge below the quay; don’t hesitate to walk this section for the path is rather steep. Pass under the bridge then climb immediately back up, onto Quai de la Ruelle. After a few dozen metres, turn left onto Rue Chantemerle heading up; to reach the railway station, turn left at the top of Rue Chantemerle. After the bridge over the Seine, if you’d like to continue on to the southern portion of this loop, to explore Fontainebleau and Barbizon before returning to the Bois-le-Roi railway station (1-day excursion), turn left onto Rue de l'Île Saint-Pierre after a few dozen metres. At the end of the street, turn right onto gently climbing Rue Demeufve, then immediately left onto Rue de Tournezy. Enter the Bois-le-Roi recreation park, a pretty spot perfect for a refreshing swim (closed at night). Within the park, continue straight on, passing by the reception and the equestrian centre. Before the swimming area, turn right onto the tarred, arcing road. At the end of this road, turn right at the roundabout onto another tarred road. Continue straight on to exit the park.
To exit the recreation park, continue straight on and follow the tarred road skirting the golf course. At the end of this road, carefully cross the very busy D116 secondary road and in the forest take Route de la Pépinière. At the first crossroads, turn left onto Route Victor and continue straight on. At the end of this forest road, you arrive at the Promenade de Samois along the Seine River. Turn right to pedal along this pleasant shady path dotted with botanical information panels on the “wild apple”, “Italian poplar”, etc. This promenade comes to an end at the Petit Barbeau car park. Follow the cars along the tarred road, continuing straight on to leave the forest for the fields. At the stop sign on the edge of the village of Samois, continue straight on to reach the Seine and its river barges.
At the stop sign after the port of Samois, turn left onto the footbridge to reach the Île de Samois. It is here on this island that an international jazz festival is held each June, in honour of the renowned Django Reinhardt. Leaving the island, wave goodbye to Django’s statue and turn left back onto the tarred road, to continue on to Fontainebleau along the Seine for 2.5 km. At the end of the road, before the bridge over the Seine, you encounter heavy traffic: to avoid all these cars, bear left to pass under the Pont de Valvins bridge via a one-way road (next to the exit sign for the village of Samois). Be careful pedalling the wrong way down this narrow road and keep right! At the stop sign, bike along the left-hand pavement to take the first left onto Rue du Port de Valvins. You’re now only a few metres from the Avon-Seine greenway: the narrow path snaking its way upwards on the right at the end of the street to join a forest trail.
The forest path turns into a bike path, leading to and ending at the very busy D138 secondary road. Cross this road via the pedestrian crossing to enter immediately on the left the Prieuré des Basses Loges car park (don’t hesitate to walk this section). At the far end of the car park, you’ll once again find the bike path behind the fence. At the end of the gravelly bike path, cross the roundabout to continue opposite along the now tarred bike path. Continue straight on to reach the viaduct. At the viaduct, cross the road via the pedestrian crossing and continue straight on along the bike path to reach the Château de Fontainebleau gardens, via Rue Carnot. Upon reaching the Place Carnot square, follow the bike path climbing right along the park wall via Rue Dumoncel until the château entrance opposite Rue Montceau (on your left). Upon entering the château grounds, turn left to follow the left bank of the Grand Canal. Admire the magnificent view of the palace and its gardens.
Be sure to visit Fontainebleau Palace, the residence of French monarchs for eight centuries. Stroll about the splendid gardens, admire the ballroom and the Gallery of Plates, and discover the Empress’s royal apartments. At the end of the canal, turn right onto Avenue des Cascades to exit the park, then turn right again onto Rue Paul Séramy. Continue on until the traffic light, where you turn left onto Rue Grande. Be careful, this road is very busy. After pedalling a few metres, at the square, next to the merry-go-round, turn right onto Rue de France. At the first crossroads (with a stop sign), continue straight on. At the second crossroads, turn right at the stop sign onto Rue Saint-Méry. Continue straight on along this road until you reach the intersection with Rue de la Paroisse. Turn left and follow this road to the traffic light. At the traffic light, cross Boulevard du Maréchal Joffre and continue straight on. About a hundred metres further on, left of the war memorial, the “Route Louis Philippe” greenway (closed to traffic) will allow you to safely and tranquilly explore the
Now enter the forest via the Route Louis Philippe. Continue straight on, all the way to the end of this forest greenway. At the crossroads, continue straight on along the Route Paul forest road. Listen to the beautifully singing chaffinches as you pedal through this peaceful nature reserve. At the end of this road, take the underground tunnel beneath the D607. Upon exiting the tunnel, bear slightly right onto the tarred Route du Bouquet du Roi and continue straight on along this road. At the end of this forest road, cross the secondary road to continue straight on towards the Apremont Gorges. Be careful crossing the D301. Continue straight on along Route de la Gorge aux Néfliers. A little further on, you arrive at the Apremont Gorges. Be sure to admire the lovely view of the forest, just after the rocks on your right. Here, vehicles can access the car park. After this well-deserved break, turn right after the car park onto Route de Sully that winds its way downwards and becomes Route Marie-Thérèse until the restaurant “La Caverne des Brigands” located at the Bas Bréau car park. At the little roundabout at the far end of the car park, turn left onto Allée des Vaches, leading you into Barbizon.
In Barbizon, you can hop off your bike to stroll about this charming village, colourful home and inspiration to such painters as Jean-François Millet. Admire the old stone homes and flower-filled gardens transformed into open-air art galleries.
To return to Bois-le-Roi from Barbizon, reenter the forest along Allée aux Vaches. From here on, the itinerary will no longer follow tarred roads. At the Bas Bréau crossroads, continue opposite along the road from Barbizon to Fontainebleau, then a little further on, at the corner of a fenced plot of land, turn left onto Route de la Solitude. This aptly named road will lead you to the D607, which you pass under via the tunnel. After passing under the secondary road, head towards the car park and turn immediately right onto Route Mory de Neuflieux. At the first intersection, turn left onto Route de Bellevue to access the Cuvier Châtillon rocks, a popular rock-climbing spot. But don’t exhaust yourself here bouldering, for the itinerary’s biggest challenge is just around the corner… Snake among the rocks to join a steep and winding white-stone path. At the top, turn immediately right to follow Route Tournante du Cuvier Châtillon. At the first intersection, turn right again onto Route du Cuvier Chatillon. Follow this grassy, sandy path in the direction of the Mare à Piat pond, continuing straight on at the first intersections you come to.
At the next intersection, take the narrow path to the right snaking its way through the vegetation. Pedal tranquilly along this narrow, paved path leading to the Mare à Piat pond, a favourite haunt of mallards.
After La Mare à Piat, continue a little ways further along the same narrow path, before once again following Route Tournante du Cuvier Chatillon on your left, paralleling the path. Continue pedaling along this road that will lead you to a car park along the D142. Be very careful crossing this road. On the other side of the road, get off your bike to go check out down below the Grotte aux Cristaux. After your visit, head back towards the D142 and take the first path on the left, which you follow some 200 metres back to the car park. Careful, this path is best suited to mountain bikes; if you like, you can walk this short section.
You come to a large grassy and sandy car park. Cut diagonally across the car park to join Route du Luxembourg, with a rather steep yet short gravelly downhill section. If you hear the racecourse loudspeaker, then you’re headed in the right direction. After the racecourse, approaching a clearing, bear slightly left onto Route du Sport, passing behind a car park. At the end of Route du Sport, turn right onto Route du Mont St Germain. At the end of this road, cross the D606. Be careful crossing this very busy secondary road. On the other side of the road, continue straight on a few metres further, then take the first left: Route de la Deuxième Tête, which will lead you to Route de la Butte St Louis. At the first crossroads, turn right onto Route Victor, where you might meet a few convivial cuckoos. At the end of the road, turn left onto Route des Ventes Bouchard. Further on, follow the second road on the right: Route des Larmières. You come to the old Route de Bourgogne, which you carefully cross via the pedestrian crossing. Continue along the bike path on the left to enter Bois-le-Roi. At the first intersection, continue straight on along the bike path. At the roundabout, turn right onto Avenue de la Forêt. Continue straight on along this road until the passage under the railway; the Bois-le-Roi railway station is just around the corner.
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Safety instructions and good practices: - Respect the French highway code and remain vigilant on and near all roads, particularly at intersections and when crossing départementales (secondary roads) and passing over bridges. To that end, carefully read the guide provided for each itinerary. - Wear a properly fitting helmet. At night and in bad weather, wear a fluorescent vest with reflective bands and carry a proper torch/flashlight. - Restrictions for children under 12: make sure that the loop you want to follow is well suited to your children. - After every picnic, leave no trash behind, and respect the wild flora and fauna. - Prior to departure, make sure that your smartphone or tablet is sufficiently charged. Consider taking along a charger. - If you happen to notice any anomaly while following an itinerary, please don’t hesitate to write us! We value all such observations and remarks.