With travel outside of the country still being risky, many French residents are sticking to exploring France this summer – myself included. As such, I’ve been plotting day trips and weekend stays, either solo or with friends. This past Sunday took me to Rambouillet, a commune on the outskirts of Paris that boasts a beautiful château and lush forests – a perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon!
Getting to Rambouillet
To get to Rambouillet from Paris, you have two main options: taking the Ligne N or the TER, both of which depart from Gare de Montparnasse. I would personally recommend taking the TER, as it has less stops and so only takes roughly a half hour to get to Rambouillet, whereas the Ligne N has more stops and takes a little over an hour.
There are typically dozens of departures each day, so you don’t need to buy your ticket in advance – you can simply purchase it from a machine one at the train station. If you have the Passe Navigo that covers zones 1 to 5, the trip is covered and you don’t need to pay extra. If not, it’ll cost you around 7€ each way.
Things to do in Rambouillet
While best known for its château, that’s not all that this town has to offer! Below I’ve compiled a list of a couple of different activities that you can do during your day trip to Rambouillet:
Château de Rambouillet
Of course, I need to start with the major attraction: the Château de Rambouillet. Originally built in 1368, it was owned by the royal family and passed down to many different owners over the centuries. One of its most famous owners is Louis XVI, who purchased the château primarily for its hunting grounds, and built the Laiterie de la Reine on the grounds for his wife Marie Antoinette.
It was later used by Napoleon Bonaparte, a number of dukes, and most recently, as a summer home to French presidents until 2009, when it became a national monument and museum.
A standard ticket to access the monument is 7.50€, though there are discounts for students, European residents under 26, and so on. While you only have access to a small part of the château, I still think it was worth the price to see the intricate woodwork and mouldings, fine furniture, and ornate rooms.
Boating & Cycling
Outside of the château are gardens with colourful flowers and fountains, remnants of the forest, and a gorgeous canal. You can explore the grounds by renting a boat or bicycle by the entrance to the grounds.
15€ gets you 1 hour on a boat that fits up to five people, while you can rent a bicycle for 5€ for a half hour, or 6€ for a full hour. You can also access the grounds on foot, but I highly encourage you to boat or cycle as the grounds are perfectly suited to these activities!
Rambouillet has an animal park that features deer, birds of prey, and more. While mainly targeted towards children, it’s still a nice wild park that lets you get close to animals traditionally found in the area and see them in their natural habitat.
Adult tickets cost 10€ during low season (February, March, and November), and go up to 15€ during high season (April to October).
The town of Rambouillet lies on the southern edge of the Rambouillet Forest, also known as the Forêt de l’Yveline. The large forest is approximately 200km2 in size and has beautiful hiking trails, many of which you can find here. There are dozens of hikes ranging from beginner to experienced, so no matter what your level you can find a hike that suits you!