Val de Marne is a department located in the Ile de France region, close to Paris, and named after the Marne River that runs through the area. Although the region is popular with commuters, Val de Marne is not just home to new towns and motorways into Paris. You can enjoy walks by the riverside, visit historic chateaux or spend some time at the area’s famous rose garden.
One of the prettiest towns on the river is Nogent-Sur-Marne, in the north of the department, very close to the outskirts of Paris. There is a lovely riverside walk through the town, which has easy access for small children or even wheelchairs. During the summer months, many local boat owners will take you for a cruise on the river for a small fee. You can also enjoy the outdoor cafes, most with a lovely river view, and just watch the world go by! If you prefer to get out into the countryside, there are walking and hiking routes along the Marne outside the towns too or you could walk between Nogent-Sur-Marne and one of the other towns on the river; downstream to Champigny-Sur-Marne, near the Bois de Vincennes or upstream to the small town of Le Perreux-Sur-Marne where you can get the train back into Paris.
While there are a number of smaller chateaux to be found throughout Val de Marne, there are two major ones that are well worth visiting. The Chateau de Vincennes is a beautiful castle with Gothic turrets and an impressively large chapel in the royal city that shares its name. The oldest parts of the building date from the 12th century, but over the years owners have added extensions in different architectural styles. Further south, is the brick-built Chateau de Grosbois, also started in the 12th century. Guided tours of the house in English are available in the summer months.
The Val de Marne is famous for the large rose garden found in the originally named town of L’Hay-Les-Roses. The garden was established in 1899 just five miles south of Paris and covers four acres, featuring mainly roses but also other flowers and trees. The rode garden is open between May and September, but June is the bets time of year as to visit, as this is when most of the flowers are in bloom. You can have guided visits if you are visiting in a group, which will give you more information about the history of the garden and the species of roses contained there.