Home > Royal Parisian Escape: Fontainebleau to Versailles
On this self-guided cycling tour, you will discover must-see castles, beautiful gardens, and experience the lesser-known delights of the Parisian region. It is here that you will uncover the cycling holiday of a lifetime. Cycle through the imperial forest of Fontainebleau--the old private hunting grounds for French royalty--and explore the many villages that you will happen upon during your journey.
Be wowed by the Chateau de Courances – a still inhabited 17th-century castle. Enjoy the cycle paths of the vast forest of Rambouillet; you might even see one of the red deer, the symbol of the forest. Finish your tour at the awe-inspiring Palace of Versailles with its renowned Hall of Mirrors and impressive grounds.
It is in the heart of the Parisian countryside that you will discover a truly unique experience; you can pedal at your own pace and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of your surroundings. So come and cycle on the routes of royalty!
Please note that we can organize extra nights for you before or after your cycling tour if you wish to discover some more Parisian magic.
For travel and cycling tips to Ile-de-France, visit our "Travel and cycling tips" section.
Just a few kilometers from Paris, Fontainebleau serves as the gates to the Parisian countryside. You’re free to arrive when you wish; your road book and bikes will be waiting for you upon check-in at your first hotel. However, we suggest leaving some time to explore this beautiful area.
Fontainebleau is renowned for its immense and scenic forest (a favorite weekend getaway for Parisians), and for the historical Chateau de Fontainebleau, which once belonged to the kings of France. Officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a visit to this castle is not to be missed! In the evening, choose your first restaurant and sample some of the region’s fine cuisine.
In the morning, enjoy a hearty breakfast and set off on the next stage of your journey. Cycle through the impressive imperial forest of Fontainebleau; take a moment to marvel at these former hunting grounds of French royalty. Totaling in at 25,000 hectares (61,776 acres), this forest is a truly delightful place, with a wide variety of fauna and flora. Along your way, feel free to pause and linger where you wish-- after all, on this self-guided cycling tour, you’re the boss! Pass through the village of Barbizon, the famous “village of painters”, where 19th century pre-impressionist French painters would come to escape the grey skies of Paris. Finish the day in the royal city of Etampes, your home for the night.
Classified as a “town of art and history” and boasting no fewer than 26 listed monuments, this city contains many treasures as a reminder of its prestigious past.
Follow a bike path away from Etampes this morning, as you cycle alongside a charming river. Enjoy a moment of calm while biking on country roads and enjoy the magic of this lesser-known side of the Parisian region. Discover the royal city of Dourdan, which also serves as the gate city to the Regional National Park of the High Valley of Chevreuse. Designated as a regional national park because it contains a wide variety of unique historical sites, the park is home to castles, churches, manors, and feudal fortifications.
End your day in the heart of the forest of Rambouillet, where, it is said, there is a group of wild wallabies (this is not a joke!) These 20,000 hectares (49,421 acres) of woods have welcomed great lords and kings, emperors and presidents, and now you! Take some time to enjoy some of the many maintained paths in the forests, maybe taking a moment to visit the Espace Rambouillet, a wildlife park with observation points for wild animals such as stags, does, aurochs, and wild boars living in their natural environment.
Rise and shine-- today you’re in for a real treat! End your Parisian cycling tour at the masterpiece of Louis XIV; the Palace of Versailles. On your route, you will pass through the heart of the Valley of Chevreuse and discover firsthand all of its treasures. Upon arrival in Versailles, you will understand right away why the Palace of Versailles has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the past 30 years. One of the most beautiful achievements of 18th-century art, the palace is truly impressive. From the moment you step through the gold-plated gates, you truly feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. Touring the Palace is a must, as you can visit the Hall of Mirrors and the King and Queen’s Grand Apartments.
Afterwards, take advantage of the extensive pathways inside the park and take your bike for one last spin.
After breakfast, feel free to head on to the next leg of your travels. Or you can opt to send a couple more days exploring this beautiful area of France.
4 nights’ accommodation (3- and 4-star hotels and guesthouses “of character”)