Which of these urban beauties on Paris’s doorstep, both with wonderful green spaces, would you pick?
For a right royal property hunt, head to Yvelines in the Île-deFrance, west of Hauts-de-Seine. It’s home to some aristocratic hard-hitters – not least majestic Versailles, one of the country’s main tourist attractions, with six million visitors each year.
As well as Versailles, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Poissy, Mantes-la-Jolie, Marly-le-Roi and Rambouillet all come with a royal seal of approval. While it’s home to some pricey, extravagant property, you can bag something affordable in the more rural towns, such as Rambouillet and Chevreuse.
The easiest way to get to Yvelines is to fly to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and then catch one of the regular local trains that serve the area. You can also get the Eurostar from London St Pancras and change at Paris. If you’re travelling by ferry, the closest ports are Dieppe or Le Havre. Head for Paris on the A13 and follow signs for Versailles.
Tucked away to the west of the capital, this area is fairly protected and enjoys mild weather most of the year. Winters are wet and windy and summers warm, but without the high temperatures you get further south.
Property in Yvelines comes with a hefty price tag, but there are affordable options. The town of Versailles is probably the most expensive spot with top-end centre-ville apartments fetching between €800,000 and €900,000. Head further out and you could nab a small flat from €300,000. Buying to let is a good investment here too given the number of tourists. Charming, rural Rambouillet offers more affordable property: €600,000 will get you a six-bedroom character home with sizeable gardens.
Yvelines has almost 1,000km of paths for hiking, horse riding and biking, while it’s near enough to Paris to enjoy all the capital has to offer. Come here too for theatre, music and dance festivals – including the ‘Mois Molière’, a celebration held in Versailles.
‘Seine Heights’, also in the Île-de-France, is one of the three départements that encircle the capital to form the petite couronne (little crown). It’s the second most-densely populated département in France, famous as the home of La Défense office and shopping complex. Several international companies and French TV channels are based here too. Hauts-de-Seine’s urban vibe is set against a green backdrop of 14 parks, forests, gardens, towpaths and gorgeous landscapes that offer plenty of scope for open-air activities.
Hauts-de-Seine nestles between Paris and Yvelines, so it is even easier than its neighbour to access via the capital. Hop on Line 1 of the Metro to get as far as La Défense. Beyond this, commuter trains serve stations across the département. Again, Charles de Gaulle airport has excellent international links and the ferry is a great option if you don’t want to travel too light.
Like Yvelines, the climate here is mild all year round, with little of the extremes experienced elsewhere in France. It enjoys highs of 25°C in July/August and lows of 7°C in January.
Nanterre, capital of Hauts-de-Seine, is a popular place to buy – in part, because it’s home to one of the largest universities in Paris so there are some great rental opportunities. Apartments here start at €250,000, with those of the more swish loft-style variety costing €750,000 and up. You can find a family house with a small outdoor space for around the same price. Neuilly-sur-Seine is another favourite, with penthouses available for over €1 million. The market in Rueil-Malmaison is also buoyant. Here you’ll pay €500,000 for a two-bedroom apartment.
Paris’s delights are on the doorstep, but with its green spaces – including the Forêt de Meudon, Parc de Sceaux and Parc de SaintCloud – there are also lots of outdoor pursuits to enjoy: hiking, cycling, riding, water sports and fishing. Rainy-day activities include tours of the Château de Malmaison, Château de Sceaux, Chateaubriand’s house, or the Paris observatory at Meudon.