Rambouillet Forest Overnighter
42 Mi.(68 KM)
% Rideable (time)
Gabriel is a French reporter, based in Paris. A gravel and MTB enthusiast, he spends most weekends exploring new trails in the nearby forests. Over the past few months, he and his girlfriend have also been riding bikes with their baby son, going on their first microadventures as a family, and planning for more. Instagram: @gabprr
Riding bikes in Paris isn’t always easy. France may well be the home of the Tour de France, but cars and motorcycles are still the kings here. Fortunately, cycle lanes have developed quite rapidly in recent years and it’s now safer than ever to ramble in the city and beyond.
Take the coulée verte du sud parisien, the south Paris green corridor, until you reach the forest of Verrières-le-Buisson, where your adventure can really start. This small forest has it all: singletrack trails, wide gravel paths, steep descents, and more. And it’s ideally located less than eight miles from Paris. The trip continues through the Bièvres Valley, following the Véloscénie for a couple of miles, a bike route that links Paris and Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy. After Jouy-en-Josas, you’ll cross the plateau of Saclay. This wide-open space, full of corn and barley fields, is ideal for gravel bikes, even though the wind can be pretty annoying.
The route then goes through the Chevreuse Valley, truly a cycling heaven, with endless quiet roads, mountain bike paths, and picturesque villages. In Gometz, you will ride through another green corridor that runs along an old railway track, where genius inventor Jean Bertin created the “aerotrain,” a train without wheels, in the 1960s. The magnificent Rambouillet Forest is now very close. Crisscrossed by 57 miles of foot paths, as well as 37 miles of bicycle and horse riding trails, it’s one of the biggest forests in the Paris region. You’ll probably see red deer or wild boars before setting up camp under the oak and pine trees.
If you’re used to riding gravel bikes, this route will be no issue. You may have to push your bike once or twice on steep (but short) climbs, but it’s mostly all rideable. The reconnaissance of the course was made with a child trailer (see photos) and it was really enjoyable. As a whole, it’s rated 4 out of 10. There are resupply options all along the way. Technical difficulty: 3; physical demand: 4; resupply and logistics: 1.
Route Development: This route follows several sections of the “Véloscénie” that links Paris and Mont-Saint-Michel (Normandy), via Rambouillet. However, the “Véloscénie” is essentially a paved route, especially near Paris, so the idea was to find gravel roads and paths to spice it up.
- Being so close to Paris, but so far away at the same time, thanks to the beautiful forests
- The plateau of Saclay, which seems to come straight out of a western movie
- The green corridor between Gometz and Limours that follows an abandoned railway track
- The luxurious vegetation in the Rambouillet Forest
- End your trip with a swim in a natural pool at the Huttopia campsites
- When to go: Rideable all year round, but the ideal period is in the summertime. The trails can get very muddy if it rains, especially in the Rambouillet Forest.
- Logistics: The town of Rambouillet lies on the southwestern edge of the forest, just 1.8 mile from the Huttopia campsites. There are plenty of trains that will get you back to Paris in less than an hour.
- Since 2009, the Rambouillet Forest has been classified as “protected.” Therefore, all forms of bivouac are forbidden. But the Huttopia Camp, in the heart of the forest, is a great place to pitch your tent, eat croissants, and even take a dip in their natural swimming pool.
- Resupply options for food and water all along the way. See Map.
- Huttopia Campgrounds: europe.huttopia.com/site/camping-rambouillet
- La Véloscénie, a cycle route from Paris to Mont-Saint-Michel: www.veloscenic.com
- Rambouillet tourism: rambouillet-tourism.com/en/see-the-sights/the-forest
- Jean Bertin’s aerotrain: limours.fr/L-aerotrain-de-Jean-Bertin