Are you looking for a unique and off-the-beaten-path destination near Paris? Look no further than Clichy-sous-Bois, a commune located just 15 kilometers from central Paris. While it may not have the same tourist infrastructure as some of its neighboring suburbs, Clichy-sous-Bois offers a rich history, natural beauty, and a vibrant local culture.
Let’s start with the geography. Clichy-sous-Bois covers an area of 3.95 square kilometers, with 1.1 square kilometers of woods. These woods are remnants of the Bondy wood, which includes the Forêt Départementale de Bondy, Parc de la Fosse Maussoin, and Parc de la Mairie. These green spaces provide a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of Paris.
The history of Clichy-sous-Bois dates back to Roman times, with the town deriving its name from Roman Cleppius. It was a hunting resort for French kings in the 16th century and belonged to the Duc d’Orléans in the 18th century. Today, it is a diverse community with a majority of its population of African heritage.
Unfortunately, Clichy-sous-Bois gained international attention in 2005 when civil unrest and riots broke out, stemming from high unemployment rates and a sense of isolation from central Paris. While the community has made strides in addressing these issues, it remains one of the most economically disadvantaged suburbs in France.
Despite these challenges, Clichy-sous-Bois offers a unique and rewarding travel experience. Visitors can explore the town’s history at sites such as the Church of Saint-Médard, which dates back to the 12th century, or the Maison des Berges, a restored 19th-century house that showcases local history and culture.
Nature lovers will appreciate the town’s green spaces, such as the Parc Urbain, a 13-hectare park that features a lake, walking trails, and picnic areas. The Bondy wood provides even more opportunities for outdoor recreation, with hiking and cycling trails winding through the forest.
While Clichy-sous-Bois may not have direct access to the Paris Métro or suburban rail network, it is still easily accessible by public transportation. The Le Raincy – Villemomble – Montfermeil station on Paris RER line E is just 3.2 kilometers from the town center, and there is a T4 Tramway stop at Gargan. The town is also served by several bus routes.
In terms of accommodations, visitors will find a range of options from budget-friendly hotels to charming bed and breakfasts. Local restaurants offer a taste of France’s diverse culinary traditions, with a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Clichy-sous-Bois may not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a trip to France, but it is certainly worth considering. With its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and vibrant local culture, it offers a unique and rewarding travel experience. So why not add Clichy-sous-Bois to your itinerary and see a different side of France?