Welcome to My Place . . . La Boucle de Seine, Paris

Gabriel Corcoran on the pleasant surprises found in his Parisian suburb

Gabriel Corcoran and his wife Catherine on the walk up from Le Pecq to Saint Germain, just outside Paris.

Gabriel Corcoran and his wife Catherine on the walk up from Le Pecq to Saint Germain, just outside Paris.

 

“My wife Catherine is from the Limousin region in the centre of France, and I’m from Tipperary. After 12 years in North and South America, we are happy to be back in France since 2015. I originally left Ireland in 1983.

"Living just 25 minutes from the centre of Paris (by RER – our Dart), the towns in this suburb, which nestles in one of the Seine’s meanders, offers many pleasant surprises.

Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit you?

A 20-minute walk across the Seine and up the bank on the other side brings you to the Terrasse du Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The terrasse, which is 2,400 meters long, overlooks the Seine and was created between 1669 and 1674 on the orders of Louis XIV. The walk, which includes a cobbled stone incline, offers a super view of the nearby railway viaduct over the Seine, and of the west Paris suburbs. The La Defense business district is in clear view, and the Eiffel Tower, 15km to the east, is visible also.

The rail viaduct in Le Pecq during last month’s snowfall.
The rail viaduct in Le Pecq during last month’s snowfall.

Things to do in the area that don’t cost much money are ...

The banks of the Seine offer an ideal space for walking, jogging or mountain bike rides. The numerous commercial barges on the Seine and the sound and sight of flying geese add to the location’s atmosphere. The Ile au Dames spot on the Seine was the home to a 100m outdoor freshwater pool from the 1930s to 1962.

The town of Le Vesinet, just east of Le Pecq, has numerous green spaces where you can walk and admire the architecture of late 19th and early 20th century.

Josephine Baker, a famous pre-War entertainer, activist, and French resistance agent, lived in Le Vesinet. Her former home can be found just south of the RER station. Her photograph can also be found on a commemorative plaque at 15 boulevard Carnot in Le Vesinet.

Staying to the west of Paris, the Palais de Versailles is only a 30-minute drive from Le Pecq, and the fireworks and fountain light show, held in the gardens from April to the end of October, are exceptional.

Gabriel Corcoran’s parents Bill and Anna at the Latona fountain in the gardens at Versailles
Gabriel Corcoran’s parents Bill and Anna at the Latona fountain in the gardens at Versailles.

Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives the flavour of the area?

When it comes to local food, there is much on offer. I recommend a visit to Le Vesinet village, to the Les Cinq Las boulangerie and patisserie for bread, the O’Petit Affineur fromagerie for the wonderful selection of cheese, and the local butcher Boucherie de L’Eglise, for home-made pâté en croûte. You can complete this picnic with a selection of wine from Le Carafon.

The Pavillon Henri IV restaurant and hotel (where Louis XIV was born), is situated beside the terrace in Saint-Germain, and has a very good reputation.

The view across the Seine towards Saint-Germain-en-Laye
The view across the Seine towards Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to the area?

My wife Catherine recommends that you keep some room in your bag for chocolates from Patrick Roger chocolate sculptor in Saint-Germain and a selection of macarons from Dadou in Le Vesinet.

If you’d like to share your little black book of places to visit where you live, please email your answers to the five questions above to abroad@irishtimes.com, including a brief description of what you do there and a photograph of yourself. We’d love to hear from you.

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