Maisons Laffitte, Foret de St-Germain

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The Forêt de St-Germain contains a vast network of tracks and paths, so it is rather easy to get lost or to wander round in circles. However, this largely flat walk provides a useful introduction to walking in the forest and practice in using the French maps of the area. The walk is mainly on sandy, grassy or rocky tracks through established mixed forest, mainly oak, beech, pine and hornbeam, with many large trees but also some areas where either forestry operations or the storm in December 1999 have cleared most of the old trees and there is new growth.

The 'ballisage' (the French method for marking out walks on trees, walls, posts or the ground etc) in the forest is very variable, sometimes excessive and confusing, sometimes non-existent. The walk does not follow any specific 'ballisaged' route but the marks are given where they may be helpful. Many of the tracks are named 'Routes' on the maps and some of these names are given in the descriptions for the waymarks. However these are rarely displayed on the ground. Of rather more help are the white numbers on the trees, which are clear and relate to the 'parcelles' into which the forest is divided. The numbers for the parcelles are also clearly indicated on both the recommended maps.

The walk begins just outside Maisons Laffitte, where you are greeted by a wise bird telling you how to keep the forest tidy! It then proceeds west along mainly small paths between the parcelles of trees, which carry various markings. These include large white on green horseshoes showing the equestrian tracks or similar horseshoes with a red bar across to show where riders should not go. They also include the numbers of the respective parcelles. If needed, there is a shelter at the Étoile du Tronche, where there is another wise bird with the same message! From there, the walk goes south-west down a wider track to the car park at the Croix de Noailles, near to the junction of the D903 and the N184, where there is a massive oak-tree and an impressive pillar surmounted by a cross. The walk then goes north along the long, straight Route de Garenne through a relatively open area to the Étoile des Patis Ferrand, where seven tracks meet. Curving round on a smaller path behind La Faisanderie, now converted into modern housing, the route then goes east by a series of paths of varying widths to meet the busy Paris-Rouen railway line before turning south through the forest towards the starting point. Alternative routes are given from the last waymark (19) to the car park or the RER station.

France - North France - Ile-de-France - Yvelines

Features

Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Good for Kids, Mostly Flat, Nature Trail, Public Transport, Wildlife, Woodland