A mere stone’s throw from the CEA and the big research laboratories of the Plateau de Saclay, you’ll find the peaceful little village of Villiers-le-Bâcle.
“Come and enjoy the natural environment for a few hours in Villiers-le-Bâcle ”
When we arrived at the main village square in Villiers-le-Bâcle, we were struck by the peaceful atmosphere there. It's hard to imagine that only a few kilometres away is the biggest research centre in France. We could expect a refreshing change of scenery, following in the footsteps of Japanese painter Foujita and exploring the Vallée de la Mérantaise.
Before starting our walk, we needed an energy boost so we stopped by the Fournil at Vandame farm. As we entered the bakery, we were overcome by the wonderful scent of freshly baked bread. As early as sunrise, the bakers are already baking bread and other treats for the day.
The bread hot from the oven was just a few metres from us, making our mouths water. We wanted to buy everything. We ended up leaving with some bread and a few delicious looking cookies.
We headed towards the church of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption between Vandame farm and the grounds of the Château de Villiers-le-Bâcle. This château has featured in countless films. We went through the graveyard to reach the church.
A local told us that in the graveyard there is still a cenotaph to the Japanese painter Foujita's memory, as he was buried here (his ashes now lie in the chapel of Reims). If you walk around the side of the church, you'll come across the discreet grave.
We went along a steep path nearby and headed down towards the Vallée Bonnard marshland. The Château de la Barrerie with its beautiful white stones stands in the midst of this natural environment.
Since the beginning of our walk, we were struck by the silence all around us. The only sound to break the peace-and-quiet here was the birds singing. There were more cyclists out on this warm, sunny day than cars.
As we walked down the passageway, we were left speechless by the amazing view before us. We were fascinated by the natural environment here, with the vast meadows and horses roaming around.
The greenery stretched as far as the eye could see. We crossed through the Mérantaise, lulled by the sound of running water. That is another side of Paris-Saclay, the endless nature. We were so captivated that we barely noticed the mountain bikers riding down from the plateau through the forest in Saint-Aubin.
We embraced this moment and the incredible scenery before us, promising to come back as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, it was time to move on, and so we carried on along a footpath towards the plateau. This path was very steep. Luckily it wasn't too hot that day!
We were exhausted by the time we got to the top, as if we had climbed a mountain! We walked past the Foujita house/workshop that we have already told you about.
With a big smile on our faces, we stopped off on a bench a little further on and treated ourselves to the cookies we had bought that morning.