Île-de-France - Paris

Exploring Paris with Camembear!

Also known as the region parisienne (Parisian region), it is the most densely populated region in France.

The region is made up of eight administrative departments: Paris (Capital), Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Seine-et-Marne, Val-de-Marne, Val-d'Oise and Yvelines. Residents are sometimes referred to as "Franciliens", an administrative word created in the 1980s.

In this blog we will explore some of the most iconic and beautiful sites of the area with some fun facts including culinary delights of the region!

 Let's start with the Eiffel Tower - one of the most iconic monuments:

1- Completed on March 31, 1889, the tower was the world’s tallest man-made structure for 41 years until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930.

2- In 1957, a 67-foot antenna was added, making the Eiffel Tower six feet taller than its old nemesis. (Of course, by then, the Empire State Building skunked them both).

3- Thanks to thermal expansion, the Eiffel Tower can grow up to six inches taller on warm days, and lean several inches away from the sun.

4- Repainting the tower, which happens every seven years, requires 60 tonnes of paint.

5- Ever wanted to build your own Eiffel Tower? There's a LEGO set for that - number 10181 (it contains 3,428 bricks).

6- Victor Lustig, a con artist, "sold" the tower for scrap metal on two separate occasions.

7- It is possible to climb to the top, but there are 1,665 steps. Most people take the lift.

Eiffel Tower

Next up we have the Seine River 

1- The Seine River is the second longest river flowing completely in France.

2- The Seine is a 777 kilometres (483 miles) long river.

3- The Seine River is one of the most navigable rivers in France.

4- The water quality of the River Seine has been quite poor in the past, but in recent years it has improved and Atlantic salmon have returned to the river.

5- The Seine is known for its romantic sightseeing boats, called “bateaux mouches,” that drift up and down the river in Paris.

6- The name “Seine” comes from the Latin Sequana, the Gallo-Roman goddess of the river.

La Seine

Another "incontournable" of this region (must-see) is the beautiful Palace Of Versailles. Here are few facts about Versailles:

1. The Palace of Versailles was built by Louis XIII in 1623 as a hunting lodge and was enlarged into a royal palace by Louis XIV in the 1660s and 1670s.

2. The Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles contains a total of 357 mirrors.

3. Versailles’ gardens had 400 sculptures, 1,400 fountains and covered more than 30,000 acres.

4. The Palace was also a castle and you will find people using the name Chateau, castle and palace interchangeably in reference to the Palace of Versailles.

5. All the materials used in building and decorating Versailles were made in France.

Palace of Versailles

For a spot of fresh air you could take a day trip south of Paris to the Forest of Fontainebleau/Forêt de Fontainebleau an oak and Scots pine forest covering 280 square kilometres.

The forest is so vast that it’s worth popping into the tourist office for trail maps, whether you’re walking 🚶‍♂️🚶‍♀️ or mountain biking. 🚲

There are 16 different hiking routes specially laid-out for visitors, all depending on how long you want to walk and what sort of terrain you’d like to tackle.

They’ll lead you to some cool natural monuments like caves and huge boulders that you can climb over. 🧗‍♀️🧗‍♂️

Three thousand species of mushrooms 🍄 have been discovered. The forest is also home to approximately seven thousand animal species, five thousand of which are insects 🐞🦗🕷️🦋🐛🐜.

There are so many other monuments to visit in the centre of Paris such as Le Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Sacré-Cœur, Champs-Élysées, Montmartre and Notre dame,  but the last site we are visiting in this blog is Disneyland Paris: 

1- At any time, only a single Mickey is present in the entire park, so that children really get the sense that the character exists and is unique.

2- No store sells chewing gum in Disney parks in order to keep the sites as clean as possible.

3- There are hundreds of Mickey heads hidden in Disneyland Paris. These "hidden Mickeys" are all over the park: in tiling patterns, on clocks, railings, doors, or even as ventilation holes.

4- At Disneyland Paris, visitors are not called customers or clients, but "guests".

5- The Space Mountain at Disneyland Paris is the fastest of the rides in operation. It is also the only one that goes upside-down.

6- There’s a secret network of underground tunnels. Characters need to dash from one side of the park to the other without the bustle of the crowds slowing them down. A network of underground tunnels were built to solve this and are also used to haul equipment so as not to tarnish the ‘magic’ of Disney’s image.

And finally a few recipes for the region:

The Financiers

A delicious small French almond cake, easy to bake and so versatile. You can add raspberry and lemon or even chocolate.

The name financier is said to derive from the traditional rectangular mould, which resembles a bar of gold. According to another tradition, the cake became popular in the financial district of Paris surrounding the Paris stock exchange, as the cake could easily be stored in the pocket for long periods without being damaged.

Croque-Monsieur

The name is based on the verb croquer ("to bite, to crunch") and the word monsieur ("mister"). The sandwich's first recorded appearance on a Paris café menu was in 1910.

To make a Croque-Madame, add a fried egg on top (a "hat") of your Croque-Monsieur.

For another variation, instead of slices of bread, use a croissant sliced horizontally (yum!).