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Essonne is a departement in the Ile de France, named after the river that runs through the area. The region is home to a number of historic castles and beautiful forests, but there are also a number of new suburban towns, designed for Parisian commuters Tourists visiting Essonne will probably prefer to steer clear of these modern developments and stick to the older parts of the region.
Gardens and Castles
Seven of the 21 sites on the "Gardens and Castles" route around Paris are located in the Essonne region, including the Chateau du Marais and the Chateau du Saussay. The Chateau du Marais was built in the time of Louis the Sixteenth and features works of art by many famous artists. The large gardens are even home to a 550 metre long lake. The Chateau du Saussay is sited on the River Essonne and as well as beautiful gardens that stretch to the water's edge, the building features a famous historic library. Throughout Essonne there are many other castles with organised gardens as well as number of other parks.
Churches and Museums
Some of the newer towns in the Essonne region are home to innovative and modern churches and cathedrals that are worth a visit if you enjoy twentieth century architecture. There are still some older churches, including the Eglise Saint-Sulpice de Favières, a village church which is more the size and scale of a major cathedral. You can enjoy a wide variety of museums in the Essonne area, featuring local history and arts, including the French Museum of Photography and the glass museum in Soisy-sur Ecole. The Musee Delta is well worth a visit as it is the final resting place of one of the Concorde aircraft. Perhaps the most famous museum in the Essonne area is the one dedicated to the writer Victor Hugo, located in his old house and featuring manuscripts and items from his life and the time that he lived in the area.
Forests and Nature
The regional park around the town of Mily-la-Foret is a great place to go hiking or exploring the woods on bicycle. There a number of routes around the forest designed for bicycles and are rated according to difficulty so that you know if it will be suitable for everyone in the family. There are several towns within the Essonne region where you can hire bicycles if you have not brought your own.