One fine Sunday afternoon, we went chestnut picking on the outskirts of Paris. At about 25 km south west of Paris (or half an hour drive or train ride) Bois d’Arcy is a lovely getaway for the day amidst nature and in the thick of woods.
The commune falls under the department of Yvelines, which is also home to the Chateau de Versailles. Here is its location on a map.
The tree of Diane
We started at les Clayes sous Bois and then went into the Bois d’Arcy. Here, stands a magnificent tree at 400 years old, with a height of 31 meters or over 100 feet and a wingspan of 43 meters or 140 feet!
You will also find picturesque gardens with ponds filled with fish and bridges to cross the ponds. A great way to spend an afternoon with kids.
The last remains of the Chateau of Clayes sous Bois
We didn’t spend much time here. But saw a tower like structure, which is the last thing standing of a château built by the Delaborne family around the 1800s. The château was burned down in 1944, during World War II. Here is a before and after.
Once upon a Château! This is what remains today
It was my first time ‘picking’ something, other than from a supermarket. I was thrilled! The husband – not so much. After a lot of coaxing I finally wheedled him to come along. So we packed our backpacks and hopped into our car and set off.
I had found out about this group via Meetups. Being a regular meetup-er, I didn’t for once doubt this would turn out badly. And it didn’t. Although, I did need my husband to translate from french every now and then! And if it weren’t for him I’d pick all the wrong kind of mushrooms and get badly injured by poky chestnuts!
Like I said, it was my first time and I did get needled by the chestnuts, but it could’ve been worse. Obviously we had forgotten to pack gloves and used tongs instead to do all the picking!!
It was a long long walk, my phone calculated a total of 12 kms! This also had to do with the additional legwork done to go look for some people who lost their way. Our guide, Christophe, had a big cowbell that he donged every time he wanted our attention. These few people went out of dong-range ! We finally found them after 30 long minutes of searching. Thank God for cellphones.
As for our edible search, we didn’t find mushrooms that we could eat. We found one but since it was in a bag filled with other inedible mushrooms, it had to be discarded.
About the chestnuts, we found a ton! Skinned them, and instead of making a cake ( as was suggested at the meetup) just roasted them.And you guess it, gobbled em good.
It was a day well spent.
We met some nice people. Bumped into a lot of friendly residents walking pets and kids of all sizes. We were so happy to meet the four legged variety, we even befriended their humans!
A few tips
- This is a great place to picnic with friends and family
- But if you do enter the forested area, do so with someone who knows the place
- Mushrooms can be poisonous. Pick with care and only if you know how to
- Chestnuts poke. And it HURTS.
Practical Information: getting there
By train: Take the Transilien 65607 from Paris-Montparnasse towards direction Maule. Get off at Villepreux-Les-Clayes. It’s a 15 minute walk from there.
By car: GPS this address: Allée de la Gare, 78340 Les Clayes-sous-Bois This brings you to the Villepreux-Les-Clayes station. Here you can find parking and toilets. Thereafter, it’s a 15 minute walk.
If you want to book this tour, let me know. And I’ll inbox you the details. Free of course.