Paris - Expat Clusters
The proximity of the business districts, airports, train stations and major arteries of Paris, locations of the major international schools, homes for families who are looking for a house with a garden, make the west of Paris beyond Versailles and out as far as Mantes la Jolie an extremely popular area. Especially places like Croissy sur Seine, Le Vésinet St.-Germain en Laye and all the little communes out to St.-Nom-la-Bretèche. Buses from the international schools have regular routes around these areas to pick up and return pupils.
Where to look
For those who like a more city suburb location then Paris can offer. Choose areas bordering the “Périphérique” the motorway which encircles the city. The choice still remains to the areas west and south of Paris. These 'inner' towns or suburbs comprise la 'petite couronne' or 'proche banlieue'. They have good metro, bus and commuter train services.
The Western Outer Suburbs (Grande Couronne)
Out beyond the limits of Nanterre, Rueil Malmaison and Vaucresson is an area of towns, villages and housing developments which follow the Seine on both its banks out to Mantes La Jolie. The principal department is Yvelines (78) and it is host to a very large expatriate Anglophone community, because of the proximity of the international schools. The area is bounded in the north by Maisons Laffitte and in the south by Le Chesnay.
Versailles is the departmental town and was the home of the last of the French kings at the Palais de Versailles up until the Revolution in 1792. Yvelines has the advantage of closeness to the city of Paris but access to beautiful green countryside, unspoilt forest and woodland and it is little wonder it was chosen by the then royalty as the place to live. Your first steps to establishing yourself in Yvelines start with a visit to the main Prefecture for the Department which is situated not far from the Palais, described as a chateau. A description of the most popular towns and villages follows. The principal reasons being proximity to an international school a good reliable commuter service into Paris and reasonable quality of life for the family in rented or purchased accommodation.
La Boucle (the buckle)
Carrières sur Seine, Chatou, Croissy sur Seine, *Houilles, Le Pecq, Montesson, *Sartrouville and Le Vésinet
Carrieres sur Seine
The town of Carrieres borders the Seine up to the Bezon's bridge It shares a station with Houilles but due to its location is not high on the list for families coming to live around the capital.
Only 15 minutes on RER line A from central Paris, Chatou is in the prestigious Paris-Versailles-St. Germain en Laye triangle. Step out of the station at Chatou/Croissy right into a bustling town. Chatou marks the other end of the main thoroughfare from the Le Pecq bridge to the Chatou bridge. To the north of the town centre avenue Foch, which passes in front of the towns 'mairie', is a reminder of the proximity of the capital. In the quieter roads behind the station, life takes on a provincial rhythm. Bicycles are a common sight, threading their way between the huppé (the French “yuppie”) villas and modern apartment buildings.
Chatou caters well for its 28,000 inhabitants. Two libraries, a cinema, a cultural centre offering courses as varied as patchwork and Tae Kwon Do mean that social life doesn’t have to take place in Paris. The Centre d’Etudes d’Histoire et d’Art offers lectures in Art History.
Chatou advertises itself as the 'ville des Impressionistes'. Cross the geranium-studded pont de Chatou to reach Maison Fournaise, where Alphonse Fournaise welcomed Maupassant, Zola and Monet to his home on this lush island. Renoir painted the Déjeuner des Canotiers on the terrace of the Restaurant Fournaise. Look across the Seine and you jump to the 21st Century of Rueil 2000. Modern luxury apartments front on to the river and big companies have established their headquarters behind, around the A86.
Chatou is such a pleasant suburban town on the edge of Paris. It has good access to the city and boasts a public swimming pool with a lovely garden open to sunbathers as soon as the mild weather allows.
There is an excellent shopping area around the market square at Chatou and a busy market is held frequently throughout the week. Alternatively you have Carrefour supermarket at Montesson, which is 10 to 15 minutes by car.
Croissy sur Seine
Croissy sur Seine is a 15-minute ride on RER line A from Charles de Gaulle-Etoile. The bus service from the station takes you to the centre of Croissy on its way up to Bougival and La Celle St Cloud.
Croissy sur Seine proudly calls itself 'the town where it’s good to live'. With a population of only 10,000, it has the feel of a wealthy provincial town.
Croissy sur Seine has become a sort of after location as witnessed by the numbers of banks and estate agents in town. Along with Vésinet and Chatou it is extremely popular with expatriate families wanting a house and garden to rent or buy. People tend to settle in Croissy because of the British School of Paris on the quai de l’Ecluse and the easy access to Paris or to the motor ways going North.
Life centres on boulevard Fernand Hostachy, where practical shopping mixes with luxury goods, hairdressers and beauty salons. Historic Croissy is closer to the river at Grande Rue. Here vestiges of what were the original commerce have been turned into charming terraced houses. The old Château Chenorier is the home of the town library and behind, the old garden is open to the public as a park. Just opposite is the 12th-century Chapelle St-Leonard. Regular art exhibitions are held here and in the Maison Josephine. Grande Rue runs parallel to the small lane along the edge of the river. A panel shows the exact view Renoir saw when he painted La Grenouillière Alas. The bathers have gone replaced by the ships and barges moving goods up to Paris along this major artery.
Croissy has a good supermarket at Champion and the town is ideally located for the large hypermarkets and shops at Montesson (Carrefour), Le Chesnay (Parly II), Plaisir (Auchan & Ikea) and Carrefour (Chambourcy). Of course Paris and St Germain en Laye are easily accessible by public transport.
Next stop down from Croissy on the RER A in the direction of St.-Germain-en-Laye brings you to Le Vésinet just 17 minutes from the Arc de Triomphe. If you are looking for beautiful houses and attractive gardens along with good facilities for residents, Le Vésinet is the place to be. It offers 19th-century grandes maisons, manor houses and streamside garden paths by the lac superieur to the lac inferieur. The town has its shops based around the church. There are chocolate and clothing stores, but it is an expensive town so you will need a car to go to other shopping centres to manage the budget. Le Vésinet describes it self as a 'high class' town and it figures amongst the very top richest areas outside the main cities in France. It is twinned with Elmwood in the USA and Worcester in the UK. Expatriates figure strongly in the population which has given rise to a number of English schools from those for the very young up to teens. Opportunities are open to go on either into the French education system or to revert back to the international schools. There is a very good accueil into the French community in Le Vésinet through the Acceuil de Villes de France (AVF). They organize many activities; French-English conversation groups, arts and crafts, walking and discovering the area.
Le Vésinet compares to the towns of the stockbroker belt around the south of London. It is just on the edge of Paris, but feels like being in the country.
Transport links in and around Le Pecq have always been good. From central Paris, 25 minutes on RER A takes you to Le Vésinet-Le Pecq, then the 21 bus takes you direct to Le Pecq.
The town stretches along both banks of the Seine. The St.-Germain side, especially to the west, is more developed, but from the Georges Pompidou bridge, the view east is green and the areas surrounding the lake and the park behind are predominantly residential. It represents the western end of la Boucle and the bridge and its adjoining road network can become very congested, especially in the rush hours.
Much of the centre was left in ruins after World War II, but the old town survived and, despite development, Le Pecq has not lost its charm. Le Pecq has 14 schools, four kindergartens and six leisure centres. It is twinned with the Spanish town of Aranjuez near Madrid, and also has an exchange scheme with Wald-Michelbach in Germany and the Aveiro college in Portugal. Sports, particularly watersports facilities are exceptional. The yacht club and Olympic Piscine Intercommunale are complemented by the health service, which boasts a good sports injury section. The Municipal Theatre is very active and hosts the International Players regularly during the year.
Maisons-Laffitte (Horses and Market Gardens)
Maisons-Laffitte is a 20 minute ride on the RER from Etoile. The station is that of a suburban provincial town. Turning to your left, brings you to the main shopping street. A wide avenue with pavements and a good choice of shops. Further down and across the traffic lights you reach the Parc de Maisons-Laffitte area. Drive slowly through and you’ll understand why people love to live here. It has grassy avenues, a forest canopy and large houses surrounded by woodland.
Maisons-Laffitte is a hub for British expatriates. Its parks and houses, make it ideal for the large expatriate community and there are good bilingual schools such, L'Ermitage. The Lower and Middle Schools are situated near Maisons Château, whilst the Upper School is set in the town centre, just three minutes from the RER train station to central Paris. For younger children there is a playgroup at All Saints, Maisons-Laffitte’s Anglican church.
The town is famed as a major horse-racing venue. During walks around the park racehorses are to be seen exercising under the shade of the trees. For horse riders there are stables and schools. Tennis and golf are also available at nearby courses. There are disadvantages. It tends to be very expensive and during the racing season numbers swell from the visitors to the racecourse. You need a car for the 15 minutes drive to the Carrefour supermarket in Montesson.
Mesnil le Roi
Back towards St Germain Le Mesnil le Roi is a mixture of very old and new developments. It is a village rather than a town and is situated on a narrow strip of land between Le Pecq and its neighbour Maisons Lafitte. Towards this end the commune is built on the side of the valley with the village built along the main thoroughfare at the bottom. In the distance across the Seine the skyscrapers of La Défense are visible as are the large areas of the commune, about 50%, which are turned over to market gardening. Housing in Maisons Laffitte and Mesnil le Roi merges together at the boundaries making it more a suburb of the main town at this end. The town is twinned with Newmarket, well known in the UK for its racing associations. Access to the RER line at Maisons Laffitte is good. The village has three “maternelle” infant schools and two “primaire” junior schools in the French State Education system. The international schools at St Germain en laye and in Maisons Laffitte are relatively accessible. Shopping is either in the town of Maisons Laffitte or across the river to Montesson and the Carrefour hypermarket.
* Houilles and Sartrouville fall outside the main cachement areas for the schools, so no detail is given.
A 25-minute metro ride takes you from place de La Concorde to the Maine d’Issy and the centre of town with its main square and shopping streets. The architecture ranges from 19th-century brick houses to 60s concrete apartment buildings. A climb up narrow winding streets takes you to the Parc Henri Barbusse, a long strip of lawn and trees, which is a pleasant surprise after so many manicured, fenced-off Parisian gardens. You could believe you were in the countryside until you climb higher and catch sight of smokestacks, cranes, office buildings and neon signs.
Issy is a young community with lots of children. Children can start at one of the 'maternelle', a state-run nursery school, whilst younger children can be left at the 'halte-garderie', a local cooperative where non-working mothers can leave their children in exchange for donating a few hours of their time during the week.
The main hypermarket for shopping is at Auchan in Issy-les-Moulineaux. There is also a large 'centre commercial' in nearby Vélizy with a variety of major stores. The area is handy for frequent travellers using Orly Airport.
Fifteen minutes from St.-Michel by RER, Meudon is overlooked on one side by a Benedictine Abbey and an Orphanage, and on the other by the Observatory. Few other old buildings remain in Meudon, except the church and the museum in the medieval residence of Moliere’s wife, Armande Béjart.
The lower end of Meudon is concrete residential and commercial buildings, with main routes for commercial traffic and commuters to the office complexes and industry along the Seine. Further up, things improve. The main street, rue de la République, goes from the market to the woods of Meudon-La-Foret.
Meudon is one of the prettiest suburbs and is highly sought-after, particularly by the French. Thus the cost of living is relatively high. The area boasts good quality 'maternelles' as Meudon has many professional couples with both parents working. Similarly the 'crèches' and 'halte-garderies' are good. Meudon is relatively far from the international schools to the west although the Lice de Sevres is not too far.
The Standard Athletic Club is also located in Meudon on the edge of the forest. Open to all ages, the whole family can enjoy their favourite sports, as well as make plenty of friends in an informal, Anglo-Saxon atmosphere. Many different sports are available as is the restaurant and other social facilities.
Part of the chic NAP triangle (Neuilly, Auteuil, Passy), Neuilly-sur-Seine is the home of the BCBG Parisians (bon chic, bon genre: the equivalent of the London “Sloane’s”). Naturally rental and/or purchase of property in the area tend to be at a high cost. Leafy avenues, wide roads, high-class 19th-century apartment buildings, in addition to many small public and private gardens are available to residents. Avenue Charles de Gaulle is home to many businesses from the Périphérique down to the Pont de Neuilly. On the other side of the river more are to be found at Courbevoie and La Défense.
Neuilly combines the feeling of a large provincial town with the convenience of Paris. Ten minutes on metro and you’re in the centre of the city. Ten minutes in the other direction and La Défense with its business sector, shopping mall at Quatre Temps and the Grande Arche beckons you. Metro Line 1 and the RER from the west run underneath the avenue Charles de Gaulle so access to the stations can be a 20 – 30 minute walk.
It has two main parks. The Jardin d’Acclimatation has everything to amuse children, from farm animals, a monkey house, a miniature train, log flume, pony rides, a merry-go-round, and bumper cars to a sandy play area with jungle gyms and slides. The Jardin de Bagatelle, is a 15- minute walk from metro Pont de Neuilly. It is known for its world-class roses. The estate was the property of the fourth Marquis of Hertford who, with his descendants, enlarged the gardens. In spring, there are carpets of daffodils, tulips and hyacinths, and in the summer, roses and ....classical music.
There is an English-language-school, to cater for the large international community who live in the area. Marymount, is a private coeducational Catholic school that offers an American curriculum. Shopping is either at the Neuilly Market, La Défense Auchan or the Leclerc Hypermarket in Levallois-Perret. Two International hospitals are also to be found in Neuilly, the American Hospital and the British Hertford Hospital.
Less than 10-minutes walk from metro Boulogne Pont de St-Cloud, across a loop of the Seine, you arrive in Saint Cloud. The town perches on a hillside with commanding views over the Bois de Boulogne, the Parc de St.-Cloud, and the whole of western Paris from the Palais de Justice to the Montparnasse building, the tallest structure in Paris.
The centre of town is halfway up the hill, a compact network of narrow streets winding around the Romanesque church, the hotel de ville and a small hospital. Some streets have been made into pedestrian ways, but there is plenty of parking space for what little traffic passes through the center. There are a few people walking around in mid-afternoon, and the mixture is young parents, school children and the elderly.
Further up the hill is the main residential area, the Lycée de St-Cloud, the cultural center Les Trois Pierrots, and rows of very modern apartment blocks, interspersed with older, red-brick private houses. The general feel is of a quiet dormitory town for the capital, well-served by roads, buses and rail, but not without the characteristic pâtisseries and brasseries of an established town. In addition there is the Parc de St-Cloud in all its architectural splendor, dotted with charming places to eat, among them the private Racing Club de France. Across on the other side of town you have good access along the D907 to the American School on the border of St Cloud and Garches. The surrounding area is a popular location for families wanting an American curriculum for their children.
The worst thing is the lack of shopping facilities and St-Cloud is not always the friendliest of places. For major shopping Suresnes, La Défense, Garches ,Vaucresson and Le Chesnay are close by. Without doubt a car is a useful even essential requirement.
Suresnes and the Hauts-de-Seine Departement (92)
Easily accessible from Paris, Suresnes is a 15-minute drive from Porte Maillot towards the Bois de Boulogne and over the Pont de Suresnes or 10 to 20 minutes from La Défense. Suresnes is on the side of a steep hill up to St. Cloud. The central area around place du General Leclerc is extremely busy on Wednesdays and Saturdays when its market day. Food and grocery shopping is available in Franprix at the Centre Commercial du Pont de Suresnes. It has its own free parking. Further afield there is Auchan at Quatre Temps/La Defense.
The “steep hill” rises up to Mont Valérien. It is a stylish address which affords a spectacular view over the city and the Eiffel Tower. Mont Valerien has been a very old religious site since the Middle Ages. In the 17th century, pilgrims crossed the Seine on ferries to reach the sacred calvaire, climbing the slope on their knees. The Fort du Mont Valérien, became an infamous place in the Second World War when 4,500 hostages and members of the resistance were executed there. Today it is a French military base. Nearby is the Parc des Landes, dedicated to the fusillés de la Résistance, and the American Military Cemetery on boulevard Washington.
The Parc du Château on quai Leon Blum has an excellent view of the river. There are house boats on the opposite side and a long way up and down the Seine. They look to be a permanent addition to the river bank, complete with their own post boxes.
Quai Ouest, and it’s neighbour the Lighter Club, are fun places to go to at night. In Paris they like their late nights very late, so you often see the crowd arrive at midnight. If you like a year round selection of music, dance and drama the Théâtre de Suresnes Jean Vilar offers a large programme to suit all tastes.
St Germain to Saint Nom La Breteche
Saint-Germain-en-Laye, not to be confused with St Germain des Prés in Paris, is one of the principal towns of the department of Yvelines. It has a bustling centre with a regular market. There are many stores and boutiques and an international choice of cuisines at the many bars and restaurants. The town even boasts a British pub and an Irish bar near to the town centre. Food shopping can be done in town or there is easy access to Carrefour’s hypermarkets at Montesson or Chambourcy.
It is at the Terminus of the RER line A from Paris which is about a 25 minute journey and there is a good bus station where transport is available to the outlying areas. two other stations serve the communes out to Noisy le Roi on a new suburban rail line and finally, Saint-Germain-en-Laye is also served by Achères Grand Cormier station on Paris RER line A and on the Transilien Paris Saint-Lazare suburban rail line. This station is located in the middle of the Forest of Saint-Germain, far away from the urbanized part of the commune on the way to Conflans st Honorine.
The population of St Germain is around 40,000 and there is a significant expatriate community because of the towns proximity to the Lycée International. The town has excellent residential areas around the outskirts and apartments and houses can equally be found in town. On the official side the sous-Prefecture is an important centre for residents requiring vehicle documentation, visas and identity cards.
St Germain was the royal residence of numerous French monarchs and started in 1020 when King Robert the Pious founded a convent on the site of the present Church of Saint-Germain. The chateau was constructed in 1348 by King Charles V on the foundations of an old castle dating from the time of Saint Louis in 1238. François I was responsible for its subsequent restoration and then Henri IV and Louis XIII equally left their marks on St. Germain. Louis XIV was born in the city (its coat of arms showing a cradle and the date of his birth). And he established Saint-Germain-en-Laye as his principal residence. Later he lent the château to King James II after his exile from Britain. King James lived in the Chateau for 13 years and his daughter Marie-Louise Stuart was born in exile here in 1692. He is buried in the Church.
Saint Germain-en-Laye is famous for its 2.4 kilometre long stone terrace built by André Le Nôtre. The terrace provides a view over the valley of the Seine and, in the distance, Paris.
During the French Revolution, the name was changed because of its connotation with royalty and it became known as Montagne-du-Bon-Air. Fortunately its original name was re-established
In the 19th century, Napoleon inaugurated his cavalry officers training school in the Chateau-Vieux. Napoleon III set up the Musée des Antiquités Nationales with exhibits ranging from Paleolithic to Celtic times in the old castle. Counted amongst its most famous exhibit is the "Dame de Brassempouy" sculpted on an ivory tusk from a mammoth around 23,000 years.
Saint-Germain-en-Laye has been the birthplace to many notable individuals including the kings, Henri II (1519-1559), Charles IX (1550-1574), Louis XIV (1638-1715) and Claude Debussy (1862-1918), the composer.
Saint-Germain-en-Laye’s international nature is exemplified through its twinning policy with towns such as Aschaffenburg - Germany, Temara - Morocco, Ayr, Scotland, United Kingdom, Winchester, Massachusetts, United States of America, and Konstancin-Jeziorna - Poland.
L’Étang la Ville
This popular area is at the head of the valley which leads up over the hill through the Foret de Marly to Bailly/Noisy. To the north it extends back to Mareil Marly and St Germain en Laye. The town centre is relatively narrow but is lively, and there is a large Post Office. It is a very residential area and the choice of property is extremely varied. On this branch of the valley the roads end in cul de sacs and right at the top end the small terminus for the SNCF line from St LazaireSt Nom La Breteche/Foret de Marly. Since the end of 2004 it has now become a junction allowing commuters train access to Noisy Le Roi at one end and serving the communes back into Saint Germain en Laye at the other. The link has used an old but now refurbished line that has not been used by commuters in this area since 1936.
From the capital, the easiest route to Fourqueux is by RER A to St.-Germain, then the bus. Unprepossessing modern developments are the first impression, but Fourqueux has its advantages as a place to live. The main street has good facilities, with post office, tabac, boulangerie and church within a matter of minutes of each other. The supermarket and mairie are a short bus ride away. The main residential area is unmistakably modern, but more classically French buildings can be found behind hedged fences not far away.
L’espace is the village’s social centre, providing artistic, cultural and educational activities for every age and situation. There are sports facilities, notably the golf course and pony club, to the west. There is also an école maternelle and école primaire, situated together as part of the Groupe Scolaire Charles Bouvard. There is an English speaking taxi service, Amestoy.
Mme Artault, whose husband runs the British medical centre in St.Germain, compares Fourqueux to Twickenham and emphasizes the cosmopolitan feel of the suburb. She admits that “when you don’t know the language it’s a stumbling block,” but says that perseverance is the key. Fourqueux Accueil helps foreigners—ID percent of the population—to find their feet and integrate, something made easier by a strong community spirit.
A quiet residential village with good housing in between St.-Germain-en-Laye and Marly-le-Roi Mareil-Marly has an SNCF station which gets you to Paris in 35 minutes. Alternatively, the RER at St.-Germain is within walking distance and on the bu route. The Amestoy English-speaking taxi service in nearby Fourqueux is useful for going to the airport and similar trips. There is an English Medical Centre in nearby St.-Germain-en-Laye a well as hospitals there and in Marly-le- Roi.
Mareil-Marly has relatively few inhabitants, so neighbouring towns provide most of the village’s services though it does possess a few shops, post office, library and école primaire. The village has a distinctly rural feel for somewhere so accessible and the atmosphere reminds you of an English village, noisier now with the train service which will undoubtedly boost the population.
There is a considerable English-speaking population taking advantage of the location to send children to the local international school for younger children and the international schools at St Germain and Croissy.
This pretty, busy town is half an hour west of Paris by car along the A13 or RN13, and lies between Versailles and St.Germain-en-Laye. The SNCF from Paris St.-Lazare is about the same journey time and the service is frequent. The RER goes as far as St.-Germain-en-Laye and good bus connections make Marly easily accessible to every one.
On the edge of the Fôret de Marly, and the location of the private home of the kings of France, the town is often described as a garden village perhaps because over half the area is made up of green spaces. Public services are equally impressive: there are around 200 different associations offering opportunities in sport and culture, as well as a large 'centre commercial' (Les Grandes Terres) on the outskirts of the town. Services available include a bank, beauty salon, travel agent and a supermarket.
At the heart of Marly-le-Roi is a quaint little old town with houses, cafés and shops.
At top end on the way to the A13 motorway the Musée-Promenade de Marly-le-Roi et Louveciennes in the Marly park contains collections of paintings, sculptures, furniture and details of the old system designed to raise water from the Seine to feed the Lake and fountains at the Palais de Versailles. The “Marly machine” of which only a few of the foundations remain in and by the river at Bougival was replaced by steam driven pumps along the RN 13 and are opened to public from time to time. Here also only the foundations of the Château de Marly survived, but the parkland remains with the magnificent Abreuvoir, which is being restored to its former glory, and is completed at the end by the Chevaux de Marly horse statues.
Alexandre Dumas’ Château de Monte Cristo, built after the success of his novel, Le Comte de Monte Cristo, is on the eastern edge of the commune. The Château du Verduron is also nearby and has a magnificent orangerie.
The surroundings are pleasant and there is a distinctly rural feel while Paris remains conveniently close. There is a fairly large English- speaking community in the area, a mixture of foreigners who have gradually integrated into the French community over the years and a predominantly youthful population of expatriates.
These two adjacent communes now sharing the Noisy rail terminus are about twenty minutes by bus from St.Germain-en-Laye, through L’Etang la Ville and the Forêt de Marly Le Chesnay and the shopping complex at Parly II a mere. Noisy feels very far from Paris—more like a satellite town than a suburb. Unlike many nearby suburbs, it had no real public transport direct to Paris. After many years the town has had its local line to St Germain via the St Nom station reopened. The local community organizes regular outings to the capital’s theatres.
Noisy-le-Roi compensates for its distance from Paris by having a more solid sense of identity than, say, Port Marly: the newer residential estates, tucked in near the forest, have been planned with sensitivity, likewise the colleges and lycées, municipal sports stadium and the centre commercial, Le Cèdre. Though lacking in aesthetic appeal, there is a 'centre commercial' which is a welcome extension to the limited range of shops.
The town suits families, as there is plenty of green space. Other features include the Lebanese cedar planted in 1734 by Bernard de Jussieu, a choice of two golf courses on the outskirts and a thriving garden centre.
In addition to the advantages of a house and garden, for the children, prices are considerably lower than in the city. For the price of a three bedroom apartment in Paris a modern five bedroom house is possible in Noisy. In addition houses come with a “cuisine americaine” so there is no need to buy all the main appliances and lighting.
Noisy-le-Roi has a little supermarket, and residents can drive to the Auchan at Plaisir, just 10 minutes away by car for some very serious shopping. Recreational facilities include a swimming pool, tennis courts and a municipal golf course with practice range. The area is very residential and quiet. There is a bilingual Montessori school in the newest part of Noisy, back towards Bailly. Bailly hosts big apartment complexes for those who prefer this style of accommodation. They are spacious and well managed.
StNom la Bretèche
At almost 25 km from Paris, commuting involves getting onto the N307 to exit at Roquencourt for the Al3 to reach the Pont de St Cloud. Alternatively the choice is a drive to the Foret de Marly station about 3 kilometres through dense forest, or St Germain to pick up the RER. But that does not diminish its popularity amongst the international community, maybe because St.-Nom-la-Bretèche is a country club golfing town.
The Golf de St.-Nom-la-Bretèche is the well-known host of the Trophée Lancôme. The courses opened in 1959 and run through gently undulating countryside. Entrance is restricted, though visitors may be invited by members of the club. Challenge your swing on the red course by the scenic lake between the ninth and 18th green. The red and blue courses are 18 hole par 72 runs, the red slightly larger than the blue.
The wooden-beamed Centre Village reminds you of a typical German town platz. Regular services like the boulangerie J.M. Bihoreau, Supermarché Diagonal, AXA Assurance and Credit Lyonnais border the square. The charcuterie Le Terroir Gourmand lives up to its name with foie gras, smoked potted meat and truffles. It is not unusual to hear American voices as you go shopping.
The suburb prides itself on its privacy, with many one-way streets leading to private houses. The Mansart style Château de la Bretèche houses the Ambassador of Belgium and his wife. The château adjoins the extensive Forêt de Marly-le-Roi, which is perfect for country walks and bicycling and horse-riding. The Ferme du Jardin d’Ancoigny is a real pleasure, eight minutes outside St.-Nom as you drive past Chemin du Buisson St.Anne. It sells fresh vegetables to passersby on the N307 from a stand on the edge of rolling fields.
South of the Seine
Nestled among trees on the on the steep side of the Seine, Bougival, a favourite with Renoir and Pissarro, is a quiet, leafy suburb. Relatively few English people live here in comparison to other towns in the boucle, maybe because like Louveciennes the hills are steep! It is conveniently placed at the junction of two main roads, the N13 and the N311, and is a 20-minute train ride from the station at the top of the hill to La Défense on the SNCF line. At the bottom of the hill you can take the bus to the RER at Chatou, It is a that service shuttles between the two stations. Composed of residential areas, Bougival is generally quiet although the RN13 is extremely busy in the mornings and evenings in the rush hour.
The centre of Bougival has been renovated all the way up the high street there is a large church with an impressive circular window. The churh looks over the Bougival bridge leading into Croissy sur Seine on the other side of the river Bougival is a pleasant but small place to shop and eat especially for the choice of cuisine along the RN13 section. As with other communes most locals do their weekly supermarket shopping in the nearby centres of Croissy sur Seine or La Celle St Cloud. There is a primary school, a secondary school and the British Junior School of Paris in Bougival itself, as well as the newly opened school of music, where you can take dance, art and music classes. The mairie also runs a lively sports club. Bougival appeals to those who want a good look into French life
La Celle St-Cloud
This is a small modern town i about 20 minutes on the SNCF banlieue line to La Défense 25 minutes into St Lazaire or half an hour on bus H from Versailles Rive Gauche railway station. The town combines an outstandingly pleasant environment with urban conveniences and an active cultural life. The whole area is surrounded by lush forests despite the A13 motorway passing right through the middle. More recently the new A86 tunnel has been driven deep underneath. The tunnel completes the major motorway which encircles Paris outside the Péripherique it will reduce the journey from the Chatou/Rueil Malmaison bridge to Versailles to just 10 minutes. An intersection will connect the A13 will benefit residents in the area and result in less noise from a reduction in the amount of through traffic using the current roads.
La Celle is well served by a number of shopping and leisure centres, as well as the usual banks, post office, creche and hairdressers. The town’s many social organizations reflect its cosmopolitan community. It has a scout group and a club for ex-servicemen.
There is a range of housing at a variety of prices. The relatively austere apartment blocks are at the lower end of the range, but make up in convenience what they lack in beauty, close as they are to the shops in the Beauregard area of town and to the charmingly landscaped Parc Municipal de la Grande Terre. La Châtaignerie, a pleasant residential area behind the SNCF station, is popular with families. Its detached houses and small gardens convey an atmosphere of quiet, self-confident autonomy.
Further up, the exclusive La Feuillaume area has beautiful, secluded villas and a leafy graveyard, which gives onto the Domaine St.-François d’Assise, a protected area centring on the impressive 19th-century château, which nowadays houses company offices and function suites. (The nearby Château de La Celle is the seat of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.) The medieval neighbourhood of Le Bourg offers a refreshing change, with a wide cross-section of inhabitants.
. Many British people in the area send their children to the British School of Paris at Bougival near the Elysee II shopping complex. Parents are able to park their cars when delivering or collecting children from the school and shop at the supermarket or one of the variety of stores.
This leafy yet lively suburban village is a 20-minute train ride from La Defense. Almost rural, and built on the side of a steeply rising valley the village has a thriving community and extremely active local life. Well loved by the Impressionist painters Louveciennes has a lot to offer. Much painted by this group of artists in the early 20th century with its narrow picturesque lanes, castles, church and central square, it has a the feel of “true” France without being cut off from the advantages of the capital. It has its own station on the SNCF line from St Nom la Bréteche to St Lazaire in the city.
Unlike other towns in the banlieue, Louveciennes is self-sufficient for shopping, and the commerçants are all close to the town square. There is an excellent nursery and primary school, and the international schools are all around. The rsidential areas are clean and quiet. The mairie is active, organizing frequent events, fetes and parties as well as dinners for local French people and English newcomers to get to know each other. Community spirit in this old town is strong.