Situated within the Île-de-France region, Val-de-Marne is one of the smaller of the French departments with a total area of approximately 245 square kilometers and a population of 1.3 million. Together with the similarly small departments of Seine-Saint-Denis and Hauts-de-Seine, Val-de-Marne encircles the city of Paris. Val-de-Marne is known colloquially as 'le neuf quatre', a reference to the official administrative number (94) designated to this department.
The department of Val-de-Marne was created in 1968 from portions of the original Seine and Seine-et-Oise departments. This department has attracted both industrialists and artists. Whilst it is today one of France's more commercial departments, it has also hosted such great artists as Picasso, Cézanne, Utrillo and Brayer.
Val-de-Marne consists of three departmental arrondissements, 47 communes and 49 cantons. The principal cities within this department are:
Val-de-Marne is characterised by a temperate Atlantic climate; winters are generally cold whilst summers are mild. Average temperatures for January and July (in degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit) are available in the table below.
Average temperature in Val-de-Marne
The department receives less than 650mm of rainfall per annum. Despite the cold winter temperatures, snowstorms are not particularly common, with less than 11 days per year receiving snowfall on average.
For centuries, the economy of this department has been closely related to the rivers which traverse it. The Roman Aqueducts at Cachan and Arcueil, which date back to the 2nd century are testament to this. The Aqueduc Médicis at Cachan is a colossal structure with a height of some 109m.
The Château de Vincennes, constructed in part from Louis VII's 12th century hunting lodge is perhaps one of the department's most well-known palaces. Despite having seen much upheaval and phases of demolition and reconstruction, the château has now rightly regained its fame. Visitors are welcome and may explore its vast grounds and exquisite interiors all through the year. The Château de Grosbois at Boissy-Saint-Léger is another site of cultural interest particularly on account of its extensive historical library. At one point, it was in the possession of Charles de Valois, Duke of Angoulême, one of Charles IX's numerous illegitimate sons.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, (Place de la Libération, Carrefour de La Libération BP 147, 94400 VITRY-SUR-SEINE) is one of the foremost art museums within the Parisian suburbs. Established in 1950, the museum boasts over an acre of permanent and temporary exhibits, a 140-seat cinema, and accommodation for its numerous artists-in-residence. In addition, it has also gained fame for its vast public gardens. Entry is at a modest 4 euros per adult and guided tours for both individuals and groups are available. Special tours for visiting schools may also be arranged on request. Further questions may be directed to email@example.com
Most major hotels cater well to the needs of their younger visitors by offering a wide variety of organised games and activities. The Bois de Vincennes, famed for its natural beauty also houses a children's zoo, which is likely to enthrall all its visitors, young and old.
Given its proximity to Paris, Val de Marne offers near limitless shopping opportunities. Outlets of high street fashion chains are also in abundance. However, one should not overlook this department's many traditional markets, which offer excellent deals on high quality produce as well as clothing and antiques.
Food and Drink
Seine-Saint-Denis is home to many excellent restaurants, brasseries and bars. Prices tend to be competitive, particularly in comparison to Parisian restaurants. River tourism, so important to the local economy, also extends to Val-de-Marne's culinary heritage. Given that 15km of the River Seine and 24km of the River Marne pass through this department, seafood is a local specialty, served at the ginguettes, or riverside restaurants which should not be missed. The numerous restaurants on the banks of the River Marne are recommended in particular.
The department of Val-de-Marne is famed for its flora and fauna and breathtaking landscapes. As such hiking proves a most pleasurable activity. The Bois de Vincennes offers further opportunities for walking and hiking. Its 995 acres include, amongst other natural wonders, several pristine lakes.
Golf UCPA offers numerous opportunities for avid amateur golfers. The following address and telephone information may prove useful:
33 avenue Jack Gourevitch
Champigny-Sur Marne Telephone: 01 48 83 36 00
Further online information may be found here www.ucpa.com
Ease of Access
Val-de-Marne has a well-developed transportation system and is well-served by road, rail and air. The airport at Orly, which has been open to the public since 1947, is the second largest air terminus in the country after Roissy-Charles de Gaulle. This department also possesses a complex TGV (high-speed train) network. It is possible to access the French capital via the RER rapid transit lines, the Métro and the tram and bus networks.
Value for Money
Val-de-Marne undoubtedly offers good value for money despite being located on the doorstep of Paris. Small family run hotels offer an inexpensive option to those who do not wish to compromise quality when travelling on a budget. As ever, off-peak season travel ensures lower transportation costs.
This department offers unparalleled opportunities for a relaxed break on the outskirts of Paris. Its riverside attractions are no doubt a clear favourite amongst visitors. Nevertheless, the many other pursuits offered by this department should definitely not be overlooked as they are an integral part of an exciting holiday within the Val-de-Marne region.