This charming barge port on the Seine is a quick train ride from St. Lazare station. Unlike many great Paris day trips there are no train changes or bus connections; this trip offers an easy and dramatic change of pace from Paris with little effort. We had a Navigo Decouverte and so we didn’t even have to worry about getting tickets but just showed up at St. Lazare to catch one of the frequent trains.
From the train station we walked down the hill towards the center. Immediately at the bottom of the hill there were some stairs that lead up to a park and museum overlooking the Seine. If we were to make the trip again we would go ahead and climb these stairs for some great views of the town, the barges, the river and the lovely twisted old streets.We turned right here and walked into the center of town.
There is a charming old Hotel de Ville and plenty of shops and restaurants and bakeries for those looking to put together a picnic. From this point, instead of proceeding to the waterfront. we back tracked and walked up some back streets to the path above the town.
From the Church there are some lovely old lanes into the heart of the town as well as a path along the edge of the hill that leads to the ruins of the old donjon. The donjon is not open but there is a nice little garden with benches next to it which would be a great place for a picnic lunch.
The donjon is not very impressive inside But it remains an imposing sight on the skyline and along the paths to the river. From there you can wander down to the waterfront and walk along the row of barges and small restaurants.
Even in late October there were lots of flowers along the paths.
On the waterfront you can wander along the barge docks. Once the capital of France’s inland waterways with vibrant barge commerce, Conflans is now mostly a bedroom community for Paris and most barges are now used as houseboats although there are still a few working barges.
There is also a church in a barge that serves the local community.
Conflans is a good jumping off place for local hikes along the river. It is about 3 miles to Herblay which we didn’t do. We chose instead to walk down river towards Andresy. It was beautiful on this fall day and on Sundays much of the drive along the river is restricted to pedestrians. As with much of the Seine, there is a continuous walking path along the river here. At the foot of the town before reaching the confluence with the Oise there is a foot and bicycle bridge which is a great spot for pictures; the snapshot that introduces this piece was taken there. A dozen swans were congregating and a cormorant stood guard on a piling in the river.
As we continued towards Andresy we came to the confluence of the Seine with the Oise.We crossed the Oise on a bridge to continue the walk on the Seine; this is a shot up the Oise from the bridge. It was a bit tricky to get back under the bridge and onto the path along the Seine because of construction, but once we figured that out it was a smooth stroll to Andresy.
There is a free ferry in Andresy that takes people across to the nature preserve on the island; we were hoping to make lunch at a restaurant on the river and it was already 1 pm so we didn’t do this trip. In France, lunch hour at small restaurants is generally from about noon to 3 or so and we wanted to make sure we could get in. We also missed the Sunday morning market in Andresy where there is a covered marketplace called ‘les Halles’; these markets close up by noon.
Our restaurant goal, La Goelette is on an island in the Seine. Diners ring a bell on the dock and a boat from the restaurant comes across to pick them up. We were in luck and were the last diners for lunch that day. Even without a window table we had a nice view.
The food was lovely. I had an entree of snails with lentils in a broth, rack of lamb and fresh raspberry and strawberry gratinee. Here are the entree and dessert.
My husband had a scallop entree, a cod with foie gras and a cheese plate for dessert.
It was definitely worth the hike. In summer diners can eat on the terrace; in winter it is a cozy indoor space. We might have gone on to Poissy another 3 miles or so along the river, but we decided to head for the train station at Andresy. The stroll along the water was just stunning.
We even spotted blackberries on vines along the river.
Andresy serves as a bedroom community for Paris and there are a lot of impressive mansions along the river. We enjoyed the quaint doors to secret gardens and picturesque streets.Unfortunately the train station was all up hill, but it was easy to find and we were back in Paris in half an hour after it arrived.This is a terrific day trip from Paris. It is quick and easy and the towns are a lovely contrast to the big city. We will do this again, starting earlier and walking to more of the small towns along the river. And we will look forward to taking the ferry across to the island nature preserve next time.