Looking for a green getaway not far from Paris? Head for Perche, in the Eure-et-Loir (France), for a weekend combining culture, nature, relaxation and gastronomy.
In this travel guide, I invite you to set off on a discovery of historic monuments, but also to put down your suitcases in charming accommodation. What can you visit in the Perche? Good addresses and ideas for visits await you in this article!
This travel guide is produced in collaboration with Eure-et-Loir Tourisme. However, I reserve the right to make my own comments, so the opinions and suggestions for activities in this article are entirely sincere.
Le Perche in short
- Who is it for? In Eure-et-Loir, we take our time! It’s no coincidence thatEure-et-Loir Tourisme ‘s slogan is “Let it slow”. So it’s a destination that’s suitable for all ages, with everyone able to put together their own programme to go at their own pace!
- When should you go? In Le Perche, you can enjoy cultural and natural activities, often outdoors. So it’s best to go in good weather.
- How long should you stay? At least two nights, three or more if you want to take your time. You can also add a few extra days to visit the rest of the Eure-et-Loir, such as Chartres, the Eure Valley or the Loir Valley.
- How do I get there? The easiest way is to arrive in the Eure-et-Loir by train, stopping at Chartres, then take a hire car for total freedom.
The route I’m suggesting here can be done over two or three days, starting at the Ferté-Vidame Castle, stopping off at Thiron-Gardais with its Collège Royal et Militaire, and finishing at Nogent-le-Rotrou to enjoy the Comtes du Perche’s castle.
La Ferté-Vidame and the disenchanted castle of the Duke of Saint-Simon
Turned into a stone quarry during the Revolution, all that remains today of the Château de la Ferté-Vidame are the ruins… but what ruins they are! This disenchanted dwelling is an invitation to contemplate, and bears witness to a history full of twists and turns.
This castle was once the home of the Duc de Saint-Simon (1675-1755), considered to be the greatest memoirist France has ever known. After spending 32 years at the court of Louis XIV and then the Regent, he wrote 12,000 handwritten pages recounting the life of the Court.
On his death, the château was bought by Jean-Joseph de Laborde, one of France’s greatest fortunes, who transformed it to give it the architecture we know today. Unfortunately, during the Revolution, the estate was turned into a stone quarry and the château was partly destroyed, hence its current state.
La Ferté-Vidame Castle Park
Place du Vieux Marché – 28340 La Ferté-Vidame
Park open to the public
At the entrance to the park, you can also visit the Maison de Saint-Simon, which looks back at the history of the château, the life of the Duke of Saint-Simon and behind the scenes at Versailles thanks to the Duke’s memoirs!
Address: Pavillon Saint-Dominique, 28340 La Ferté-Vidame
Opening hours: times vary depending on the season, see the official website
Admission: adults €6, 7-25 years €4, under-7s free
Website: https: //www.maisonsaintsimon.com/
Where to sleep near La Ferté-Vidame?
I urge you to stop off at Domaine des Evis, a former fortified farm surrounded by a moat. The estate is said to have been built during the Hundred Years’ War, necessitating these protections.
The place has been coming back to life for the last fifteen years thanks to a couple who have completely restored it. Now converted into a bed and breakfast, the Domaine has a real charm all of its own! Each room has its own identity, a far cry from impersonal hotels, this is a place that feels alive.
We particularly like the common room, a vast room full of objects collected by the owners. You could get lost for hours looking at all the details.
Here you can enjoy a hearty breakfast and sit down to a tasty dinner at the table d’hôtes.
Address: Les Evis – 28340 La Chapelle-Fortin
Where to eat on the road to Thiron-Gardais?
Stop off at Le Sébastopol in Champrond-en-Gâtine. It may not look like much from the outside, but it’s actually a very good address. Here you can enjoy traditional home cooking using fresh local produce.
At lunchtime on weekdays, a starter-main course-dessert menu with a glass of wine is available for just €16.
Address : 24 Grande Rue, 28240 Champrond-en-Gâtine
Opening times: lunch every day except Wednesday, dinner on Fridays and Saturdays
Website: https: //lesebastopol.fr/
Thiron-Gardais and its Royal and Military College
If there’s one place you can’t miss in Thiron-Gardais, it’s the Collège Royal et Militaire! It has to be said that this place has had a rich history: first an abbey, then a college, then a royal and military college, this establishment was transformed into a private house during the Revolution.
After falling into disrepair during the 20th century, it owes its renaissance to Stéphane Bern, who acquired it in 2013. After several years of renovation work, the Collège Royal et Militaire de Thiron-Gardais has now been restored to its former glory. You can visit a museum that recounts the history of the site, as well as a charming garden.
Address: 12 rue de l’Abbaye – 28480 Thiron-Gardais
Opening times: end of April to mid-September, opening times vary according to the season, see the official website
Admission: Adults €8, Reduced €5, 7-11 years €2, under-7s free
Around the Collège Royal et Militaire, don’t miss the abbey church, which is free to visit, and the gardens of the Domaine de l’Abbaye. Here you can enjoy a drink, buy local produce and try your hand at escape games.
Where to eat and sleep in Thiron Gardais?
Just a stone’s throw from the Collège Royal et Militaire, set down your bags at the Logis Auberge de l’Abbaye. A clean, quiet and modern establishment.
In the evening, you can enjoy a meal here. The cuisine is delicious, gourmet and original. A real treat!
Address: 15 rue du Commerce, Thiron-Gardais
Website: https: //www.aubergedelabbaye.fr/
Nogent-le-Rotrou and the Counts of Perche‘s castle
The Comtes du Perche’s castle is an impressive fortress overlooking the Huisne valley.
This 30-metre-high rectangular keep, flanked by seven massive towers, was built between the 11th and 15th centuries. Witness to numerous historical events, notably during the Hundred Years’ War when it was the scene of violent fighting between the French and English, it was transformed during the Renaissance into an elegant residence.
During the French Revolution, the château became a prison. A few years later, in 1836, Victor Hugo visited it and commented on the state of the building: “The outside of the castle is still very beautiful (…) the inside is in a state of disrepair”.
Restoration work was carried out throughout the 19th century. Damaged during the Second World War, the château was bought by the town of Nogent-le-Rotrou in 1950, which carried out extensive work to convert the dwelling into a museum. It now houses a museum dedicated to the history of the Perche region. You can also take a tour equipped with a histopad and/or a virtual reality headset to see a reconstruction of the castle as it was at different times.
Address: Place Emile Maquaire, Nogent-le-Rotrou
Admission: adults €5, 7-18 years €3, under 7s free
Opening times: vary according to the season, see the castle website
In the town centre, don’t miss the impressive tomb of the Duc de Sully, a former minister of Henri IV who was one of the castle’s illustrious owners.
Where to eat in Nogent-le-Rotrou?
Stop off at “Du peps”, a café-restaurant where you’ll find home cooking made from the heart and with a smile! The food is excellent and the atmosphere warm, and you’ll soon realise that this is a meeting place for many of the regulars. In short, this is an address not to be missed!
Address: 17 place St Pol, Nogent-le-Rotrou
Opening times: Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 2.30pm, Friday evenings 7pm to 9.15pm, Saturdays 9am to 2.30pm
Find all the addresses mentioned in this article on this interactive map.
Tip: use the menu on the left to filter locations according to your interests.
Extend your stay in Eure-et-Loir
Explore the other facets of the Eure-et-Loir by exploring the rest of the département!
Chartres, the prefecture of Eure-et-Loir, is often the gateway to the department. With its cathedral, its evening illuminations, its astonishing Maison Picassiette and its tree climbing course right in the centre of town, Chartres offers plenty of activities for all ages.
The Loir Valley
In the southern part of the département, you can visit the first Loire château from Paris, follow in the footsteps of Proust or take a lovely boat trip.
The Eure Valley
Head for the north of the Eure-et-Loir region, stretching from Chartres to Dreux, where you can visit places with fascinating histories. On the programme: the château of Louis XIV’s last wife, the surprising necropolis of the Orléans family and the château of Diane de Poitiers.
Article produced in partnership with Eure-et-Loir Tourisme