A hike which is mostly in the forest, with lovely sections along the Mérantaise river and the ditches which run down from the Saclay Plateau.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
Depart from the Villiers-le-Bâcle town hall. Parking is available in the huge car park along the Saint-Aubin road, where several businesses are located.
(D/A) Opposite the town hall, turn right on to Route de Gif in the direction of the Foujita Museum (signposted). Go past the front of the museum located at No 7-9 on the road. At the roundabout, continue straight ahead, go alongside a school on the right and then a teaching farm on the left. The road veers to the left and, at the Stop sign, continue on round the bend to the left.
"Yellow + Orange Waymarking for horseriders"
(1) Coming out of the bend, leave the road and take the level, wide path to the right which goes into the district forest (signposted). At the first crossroads, take the Chemin des Merisiers on the right (signposted). Stay on the main path and, when it bends to the right, ignore what looks like a path heading off to the left. Pass under a high voltage electricity line, turn left and go downhill for a few metres.
At a crossroads (forest plot No 15), take the first path on the right which heads off on a flat section and continues on an apparently flat section, but is actually a slight slope uphill.
(2) At the forest gate, do not follow either of the Yellow arrows, instead continue straight ahead (in a north-west direction, Yellow cross) on a well-marked path. At a fork in the path, turn left and begin to go downhill. After about one hundred metres, make a sharp turn to the left (ignoring the path heading off to the right in the bend). Continue going downhill, heading in a south-east direction. At the bottom, turn left at the T-junction. After a few metres, locate the PR path coming from the left.
"Yellow Waymarking + very rare Red and Green waymarkers"
(3) Head south-east on a very good path through the forest with the Mérantaise river below you to the right. At a crossroads, continue straight ahead on the flat. Go between the abandoned buildings, ignore the path on the right which goes up to one of the buildings, and instead continue on in an east-south-east direction. Once past a forest gate, the path turns into a narrow tarmacked street. Once past a car park (which you go past on the left), the tarmac is replaced by a path. Go past a chicane, go down some steps and you will end up on a road (Route de Gif on the map).
(4) "Note: Up to the next point in the hike, apart from a brief section on a tarmacked road, the waymarked route takes paths which are not shown on the IGN map". Cross the road, go down several steps on to the pontoon which crosses over a reed bed and a small river. At the end, turn to the right and cross over the small wooden bridge which goes over a small river. At the T-junction (No 2 opposite), turn right on to the road. Go across the first river. At the Billehou EDF pole and before the Mérantaise river, turn left onto a a good path which goes along the right bank of the river. Go over two wooden bridges to cross over the first river again and then over the actual Mérantaise river. Go alongside the river on the left bank. You will see horse pastures on the right bank.
(5) After a bend on the right, leave the path and continue towards the small hill in the Aigrefoin wood which is clearly in view, and then turn left to cross over the wooden bridge over the Mérantaise. Enter into the forest and climb gently uphill with a fence on your right. At the T-junction, turn right and go alongside a wire fence on your right-hand side.
(6) At the bottom of a slight descent and just before a small stone bridge, take Chemin du Moulin on your left towards Saint-Aubin (signposted). Climb considerably uphill, up the valley, with the river bed down below to your right. On the last few metres of this climb, you will find wooden steps.
(7) At the top of the point, turn 90° to the left onto Chemin de la Fontaine Billehou (signposted). "Note: On the IGN map, two parallel paths are shown, but - of the two - only the one to the far north actually exists on the ground." At the next crossroads (there are two waymarked PRs at this point), turn 90° to the right, stay on the flat on the edge of an enclosed wood on the left-hand side and a field on the right-hand side, and head towards the north towards a horse-riding centre with a green roof. Go alongside the equestrian centre on the right-hand side until you end up on a small road (with Saint-Aubin forest cemetery on your left).
(8) "Note: On the IGN map, up to the road, the Saint-Aubin Ditch ('rigole') is shown on the left of the paths taken, but on the ground it's the opposite, as the route in this description shows." Continue opposite on the path which goes past the cemetery on the left-hand side. At a crossroads, ignore the path going downhill to the left (sign "CR9") and continue straight ahead with the ditch and houses on your right. Ignore a wooden bridge crossing the ditch - twice. The path turns into a gravel path on the edge of a wood on the left-hand side, with the ditch and a field on the right-hand side. At the T-junction (with a road), turn left, still staying on the gravel path. About one hundred metres further on, at the crossroads, turn left (ignore the wooden bridge on the right) and head in the direction of Villiers-le-Bâcle (marker). Follow the gravel path to the west for about 1 km, parallel to the road, with the wall of a property on your left-hand side and a ditch on your right-hand side. Enter into Villiers-le-Bâcle and, at the fork, follow Route de Saint-Aubin to the right in order to quickly return to the car park where you departed from (D/A).
D/A : km 0 - alt. 152m
1 : km 0.6 - alt. 151m - Entrance into the Tête Ronde Forest
2 : km 1.55 - alt. 152m - Forest barrier
3 : km 2.23 - alt. 106m - Junction with the PR
4 : km 3.65 - alt. 93m - Route de Gif
5 : km 4.2 - alt. 86m - Wooden bridge over the Mérantaise
6 : km 4.47 - alt. 108m - Chemin du Moulin
7 : km 4.94 - alt. 154m - Saclay Plateau
8 : km 5.57 - alt. 157m - Saint-Aubin forest cemetery
D/A : km 7.66 - alt. 152m
Hiking shoes are necessary.
No water point identified. There is a small supermarket and a few restaurants in Villiers-le-Bâcle.
It is possible to join points (2) and (3) together directly by staying on the PR track. At the forest gate, turn left and take the little-marked path going downhill. Start slowly because the gradient becomes very steep - be careful. The gradient evens out and the track ends up on a path perpendicular to point (3).
This route is not suggested as the main route because it includes this very steep section. For the same reason, avoid this variation in wet weather when the ground will be slippery.
Map with a ratio of 1/25000 is required (as a minimum, use the map which accompanies this description).
We advise taking IGN maps with you on this walk. Click here to buy : 2315OT.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
- The Foujita Museum in Villiers-le-Bâcle, the last house-studio of the painter Tsugouharu Foujita (1886-1968).
- The Mérantaise River.
- The Saint-Aubin forest cemetery (8). : situated deep in the forest, the graves are spaced out in a simple and moving way.
- The Saclay Plateau Ditches, part of a huge hydraulic water network intended to feed the Château de Versailles with water.
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