15 Best Things to Do in Noisy-le-Grand (France)

Roughly halfway between Paris and Disneyland. Noisy-le-Grand isn’t a tourist destination in its own right.

But if you’re staying here you’ll have a lot of other interesting things to hunt down in the area.

The Disneyland resort, with two theme parks and accompanying amenities and attractions, isn’t far to the east.

While you can take short trips to various châteaux, museums, parks  and worthwhile sights in the local suburbs.

The elephant in the room is the City of Light, which you can reach in 15 minutes flat on the suburban rail network.

There’s nowhere like it for culture, dining and historic monuments.

Lets explore the best things to do in Noisy-le-Grand:

1. Avant-Garde Architecture

Arènes de Picasso

Source: wikipedia

Arènes de Picasso

Noisy-le-Grand’s population doubled in just 15 years up to 1990. And the cause was a mass of futuristic residential developments.

These were led by some big-hitting architects like France’s Dominique Perrault, and Manuel Núñez Yanowsky and Ricardo Bofill from Spain.

See the Arènes de Picasso, a modernist housing complex around an octagonal square, completed in 1985. At the east and west end are two immense cylinders embedded in the buildings and nicknamed the Camemberts by residents.

Also check out Perrault’s sleek building for the EISSE engineering school, and the awe-inspiring Espaces d’Abraxas, a Utopianist housing estate inspired by Hellenistic architecture and a set for the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.

2. Château de Champs-sur-Marne

Château de Champs-sur-Marne

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Château de Champs-sur-Marne

This beautiful early-18th-century property had  a line of illustrious owners including the Princesse de Conti, daughter of Louis XIV. But the most lauded would be Louis César de La Baume Le Blanc who was friends with the preeminent literary figures of the day, inviting Voltaire and Diderot to visit.

The Château had another cultural moment in the 1800s, when Louis Cahen d’Anvers welcomed Marcel Proust.

You can come for a cultivated day out, relaxing in 85 hectares of grounds and gardens landscaped by Claude Desgots a nephew and follower of André Le Nôtre, inventor of the French formal style.

The interiors are divine, and have been picked for Hollywood movies like Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and Marie-Antoinette (2006).

Check out the recommended hotels in Noisy-le-Grand, France

3. Paris Sights

Paris

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Paris

Outlying Noisy-le-Grand is one of the last eastern suburbs before you hit the Seine-et-Marne countryside.

But even so, the Gare de Lyon is 15 minutes away on the RER and that can be your gateway to this incomparable city.

You probably don’t need us to tell you all the memorable things you can do in Paris, but we’ll jog your memory and give you some inspiration: You can saunter arm-in-arm beside the Seine; or take a sightseeing cruise; scale the legendary bell tower at Notre-Dame; amble the 19th-century covered passages; get some snaps of world icons like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe; get arty Montmartre.

But that’s just the merest taster of what lies in store a few minutes away.

4. Paris Culture

Musée de l'Orangerie

Source: flickr

Musée de l’Orangerie

If your idea of a perfect day is one spent immersed in a museum or gallery, Paris has weeks’ worth of things to get through.

There’s no hyperbole in that statement either, as the count of world-beating museums for art, decorative items, archaeology, engineering, natural history and many other fields runs into the hundreds.

You’ll need several days to get through the headliners like the Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l’Orangerie, Musée Marmottan and Musée National du Moyen Âge.

In the evenings there’s high culture at the Palais Garnier for ballet and the Opéra National (book well in advance for both), but also legendary nightlife and a superb live music scene.

5. Église Saint-Sulpice

Église Saint-Sulpice

Long before these modern wonders Noisy-le-Grand was where the Merovingian King of the Franks, Chipelric I had his court in the 6th century.

And this medieval church is supposedly on the site of an ancient oratory built by Chipelric in memory of his son Clovis, assassinated on the orders of Fredegund, an estranged ex-wife.

The current church was finished in the 1200s but was remodelled several times up to the 1800s to keep up with contemporary fashion.

This was all stripped away during a renovation between 2011 and 2013 when the portal, bays, vaults and choir were stripped back to their stark Romanesque glory.

6. Château de Ferrières

Château de Ferrières

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Château de Ferrières

This stupendous Neo-Renaissance palace was ordered by Baron James de Rothschild in the middle of the 19th century.

Napoleon III inaugurated the property in 1862, and it is seen as the most lavish 19th-century château in France.

In the 1960s it was the estate was in the hands of Guy de Rothschild who put on regular parties, and Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn were all guests.

Call in between May and September to see the sumptuous decoration and furniture; this was used as a backdrop for a music video by Beyoncé and Robert Altman’s Prêt-à-Porter in 1994.

7. Disneyland Park

Disneyland Park

The original theme park at Disneyland Paris is Europe’s most popular attraction.

Simply put, it’s the dream holiday for every child up to 12. But is full of things that will get a thumbs up from older members of the family.

The Sleeping Beauty Castle, based on the namesake movie, sets the scene in Fantasyland.

And from there you’ll have five other “Lands” to journey into, with tons of rides and shows based on Disney characters and movies.

Some of the many high points are Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, Space Mountain and as Star Tours.

Both reopen in 2017, updated with characters and scenes from the new Star Wars prequels.

8. Walt Disney Studios Park

Walt Disney Studios Park

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Walt Disney Studios Park

This newer theme park opened its doors in 2002 and beckons you into the magic of the movie-making business.

At the Toon Studio little ones will get to meet their favourite animated characters on the lot and hop on all kinds of rides inspired by the Pixar movies.

The Production Courtyard has a Hollywood theme, with shows like CinéMagique, which combines a performance by a live actor with moving images projected onto the screen behind . Last up is the Backlot, going into the nuts and bolts of movie production and staging spectacular stunt shows like Moteurs… Action!

9. Château de Vincennes

Château de Vincennes

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Château de Vincennes

Ten minutes on the RER is a fearsome castle at the eastern gates of Paris.

It’s the only medieval fortress around Paris, and in its day the keep was the tallest in Europe, towering to 52 metres.

These 800-year-old walls have a lot of tales to tell, of Kings of France who married, lived and died here in the 13th and 14th centuries.

England’s Henry V also passed away in the keep in 1422 after being injured in the Siege of Meaux in 1422. After France’s Kings moved to more cultured Renaissance houses Vincennes became a prison for people like Mirabeau, one of the main in the Revolution.

Much later, the First World War spy Mata Hari was executed in the moat in 1917.

10. Bois de Vincennes

Bois de Vincennes

Source: flickr

Bois de Vincennes

The château’s hunting ground is now the largest green space in Paris, covering almost 1,000 hectares and constituting a tenth of the city’s total area.

The Parc Floral de Paris within is a botanical garden landscaped in the 60s and boasting a bonsai greenhouse, water mirror and the central Vallée des Fleurs, which is updated with a new theme every year.

These are also complemented by a miniature railway, outdoor music venue and mini-golf course.

But the Park Floral is just one small corner of the Bois de Vincennes, which also holds the Paris Zoological Park, the Hippodrome running horse races, the Velodrome and the Art Deco Palais de la Porte Dorée containing the Museum of Immigration and a tropical aquarium in its basement.

11. Château et Parc Culturel de Rentilly

Château et Parc Culturel de Rentilly

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Château et Parc Culturel de Rentilly

About 15 minutes east of Noisy-le-Grand is the suburb of Rentilly, which has done something very creative with its park.

The 16th-century house in the middle was once the property of Jean de Ligny, secretary to King Henri IV. After slipping into dilapidation the house and its grounds were given a dramatic makeover, transforming it into a contemporary cultural centre.

The château is now clad with reflective stainless steel panels, and the gutted interiors hold art galleries and an auditorium.

You can scale the building to reach a lookout on the roof, or wander the 50 hectare grounds.

If you’re less inspired by the art the park is still gorgeous and planted with mature exotic trees like a giant sequoia and a huge Atlas cedar.

12. Maison Natale de Louis Braille

Maison Natale de Louis Braille

A nice antidote to the mayhem of Disneyland is this museum close by in Couvray.

Despite its humble appearance a chain of events began in this house that would improve the lives of millions of people.

It’s the birthplace of Louis Braille who lived in the first half of the 19th century and invented the Braille tactile writing system for the blind or visually impaired.

On a guided visit you’ll see the very workshop where Louis suffered the accident that would take away his sight, aged five.

There are engaging insights about how he invented his system and objects from his glittering academic career.

You’ll also get the chance to write a few lines of Braille yourself.

13. Murs à Pêches

Murs à Pêches

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Murs à Pêches

You could get off the RER in Vincennes and wander into the Montreuil suburb to find a curious memento from a very different time.

Up to the advent of the railways Paris grew much of its fruit in what are now the eastern suburbs of the city.

In Montreuil there was an enormous lattice of walled orchards growing 16 million peaches a year, and it was a resourceful enterprise: The soil here is rich in gypsum so this was extracted and plastered onto the walls to help the gardens retain heat for longer and grow fruit that could normally only survive in water climates to the south.

There’s a federation preserving this heritage and organising a festival every May with concerts and art installations in these gardens.

14. Ferme de Buisson

Ferme de Buisson

Source: telerama

Ferme de Buisson

Ten minutes by car or train will get you to the district of Marne-la-Vallée, which has a contemporary cultural centre that is well worth a peek.

The Ferme de Buisson is a spacious stone barn, constructed in 1880 as a dairy to supply the local Menier chocolate factory.

In the 1990 it was reconfigured as a venue for performing arts, and you have to come, if only to see the graceful Art Nouveau decoration inside.

There’s an auditorium with 800 seats (an official French Scène Nationale), along with smaller halls and an art centre with workshops and galleries.

There are also movie screenings every night of the week, if you’re up for some arthouse cinema.

15. Val d’Europe Mall

Val d’Europe Mall

Val d’Europe of the name of the new town that was developed around  Disneyland in the early 90s.

The holiday villages all converge on this colossal mall, which has a neat design, with vaulting metal and glass canopies, recalling the elegant shopping galleries of 19th-century Paris.

The mall was completed in 2000 and contains 120 stores, anchored by a branch of Carrefour and accompanied by all manner of restaurants and cafes.

All your shopping needs may already be fulfilled by Paris, and if so you could come instead to the Sea Life Paris aquarium in the building’s basement.

Where to stay: Best Hotels in Noisy-le-Grand, France
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15 Best Things to Do in Noisy-le-Grand (France):

Château de Ferrières