There we sat, in the pleasant afternoon summer sun, under the sign that read “Baladobus.” Supposedly, it would take us to the Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay. It was 45 minutes past two, the hour at which this supposed bus was to arrive. One of our travel companions had stretched himself out on one of the benches, ankles crossed, feet languishing against the cracked glass. Despite assurances from the tourism office, and a call to the Baladobus headquarters, both of whom assured us that yes, the bus was working, and no, we can’t tell you exactly when it is or when it will come, the stop was very much deserted, save for the six of us.
After some debate and two Uber rides (vans, apparently, are not available in the countryside), we arrived at the country lane leading to the Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay. Teetering down the path, we stopped to admire a deep, sapphire blue door and vines creeping up the crumbling stones. Pops of pink flowers burst forth occasionally, punctuating the sea of green.
Coming to the end of the lane, there was a gasp (from me) at the sheer loveliness in front of us. Ruins of the church, and the remainder of the abbaye, converted into a four-star hotel, sprawled on the lawn. Ivy covered the walls, and the doors and trim were the signature sapphire blue. The gardens were carefully manicured, but the property is also set in the Rambouillet forest, and there were hiking trails (not too strenuous) for the adventurous. After several hours, even we did not manage to see everything. But, the gravelled paths, fields of wildflowers, and tea salon on the terrace kept us plenty busy.
Paris Day Trip to Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay
How to Get to the Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay
The official address is: Domaine de l’Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay 78720 Cernay-la-Ville.
This is a fun day or half-day trip from Paris. Take the RER B South to Saint Rémy les Chevreuse. From there, you can try your luck with the Baladobus, but your best option is to drive by car.
I personally recommend the following transports to the abbey:
- Bicycle – although you’ll be better off bringing your own, as the kiosk that rented them was closed the day we went. Nothing special about it (a normal Saturday), but still closed. The ride is 10 kilometers/6 miles. Once you arrive to the abbey, there will be a short bit uphill.
- Private car – rent one or pre-arrange a taxi/ride share at a specific time. Once you are farther into the forest, you will lose cell service, so it’s best to do this in advance.
Visiting the Grounds & Things to Do
Entrance is 8€ to roam the grounds, which are quite extensive. 18€ gets you in, an a drink plus two pastries at the tea salon. While nice, the salon was expensive and we were swarmed with bees. I do not recommend.
Technically, you cannot picnic at Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay, but we saw some people with full-on picnics who were very much enjoying themselves. There did not appear to be much regulation. We picnicked in Saint Rémy off of a hiking path while waiting for the Baladobus that never showed.
Before you leave to the abbey, stop in the tourism office right next to the train station for maps of the Vallée de la Chevreuse. There are many things to do besides see the abbey, and all the activities could take several days. We did not have time, but a visit to Château de la Madeleine (a medieval castle on a hill) would have been nice.
Pin this post of things to do at the Abbaye des Vaux de Cernay!
And, some film photos from Cecil!