An Autumn Walk Along the Marne with Two Surprising Detours

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An Autumn Walk Along the Marne with Two Surprising Detours
The Marne near Joinville is the perfect choice for a town-dweller’s autumn stroll, combining the glowing colors of the trees reflected in the water with quick and easy access to Paris. You can shorten or lengthen your walk at whim, as you are never far from a station on the express RER A line. But what is surprising about this popular and generally tidy part of the river is the survival of two little pockets of greenery where nature has been allowed to flourish more or less unchecked. I knew about the quietly decaying Jardin Tropical hidden on the edge of the Bois de Vincennes, but I didn’t realize how close it was to the Marne until I took this walk. Nor had I ever visited the tiny and surprisingly rustic Ile Fanac, although it is easily accessed by steps down from the Pont de Joinville. I just hadn’t noticed them, assuming that the island was only accessible by boat. You could easily do the 4½ km riverside walk from Champigny to Joinville without making either of these two detours, perhaps combining it with lunch at La Mascotte riverside restaurant en route. But if you enjoy off-beat discoveries, the Ile Fanac will add another kilometer to your walk if you return from Joinville station and the Jardin Tropical a further 2½ km, returning from the station at Nogent sur Marne. 8 km walk from Champigny to Nogent, via the Ile Fanac and the Jardin Tropical From Champigny RER station take the exit for the bus station and cross at the pedestrian crossing facing you. Take the quiet Rue St Benoit ahead, slightly to your left, and follow it to the end, where you will see the Marne. Turn right to go down to the towpath and then left to follow it under the Pont de Champigny for just over 2 km. The path here is prettier and closer to the water than on the other side. The Marne from Champigny towards Joinville © Annabel Simms Just before the next bridge, the Pont du Petit Parc, look for the steps leading up to it and cross to the other side of the river. More steps lead down onto the Quai Gabriel Peri. Turn right to follow the river for less than a kilometer to the next bridge, the Pont de Joinville. Seagulls and cormorants perched across the Marne near Joinville © Annabel Simms
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Lead photo credit : The Maison Fanac, formerly the guinguette ’Chez Jullien’, now the Ecole Municipale des Arts © Annabel Simms

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Annabel Simms is an English resident of Paris, with over 20 years' experience of exploring the Paris countryside by train, bus, boat and on foot. She is the author of An Hour From Paris (3rd edition 2019) and Half An Hour From Paris (2018)