Paris Day Trips: Follow the Morbras River Around Sucy-en-Brie

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Paris Day Trips: Follow the Morbras River Around Sucy-en-Brie
The great attraction of this little-known walk around Sucy-en-Brie is that it combines some unexpected glimpses of wildlife with buildings of historic interest, just 29 minutes from Châtelet les Halles with trains every 10 minutes. Sucy-en-Brie is situated between the River Marne and the edge of the Forêt de Notre Dame, partly encircled by two streams which flow into the Marne. The canons of Notre-Dame de Paris were the seigneurs of Sucy and the surrounding land from the seventh century until the Revolution and until the late 19th century it remained an agricultural village with a small population. In the 17th century a few Parisian families built châteaux de plaisance there, attracted by this bucolic spot only 22 kilometers from the capital. Madame de Sévigné spent part of a happy childhood in one of them. It was the coming of the railway in the 1870s which led to a population explosion and eventually transformed Sucy-en-Brie a century later into a suburb of Paris on the RER A train line. But the old village with its narrow streets clustered around the 12th-century church is the heart of the modern town and there is a new appreciation of its historic value, visible in its recent restoration and partial pedestrianization. Four of the original six châteaux are still standing, although put to other uses, and many green spaces have been preserved as public parks. The 19th-century fort on the edge of town is accessible to anyone who cares to wander inside. When normal times return I will be trying out the Bistrot du Fort nearby. This restaurant and the café next to the station are open on Sundays, which is a big plus as far as I am concerned. 8½ km walk around Sucy-en-Brie This walk mostly follows the GR route. On leaving the train take ‘Sortie 1, Place de la Gare’. Cross the road diagonally to the left towards the pharmacy with its green cross, on the corner of Rue Montaleau. A baker and a small grocery store in between the café and the pharmacy are useful sources for picnic supplies, open on Sundays. Follow Rue Montaleau uphill and take the third left into the Rue de Sévigné, past a distinctive house with a cupola. House at the corner of Rue Montaleau and Rue de Sévigné. © Annabel Simms Madame de Sévigné, who was orphaned at the age of seven, spent part of her childhood in the Château de Montaleau, the home of her grandfather, Philippe de Coulanges. The château is on the hill at the end of Rue Montaleau and you will pass it on the way back. It now houses the Tribunal d’Instance, the magistrate’s court. Turn left into the Rue de Sévigné and then right into the Rue des Fontaines. Take the first left onto a rustic little GR footpath, the Sentier du Vieux Val, which winds around people’s back gardens, one of them containing a few inquisitive hens. At the end of the path turn right onto the Rue Maurice Berteaux and continue uphill to the traffic lights. Cross at the pedestrian crossing and take the first left into the Rue Raspail. At the end of this street cross the Rue Thiers onto another little GR footpath straight ahead and continue to the Rue Chevreuil. Turn right and keep straight on down the Rue Pasteur until you see a pond with a bench, overlooking an islet accessed by a footbridge, a favorite place for ducks. The pond is grandly named the Lac du Grand Val and is fed by the Morbras. A bras mort, literally ‘dead arm’, means a backwater.
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Lead photo credit : Coypu at the Lac du Grand Val. © 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)