Leisure and gambling in Enghien

© T.Joly
For a few hours, a day trip or a weekend, Enghien offers relaxation and a breath of fresh air just outside Paris. A haven of peace but also a spot for gamblers to indulge in their favourite past-time.

[ Practical ]

- Getting there
Autoroute A86 then A15, exit Epinay-sur-Seine, Enghien.
Trains every 15 minutes from Gare du Nord in the direction of Valmondois or Pontoise. Travel time: 12 to 15 minutes.
- Lodging
Hôtel du Lac
Grand Hôtel
- Restaurants
Café du Lac
- Casino
Tel : 0139341300
- Sparks
- Information
Office of Tourism : 0134124115
Sailboats from the nearby sailing school drifting over calm waters. Lovers and families taking it easy in pedalos and rowboats. Passers-by taking in the spectacle from pleasant gardens and a walkway with wrought iron railings, lit up at night by antique lampposts … Hard to imagine that all this is just 15 minutes outside Paris, in Enghien, a commune of the Val d’Oise stretched around a 43 hectare lake. A place where Parisians and suburbanites have always come to unwind.

© T.Joly
 Water in all its forms
In the 19th and early 20th Century, it seemed like all Paris was headed for Enghien with artists and writers like Ingres and Alexandre Dumas leading the way. This trend grow so popular that in 1845 a train station was constructed in the town and wealthy families began building Belle Epoque and Art Nouveau villas modelled on those on the Norman coast. An architectural heritage and a history which one can explore thanks to itineraries marked out by the Office of Tourism which follow in the footsteps of local celebrities. Enghien’s popularity is mainly due to the charm of its lake but also to the presence of a source of sulphurous spring water which cured Louis XVIII of a leg ulcer in 1823. Thus was born the only thermal centre in the Ile de France. Almost two centuries later this water is still used to treat allergies, respiratory problems, rheumatism, speech difficulties and tobacco dependence. All these treatments are carried out in the newly renovated baths which have a capacity of up to 6000 patients a year.

Baths © T.Joly
 Game on
Carrying on the town’s long thermal tradition a new fitness and well being centre, Sparks, was opened in 2007. The perfect place to recharge your batteries for a few hours or even a weekend since there are 2 hotels (of three and four stars) just next door, offering calm and comfort. You can also spice up your stay with some betting. The hippodrome on the edge of town hosts some 50 meetings a year. Both flat racing and steeplechases over distances varying from 1600 to 5000 metres. Two highpoints on the calendar are the Prix d’Atlantique in April, a harness race over 2150 metres and the Grand Steeple Chase d’Enghien, an 18 obstacle 5000 metres steeplechase which takes place in October. Two events that attract all the turf enthusiasts of Paris. However, the real big spenders come to Enghien for its casino. Founded in 1898, it is the only establishment of its kind within a 100 kilometre radius of Paris, a location which makes it the most important casino in France.

© T.Joly
Last redecorated in 2005 in a style that mixes ancient and modern elements, it houses no fewer than 350 slot machines where the regulars come from the morning onwards to try their luck. A far plusher ambiance reigns in the inner sanctum, the gaming room. French and English roulette, blackjack, punto blanco, stud poker … Whether you are just here for fun or hoping to make your fortune, there is something for all tastes and budgets with minimum stakes that run from 5 to 50 € depending on the table. And to relax between games there is a luxury restaurant with a beautiful terrace overlooking the lake where you can catch the last rays of sunshine at the end of the day. Ideal for a romantic dinner.

Casino © T.Joly
 Spotlight on jazz
To cap it all, the casino also boasts a superb musical theatre which puts on operas, concerts, musicals, ballets, one man shows etc. It is also a key venue for the annual Jazz Festival held in June which sees Enghien buzzing to the sounds of such artists as Robin Mc Kelle, Sara Lazarus, Taj Mahal, Tower of Power and Dee Dee Bridgewater. These cultural offerings are rounded off by the programme on offer at the Arts Centre; dedicated to contemporary art and specialized in digital art, it proposes theatre, ballet, films, concerts and exhibitions. High quality entertainment which is attracting a whole new audience to Enghien even if its lake remains the biggest draw.

April 01, 2011
Thierry Joly 

[ Culture ]

Opened in 2002, the Centre des Arts d’Enghien is not only a space for creation but also for meetings and interchanges between artists and the public. A multidisciplinary space receptive to work by foreign artists it promotes creation in all its forms: theatre, music, cinema, multimedia, visual arts. It has also made a name for itself in the world of new technologies in art through its “Digital Baths”: festivals which feature performances mixing traditional choreography and digital art, as well as video installations both within the gallery itself and all around the town.
Information: CDA, 0130108559