A beach near Paris

L'Ilsle-Adam © T.Joly
Wealthy and peaceful little town located in the Val d’Oise department, L’Isle-Adam boasts a nice beach lined with old-fashioned changing cabins. Also dotted with many parks and ancient buildings, it’s a pleasant destination to spend a day or a weekend.

[ Practical ]

Getting there
- By road
35 km from Paris on autoroute A1 till exit 3, then on N1 till Sarcelles, on D301 and D64 till L’Isle-Adam.
- By train
Train from Paris Nord going to Persan Beaumont till L’Isle Adam – Parmain railway station. The journey takes 55 minutes.
Getting around
Most of the sights are within walking distance. The Tourist Office rents electric bikes.
- Hôtels
La Villa de l'Ecluse
Le Cabouillet
Novotel Château de Maffiers, in Maffiers.
- Bed and breakfast
Laurent Delaleu, in Parmains
Le Cabouillet
Le Troubadour
Restaurant de la Plage
Le Gai Rivage
Au Relais Fleuri
Le Seventy’s
Histoire de Famille
1 avenue du Général de Gaulle, 95290 L’Isle-Adam
Open in July and August from 1pm to 7pm.
Admission : €17.50 / €10.50 on weekends and bank holidays, €12.50 / €7.80 during the week. Booking required.
Tel : 0134690168
Equestrian Club
L’Orée de la Forêt
111 avenue des Bonshommes, 95290 L’Isle-Adam
Tel : 0134694205
Golf de L’Isle-Adam
1 chemin des Vanneaux, 95290 L’Isle-Adam
Tel : 0134081111
- Val d’Oise tourist office
Tel : 0130295100
- L’Isle-Adam tourist office
18 avenue des Ecuries du Conti
Tel : 0134694199
You are stuck in Paris for the summer or you are there for few days and you wish to go to the beach, to a real one, not in the sandboxes created by the city council along the quays of the Seine ?…. Don’t despair, there is one only 35 km away from the capital.
You find it in L’Isle-Adam, a wealthy and peaceful little town located on the left bank of the river Oise at 6 km from Auvers where Van Gogh lived for a while.

Beach of L'Isle-Adam © T.Joly
 Largest river beach in France
For centuries a hunting place and a summer residence for great noble families, in the 19th century it became a favourite hangout for bourgeois and artists. Landscapes painters Jules Dupré and Théodore Rousseau, then famous, created there many canvas and French writer Balzac called it his “Garden of Eden”.
That’s at that time, in 1895, that the beach was laid out. Then, in 1925, it was embellished with the construction of about 100 changing cabins similar to the ones in Deauville and it became like a seaside resort where famous artists like Maurice de Vlaminck, Mistinguett and Maurice Chevalier came frequently. A setting that was used to shoot numerous films and it was so popular that every Sunday the French National Railway operated a special train departing from Paris Gare du Nord. Today, it is still the largest river beach in France with 1 ha of sand.

Oise river © T.Joly
 Boat cruises
Unfortunately, for safety reasons linked to the water quality, it’s not allowed anymore to bath in the Oise. But a large swimming pool has been installed along the river and the beach. It came in addition to an older one, called “Pool of the Records” that was inaugurated by American swimmer and actor Johnny Weissmuller in 1949. Covering 3 ha, the riverside complex also boasts clay tennis courts, a mini golf course, aquatic slides, two beach volley courts and a restaurant. Besides, activities for kids and adults are offered and it is possible to do rowboat and pedalo trips on the Oise. And if you want to see more of the Oise valley you can board on one of the 90 minutes long boat cruises the Tourist Office organizes every Sunday from May to September. On specific dates there are also special cruises with dancing lunches, wine tasting, painting courses…..

Cabouillet Bridge © T.Joly
 Old bridge
Lastly, the river and canal network of Northern France allows to reach L’Isle-Adam by boat from Belgium and the Netherlands. On the quays there is a docking area for the amateur sailor.
However, a large number of visitors content themselves with settling for a stroll along the banks where they find goods restaurants dotted with shady terraces. From there they can admire one of the town oldest monument, the Cabouillet Bridge dating from the 15th century. It leads to the Prieuré island where stands the Château Conti, of Louis XIII style. But it’s actually a 19th century building. The real fortified castle of the Conti family that once protected the town was completely destroyed during the Revolution. The palace of this powerful noble dynasty suffered the same fate and the only remains are the stables drinking troughs. They can be seen in the L’Isle-Adam historical centre that is situated slightly away from the river Oise because the first inhabitants wanted to be a bit sheltered from its floods and the Vikings raids.

L'Isle-Adam © T.Joly
 Gothic church
In spite of the proximity of Paris, the neighbourhood has not been much urbanized, doesn’t have many high buildings and keeps many green spaces. It spreads around the Saint Martin church, a gothic 15th-16th centuries building that houses a nice Renaissance wooden pulpit. Next to it there are a few ancient houses including the presbytery and the Louis Senlecq museum. It’s now closed but some works coming from its collections are on display within the frame of temporary exhibitions at the nearby Jacques Henri Lartigue Arts Centre. One of the greatest French photographers of the 20th century, he was also a painter and donated 300 of his canvas to the town. This collection and the Art Centre are housed in a very nice 18th century private mansion built for Jacques Bergeret, a high-ranking official of Louis XIV. At the end of the same century, his son ordered the construction of a Chinese pavilion that might have been designed by the painter Fragonard. Covered by a double pagoda style roof topped by a leaf-gilded globe, and bearing a richly decorated interior, it’s one of the most beautiful 18th century follies still existing in France.

Chinese pavilion © T.Joly
 Equestrian clubs and golf course
It is located amidst a romantic setting, by a small pond, on the edge of the L’Isle-Adam forest. Created for hunting purpose in the 17th century by the great landscaper Le Nötre who drew large alleys, it is crisscrossed by several hiking paths. It also possible to do horse riding around as there are four equestrian clubs in town. It possesses also an 18 holes golf course as well as several ponds. On one side lined with houses, but still untouched on the other one, they attract many fishermen as well as ramblers and nature lovers who can spot several bird species such as grey herons, kingfishers, great created grebe and cormorants. And there are even more to be seen south of L’Isle-Adam in the Stors marshland, one of the natural spaces of Ile-de France that has the largest variety of birds, mammals and plants. Nearby stands the Stors Estate, created for the Conti Princes in the 17th and 18th century. It includes English and French gardens and a castle destroyed during the Second World War that the present owners restore bit by bit. To get there you can rent an electric bicycle at the Tourist Office. An ecological way to discover all the sights of L’Isle-Adam.

July 01, 2020
Thierry Joly