Pays de France

Regional Overview

A Disappearing Landscape

Walking out through the gates of Paris once revealed a landscape of rolling farmland dotted with monasteries and villages. Today, the city has transformed this landscape into an urban wilderness. The living city expands, reaching ever further afield with vines of suburban developments and towerblocks. As a place where ordinary people live, there is little reason for tourists to venture out here, but some worthwhile surprises remain.

Regional Identity

What to Lookout For

  • The legacy of the Montmorency, e.g., the spectacular Renaissance Écouen Palace and Parish Church
  • The first French-Gothic cathedral at the Monastery of St. Denis and the other royal monasteries
  • The fortifications of Paris from the 1840s and 1880s




Justin Bunch | CityscapeTravel

What is the Pays de France?

The map here shows, with some modification, the historical area known as the “Pays de France,” lit. Plains of France. Originally this referred to the large region between the Seine and Loire rivers. The Pays de France was the realm of the early Medieval Frankish Kings, but it fragmented over time. By the time of the first French Kings, it referred to only the region to the North and East of Paris. 

Beyond the walls of Paris, the House of Montmorency and the Monks of St. Denis ruled the fields and forests of the Payes de France. Today, the city of Paris has devoured most of this territory, and only a handful of small villages along the Oise retain their rural charm. Of the Montmorency family, only their seat of residence in Ecouen has survived. The Monastery of St. Denis preserves its magnificent cathedral, the first entirely gothic construction (the choir specifically), and the French Kings’ burial place.

Also worth mentioning is the incredible castle of Vincennes. Though small, perhaps, compared to castles elsewhere in France, the Donjon of Vincennes is the only medieval residence of a royal sovereign to survive anywhere in Europe.

My Subjective Travel Rankings

To understand where the categories come from, see this article here.

7.6 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Accommodation: 10
  • Transportation: 10
  • Volume/Capacity: 8
  • Infrastructure: 5
  • Interactivity: 5

5.6 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Context: 4
  • Monuments: 5
  • Quality: 8

3 / 10

The score is based on the following:

  • Abstraction: 5
  • Tradition: 1



The Crownlands of the French Monarchs

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