Chalet des Iles, Paris – A Magical Place in the Bois de Boulogne

Le Chalet des Iles is a unique place in Paris. Nestled on one of the two islands in the lower lake of the Bois de Boulogne, in the 16th Arrondissement, this historic Swiss chalet converted into a restaurant offers the charms of nature without leaving the city. Get ready for an unexpected getaway in a bucolic setting while enjoying delicious French food or your favorite drink in a relaxed and chic atmosphere.

A Piece of Switzerland in Paris

The history of this hidden gem is fascinating and dates back to the middle of the 19th century. Le Chalet des Iles (also known as Chalet Suisse) was born from an odd caprice of Empress Eugénie, who fell in love with this beautiful chalet during one of her trips to Bern in Switzerland.

Emperor Napoléon III decided to offer the chalet to his Empress, so the construction was dismantled and transported in spare parts from Switzerland to Paris.

Inaugurated in 1880, Le Chalet des Iles quickly attracted the beautiful people of western Paris. During the Belle Epoque, the Chalet became a popular literary café, particularly dear to authors like Marcel Proust or Emile Zola, who enjoyed the Chalet’s relaxing atmosphere. Proust even mentions Le Chalet des Iles in his masterwork In Search of Lost Time!

Covering an area of ​​11 hectares for 153,000 m3, the Lac Inférieur or Grand Lac was dug in 1854 during the Bois de Boulogne’s major development works by Baron Haussmann. It has two islands connected by a bridge which are accessed by a boat service depending on the restaurant of the Chalet des Iles.

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Le Chalet des Iles Today

Today Le Chalet des Iles is a restaurant and a place for private receptions. This hidden gem in Paris is an elegant building steeped in history and set in a bucolic setting, so it is ideal for a romantic soirée, but it is also a popular place for brunch on weekends. Because it is set on an island, guests need to take a (free) barge to get there.

Surrounded by water and 5 minutes from the bustle of the city, Le Chalet des Iles offers several atmospheres. The terrace facing the lake, the garden, and the balcony are ideal for the summer. In winter, guests can warm up by the large fireplace, comfortably seated in large armchairs.

On the menu, expect traditional French gastronomy, sometimes brightened up with more exotic inspirations. Vegetarian and vegan dishes are also available. The brunch is served as a large buffet and it is made and cooked from fresh products on site.

On the price side (2022), count about 15 euros for the starters, 30 euros for the dishes, and 12 euros for the desserts. The lunch formula during the week (starter-main course or main course-dessert) is 26 euros, and the brunch is around 60 euros. Count around 8 euros for a glass of wine with your meal or in the bar.

A Perfect Parisian Day

Pretty walking paths circle the two islands in the lake, linked by a short footbridge. Before lunch (if you arrive early), or after lunch, if you wish, stroll around the islands, enjoying the views of the water, the trees, flowers, and perhaps swans. Here, it is hard to believe that you are still in bustling Paris!

Installed at the northern tip of the big island, don’t miss the romantic statue by the Swedish sculptor Gudmar Olovson, which symbolizes the union of Man with Nature and Love.

Combine Le Chalet des Iles and the Bois de Boulogne with a visit to the Musée Marmottan Monet, not far from the Chalet, and you’ve got a perfect Parisian day.

If you decide to visit for dinner, combine this culinary experience with an aperitif or a late drink in the bar facing the lake. There’s music, a relaxed atmosphere, and the cocktails are delicious.

Le Chalet des Iles, Paris Practical Information

If you come by Métro, take Line 9 to La Muette, from which you will have a 10 to 15-minute walk to reach the shuttle dock on the lake shore in the Bois de Boulogne. You will pass the above-mentioned Musée Marmottan Monet and a monument commemorating the first untethered hot-air balloon flight, which occurred before a large, expectant crowd here in the Bois de Boulogne on 21 November 1783.

If you come by car, there is car parking near the water shuttle dock.

Le Chalet des Îles serves lunch (12 noon to 3 pm) and dinner (7:30 pm to 10:30 pm) daily in summer (book in advance); It is closed Sunday evening, Monday, and Tuesday in winter and closed for two weeks at Christmas & New Year’s.

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Quirky Parisian explorer with a preference for lesser-known sights, I am continuously looking for new ideas and tips to bring you the best of the City of Light! Read more about me.