Moret-sur-Loing is a pretty small town near Paris, in the French region of Ile-de-France. This picture-perfect town located east of the forest of Fontainebleau is crossed by the river Loing (a tributary of the Seine River) and it has an interesting heritage surrounded by beautiful nature. Moret-sur-Loing makes a great day trip from Paris but it can also be a great weekend from Paris if you decide to combine it with Fontainebleau.
What to do in Moret-sur-Loing? Let’s go with the flow for a perfect day of culture and nature in Moret-sur-Loing.
Moret-sur-Loing is located 76 km south east of Paris and 12 km south east of the city of Fontainebleau. Trains to Moret-Veneux-Les Sablons leave from Paris Gare de Lyon for a train journey of 48 min. Once you reach Moret-Veneux-Les Sablons train station, it’s a 15-min walk to Moret-sur-Loing.
Admire the Moret of Alfred Sisley
The impressionist painter Alfred Sisley lived between Moret and Veneux-Les-Sablons for 20 years. Moret was a source of inspiration for many of his masterworks, today displayed in top museums like the Orsay Museum in Paris or the MoMa in New York.
This is what Sisley wrote to his friend Tavernier about Moret, in January 1892:
«Soon it will be 12 years that I’ve been in Moret and its surroundings. It is in Moret, faced by such dense vegetation, its large poplars, the water of the Loing, so beautiful, so transparent, so changeable, it is undoubtedly in Moret that I have made the greatest progress in my art; particularly in the last three years. Then, even though it is my intention to increase my field of study, I will never fully leave this place so picturesque.”
Today, you can see reproductions of his most famous paintings at the exact spot where Sisley planted his easel: the river Loing but also the boats, the train station, or the church in Moret. It’s easy to understand why Alfred Sisley fell in love with Moret!
Moret’s tourism office proposes a self-guided itinerary to follow Sisley’s steps and discover the landscapes painted by the famous painter. You can also see the house where he lived in Moret at rue du Donjon.
DID YOU KNOW? In 2019 Moret-sur-Loing was voted the most beautiful commune in the region of Ile-de-France. Bravo!
Explore the Old Town
VIEW FROM LE PRE DE PINS
Moret-sur-Loing was a royal city of the Capetian dynasty, located at the border with the Duchy of Burgundy. The kings Louis VI, Louis VII, and Philippe Auguste fortified it in the 12th century and built beautiful constructions that we still can see today.
Start exploring the town early in the morning from Le Pré de Pins, on the right bank of the river. This is the most beautiful view of Moret and it is best photographed with the morning light.
On the background, you can see the Church of Notre Dame de la Nativité (12th-13th) century, while on the foreground, there is one of the 3 watermills along the bridge. The watermills were built in the 15th century!
THE MEDIEVAL WALLS AND FORTIFIED GATES
From both sides of the bridges, we can still see a few remains of the 12th-century fortified walls. The most impressive parts are the two fortified gates, Porte de Samois on the west and its twin Porte de Bourgogne on the east.
There is also the medieval keep (Donjon), once part of the Royal Palace. It was in this keep where the Polish princess Marie Leczinska spent the night before the wedding with the King Louis XV, celebrated at Château de Fontainebleau.
The Old Town boasts beautiful houses from different periods. There are some half-timbered houses with incredible wooden details, can you find some of them?
The Town Hall occupies a beautiful bourgeois house from the 19th century and the houses along the left river bank (18th-19th centuries) are also beautiful to see, most of them built on the remains of the medieval walls.
Fans of Napoleon i will be interested to know that he spent one night at 24 rue de la Grande on the way back to Paris from the Island of Elba. This was his last stop before his arrival to Paris to retake the power. Today the house hosts the Point Sisley, managed by fans of the painter, where you can learn more about his life and work.
The houses along the left bank are beautiful to see too. They were built in the 18th-19th centuries, some of them on the remains of the medieval walls!
Buy Some Sweeeets!
In Moret-sur-Loing you will find the oldest sweet in France, the Sucre d’Orge, a specialty made by the nuns of Moret using a top-secret recipe that dates back 1638!! Today the nuns sell the Sucre d’Orge in a beautiful historical house next to the church and you can learn all about the Sucre d’Orge (except the recipe!) in the beautiful Musée du Sucre d’Orge located by the medieval bridge.
The Sucre d’Orge is very sweet but it’s a good sweet because it is made without colorants or additives.
The nuns also sell products based on poppies. We did not know that it was possible to make so many yummy things from this beautiful flower!
After buying some sweets we headed back to Le Pré de Pins, which is the perfect spot for a picnic with the best view ever, this time with a warmer light (and some rosé wine).
Moret by Bike
Moret-sur-Loing is part of the Scandiberique, the 5,300 Km long EuroVelo 3 route that crosses Europe from Trondheim in Norway to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. This bike route – also known as Pilgrims’ Route – visits 7 countries and 20 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
The southern Seine-et-Marne portion follows the Seine River and runs alongside the Loing, one of its tributaries. This is a pleasant, totally flat, bike ride that we recommend.
On the EuroVelo 3, not far from Le Pré de Pins, there’s the Bicycle Museum (Musée du Vélo) that you can visit for free. Learn the history of the bicycle, and its predecessors (information in English and French) and admire some historical and curious models.
The Musée du Vélo (rue Gustave Prugnat) is set in the former workshops of the Prugat factory which performed the cutting and stamping of all the metals of the bike, for all the brands in the market. The Prugnat company worked until the ’80s when the site closed and was put for sale. I am sure that my vintage Peugeot bike has pieces from Prugnat!
Learn also about the careers of René Pottier and André Leducq, both from Seine & Loing and winners of the first editions of the Tour de France. André Leducq won the race twice, in 1930 and 1932!
Down the Loing by Kayak
Our visit to the Bike Museum did not last long because we had an appointment upstream to sail the Loing river by kayak. We chose the short itinerary proposed by Apikopa (1-1,5 hours) which starts in Episy and finishes at Le Pré de Pins in Moret-sur-Loing.
This was the highlight of our trip: it was a hot day of August and paddling down the river was very refreshing plus the river Loing and its banks are really beautiful. Because of the river’s meanders, it was like if we were alone and it was a very relaxing time.
We visited Moret on Tuesday and Pierre (our kayak-guy) told us that there were only 25 kayaks sailing that part of the Loing at the same time. If you do this on weekends, expect to see about 125 kayaks at the same time!
In Moret, right before the medieval bridge, the kayak needs to go through a (very) small waterfall and we received specific instructions to do it successfully. This is a popular area for the locals in the summer, a spot where they like to sit for some fresh air with the feet in the water: I am sure they have their fun with the tourists trying to go through the waterfall! 😉
Our day in Moret ended with a more than deserved ice cream before driving back to Paris. You can decide to stay longer and dine in one of the restaurants in the town.