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(Région Parisienne)

The Palace of Versailles, designed (begun 1669) by Louis Le Vau for King Louis XIV, is complemented by the extraordinary formal gardens laid out by Andre Le Notre. The Palace is located in Versailles, a city situated about 18 km (11 mi) southwest of Paris.

(Adam Woolfitt/
Susan Griggs Agency)




The Ile-de-France is a historic region and former province of north central France. PARIS and its suburbs dominate the region. A fertile depression lying at the center of the Paris Basin, the Ile-de-France is drained by the SEINE RIVER and its main tributaries, the MARNE and the Oise rivers. The region's subregions--Valois, Beauce, Brie, and Soissonais--are flat, limestone plains covered with loess. Forests, such as those of FONTAINEBLEAU and Compiegne, occupy sandy areas between the plains. Industry is concentrated in the Paris area; truck farms serve the city; and wheat, barley, corn, sugar beets, and dairy cattle are raised in the region.


Chartres Cathedral is one of the most impressive High Gothic cathedrals in France. Its nearly 200 windows contain the finest stained glass of the 12th and 13th centuries. The Royal Portal, its front entrance, is splendidly sculptured. Above the portals are huge 13th-century rose windows. The 12th-century octagonal south spire is simpler and shorter than the 16th-century north tower.
(Scala/Art Resource, NY)

With its capital at Paris, this duchy (then called Francia) was the nucleus around which Hugh Capet, founder of the Capetian dynasty in 987, began the consolidation of the French state. From 1483 to 1790, when it was divided into departments, Ile-de-France was a province of France.

Timothy J. Rickard
Source: The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Release #8, ©1996


The Château de Fontainebleau, situated 64 km (40 mi) southeast of Paris in the forest of Fontainebleau, is one of the largest and most magnificent of the royal residences of France. The original building, of which very little remains, was a medieval hunting lodge; the present structure, comprising five separate groups of buildings, was begun in 1528 during the reign of Francis I. Francis gathered a large number of French, Italian, and Flemish architects, painters, and craftspersons to work on the chateau, thus introducing the styles of the Italian Renaissance to France and forming what has become known as the school of Fontainebleau. Later sovereigns, including Henry II, Francis II, Catherine de Medicis, and Henry IV, enlarged and embellished the building, which was provided with new furnishings by Napoleon I after the French Revolution. The spacious gardens were planned by André de Nôtre, a celebrated 17th-century landscape gardener, during the reign of Louis XIV.

Source: The New Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, Release #8, ©1996

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