Île-de-France is the wealthiest and most populated of the original 26 regions of France, composed mostly of the Paris metropolitan area, and with 1281 cities and a population in excess of 12 millions.
The Region is surprising: it is attractive thanks to its diverse landscape, its inhabitants. its history, its economic advantages, and a rich heritage and cultural abundance.
Everyone is drawn to the magnificent cathedrals, beautifully preserved medieval abbeys and splendid châteaux of the region, architecture unsurpassed anywhere in France. Ile-de-France offers peaceful valleys, forests and wildlife. On route for Versailles, you enter the prettiest countryside in Ile-de-France: the Vallée de Chevreuse. Picturesque villages abound, Châteaufort with its 12th-century fortress; Saint-Rémy-les-Chevreuse; Saint-Lambert, Dampierre, the site of a 16th century château, and Les Vaux de Cernay, one of the loveliest valleys in France. On the way from Fontainebleau, just on the edge of the forest, lies Barbizon, made famous as an artists' colony in the 19th century by Honoré Daumier, Constant, Musset, and the writer George Sand. You can also visit Rousseau's house on Grande-Rue, just behind the Monument aux Morts. Ile-de-France is the combination of culture, history, and nature.
Île-de-France is composed of 8 departments (Paris, Seine-et-Marne, Yvelines, Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne and Val-d'Oise) centered around its innermost department and capital, Paris. Around the department of Paris, urbanisation fills a first concentric ring of three departments commonly known as the Petite Couronne ("small ring"), and extends into a second outer ring of four departments known as the Grande Couronne ("large ring").
The river Seine runs through the Île-de-France. The Seine has many tributaries which include the rivers Oise and Aube. The river Seine has its mouth in the English channel and has its source in the 'Massif Central'. It is France's second largest river after the Loire.
The Île-de-France is also in an area of lowland which is called the Paris basin. South of the Île-de-France is the 'Massif-Central' which is an area of highlands that are higher than normal land but far lower than the Alps.
The climate in the Île-de-France is quite similar to that of England, but it has warmer summers and milder winters.
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