The Jean Racine path in the Chevreuse valley.

The Jean Racine path is a 5 km walk between the Château de la Madeleine and the Abbey of Port-Royal in the Regional Natural Park of the Haute Vallée de Chevreuse.

The Jean Racine path is a marked trail, it is not a loop, so you have to come back on your steps at the end of the path. The path winds between the forest, the houses and the valley. It is of a rather average interest but it makes it possible to discover two places charged with history: the castle of the Madeleine and the abbey of Port-Royal.

By entering the castle of the Madeleine you can have a magnificent view of the surrounding area. The visit takes a few minutes and is free.

The abbey of Port-Royal allows you to discover the history of Jansenism. To summarize, Jansenism is a branch of Catholicism. This doctrine advocates the return to religious austerity to get closer to God, it is quite close to the current created by Calvin.

This new school of thought displeased the king and then the pope who had the abbey destroyed. Today there are only ruins.

Nevertheless, the school inspired great men like Pascal and Racine.

Today the debate on the predestination of man seems a bit outdated but you can still visit the abbey and its museum to discover this school of thought.

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Difficulty: difficulty
Duration: 4 h.
Departure point (Google Maps)

Departure

You can easily park next to the castle in a car park surrounded by a low wall. The hike begins on the road to the left of the parking lot (opposite the castle).

The Château de Chevreuse

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The Château de Chevreuse
The castle, whose construction began in the 11th century, is in a good state of preservation. A map of the Racine trail is available at the entrance.

The view from the castle

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The view from the castle
Jean Racine was a 17th-century French writer famous for his plays. He wrote tragedies such as "Andromaque", "Phèdre" and "Athalie". At the age of 22, Racine directed work at the Madeleine. During his stay at the château, he became bored and spent a lot of time in cabarets.

The path runs along the road

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The path runs along the road
This is the most difficult part of the route, as the path runs alongside the road for quite a long distance. The entrance to the forest is signposted (you need to be careful). The markers with Racine quotations can be found all along the route.

The forest

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The forest
In the forest, the path is straight. There is, however, a fairly steep slope on a somewhat uneven path.

The path passes through fields

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The path passes through fields
The chemin Jean Racine is so named because it recalls the routes taken by the author in his youth from Port-Royal to Chevreuse.

The mill of Fauveau

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The mill of Fauveau
The mill that used the Rhodon's waters no longer exists.

La Lorioterie

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La Lorioterie
The path goes along a small hamlet.

The cloister

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The cloister
After an hour's walk, you reach the final point of the walk: Port-Royal Abbey. This abbey has witnessed many religious and political conflicts over the centuries. In 1709, on the orders of Louis XIV, the abbey was destroyed and its buildings abandoned. Today, almost nothing remains of this ancient place of spirituality and learning.

The remains of the abbey

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The remains of the abbey
You can still see the few remains of the abbey. The small chapel (oratory) on the site was built later (1789). Access to the grounds of the abbey ruins is free.

The purpose of the walk

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The purpose of the walk
A monument representing the tomb of Jean Racine, this is not the real tomb he was only buried here for 11 years.

The 100 steps

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The 100 steps
The door leading to these steps is only open on the first Sunday of the month. Otherwise you have to make a small detour to the side. The steps lead to the museum which is at the top of the hill.

The Port Royal Museum

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The Port Royal Museum
The museum traces the fascinating history of the site and of Jansenism. A scale model shows the site in all its former splendour. The visit is aimed primarily at history buffs. Please note: admission is free on the first Sunday of the month.

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