How to get there

From Paris take l’Autoroute du Nord (A1). Shortly after Le Bourget, turn right on the Franciliennne (A104), leading to the N2, towards Soissons. Those starting from South of Paris may prefer taking the Auto route de l’Est (A4) as far as Marne-la-Vallée, then turning North on the Franciliennne (A104) to pick up the N2 near Roissy, where a right turn brings one on to the road to Soissons.

About 30km from Paris, at Nanteuil-le-Haudouin, turn left (slip road to the right, followed by a dangerous blind left turn) towards Crépy-en-Valois (D136). After a about 3.5km, on the right, an unusual sandstone outcrop reminds one of Fontainbleau Forest. Two kilometers further on, at Ormoy-Villiers, a 12th century church with a 20th century concrete water tower built on to it reminds one how fragile a cultural heritage can be! At Crépy, go straight through the town centre, ignoring signs proposing a detour for “toutes directions”. There is a ruined castle, an archery museum, an abbey and various churches. Then follow the signs for Compiègne (D332).

Now for the tricky bit, 8km to Béthancourt-en-Valois, cross the river Automne to Gilocourt andCar park with theatre behind. turn left on the D123 towards Béthisy-St-Pierre. After1.8km, turn right in Orrouy (there is a panel indicating Champlieu-D116). Go up behind the church and then turn left just opposite the Château d’Orrouy (Rue du Jeu d’Arc, sign for Champlieu). At the top of the hill turn right past a ruined 12th century Romanesque chapel - there are supposed to be some early Christian catacombs, but I have never found them. There are caves on the edge of the plateau, about 1km to the East (marked as “grottes” on the IGN map); perhaps these are what gave rise to the indication present in many guidebooks. If you have any information, an email would be welcome. The site is on the right, a few hundred yards along the Senlis - Pierrefonds - Soissons Roman road.

Eating : The best solution is to take a picnic, the site is in open country at the edge of Compiègne forest, famous for its wild deer. Those who consider that when in France no normally constituted person eats anywhere but in a restaurant will find their salvation in nearby Crépy-en-Valois. They can also visit the town, origin of the Valois, French royal family from 1328 to 1589. Pierrefonds is another possibility. It is a little further but well worth the visit with its lake, restaurants and, above all, its medieval castle restored by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century, a major monument. Even nearer is Morienval with a few possibilities not to mention one of the most elegant Romanesque churches of the Paris region, of which more below.

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