Last Updated on 6th March 2022 by Sophie Nadeau
A quiet and secluded town to the east of the French capital, even many Parisians likely haven’t heard of the existence of Crécy-la-Chapelle, a sleepy town situated around 40 km from Paris and self-proclaimed to be the ‘Venice of Brie’ on account of its many ringed moats. Here’s a quick history, how to visit, and some of the best things to do in Crécy-la-Chapelle.
A brief history of Crécy-la-Chapelle
The history of the town dates back many centuries and was first inhabited as early as prehistoric times, though did not become particularly important than until around the year 1000 when a fort was constructed on the site of where the modern day town lies.
The Grand Morin, a tributary of the River Marne, runs through the heart of Crecy la Chapelle, and this proximity to the river meant that trade, craft, and the textile industry all boomed in the town and its surrounds during the Middle Ages. In the 19th-century, the town inspired many painters.
The town of Crécy-la-Chapelle itself was actually created by the merger of two villages in 1972; Crécy-en-Brie and La Chapelle-sur-Crécy. Nearby sites of interest include the town of Meaux (which is located around 10 km to the North) and Coulommiers (the birthplace of André the Giant).
Best things to do in Crécy-la-Chapelle
Collegiale Notre-Dame de Crécy-la-Chapelle
Hands down, one of the top attractions of Crécy-la-Chapelle is the collegiate church dedicated to Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption. Classified as a historic monument since 1846, the church was constructed in the 13th-century.
The church is situated in the former village of La Chapelle and is built in the Gothic style. Unfortunately, the ecclesiastical building was badly destroyed during the Hundred Years War and so was heavily restored following the war.
Today, highlights of the Collegiate Church include stained glass windows and an apse vault. Unfortunately, the chapel was actually closed during my trip to Crécy-la-Chapelle, though I was still able to spy the interior via the keyhole on the front door!
Hôtel de Ville
As with any other town in France, visitors can see the town hall (known as Hôtel de Ville in French) in the most densely populated place in town. The town hall of Crécy is in a bourgeois house that is typically closed to the public but can still be admired via its exterior.
The belfry (le beffroi)
The belfry is actually constructed on the vestiges of part of one of the former defence towers that lined the town in the Middle Ages and was constructed during the 12th-century. Local legend suggests that there were once 99 such towers which defended Crécy-la-Chapelle.
Mathematically this is impossible and there were likely 40 such towers at most. Atop of the ruins of the former tower, the former town hall’s belfry was reconstructed in 1876. The clock of the belltower dates back to 1624, making it one of the oldest in the area.
While the Collegiate church is situated a little way out of the town, the Saint-Georges church is located in the heart of all the action. This place of worship was actually built in 1779, though incorporates an older 13th-century tower, as well as some of the town’s old defensive walls.
See the ringed moats
With the exception of the historic Gothic church on the fringes of town and all of the rural nature nearby, there is little by way of attractions when it comes to exploring Crécy. Instead, one of the top things to do is to wander the town and soak up the ambiance.
The name ‘Venice of Brie’ was bestowed on the town thanks to the fact that it is surrounded by ringed moats known as ‘brassets’. In times gone by, these would have served as an extra defence for the town. Numerous towers were constructed at various intervals to add extra defences to the moats.
How to visit Crécy-la-Chapelle
Despite its rather secluded nature, it actually couldn’t be easier to visit Crécy-la-Chapelle as a day trip from Paris, especially if you’re looking for a beautiful town near Paris. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a little luxury in the French countryside, then you might consider booking to stay in this luxurious property.
If you’re planning to visit the town as a short excursion Paris, then you should note that this Paris day trip is a little further than some other day trips from the city, taking upwards of an hour when accounting for changing trains.
You see, there’s no direct train from Paris and instead you’ll have to change onto a local tram and you’ll, therefore, have to change as Esbly station. If you’ve been reading about Île de France for quite some time, then you may well know that Esbly also happens to be one of the train stops along the Canal de Meaux à Chalifert.
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