Editor’s note: If you haven’t read the first of this series, Paris and its suburbs, head over there now. We’ll go through the criteria that we selected to compare, what benchmarks we’re using, and a note of caution about how to interpret the results. You won’t want to miss it!
Living in Grand Paris is all about transport. Where do you need to travel to, compared to where you live? And this is where Val de Marne comes in. There’s a saying in Paris “Metro, Boulot, Dodo”, meaning “Commute, Work, Sleep”. Over 12 million people live in Grand Paris, and public transport, as well as the roads, are well-saturated.
If you are visiting Paris, you have probably only vaguely seen the sign for the RER A Train, and ignored it. Why take the commuter train when you can take the metro? But once you move here, you realize the reality: RER A is the most frequented train-line in Europe, with over 1.2 million passengers each day!
And where does Val-de-Marne fit in in all this? RER A runs directly through Val-de-Marne, into Paris and La Défense, making it one of the more popular suburbs around Paris.
And have I mentioned Disney? Marne La Vallée, a large town on the east end, is the French residence of that very famous mouse. All of this contributes to making the area very popular with expats and businesses (who are children at heart, really!)
So in case there is a bit of confusion, Val de Marne is a department of France, while Marne-La-Vallée is a large new town that comprises of several towns, including towns that are in Val de Marne. Confused yet? It’s the famous french Mille-Feuille, or multiple layers of government. For our purpose, it doesn’t really matter, we can just look at the towns in Marne la Vallée and Val de Marne together, since they are the most popular.
I’ve also marked the location of Disney Paris in Marne-La-Vallée, because if you’re going to live on the east side of Paris, you might as well get that annual pass and delight your kids.
Best Suburbs in this area
Large popular towns for families in the Eastern suburbs include Vincennes, which is just outside of Paris, and Saint-Maur-des-Fossés. Both towns have good RER transport links as well as good public schools with a high Middle school Brévet average (if you are not sure what that is, read the opening Paris and its suburbs article.)
Compared to the West side of Paris, there are not many bilingual schools (public or private) on the Eastside. The only ones with primary education or higher are in Nogent-sur-Marne, which has Collège et Lycée Edouard Branly and College Antoine Watteau.
☞ READ MORE: Demystifying the French Education System
One thing to note in Val de Marne is that with the proximity Orly airport, some neighborhoods (and I emphasize “some”!) could be on a flight path. You likely won’t hear it inside your home, but you might hear a plane or two go by if you are barbequing in your backyard.
Zoom in below to see towns and their closest public transit options. Note: the Map and the Comparison Table are best viewed on computer and large tablet.
The large and most popular suburbs for families have been highlighted below.
All information has been provided for entertainment purposes only, and we are not responsible for verifying the accuracy of the figures noted below. Caution: Use at own risk !
1. Brevet scores will vary from classroom to classroom and school to school, and year to year. Calulation is a “rough average” of Public school data, which is subject to interpretation and changes over time.
2. Population Data is from Insee Public Statistics and is subject to change.
3. Metro, RER and other public transport links are based on current state of public transportion (Oct 2019), and not future plans that under construction.
4. Greenery distinctions include “Fleurie” designation by the “Site officiel du Label Villes et Villages Fleuris” and is subject to personal interpretation.
Communes of Val de Marne (94) and Marne la Vallée - Comparison Table
Public Transport & RER
Val de Marne does not have just one RER line, but a bit of everything. As with the Hauts-de-Seine and the Yvelines suburbs, a lot of focus of public transport in the Grand Paris area is about getting to La Défense. This makes sense if you work in Finance, but there are a lot of other businesses around as well. The northern area around Charles-de-Gaulle airport also has a lot of businesses around, notably Air France, Airbus, and all their service providers.
These communes on the East, being so accessible by public transit, make a good hub for families, while remaining within commuting distance for the parents. Around 67% of households here have at least one car, compared to 35% in Paris. Housing on the East-side is also slightly cheaper than on the West, so you get more bang for your buck.
Like the other suburbs, there are several public transportations in the works at the moment that are expected to be finished over the next few years:
- Three new metro lines, #14 running into Paris, #15 running on the outskirts of Paris, and #18 going all the way to Orly airport and Versailles on the West end. Metro line #1 is also expected to get an extension.
- Two new tram lines running around Grand Paris.
Does Disney count as a park? Besides Disney, there are plenty of little parks and green space around. However, only 22% of the residential market in Val de Marne consists of houses, the rest are apartments. So getting a house with a backyard is not a given. But some popular towns, like Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, have a housing rate of 38%, compared to apartments, and are right next to the RER station.
As for the other suburbs on the West and North, I have noted the Ville Fleurie distinction that was given by the government association Le Conseil National des Villes et Villages Fleuris. They denote if the town has received the designation, and how many plants (1-4) the town has received.
Have you picked your favorite Parisian suburb yet? We still have the North, Saint-Seine-Denis to check out, and of course, you can always go back and have another look at our other neighborhoods in Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, and Yvelines.
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