Bois de Boulogne – The Pine Woods with French Heritage
Bois de Boulogne or as more commonly known Boulonia (بولونيا) is located in the heart of Mount Lebanon more specifically in Ras el Matn. Infamous for its pine tree woods, the village (and its hotel) have their name inspired by the French who compared it to their own Bois de Boulogne.
It was actually the French Tourism Commissary at the time who suggested to Youssef Ghostine (the Hotel’s owner) that he names his new hotel “Bois de Boulogne” in reference to the famous large public park on the outskirts of Paris. In fact, former French President Charles de Gaulle spent seven days at Bois de Boulogne during a trip to Lebanon years before he came to power (Source).
There are many routes to take in order to reach Bois de Boulogne. We took the Mansourieh road all the way up towards Broumana, Baabdath, Douar then Choueir. You can opt for other routes, such as the Matn Highway (a.k.a. المتن السريع) starting from Nahr el Mot which gets you to Baabdath. Being roughly 32 km away from Beirut, Boulogne can be reached in around 50 minutes.
We embarked on this road trip with no spots to visit in mind, our goal being to explore the village and its surroundings. And so we did. Driving along the streets of Boulogne, we were welcomed by virtually endless pine tree woods on both sides of the road, occasionally interrupted by beautiful old stone houses. The 80+ years old Bois de Boulogne hotel itself has a special French charm to it. We parked our car and strolled in the streets filling our lungs with the clean cold air of Boulogne while enjoying its beautiful nature and landscape.
The neighboring villages provide some beautiful sights as well. We passed by Mtein and Khenshara, both being just minutes away from Boulogne. We dropped by St John’s monastery in Khenshara, which is known as the site of the Middle East’s first Arabic Printing Press, whose original publication appeared in 1734.
In general, we feel that there is no need to engage in any activities on this trip. Walking in the streets of these villages made on its own for a pleasant healthy and fun daycation.
Boulogne is only 15 minutes away from Zaarour ski resort, so you can add it as a mini-trip on your way to the slopes.
- If you pass by Khenshara, make sure to check St John’s monastery. You’ll find a five-room museum displaying the old presses and old pieces of equipment We weren’t able to actually check the museum ourselves since it was under renovation. Oh, and you can do some wine testing too!