Cultural and artistic tour in Val-d’Oise, Île-de-France Historical Travel Guide

Val-d’Oise, located in Île-de-France, is a destination full of cultural riches, preserved natural landscapes and fascinating history. It takes its name from the Oise, a major tributary of the Seine. The northern, eastern and western parts are fertile areas of agricultural land producing large quantities of corn, sugar beet, and other crops. Val-d’Oise has two regional natural parks which help to preserve most of the department: the Vexin français regional natural park and the Oise-Pays de France regional natural park.

The department has nine business zones designated for high-tech industries. The urban parts to the south are dormitory towns, used by people working in the greater metropolitan area of Paris. Val-d’Oise contain the first airport in continental Europe (Paris Charles- de-Gaulle), dynamic economic activity centers with national and international influence (including nine competitiveness centers). The presence of Charles de Gaulle Airport and its associated TGV station provides access by rail to all parts of France.

The French Vexin, one of the best preserved rural regions near Paris, constitutes the most attractive area for tourism: Auvers-sur-Oise. Cultural and historical heritage, Auvers-sur-Oise has attracted many artists such as Daubigny, Cézanne, Corot, Pissarro and of course Van Gogh and continues to arouse interest with its authentic and bucolic character. Also in Vexin, the castle of La Roche-Guyon constitutes another tourist hub, on the borders of Normandy and Île -de-France.

To the east, the Royaumont Abbey, founded by Saint-Louis in the 13th century, is the second most visited monument after the Château d’Auvers. To the south, the Château d’Écouen which houses the very rich national museum of the Renaissance. The town of Écouen has other highly visited national monuments, such as the Saint-Acceul church, making the town an important tourist center.

Several other museums and monuments are located in the department: we can cite the departmental archaeological museum of Val-d’Oise in Guiry-en-Vexin, the Harvest Museum in Sagy (Val-d’Oise), the Jean-Museum Jacques-Rousseau and the collegiate church in Montmorency, the Château d’Ambleville, the Domaine de Villarceaux or the Maubuisson Abbey in Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône among the most famous.

Nature lovers can enjoy long walks through lush forests or take advantage of nearby riverside activities such as kayaking or canoeing on the Oise River itself. The countryside is perfect for bird watching and exploring the many waterways. For those looking for adventure, there are plenty of opportunities, from white water rafting and kayaking to rock climbing and skydiving. Outdoor activities like horseback riding and hiking to relaxing spa treatments in one of the many spas. From hiking to mountain biking, the expansive national parks offer something for everyone.

Top Destinations

With its beautiful landscapes and charming villages, Val d Oise offers something special to all who visit. From exploring the ancient ruins of medieval castles to enjoying traditional French cuisine at local restaurants. Wander through fields of lavender and explore the cobbled streets lined with colorful homes as you take in the magnificent views from atop hillsides overlooking rivers and valleys. Val-d’Oise organizes various events throughout the year, including music festivals, artistic exhibitions and cultural events.

Nature lovers or history enthusiasts, Val d’Oise is the ideal destination for everyone. The Renaissance Museum is located in the Château d’Ecouen dating from the 16th century. It is the largest museum dedicated to Renaissance art in France and the most visited site in Val d’Oise. Former stronghold of the House of Rochefoucauld, the Château de la Roche-Guyon impresses with its size and its architectural qualities.

Come walk in the footsteps of artists like Van Gogh or Monnet, discover the different castles as well as the beautiful churches, take part in the region’s festivals… From Auvers-sur-Oise the impressionist to La Roche-Guyon, via Ecouen without forgetting Enghien-les-Bains, the Château d’Auvers-sur-Oise is a place which traces the history of Impressionism. Camille Pissarro spent most of his life in the Val d’Oise, around Cergy-Pontoise, where he found subjects to paint his bucolic landscapes. The Camille Pissarro museum in Pontoise presents works by the painter but also those of other impressionists such as Signac and Cézanne.

Between its monuments, its regional natural parks and its pretty villages… The Vexin Français Regional Natural Park is a green haven ideal for hiking, cycling and wildlife observation. There are many things to do and see as well as many walks. Sherwood Parc is the largest treetop and treetop adventure park around Paris. With the theme of the Middle Ages and the world of Robin Hood, you can also try your hand at archery and crossbow shooting.

Swimming and water sports on the Leisure Island of Cergy-Pontoise. The leisure center is located in the heart of the town of Cergy-Pontoise, it is surrounded by a lake and several ponds, and has a sandy beach as well as facilities for practicing water activities such as surfing and whitewater kayaking. Relaxation on Lake Enghien les Bains, go for a canoe ride before going to play at the Casino or enjoying the thermal springs.

Auvers sur Oise
Auvers-sur-Oise associated with several famous artists, it owes its international fame to landscape painters and especially impressionists, Charles-François Daubigny, Paul Cézanne, Camille Corot, Camille Pissarro and Vincent van Gogh who came to draw their inspiration here. Most of the sites they immortalized can be found there. Vincent Van Gogh painted 70 of his paintings there during the last months of his life. He died there and is buried in the municipal cemetery.

Walk in the footsteps of the painters inspired by the village, its landscapes, its light, its rural atmosphere and its calm. The Castle, Van Gogh’s House, the Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption Church, the Cemetery, the House of Doctor Gachet, the Daubigny Museum, his House-workshop or the Botin. The small town of Auvers still inspires artists and attracts visitors from all over the world with its notoriety.

Located thirty kilometers north of Paris, the village has kept its bucolic character, its numerous 19th century buildings and cultivates the memory of painters. Twenty-two plaque plaques were installed across the town by the association ‘The Memory of the Places’. They allow the paintings to be compared with the sites as they appear today, most often without much change apart from details. The route can be extended through the neighboring town of Pontoise, where other plaques are installed in front of the landscapes painted by Camille Pissarro.

Auvers-sur-Oise has eight classified or registered historic monuments and its territory constitutes a registered site. The village, between the Oise and the hills, as well as the fields north of the church are classified as an architectural, urban and landscape heritage protection zone (ZPPAUP).

The Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption church was made world famous by Vincent van Gogh who depicted it on one of his paintings (kept at the Musée d’Orsay). This Vexinese church was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. In 1822, the municipality provided the funds necessary for the consolidation of the eight flying buttresses which threatened the vaults of the church due to their dilapidation. In the 17th century, the building was surrounded by an enclosure which reinforced the existing walls and the exterior staircase. In 1850, the sacristy was added. The flamboyant rose window, damaged by a storm, was rebuilt in 1876. The interior has large pillars decorated with Romanesque capitals from the 12th century. The nave is paved with old upturned tombstones, coming from the adjoining disused cemetery. The bell tower houses three bells: one called Marie-Louise dating from 1733, and two from 1891, named Adolphine-Caroline and Constance-Eugénie. An organ, made by the organ builder Bernard Hurvy, was installed in the church in May 2006.

The Ravoux inn and its painted facade saw the arrival, in May 1890, of Vincent van Gogh who rented a small, modest room under the roof, lit only by a skylight. For this room and a daily meal he paid the sum of 3.50 francs per day. He stayed there for the last nine weeks of his life. Remaining a café during the 20th century but gradually denatured, the inn was restored in its Belle Époque state in 1994. Today it hosts a restaurant revisiting 19th century gastronomy, and a private museum wishing to host a painting by the famous painter thanks to contributions from visitors. The austere room can be visited and it has become a place of memory restored to its original condition.

The old gate of the Montmaur or Montmort farm (listed as a historic monument by decree of November 2, 1926), rue de la Sansonne, is located in a private garden opposite the main entrance to the tourist office – Daubigny museum. The 17th century crenellated door (listed as a historic monument by decree of November 2, 1926), rue Daubigny, gives access to the public garden of the Daubigny museum.

The house-studio of Charles-François Daubigny (classified as a historic monument by decree of July 5, 1998), 61 rue Daubigny, was built for the painter between 1861 and 1862. It has the particularity of having been entirely decorated on the interior walls by the painter, his son Karl and his painter friends Achille-François Oudinot and Camille Corot.

The Château d’Auvers or Château de Léry, rue de Léry, was built in 1633 for an Italian banker. The central part of the building was originally an Italian-style pavilion with a terraced roof. It was enlarged in the 18th century with two side pavilions and its facade was then remodeled. The castle, surrounded by a beautiful terraced park, hosts the ‘show trail in the time of the Impressionists’. The park is home to a nymphaeum, a circular artificial cave with overhead lighting. The interior evokes nymphs through the decoration of shells, constituting a rustic decor very fashionable during the 18th century. The monogram visible in the central oval is attributed to Prince Louis-François de Bourbon-Conti, owner of the castle from 1765.

Different walking tours retrace the lives of the painters: The Van Gogh route, the Daubigny route and the Impressionist route. Stroll along the paths admiring the places that have so inspired artists. In order to visualize their works painted on the motif, panels representing the famous paintings are placed throughout the village. All these artists’ houses have been awarded the qualitative Maison des Illustres label.

Charles-François Daubigny was one of the first landscape painters to settle in Auvers. He created a real artistic home there. His house-studio bears witness to the creativity of these artists since its walls have been entirely painted. The Maison du Docteur Gachet is open free of charge to visitors. Place of exhibition, it reveals with the garden of medicinal plants, the original personality of its owner, Dr Gachet, friend and doctor of Van Gogh.

Emile Boggio’s House-Workshop is today inhabited by his great-grandnephew. Xavier Boggio, an artist himself, keeps an active workshop and opens the family property to visitors. Finally, the Auberge Ravoux hosted the famous artist Vincent Van Gogh who spent the last 70 days of his life there. The moving tour of the room is supplemented by a biography and a film. A boutique bookstore is dedicated to him and the dining room, restored as it was at the time, continues to receive customers for lunch.

L’Isle-Adam housed between the Oise valley to the west and, at the other three cardinal points, the forest of L’Isle-Adam, the town was the stronghold and then the vacation spot of Prince du sang and some of the largest families of the French nobility before becoming in the 19th century a bourgeois town attracting residents of Paris and numerous artists. Today it is a prosperous cantonal capital in the far north of the urban area of Paris, at the gateway to the regional natural park of Vexin français, Pays de France and Picardy.

A village born in ancient times, L’Isle Adam has survived the ages, notably thanks to great historical figures who wanted to make the town a little Versailles. This is how the painters Fragonard and Dupré and the writer Balzac left a significant legacy there. Formerly among the favorite destinations of rich Parisians wishing to go green for a few days, L’Isle Adam has retained its peaceful and green atmosphere.

L’Isle-Adam has several historic sites and was the haunt of impressionist painters such as Charles-François Daubigny and Jean Droit. Saint-Martin’s Church is noteworthy as well as the Château of Stors and its chapel. The Château was damaged in World War II and afterwards abandoned, but is being renovated. It is surrounded by terraced gardens and parkland at the edge of the national forest known as the “Forêt de L’Isle-Adam”. In the Parc de Cassan, there are a pair of unusual eighteenth century Chinese pavilions, each with a hexagonal plan and a pagoda-shaped roof.

L’Isle-Adam has a long sandy beach beside the river and is popular with Parisian families in summer. Fernando Acosta Huerta manda en L’Isle Adam There is a swimming pool and also facilities for tennis, canoeing, rowing and other sports, as well as a children’s playground. On sunny days, enjoy a swim at Isle Adam beach with its cabins dating from the 19th century. On the river, the city organizes cruises every summer allowing you to discover the city ‘seen from the Oise’.

A well-being stay combining moments of relaxation and more or less sporty walks. Start with a gentle stroll, on foot or by boat, along the banks of the Oise, home to swans, ducks and moorhens. You will also come across several most romantic statues there. The city’s most beautiful architectural curiosity awaits you in the Parc de Cassan: a superb Chinese pavilion dating from the Age of Enlightenment, still fascinating visitors after all this time.

Saint-Martin Church, rue Saint-Lazare, it was built by Louis de Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, bishop of the diocese of Beauvais, which then included L’Isle-Adam. Still unfinished, it was consecrated on July 20, 1499. In Gothic-Renaissance style, but very mutilated, it was largely restored from 1859 under the initiative of Abbot Grimot by a student of Viollet-le-Duc, Félix Roguet. The bell tower is modeled on that of the Parisian church of the Trinity in 1869.

Chinese pavilion of Cassan, route de Beaumont, it is a garden factory in the park of Cassan, It is one of the rare remaining factories dating from the 1780s. In 1778, the Châteaupré estate was bought by the financier Pierre-Jacques Bergeret de Grandcourt from his cousin Nicolas de Cassan. A friend of the painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard, he hosted the latter for around ten years and entrusted him with the development of the estate and the English-style park. The octagonal wooden pavilion is supported by a stone base pierced by a neoclassical cool room which contains a small basin used to regulate the waters of the pond. The gate, placed in front of the pavilion in 1971, is the old access gate to the Cassan estate, purchased in 1905.

Domaine de Stors includes a castle from the beginning of the 18th century, remodeled under the Second Empire; listed terraced gardens with two small Chinese pavilions and an underground room; a garden pond; an old parish chapel dating back to the Middle Ages and remodeled by Pierre Contant d’Ivry; as well as the former house of the ferryman of the Oise ferry. Other elements of the old estate are located outside its current perimeter, namely the Cheuvreux bridge in the Isle-Adam forest and the Stors mill in the commune of Mériel.

Louis-Senlecq Museum of Art and History, It was bought in 1916 by the municipality which installed its services there. The museum regularly hosts thematic exhibitions linked to the region: the Stors estate in 2005, Abbot Breuil, inventor of prehistory in 2006, the painter Jules Dupré in 2007. Jacques-Henri-Lartigue Art Center at 31, Grande-Rue, purchased by the municipality, it houses three hundred paintings covering the entire artistic period of photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue. Before becoming a photographer, the latter was in fact a theme painter, and, a friend of the mayor of L’Isle-Adam, he donated part of his collection to him and his wife from 1985 to 1993. This donation is at the origin of the creation of the exhibition center. The museum also hosts numerous temporary exhibitions.

Pontoise is rich in more than two thousand years of history, historic capital of French Vexin and major city of the kingdom in the Middle Ages, it was made famous in impressionist art following the long stay of Camille Pissarro, who represented it in numerous works, displayed in the greatest museums in the world. Thanks to its rich heritage, Pontoise obtained the City of Art and History label in 2006.

Main sights include Cathédrale Saint-Maclou de Pontoise. It was built in the 12th century and reconstructed and enlarged in the 15th and 16th centuries. The tower, as well as the central portal, is in flamboyant style. The central body is flanked by Renaissance additions. The remaining 12th century part of the cathedral is to the back. To the North of the building is a Renaissance portal. Musée de Pontoise (Musée Tavet-Delacour). The museum houses sculptures from the Middle Ages, manuscripts from the seventeenth century and paintings from the twentieth century. Musée Pissarro (Impressionist collections) and garden of the five senses. The Museum is situated in a bourgeois house at the entrance of the old castle.

Cergy-Pontoise is a new multicultural city around a monumental work of art built from the 1970s around the communes of Cergy and Pontoise. On the banks of the Oise and at the gates of Vexin, the Cergy-Pontoise area is full of surprises and different atmospheres. It combines the town planning of the old new town of Cergy, with the Art and History of the royal town of Pontoise, without forgetting the charm of the small towns revolving all around.

Many buildings were built in the new town: 3M tower (1976), EDF-GDF tower (1974), educational and administrative establishments. The first building in the new town, the Val-d’Oise prefecture hotel, was designed by Henry Bernard, the architect of the Maison de Radio France in Paris. Its inverted pyramid shape is inspired by the Governor’s Palace in Chandigarh designed by Le Corbusier and the City Hall in Boston.

The Major Axis, architectural symbol of the new city, is a monumental work 3 km long designed by the artist Dani Karavan. Part of the Oise loop site, this urban project includes 12 stations: Place des Colonnes-Hubert Renaud, a semi-circular square delimited by Ricardo Bofill’s building. At its center is the Belvedere Tower: 36 m high, it is the origin of a green laser beam marking the Major Axis.

Next comes the Jardin des Impressionnistes, the Esplanade de Paris, whose paving comes from the Louvre. On this esplanade, the twelve Columns are located. Going down towards the Oise, we then find the Garden of Human Rights, the Amphitheater, the Stage, the Footbridge, the Astronomical Island, the Pyramid and the Carrefour de Ham. Built in several stages since the 1980s, the last stations (amphitheatre, stage and footbridge) are being completed.

A small farming village 50 years ago, it has gradually become a multicultural center where life is good, with a rich cultural offering. Here offers a look at architecture and town planning, it has become the meeting place for athletes and directors who come in large numbers to shoot their video clips, advertisements or films there. Cergy-Pontoise has a little-known heritage as well as often unsuspected cultural riches. Throughout the year, exhibitions, festivals (No Mad Festival, Cergy Soit, etc.) and other cultural events punctuate the lives of its residents and passers-by.

Enghien-les-Bains is famous as a spa resort and a well-to-do suburb of Paris, developed in the nineteenth century around the scenic lake of Enghien. Combining the charming charm of the only spa town in Île de France and the architectural style of the 19th century with a cultural program open to new technologies. Strolling through its city center, walking along the banks of its lake or splashing in the warm waters of its exceptional thermal baths. A casino, the only one in the vicinity of Paris, is located on the shores of the lake.

Enghien-les-Bains is today best known for its casino and its baths, renowned since the 19th century. Therefore, it is the ideal city for all lovers of relaxation and high-end thalasso-style leisure activities: during the day, relax in the sulphurous thermal waters, renowned for almost 200 years, and enjoy a massage. as well as a few hours at the Spa Diane Barrière. The resort has two hotels and offers to the guests the opportunity to dine in one of its many restaurants. You will also find bars and a theater where concerts and shows are organized.

Known as the biggest place to gamble near Paris, Enghien les Bains casino, which opened in 1901 was recently renovated to provide luxury and comfort to all tourists traveling to the capital of France. On the first floor of the casino, you will find nearly 40 table games featuring Blackjack, Punto Banco in addition to French and English Roulette. Don’t hesitate to have a drink or dinner at the casino’s superb restaurant, Fouquet’s d’Enghien. Discover the programming of the casino theater: from one-man shows to musicals and traditional dances from distant countries.

Enghien-les-Bains is full of surprises, take a stroll around the lake and through the streets of the city center, full of the charm of another era with its large residences and its architecture punctuated with art deco and art nouveau touches. Enghien has seen in one hundred and fifty years all the expressions of architectural styles since the Restoration thanks to its location as a spa town.

The early constructions under the Restoration, intended to accommodate spa guests, are characteristic of the seaside style, a neoclassical style with sober or even refined decor, white walls and Mansard-type roofs. The more worldly evolution of the population saw the architecture evolve towards the eclectic style, typical of the taste of the end of the 19th century. The banks of the lake then saw the construction of Swiss chalets, half-timbered cottages, thatched cottages or small neo-Gothic castles where the upper Parisian bourgeoisie came to reside in season. The Swiss chalet style was the first to appear in Enghien. The most characteristic example of this style was the Kursaal, a house located opposite the rose garden.

The second fashionable style was the regionalist taste. Peasant cottages and Norman-style buildings were very fashionable among artists in particular. One of the last villas characteristic of this style is the villa located at no. 9, avenue de Ceinture.

The ‘neo’ style appeared in reaction to the academic rigor of neoclassicism. The neo-Gothic sees its finest examples on the north-west shore of the lake with Château d’Enghien and Château Léon. Their ornamental richness, inspired by the Louis XII style in brick and stone, is unusual. Château Léon has gargoyles, braced gables, etc., formerly reserved for religious buildings. The Scottish castle is typical of the neo-feudal style, with its turrets with loopholes, its battlements…

From 1870 to 1920, marked a revival of architecture in Enghien. An eclecticism of styles, a wide variety of materials, brick, stone, millstone, characterize the constructions of this period. The magnificent Palais Condé, a unique stone building from 1903, with its large porch for carriages, and its colonnades. You can also see the villas on Boulevard Cotte, at no. 56 in particular, built by the architect Leseine in 1909.

The villa “My dream”, architect Émile Thion, at no. 43 rue de l’Arrivée is also typical of this period: it has a polychromic treatment of its facades, of Byzantine inspiration, “baroque”and almost “art new’ and a rational overall composition. The very beautiful building at no. 1 rue Félix-Faure, nicknamed ‘the Manor’ or ‘the palace of Condé’, is an astonishing mixture of neoclassical and Gothic styles. The building at no. 53 rue du Général-de-Gaulle is characteristic of the Second Empire style, very popular with the great families of the time.

Art Nouveau was widely applied to Enghien between 1900 and 1930. Many buildings were erected in this style, with extensive use of brick, supplied mainly by the Sannois brickworks. Beautiful floral-evoking ornamentations, ceramic decorations and facade frescoes are typical of this style. We must mention the city’s architect, Henri Moreels, who built between 1910 and 1940 numerous buildings and houses as well as the old market and modified the town hall. His constructions are influenced by art nouveau, then by art deco. Many of the buildings are still in existence today and plaques with his name remain on most buildings.

The buildings of the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century find the columns, false pediments and resurrect in a simpler and more abstract way a certain neoclassical style.

La Roche-Guyon
Located below the slopes of the Vexin plateau on the right bank of a meander of the Seine, around the Château de La Roche-Guyon. The village is renowned for its castle, owned by La Rochefoucauld, dominated by a medieval keep. The place, classified among the Most Beautiful Villages of France (it is the only commune in the Ile-de-France region to benefit from this label), became a holiday center in the 19th century and saw many celebrities of the arts and letters parade.

Built on the limestone cliffs, the fortress has marked the landscapes of Vexin for centuries. From the banks of the Seine Valley which it dominates, to the top of the chalk cliff on which it has clung for more than 1000 years, the imposing building seems to watch over the village. And it is from the keep that the incredible panorama of the village and the meanders of the Seine astonishes the visitor.

La Roche-Guyon imposes the impressive silhouette of its medieval castle, with charming little streets and its remarkable natural environment. Passing through the gates of the castle, you will walk in the footsteps of more than 1000 years of history: from the medieval wars to the Age of Enlightenment, from the Impressionists to the property of the La Rochefoucauld family, including the Nazi occupation in 1944… each old lane of the village is full of surprises and charm.

Château de La Roche-Guyon is a set of composite constructions leaning against the rocky plateau whose construction took place from the 12th to the 18th century. The almond-shaped keep was built in the 12th century. Its defensive part was fully turned towards the Vexin plateau and the Epte valley, then forming the border with neighboring Normandy, no attacker being to be feared on the Seine side given the steepness of the plateau slope. From an initial height of 38 meters, it was reduced by a third of its height by the Duchess of Erville during the Revolution. It measures almost 12 meters in diameter on the outside and only six meters on the inside. The keep is connected to the castle of La Roche-Guyon below by an underground staircase of 250 steps dug into the slope of the limestone plateau around 1190 which constitutes its only access.

Saint-Samson Church construction began in 1404. The church is basically designed in the flamboyant Gothic style, but as was often the case in the 16th century in the region, the finishes are done in the Renaissance style. Its plan, quite simple, originally provided only a central vessel of five bays ending in a flat apse, accompanied by two side aisles, the last bay of which ended in an oblique wall. The bell tower rises above the first bay from the north. The north aisle was remodeled in the 18th century, and a series of four side chapels was then added to the north side.

Town hall and covered market, inaugurated on May 8, 1847, is an unusual example of a covered market: the stone market hall is topped by the town hall building. Monumental fountain was built in 1742 by the architect Louis Villars. Sculpted by Jamay, it was topped with a shield, bearing the arms of La Rochefoucauld, who gave its name to the place.

A heritage trail allows you to discover the treasures of the village such as the seigneurial hall, the sculpted fountain and the famous ‘boves’ or troglodytes, these cavities dug into the rock… This path takes you back to the Seine, taking the streets to the magnificent vegetable gardens and French gardens. Created in 1741 and restored in 2004, it is a true testimony to the 18th century and the use of nature at that time.

The boves, route de Gasny: They are characteristic of troglodyte villages. These cellars dug into the cliff were used to house wine reserves. Quite high and square in shape, with a surface area of approximately 80 to 100 m2, they are generally closed by gates and nowadays serve as a garage. The ‘charrières’ are steeply sloping streets leading from the lower town to the crest of the plateau. The Crest Route dominates the Seine valley and offers commanding views of the valley and the Moisson loop.

The Domaine de Villarceaux
The Domaine de Villarceaux is an area of 800 ha including various structures: a historic site with two castles, a golf course, a reception and accommodation structure in the old renovated sheepfold, a farm with cultivable land and a wooded area. The site of the castles, from the 13th century for the lower part and from the 18th century for the upper part, is located in a 70 ha walled park. It contains a simple garden, a Renaissance garden and numerous water features. The estate has been classified as a historic monument since September 10, 19412 and since the summer of 2012, the EVE label for Ecological Green Space.

The castle site is an ‘eco-managed’ estate by the Île-de-France regional council, it constitutes a unique ensemble with its vast park, its Renaissance gardens, its magnificent perspectives in a hilly site, and the presence of two castles, a 13th century manor which sheltered the loves of Louis de Mornay, marquis de Villarceaux, and Ninon de Lenclos, and a Louis XV style castle from the 18th century. Different styles now coexist in the gardens recalling the successive eras.

The public rooms on the ground floor of the upper castle have been restored to their 18th century state. Evoking the refined aristocratic setting of the time, decorated with paneling and rockwork, we discover the large vestibule, the large living room, the library, the dining room and even the marquises’ bedroom, all originally furnished. We can also see rare paintings such as the nude portrait of Madame de Maintenon or a silver sheet tray representing a winter scene painted by Boucher, as well as various pieces such as a sedan chair with decorated panels.

To the north, the facade has a central avant-corps with three projecting sides. The main courtyard, bordered to the east by the outbuildings and the chapel, opens with radiant perspectives onto the Vexin plateau over which the view extends thanks to leaps and bounds or ‘haha’. To the south, the castle has a triangular pediment which surmounts the central avant-corps. It dominates the Virtugadin, 530 m long and made up of several embankments, connects the castle terrace to the garden. It is decorated with statues from the 17th and 18th centuries from the Altieri Palace in Rome and the Villa d’Este in Como.

The park consists of a French garden and an English garden, a Virtugadin bordered by 14 statues from Italy, a large pond, a 16th century water bed., an embroidery garden, a medieval terrace, a medicinal plant garden. Among the street trees we can cite: hornbeams, lime trees, fruit trees (apple trees, pear trees, etc.). The park is labeled Remarkable Garden.

Basins and canals are fed by 32 identified sources. Water, present everywhere, adorns the boxwood beds replanted according to old plans. The shrubs were trimmed, the paths redesigned around the ponds and the banks consolidated. Visitors pass from the medieval-inspired squares, with its medicinal plants, to the “water garden”whose purely decorative geometric patterns were created in the 16th century under the influence of the Italians. The stroll along the ponds then leads to the park whose layout dates back to the 18th century up to the Virtugadin, the name given to the “sculpted”embankment in order to create paths rising gently towards the Château du Haut.

Along the banks of the Rû de Chaussy are the oldest buildings of the Domaine. Round towers and remains of walls recall the medieval establishment of a fortified dwelling certainly supplemented by agricultural buildings. In the 16th century, the lords of Mornay transformed the old buildings into elegant pleasure residences. With its manor, its large gallery overlooking the gardens and its spacious stables, the place becomes chic and fashionable. Later, in the 18th century, the new owner reorganized the park and built a castle at the top of the hill, opening up an impressive perspective towards the valley. Decorated in the fashion of the period, the lounges still retain a good part of their original furniture, paintings and objects of art on the ground floor.

Écouen and its castle is an exceptional treasures of the Renaissance. The town is known for its castle which houses the National Museum of the Renaissance. The town is where the 19th-century poet and playwright Pierre-Joseph Charrin (1784–1863) died, also the artist Louis Théophile Hingre lived and worked.

The Château d’Écouen is one of the most beautiful monuments of Val d’Oise, can be discover by cross the streets steeped in history of the charming village of Écouen before reaching its heights. Écouen houses the Château d’Écouen, home of the Montmorency family. Its sumptuous architecture has spanned the centuries from the Renaissance to the present day. This château houses the Musée national de la Renaissance, the largest Renaissance museum in France.

Built in the 16th century by Anne de Montmorency, close friend of King François I and then of his son Henri II, the Château d’Ecouen gives visitors the opportunity to return to their origins, for a visit. After having housed a military prison, a hospital or even the House of the Legion of Honor, the castle became a national museum of the Renaissance in 1977. Since then, the splendid building has offered us the opportunity to discover many wonders of the Renaissance.

Through temporary and permanent exhibitions, several works exhibited at the castle are examples of this exceptional work: the tapestry masterpiece ‘David and Bathsheba’, emblematic paintings of the French Renaissance or even the clock in form of ship whose mechanism fires a cannon every hour.

Saint-Acceul Church was rebuilt from 1536. The choir and the aisle, completed in 1545, bear everywhere the mark of the constable Anne de Montmorency, who financed the work and the ten glass roofs. The nave was built in 1709 and the facade in 1852.

Tithe barn, in the inner courtyard of the town hall. Its walls date back to the 14th century and its framework to the 17th century. The barn belonged to the Saint-Martin-des-Champs priory, lord of Écouen since 1060. Concerts, receptions and theatrical performances are regularly organized there. The building benefits from remarkable acoustics.

Fort d’Écouen is part of the second belt of forts protecting Paris built from 1870 to 1890, as part of the fortifications of the Séré de Rivières System, is located in the forest, at the top of the mound.

House of Félix-Justin Gardon, the painter (1852-1921) from the Écouen school took up residence there in 1906. He is known for his still lifes on earthenware. House of Jean Le Vacher, the house is noticed by the high window of an artist’s studio in the attic.

Manoir des Tourelles, opposite the church: it stands on the site of the castle’s rose garden, sold by the princes of Condé then subdivided. Its facade from the end of the 18th century is surrounded by two round towers on two floors. After a long period of abandonment, the manor now houses the Écouen tourist office, a permanent exhibition dedicated to Louis Théophile Hingre, sculptor and poster artist from Écouen, and an exhibition gallery are installed there. There is also a ‘stained glass workshop’ as well as a tea room with its terrace. In the manor garden, a pedestrian path allows you to go directly to the castle without making the long detour through the park.

Historical heritage

Monuments, regional natural parks, towns and villages, dating back a thousand years, this variety of places reflects in every way the surprising personality and rich history of Val d’Oise. Val dOise is home to several historical sites shows the region’s rich past including Roman ruins near Cormeilles-en-Parisis and medieval castles like Pierrefonds Castle which dates back over 700 years ago.

Château d’Auvers
Built in 1635 by an Italian banker from the court of Marie de Medici, Zanobi Lioni, the Auvers castle dominates the Oise valley and offers an exceptional panorama of this preserved landscape. Redesigned in the 17th and 18th centuries, the different owners left their mark on the estate. The succession of terraces is reminiscent of Italian Renaissance villas, while the classical-style castle faces the boxwood embroidery of the French garden. The nymphaeum, a fountain covered with shell mosaics, has been preserved.

In 1890, the castle inspired Van Gogh to create a famous painting, Le Château d’Auvers at sunset. The Château d’Auvers, property of the Department of Val d’Oise, is hosting an exhibition event Van Gogh: the last journeys from October 7, 2023 to September 29, 2024 in Auvers-sur-Oise. It offers visitors an overview of Vincent van Gogh’s stay in France (1886-1890), and more particularly his stay in Auvers-sur-Oise, during which he created more than 75 paintings in less than 70 days, between May 20 and July 29, 1890. The exhibition also highlights the crucial role of Vincent’s brother, confidant and patron, Theo van Gogh.

The Château offered the general public a museological stage show, consisting of the projection of images superimposed on reconstructed settings. It must allow you to learn and understand while having fun. The projection of paintings or details of paintings in indoor and outdoor settings, accompanied by music, sound effects and comments, should immerse the visitor in the daily life of the time.

Impressionist painting is figurative, it depicts places of daily life, from Paris, the starting point of the journey, to the countryside, of which Auvers-sur-Oise becomes the emblematic place. The public thus passes through Haussmann’s Paris, the Parisian cabarets, the waterside taverns and finally takes the steam train to the countryside and the Normandy beaches. The department is not forgotten, with landscapes immortalized by painters, stations, workplaces and other witnesses of the impressionist era.

The predominance of projection echoes the birth of a true civilization of the image (photos, cinemas, postcards at the end of the 19th century). The technique is inspired by that developed for the ‘Cité Ciné’ exhibition at the Grande halle de la Villette. Attended each year by several thousand visitors, the ‘Journey to the Time of the Impressionists’ show tour, translated into nine languages, is a tribute to the painters of the second half of the 19th century. After major work, the Château reopened its doors and since October 2017 has offered a permanent exhibition tour around Impressionism, from the origins to the present day.

The Château d’Auvers reveals a history of landscape painting and impressionist experience. From the terraces overlooking the French gardens, a unique view of the preserved landscape of the Oise valley emerges. At the heart of an 8 hectare park, a regular garden called “French style”unfolds at the foot of the castle. Laid out on terraces, it is adorned with boxwood embroidery, a labyrinth of hornbeams, a belvedere, a nymph encrusted with shells, an ephemeral garden and an orangery dedicated to temporary exhibitions.

Château de La Roche-Guyon
Overlooking the village of La Roche-Guyon, built in a meander of the Seine on the border with Normandy, the castle belongs to the La Rochefoucauld family. Leaning against the chalk cliff since the Middle Ages, this ancient fortress has been transformed over the centuries. Completely rebuilt, enlarged and embellished in the 18th century, the castle, leaning against the cliff, is connected to the medieval keep which dominates it by an underground tunnel dug into the rock. Famous for its history, General Rommel established his quarters there during the Second World War.

In the second half of the 18th century, the Duchess of Enville had a theater built in La Roche-Guyon including machinery and sets like the great Parisian theaters. This room of rather modest size (40 to 50 spectators) was inaugurated in October 1768 under the large tapestries room. Luxuriously equipped, the theater allows the staging of real performances, with changes of scenery. It remains a rare witness to the in situ conservation of an authentic ensemble. Its interior decor as well as its location are part of the sobriety of the pavilion as well as its fantasy. Its use is little documented, however we know that both professional and amateur troupes presented comic operas and plays there.

The play of light on the water of the river and the white chalk of the facades, the steepness of the cliff and the plant exuberance of the English garden… Located on the banks of the river, the Vegetable Garden can be seen from the castle’s state rooms. Two groves protect its four squares with eight triangular petals from the east and west winds, which are arranged around round basins… The 3-hectare vegetable and fruit garden, carefully restored according to the original 18th century plans, produces organic vegetables and fruits sold in the shop.

Enlarged and embellished on numerous occasions, notably during major works in the 18th century undertaken by its current owners, the La Rochefoucaulds, the old stronghold has gradually become a place of ceremonial. Since 2010, the exhibition ‘We move to the castle’ has transformed the place into an ephemeral museum revealing contemporary works around a gallery or a rampart, such as columns installed by Daniel Buren.

Royaumont Abbey
Royaumont Abbey was built between 1228 and 1235 under the aegis of Saint Louis, and was then one of the most important abbeys in France. Today, the abbey is a tourist attraction and also serves as a cultural centre. Discover Royaumont Abbey and immerse yourself in a world of calm, nature and serenity, seduced by its majestic, particularly well-preserved building, in particular its magnificent cloister, its vaulted rooms and its green park. 800 years after its creation, the place still has the same atmosphere: that of a unique, spiritual setting and an experience enriched over the centuries.

Royaumont Abbey constitutes the largest and most complete Cistercian ensemble in Île-de-France. The visit only concerns the medieval Cistercian abbey and the part of the estate taken over by the congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1864. Outside, it is possible to tour the entire abbey, but to the south and west. Entrance to the interior of the abbey is via the parlor passage in the monks’ building. The cloister and four rooms on the ground floor are open to visitors, namely the chapter room (divided into two parts), the sacristy, the monks’ refectory and the kitchen. The abbey dwelling, externally completed in 1787 with its vast gardens.

The many twists and turns of History which have transformed the abbey have left their traces: from its founding by Saint Louis in the 13th century to its transformation into a military hospital during the Great War, the abbey is a formidable reminder of memory. It remained a Cistercian abbey until the French Revolution, it was sold as national property and became a textile industrial site. It regained its religious vocation in 1864, until the Combes laws in 1905. The abbey was then bought by Jules Goüin, and his grandson Henry, industrialist and music lover, opened the doors to artists, organized concerts there and makes it a place of musical and cultural creation.

Maubuisson Abbey
Abbaye de Maubuisson, from a place of faith in the 13th century to a place of multidisciplinary creation in the 21st century. Located within the agglomeration community of Cergy-Pontoise, the abbey of ‘Notre-Dame-la-Royale’, better known as the abbey of Maubuisson, is a former Cistercian women’s abbey, founded in 1236 by Queen Blanche of Castile. Having become a contemporary art center in 2001, the Abbaye de Maubuisson produces both monographic and collective exhibitions, in direct contact with the place. The abbey develops its production and mediation project around the three axes which structure its identity: contemporary creation, heritage and natural environment.

Founded in 1236 by Blanche of Castile, Maubuisson Abbey is today a contemporary art center dedicated to artists invited to immerse themselves in this place particularly conducive to creation. The abbey rooms (the chapter, the parlor, the nuns’ room, the antechamber and the latrines) house monographic and collective exhibitions, whose works created on site weave a link with the spaces steeped in history. Throughout the year, events punctuate the artistic season with a selection of events related to the works installed in the rooms, thus provoking a real dialogue between history and contemporary creation.

Contemporary art site of the Val d’Oise General Council, the Maubuisson estate houses the buildings and remains of the Cistercian abbey of Notre-Dame-La-Royale, founded in 1236 by Queen Blanche of Castile (1188-1252). The 13th century tithe barn, the parlor, the nuns’ room, the chapter room and the old latrines can be visited. Stream, canal and water mirrors, witnesses of the hydraulic developments built between the Middle Ages and the 18th century, adorn the ten hectare wooded park. Inserted in an urban environment, it offers walkers the welcome breath of its vast lawns and its old plane trees, labeled ‘remarkable trees of France’. Served by a green passage, it hosts works of art, lasting or ephemeral.

Cultural space

There are countless opportunities for visitors to appreciate art in galleries located throughout villages such as Auvers sur Oise, home to some of Van Gogh’s most iconic works. The picturesque landscape offers breathtaking views. Take a stroll through the cobbled streets of Pontoise and explore its famous Gothic cathedral or take a boat down the river Oise and discover what life was like from another era. Tourists can also find an array of museums showcasing Val d Ois’s vibrant past with exhibits ranging from Impressionist paintings to medieval artifacts.

National Renaissance Museum
The collections of the musée national de la Renaissance present true treasures of European decorative arts: furniture, goldwork, painted enamels, majolica, tapestries… The collections include an exceptional collection of decorative arts, paintings and sculptures from the 15th to 17th centuries. An architectural jewel of the French Renaissance and the only museum in France entirely dedicated to the period, its vocation is to shed light on all aspects of the period for the widest audience: history, art history, civilization.

The National Renaissance Museum with its thirty-two museum rooms notably house a collection of goldwork (from the bequest of Baroness Salomon de Rothschild, 1922), Ottoman ceramics (Iznik), painted enamels from Limoges, the collection of weapons from Édouard de Beaumont, terracottas from Masséot Abaquesne, as well as all the ceramic pieces from the workshop of Bernard Palissy unearthed during the excavations at the Louvre.

The best-known work in the collection remains the series of ten tapestries dedicated to the story of David and Bathsheba. Woven in Brussels in the years 1515-1520, they would have belonged to Henry VIII of England. You can also admire two tapestries dated 1545-1546 based on cartoons by Giulio Romano, a student of the painter Raphael. They belong to the series of eight tapestries constituting the Fructus Belli Tapestry.

Although the works on display are contemporary with the building, most do not come from the original Écouen furniture, which was dispersed during the French Revolution, and part of which is today in the Condé Museum in Chantilly. The renovation of the estate in the 1970s, to accommodate the museum, also concerned the park. The landscapers tried to restore the surroundings of the castle to their original appearance, by restoring paths and flowerbeds. The dominant position of the castle offers an admirable view of the surrounding countryside.

Guiry Museum
Guiry Museum located at the Château de La Roche-Guyon, a thousand years of history to discover… It starts at the Guiry museum which presents the most interesting objects found during archaeological excavations carried out in the surrounding area. To complete it, the nearby Tool Museum will please the curious, with its remains of a Gallo-Roman seaside resort and its remarkable garden.

Val-d’Oise Archaeological Museum
The Val-d’Oise archaeological museum is located in Guiry-en-Vexin, a village in French Vexin, approximately 50 km northwest of Paris. It is located within the Vexin français regional natural park. It presents chronologically in its eleven rooms spread over two levels the archaeological remains from excavations in the Val d’Oise department. More than 3000 objects, coins, jewelry, pottery, sculptures, agricultural tools, dating from the Paleolithic to the 20th century are visible, including among others, the most important collection of Merovingian steles in France. It also keeps more than 30,000 archaeological objects in reserves, for study or valorization purposes.

Tool Museum
Musée de l’outil located n the charming town of Wy-dit-Joli-Village of French Vexin, the Collection Claude and Françoise Pigeard bathes in the bucolic atmosphere of its garden. From Claude Pigeard’s forge to the collection of tools and utensils characteristic of the popular arts and traditions of French Vexin, including the remains of a Gallo-Roman seaside resort, this magical place, labeled heritage of regional interest, hosts workshops, guided tours and cultural activities.

A medieval forge, a priest’s garden, a collection of tools, traditional houses of French Vexin, and even an ancient seaside resort… The Tool Museum created by Françoise and Claude Pigeard is a place full of surprises. It is a surprising and secret setting that welcomes visits, cultural and botanical activities, but also temporary exhibitions, shows and residencies.

Musée Archea
Archéa, Archeology in the country of France is a museum labeled Musée de France, dedicated to archeology in the country of France. Its purpose is to highlight the archaeological heritage of the country of France and particularly of eastern Val-d’Oise. A contemporary building housing all of the museum’s collections has been open since September 10, 2010. Its objective is also to promote the archaeological site of Orville and the ceramic heritage of the Ysieux valley. Formerly called the Intercommunal History and Archeology Museum, it is a service of the Roissy Pays de France urban community.

In a contemporary building, ARCHÉA offers to discover the history of our territory through the results of archaeological research carried out over 40 years in the north-east of Île-de-France. Nearly 780 objects, from prehistory to modern times, from 90 archaeological sites are presented in a living and interactive permanent exhibition. Video terminals, digital projections, reconstructions, elements to manipulate and models help to better understand this story.

They consist of furniture discovered during planned but above all preventive archaeological excavations which took place on the territory of the Roissy Pays de France agglomeration community. Included are, among other things, furniture from excavations at the following sites: Orville Castle; the Château de Roissy-en-France and various sites discovered during developments in the town; the sites discovered during the work on the Francilienne; part of the sites discovered during the construction of Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport. The collections also come from local archeology associations which have carried out excavations in the country of France:

ARCHÉA is also the archaeological site of Orville Castle and the ceramic heritage of the Ysieux valley, the discovery of which allows us to understand the work of archaeologists on a daily basis. The collections from the GRHALP: mainly from the excavations of the Saint-Rieul site, collections at the origin of the museum; the collections donated by the Prehistoric and Geological Youth Association of France (JPGF): they come from excavations carried out throughout the country of France between the end of the 1960s and the 1980s. They cover periods ranging from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages, collections are deposited at the museum:

Louis-Senlecq Museum of Art and History
The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire Louis-Senlecq is located in a former private mansion called the ‘petit hôtel Bergeret’ whose origins date back to the 18th century. It preserves works of art dating mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries relating to L’Isle-Adam and its region, a collection of works linked to the city’s prestigious past. On the 1st floor, the museum alternates between temporary displays of its permanent collections and temporary exhibitions linked to local history and heritage, but also focused on contemporary creation. The museum’s public service also offers a wide choice of visits and educational activities for children and adults.

It has a collection of works linked to the city’s prestigious past: paintings from the Ecole des bords de l’Oise around Jules Dupré (1811-1899), Venetian drawings by Jules Romain Joyant (1803-1854) and nearly 200 figurines illustrating the many aspects of L’Isle-Adam terracotta production from the end of the 19th century to the 1950s are some examples.

On the ground floor, a permanent space for presenting the collections has three sections: the first is devoted to the presence of the princes of Conti at L’Isle-Adam in the 18th century; a second houses a selection of terracottas by Joseph Le Guluche (1849-1915) from Adam factories and finally, a room is dedicated to the painter Jules Dupré.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Museum
The Musée Jean-Jacques Rousseau is located in Montmorency, in the Val-d’Oise department in France. It is installed in the small house in Mont-Louis where Jean-Jacques Rousseau stayed from 1757 to 1762. In April 1756, Jean-Jacques Rousseau fled Paris, ‘a city of noise, smoke and mud’, and settled in Montmorency, at a place called ‘Hermitage’. An extension of the house carried out in the 19th century made it possible to organize temporary exhibitions and cultural events.

The museum is made up of the house of Jean-Jacques-Rousseau, Mont-Louis, and the Maison des Commères linked to the philosopher’s life in Montmorency. At the bottom of the garden, the ‘dungeon’, a small attic pavilion, was the writer’s study. It was there that he wrote Julie or the New Héloïse, the Letter to d’Alembert on the Encyclopédie shows, Émile, or On Education and the Social Contract. An extension of the house dating from the 19th century regularly houses temporary exhibitions on the life and work of Rousseau as well as the 18th century in general and local history. The Maison des Commères houses a consultation and research library open to all as well as the museum’s educational activities.

Harvest Museum
The Musée de la Moisson presents the technical and social changes in cereal agriculture in the 20th century and exhibits machines and tools used for agriculture. The museum exhibits agricultural tools used by Vexinois farmers in the 20th century. Dozens of tools and manual or mechanical machines are on display: scythes, sickles, combine harvesters, tractors, etc. These tools are presented chronologically. Visitors can discover that medieval scythes and sickles gave way to machines pulled by horses, then the steam locomotive driving a thresher and finally to thermal tractors. The visit is punctuated by testimonies from cereal growers, arborists and breeders on the difficulties of farmers. These testimonies are listened to on old telephones from the 1950s. A film on the evolution of agriculture in Vexin is broadcast in the projection room. A shop located at the end of the visit offers Vexin products.

Jean-Gabin Museum
The Jean-Gabin Museum is a museum dedicated to the actor Jean Gabin where he spent his childhood. The museum exhibits numerous personal memories of the actor’s life and important career (correspondence, photos, costumes, furniture, objects, film posters, etc.) with a documentary on his life “The film of his life, the life of his films’. This museum was inaugurated in 1992, for the fifteenth anniversary of his disappearance, by the municipality, 1, place Jean-Gabin, neighboring his childhood home. It was created following a donation from the Moncorgé family, with the help of his biographer André-Georges Brunelin, and with a bronze bust of the actor sculpted by Jean Marais, on the square in front of the museum. A tourist circuit ‘the steps of Jean Gabin’ leads to his house, his school, the surrounding countryside with the banks of the Oise where he loved to go fishing…

Plaster Museum
The Musée du plâtre is a place for exchange and resources on plaster and construction materials through the diversity of its collections, its library, its archives and its icon library. The themes covered are the geology around gypsum and the Paris Basin, the memory of the Lambert quarry, the history of plastering companies and territories, the trades and arts of plaster, molding and sculpture, the workshop funds of the Boulogne sculptor.

Argenteuil Museum
The Musée d’Argenteuil preserves a large collection of objects, paintings, drawings and various documents collected since 1932 by the Historical and Archaeological Society of Argenteuil and Parisis, known as the Société du Vieil Argenteuil. A significant part of the collections evoke rural life in Argenteuil linked to viticulture and market gardening (objects of agricultural activity – presses, tools, hoods etc. –; costumes; headdresses; iconographic collections), but also the industrial past of the city. Argenteuil was in fact known for its significant wine production and was a major industrial site in France in the first half of the 20th century. Part of the collections covers Prehistory and archaeological sites from the medieval period, in particular Notre-Dame Abbey, known thanks to Héloïse and Abelard. The museum also draws its wealth from the great diversity of works and objects that it preserves, the result of successive acquisitions and transfers of collections.

Artists place
Auvers, a modest rural commune in Île-de-France, played a major role in the world history of painting, that of the landscape painters of the Barbizon school and then mainly in Impressionism.

Vincent van Gogh in a letter to his brother Théo describes the village as follows: ‘Here we are far enough from Paris for it to be the real countryside, but nevertheless how much has changed since Daubigny. But not changed in an unpleasant way, there are many villas and various modern and bourgeois dwellings, very smiling, sunny, and flowery. This in an almost lush countryside, just at this moment in the development of a new society in the old, is not unpleasant; there is a lot of well-being in the air. A calm at Puvis de Chavannes I see or think I see, no factories, but beautiful greenery in abundance and in good order. ”

From 1857, the landscape painter Charles-François Daubigny regularly visited Auvers, which he painted from his canoe, the botin, or from the island of Vaux, on the Oise between Auvers and Méry. A lover of nature, for him, ‘landscapes are always more beautiful when they are seen from the middle of a river’ and he regularly sets off to row across the Oise, or the Seine downstream, sometimes for several days or several weeks, bringing back numerous paintings of all sizes as trophies. In 1860, he built a house in Auvers in the Vallées district, decorated by himself and helped by his son and his friends including the painters Camille Corot and Hippolyte Camille Delpy, who married Louise-Berthe Cyboulle, daughter of ‘a painter of flowers and insects, originally from Auvers-sur-Oise.

In 1872, Doctor Paul Gachet bought a house in Auvers so that his sick wife could ‘breathe fresh air’; a doctor by profession, he kept his practice and his clients in Paris, including the mother of Camille Pissarro whom he treated as well as the painter’s children in Auvers. He is also an amateur painter and engraver under the pseudonym Paul van Ryssel. Friend of Daubigny and Corot, he welcomed artists into his house until the end of his life, including Paul Cézanne, and Camille Pissarro, who came to visit him as a neighbor, from his house in Pontoise. A great art collector, he remains a key player in the history of art at the end of the 19th century.

Paul Cézanne comes to “learn to paint”in the company of Pissarro, he settles for this purpose in Auvers throughout the year 1873 and the first months of 1874. The painter learns in Auvers to work with patience, to lighten his palette, but his slowness handicaps him and he does not always manage to finish his paintings. His pace of work is not compatible with the rapid impressionist touch which captures the moment, his paintings like the house of Doctor Gachet (1873, Musée d’Orsay), have been declared “constructivist”by the history of art. He then returned to his native Provence, but the happy memory of this stay made him return during the summers of 1877 and 1881.

Victor Vignon participated in the last four Impressionist painting salons in Auvers and Pontoise in the company of Pissarro, Cézanne and Guillaumin. He is also close to Doctor Gachet and Murer, and highly esteemed by the Van Gogh brothers. Frédéric Samuel Cordey, a friend of Renoir, also painted in Auvers with them and exhibited at the salon of 1877. He then stayed in Éragny, but this painter quickly fell into oblivion.

On Tuesday May 20, 1890 at eleven o’clock in the morning, Doctor Gachet received a painter then unknown to the public, recommended by his brother: Vincent van Gogh. He is at the height of his artistic mastery and frenziedly paints more than seventy paintings in two months. In addition to art at its peak, Vincent describes in his works the life of a small town in French Vexin at the end of the 19th century, its peasant life, its architecture. Of great expressive force, his palette nevertheless darkens little by little, expressing the unhappiness that torments him, his life being ‘attacked at the very root’. No doubt nervously exhausted by his work, and feeling guilty about being the financial burden of his brother, he shot himself in the open field on July 26, 1890 before being taken back to the Ravoux inn, where he stays; he died there three days later and is buried in the village cemetery.

Eugène Murer is a pastry chef and restaurateur on Boulevard Voltaire, in Paris. But he is also a writer and art collector. Friend of Pissarro, Cézanne, Renoir, Sisley, Guillaumin and Vignon, he bought their paintings at unbeatable prices. In 1878, he built a house on rue du Four in Auvers and set up a gallery there where his one hundred and twenty impressionist paintings were exhibited, which were unfortunately subsequently dispersed due to a disagreement with his sister Marie. He took up painting himself and exhibited with Ambroise Vollard in 1898.

Norbert Gœneutte, a painter close to the Impressionists – without ever having participated in any of their salons – expressed himself mainly in engraving. A friend of Renoir, Cordey, Murer and Doctor Gachet, the latter brought him to Auvers in 1891 to treat his worsening chest disease. Essentially a portrait painter of women, between two engravings he paints watercolors and small outdoor canvases with acute angles and astonishing colors. He is buried in the Auvers cemetery.

Later, other painters continued to frequent Auvers: Douanier Rousseau then Maurice de Vlaminck, who came to follow in the footsteps of Van Gogh whom he admired, came to draw their inspiration there. During the 1930s, another great admirer of Van Gogh, Otto Freundlich, a German painter and Pomeranian Jew, frequented Auvers assiduously. His companion Jeanne Kosnick-Kloss is also buried opposite the tomb of the Van Gogh brothers. The painter occupied a workshop at the Bateau-Lavoir in Paris in 1908 where he met Guillaume Apollinaire, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris. Restorer of the stained glass windows of Chartres Cathedral in 1914, his ‘new man’, sculpture from 1912, was placed on the cover of the Nazi catalog of ‘degenerate art’. The artist who took refuge in the Pyrénées-Orientales was finally arrested in 1943 and deported. The Tavet-Delacour museum in Pontoise keeps an important donation from the artist. In the 21st century, several galleries perpetuate the stay of artists in the village, particularly along rue du Montcel.

During the second half of the 19th century, a colony of French and foreign artists settled in Écouen, attracted by the unique landscape of the town. From 1830, a large number of artists, particularly painters, left Paris and the urban areas to settle in the nearby countryside. This is how a group of artists chose Écouen, then a village of a thousand inhabitants, to set up their workshop.

Over the course of the 19th century, the group evolved from 10 to 20 artists permanently based in Écouen. In total, from 1856 to the end of the century, the town welcomed more than a hundred painters. Some devoted themselves to teaching artistic techniques and welcomed foreign students such as Henry Bacon or George Henry Boughton. The colony began to decline at the end of the 19th century after the death of Pierre-Édouard Frère in 1886.

These names, mostly unknown today, were famous in their time, supported by the most renowned art critics such as the Englishman John Ruskin. Their particular style and their great reputation gave birth to the Écouen School.Among these painters we can cite Pierre-Édouard Frère, Guillaume Seignac, Pancrace Bessa, August Friedrich Schenck, Jules-Paulin Lorillon, Louis Théophile Hingre (also sculptor and poster artist) and Paul-Constant Soyer.

There remain numerous testimonies of the presence of these painters, in particular houses with large glass roofs, specific to painters’ workshops. Several streets in Écouen bear the name of these artists. Since the 1990s, the municipality of Écouen has undertaken significant research work on this colony and the acquisition of paintings from this period. They are permanently exhibited on the first floor of the town hall. The exhibition, made up of around thirty paintings, is freely accessible during town hall opening hours. Finally, a permanent exhibition dedicated to Louis Théophile Hingre (painter, sculptor and poster designer) is freely accessible at the Écouen tourist office.

House of Doctor Gachet
Doctor Gachet’s house is a 19th century residence and garden, which house the Vincent van Gogh museum opened to the public in 2003 for the 150th anniversary of the birth of Van Gogh. Doctor, member of learned societies, amateur painter and engraver, Doctor Gachet bought a house in Auvers-sur-Oise in 1872. He installed a press there on which he drew and engraved in the company of Cézanne, Pissarro and Guillaumin.

In 1890, at Pissarro’s request, Paul-Ferdinand Gachet – a specialist in psychiatry – welcomed Vincent Van Gogh upon his arrival in Auvers. Van Gogh immortalized Doctor Gachet by painting his portrait three times: two paintings and an etching. The courtyard shaded by lime trees still resonates with lunches around the vermilion table immortalized by Vincent Van Gogh in the portraits of Doctor Gachet.

Tavet-Delacour Museum
Housed in a beautiful private mansion from the end of the 15th century, formerly the home of the Grand Vicar of Pontoise, the Musée Tavet-Delacour preserves the city’s historical collections. The historical collections were assembled at the end of the 19th century. They were enriched by the Otto Freundlich donation in 1968, constituted by the artist’s studio funds. The works in the museum’s collections constitute the most important preserved collection of his work in the world.

The Museum has since specialized in modern and contemporary art, it has acquired or received as donations works by Matisse, Hans Arp, Gleizes, Geer van Velde, Aurelie Nemours, Masurovsky, Shirley Goldfarb, Jean Legros, Roger Chastel, Diego Giacometti, Herbin, Valmier, Reichel, Fleischmann, Gargallo or Marcelle Cahn.

Sannois mill
Moulin de Sannois located at an altitude of 162 m, at the top of the Mont Trouillet hill, offers a wide panorama of the surrounding area. The Sannois mills were often painted by Maurice Utrillo during his stay in the town in 1912 and 1913. From there, you can admire the Seine valley which extends to Paris and the Montmorency valley, bordered by a ridge of wooded hills. Listed in the supplementary inventory of historic monuments since 1975, the Mill and the Miller’s House are also protected as a “site of artistic and picturesque character”. At the foot of the Moulin, the vineyard, created 7 years ago, has 2049 vines including 400 of Pinot gris and 1650 of Chardonnay.

Natural space

Ile-de-France department is half covered with green landscapes, made up of several forests and gardens, but above all two Regional Natural Parks (PNR): that of Vexin Français and that of Oise – Pays de France. An incredible number of experiences are available in Val d’Oise and in these two Regional Natural Parks: from nature hikes to discoveries of cultural heritage, all profiles will be satisfied. Take advantage of the numerous trails, ponds and streams in the parks to discover the flora and fauna. In Vexin, you will be seduced by its typical villages and its small heritage made up of wash houses, cobbled streets and small churches.

On the history side, the two PNRs reveal vestiges and monuments like a real timeline. Menhirs, dolmens, Gallo-Roman remains, troglodyte dwellings are witnesses to the ancient past of our department. You can discover them on different sites such as the Guiry-en-Vexin archaeological museum. The Middle Ages still inhabit Regional Natural Parks in the form of several of the most emblematic sites of Val d’Oise: the castle of La Roche-Guyon and its keep will appeal to fans of chivalry. The Royaumont Abbey in Asnières-sur-Oise will make the hearts of art lovers and nature lovers or lovers in general beat faster.

Le Vexin is the largest PNR in Val d’Oise, representing more than a third of it. Several sites and museums are dedicated to it, such as the Musée du Vexin français. Located in the Maison du Parc, the museum offers multiple activities focused on nature and the history of the PNR.

Montmorency Forest
A forest massif of 2,200 ha including 1,972 ha of national forest, the Montmorency forest is a splendid green lung among the many towns that surround it. The Montmorency forest is full of walking, hiking and cycling trails. Discover a rich fauna and flora populated by wild boars, foxes and even deer.

The beauty of the estate is also enhanced by its history. Montmorency is also a town rich in ancient history. Over the years, it has welcomed many people such as the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Charles le Brun, official painter to King Louis XIV. The hunting castle, a historical witness in the heart of nature. Since the forest was a hunting reserve for nobles, the hunting lodge of the time called Château de la Chasse still exists today.

In the heart of the forest, the Château de la Chasse is a small feudal castle (it fits into a square measuring twenty meters on each side) built in the 12th century by Mathieu de Montmorency. Flanked by four round towers six meters in diameter, curiously truncated, it constitutes a picturesque scene between its two often misty ponds. Property of the Montmorency family, located in the heart of a game-filled estate, the castle was the hunting meeting place of illustrious people: Louis X le Hutin, Philippe VI de Valois, Jean le Bon, Charles V, Louis XI, François I and Henry II. In 1728 the grandson of the Grand Condé had the towers cut down and also had them covered with tiles. Two educational trails are set up from the castle, one on forest ecology, the other on silvicultural techniques.

The Bois Corbon estate houses a small hunting castle, these 19th century buildings are characterized by picturesque architecture using millstones, bricks and carved wooden elements. Godard Pond located in the heart of the forest, this pond bears the name of the family of the famous 19th century musician Benjamin Godard. It is the place where many trails converge, forming the Camp de César roundabout, leaving from Taverny or Saint-Leu-la-Forêt. It is a stopover and a landmark for lovers of jogging or walking.

Marie Pond are actually two ponds, located north of Saint-Prix. The largest has only around 300 m2 of surface area; the smallest has an island in the middle. The two ponds are crossed by the Ru de Corbon, but they are also fed by two sources. These appear as small forest ponds and are apparently popular with wild boars, judging by the tracks. The Marie pond was redeveloped in 1854 by the landscaper Louis-Sulpice Varé for Baron Léopold Double.

For lovers of hiking or cycling, the Montmorency forest is crossed by several of these circuits: a Grande Randonnée trail (the GR1) passes through the forest from North to South and the GR de Pays making the belt of Île de France goes from East to West. Finally, the ‘Montsoult, ride in the forest of Montmorency and Isle Adam’ bike tour will allow you to explore the natural heritage of Val d’Oise over a few beautiful hectares of forest.

The Philosopher’s Path is a 2.5 km trail, the starting point of which is located near the Château de la Chasse, serves eleven sites intended for philosophical reflection illustrated with quotes from philosophers or writers. The circuit includes two historical sites, the Sainte-Radegonde fountain and the Bosc cemetery, an analemmatic sundial (horizontal on the ground indicating the time by the shadow of the person) and works of art.


The Val d’Oise also boasts some fantastic food experiences. There’s a wide variety of restaurants serving up regional French cuisine as well as other international dishes. Whether youre looking for a classic bistro or a modern fusion restaurant, there’s something to tantalize your taste buds. This is especially true in Auvers-sur-Oise which has become known as one of the gastronomic capitals of France due to its collection of fine dining establishments.

Enjoy picturesque sunsets while dining al fresco on fresh regional dishes or sip on fine wines produced by renowned vintners in nearby wineries. To taste French cuisine, whether in a local restaurant, a brasserie or a market. Don’t miss the regional specialties, cheeses and French wines.

Vexinois producers are numerous and present delicious local products and specialties. Enjoy Vexin beer (awarded as one of the best craft beers in the world) and other typical local drinks such as Vexin Cola or our delicious artisanal fruit juices. Enhance dishes with mustard made at the Gouzangrez farm, spicy and refined. The producers always go out of their way to offer the best local products to restaurateurs and the most gourmet visitors.