The Auvers-sur-Oise Trail

With the beaming sun and cloudless sky this past weekend, I wanted to spend my days outside. I began researching potential hiking trails near Paris and uncovered the gold mine of Vexin Francais Regional Natural Park northwest of Paris. Composed of over 70,000 hectares and containing many small suburban towns, it has endless hiking opportunities.

The place I decided to start was Auvers-sur-Oise, which was an hour and a half train ride from Paris, with the bonus of being covered by my transit pass! It also turned out to be the town where Van Gogh died, after having completed many paintings there. The whole town seemed to center around Van Gogh’s activities there – I counted four small museums dedicated to him and other impressionist artists.

church at auvers comparison
Spot the differences! The Church at Auvers, May 2016 compared to Van Gogh’s painting from June 1890.
Auvers-sur-Oise, May 2016

The whole town was charming, especially with the lilacs in full bloom. There was even a Chateau, that has since been turned into a museum for the impressionist artists and restaurant (plus they have a hedge maze!).

Chateau d’Auvers-sur-Oise, May 2016

The town was a nice surprise when really all I had intended was to hike through the forest. After touring around Auvers-sur-Oise, I began my trek. It has been a long time since I was surrounded by trees and fresh air (it’s not too common in downtown Paris…).

For the majority of my hike, I was the only one on the trail, only passing a couple other groups in the total of three hours I was out there. It was refreshing to escape the hectic city environment for a few hours.

I look forward to returning to continue to explore the expansive Vexin Francais Regional Natural Park – not just to hike on the various trails, but also to visit these sweet little towns… I wonder which important figure the next town will be celebrating.


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