|Malmaison // All photos by the author|
Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, leads private insider tours showing visitors the Paris most of them never see on their own (www.eyepreferparistours.com), and also writes a popular insider's blog www.eyepreferparis.com.
There are many pleasant daytrips one can make outside of Paris besides the familiar Versailles, Fontainebleau, and Giverny. Here are three lesser-known places we think are most worthwhile visiting.
Less than an hour outside of Paris lies the idyllic village of Auvers-Sur-Oise. Auvers-Sur-Oise is noted as the place where Van Gogh spent the last two months of his life before tragically dying by a self-inflicted gun wound.
After leaving the asylum in St. Remy in the south of France in 1890, Van Gogh came to Paris but could not cope with the chaos of city life, so he found refuge in the hamlet of Auvers-Sur-Oise.
Take a leisurely stroll through the hilly backstreets of the charming and luscious green village and visit landmark spots such as the famous church Van Gogh painted, the cemetery where he and Theo are buried, and Dr. Gachet's house, the doctor that was in many of Van Gogh’s last portraits. The other highlight is Auberge Ravoux, a bed and breakfast where Van Gogh spent his last days, where you can take a guided tour that includes a view of his modest room.
Directions: Take the RER C from Gare d’Austerlitz or Gard du Nord, toward Pontoise. Get off at St-Ouens L’Aumone (approx. 1hr.). Switch to the Persan Beaumont Creil line (walk downstairs and change to opposite platform; consult screen for departures) and get off at Gare d’Auvers-sur-Oise (approx. 15min.). €10 round-trip.
Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye
One of Le Corbusier's most significant projects, the Villa Savoye, is a must-see for any architecture aficionado. Located in a quiet suburb thirty minutes from Paris, Villa Savoye was designed in 1929 as a weekend house for a wealthy Parisian family.
The house contains some important key points of Le Corbusier's aesthetic theory of architecture including the pilotis, the ground supporting columns, a flat roof terrace with a garden area, and horizontal windows to provide better illumination and ventilation. The Savoye family lived in the house until 1940. During WWII the Germans occupied it and after them the Allies, and it was badly damaged almost beyond repair. About to be torn down, it was saved due to the support of architects and Le Corbusier. It was declared an historic landmark and fully restored between 1985 and 1997.
Villa Savoye 82 rue de Villiers, Poissy
Tel 01 39 65 01 06
Open Tuesday - Sunday, from 10am - 6pm, and from Nov. 2-Feb. 28 10am - 1pm and 2pm - 5pm
Directions: Take RER A train to Poissy, then take bus # 50 towards La Coudraie and ask bus driver to stop at Villa Savoye
Malmaison is the celebrated manor house that Josephine, Napoleon Bonaparte’s wife, bought seven miles from Paris in 1897. She transformed it into a magnificent palace with a heated orangerie for 300 pineapple trees, a famous rose garden, and filled the grounds with rare birds and animals.
Today you can visit Malmaison in all its restored splendor, where everything is dedicated the memory of Josephine, her children Eugene and Hortense, and Napoleon during his time as general and consul.