28 Best Places And Things To Do in Pontoise, France

Pontoise is a charming city located in the Île-de-France region of France, just a short distance from Paris. With its rich history, picturesque landscapes, and cultural offerings, Pontoise offers visitors a delightful experience. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Pontoise.

1. Musée Pissarro

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Pontoise is famously associated with the renowned Impressionist painter, Camille Pissarro. The Musée Pissarro is a must-visit for art enthusiasts, showcasing an extensive collection of Pissarro’s works as well as other Impressionist pieces. The museum is housed in the artist’s former residence, providing a unique insight into his life and art.

2. Saint-Maclou Church

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This beautiful Gothic church dates back to the 12th century and is a prominent landmark in Pontoise. Its stunning architecture, intricate stained glass windows, and serene atmosphere make it a must-see attraction for history and architecture buffs.

3. Vieux Pontoise

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Take a stroll through the historic center of Pontoise, known as Vieux Pontoise. This area is characterized by its narrow, winding streets, charming houses, and quaint cafes. It’s a delightful place to wander and soak up the authentic French ambiance.

4. Château de Pontoise

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Explore the ruins of the Château de Pontoise, a medieval fortress that was once a residence for French royalty. Although only the remains of the castle remain, the site offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside.

5. Parc de l’Hermitage

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This serene park is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Located on the banks of the Oise River, it features lush greenery, walking paths, and picturesque picnic spots. The park also offers stunning views of the Pontoise skyline, particularly at sunset.

6. Visit nearby Auvers-sur-Oise

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Just a short distance from Pontoise, the village of Auvers-sur-Oise is a must-visit for art lovers. This is where Vincent van Gogh spent the last months of his life, and visitors can explore the places that inspired some of his most famous paintings. The Auberge Ravoux, where van Gogh lived, has been transformed into a museum and provides a fascinating glimpse into the artist’s life.

7. Enjoy French cuisine

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Pontoise boasts a range of charming restaurants and cafes where you can savor delicious French cuisine. From traditional bistros serving regional dishes to trendy eateries offering innovative gastronomic experiences, there’s something to suit every palate.

8. Attend cultural events

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Pontoise is known for its vibrant cultural scene, with numerous festivals, concerts, and exhibitions taking place throughout the year. Check the local events calendar to see if there are any performances or festivities happening during your visit.

9. Explore the Regional Natural Park of Vexin Français

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Pontoise is situated in the heart of the Vexin Français, a beautiful regional park known for its rolling hills, picturesque villages, and scenic landscapes. Embark on hiking or cycling trails that lead you through this enchanting countryside, offering breathtaking views and a chance to connect with nature.

10. Pontoise Cathedral

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Also known as the Cathedral of Saint-Maclou, this impressive cathedral is a fine example of Gothic architecture. Step inside to admire its stunning stained glass windows, intricate stone carvings, and peaceful atmosphere. The cathedral often hosts classical music concerts and organ recitals, adding to the cultural experience.

11. Discover the Oise River

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Pontoise is situated on the banks of the Oise River, which offers opportunities for leisurely walks, boat rides, and even kayaking or canoeing. Enjoy the tranquil surroundings and the chance to observe local wildlife as you explore the riverbanks.

12. Les Larris de Cergy-Pontoise

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This natural area, located on the outskirts of Pontoise, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. With its meadows, forests, and ponds, Les Larris de Cergy-Pontoise is perfect for hiking, picnicking, or simply unwinding amidst nature.

13. Visit the House and Gardens of Émile Zola

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Just a short drive from Pontoise, you’ll find the former residence of the famous French writer, Émile Zola. The house has been converted into a museum, allowing visitors to delve into the life and works of this influential literary figure. The surrounding gardens offer a peaceful retreat to relax and reflect.

14. Shopping at the Market

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Experience the vibrant local culture by visiting the weekly market in Pontoise. Here, you can browse through stalls selling fresh produce, artisanal products, and unique souvenirs. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere and perhaps pick up some local specialties to enjoy later.

15. Attend a Theater Performance

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Pontoise has a thriving performing arts scene, with several theaters hosting a variety of plays, musicals, and dance performances. Check the schedule of the local theaters, such as Théâtre des Louvrais or Théâtre de l’Usine, and treat yourself to an evening of cultural entertainment.

16. Pontoise Street Art

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Explore the city’s vibrant street art scene by taking a self-guided walking tour. Pontoise is home to several impressive murals and street art installations that add a contemporary touch to its historic streets. Keep an eye out for colorful works by local and international artists as you wander through the city.

17. River Cruises on the Oise

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Take a leisurely boat cruise along the Oise River to enjoy panoramic views of Pontoise and its surroundings. Several operators offer guided tours that provide insight into the city’s history and natural beauty. It’s a relaxing way to soak up the scenery and learn about the region.

18. Maison de la Turquie

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Visit the Maison de la Turquie, a historical house that now serves as a cultural center. It offers exhibitions, concerts, and events that showcase Turkish culture and promote cross-cultural understanding. Experience the rich heritage of Turkey through art, music, and cuisine.

19. Golfing at Golf de Domont-Montmorency

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If you’re a golf enthusiast, head to Golf de Domont-Montmorency, located just a short drive from Pontoise. This scenic golf course offers beautiful views and challenging holes that cater to players of all skill levels. Enjoy a round of golf in a peaceful and picturesque setting.

20. Local Cuisine and Wine Tasting

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Pontoise is surrounded by the renowned wine regions of Île-de-France and the Val-d’Oise. Indulge in wine tasting tours or visit local vineyards to sample a variety of wines produced in the area. Pair your wine with delicious French cuisine at the city’s restaurants, where you can savor regional specialties and fresh ingredients.

21. Cultural Events and Festivals

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Check the city’s event calendar to see if any festivals or cultural events coincide with your visit. Pontoise hosts various events throughout the year, such as music festivals, art exhibitions, and theater performances. Immerse yourself in the local culture by attending these lively celebrations.

22. Pontoise Aquatic Center

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If you’re looking for a fun and refreshing activity, head to the Pontoise Aquatic Center. This modern facility offers swimming pools, water slides, and various water activities for visitors of all ages. It’s a perfect place to cool off and have a splash-filled day with family or friends.

23. Cergy-Pontoise Leisure Island

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Just a short distance from Pontoise, you’ll find the Cergy-Pontoise Leisure Island. This recreational area is situated on a picturesque lake and offers a wide range of activities, including paddleboarding, kayaking, sailing, and fishing. It’s an ideal spot to enjoy water sports and relax by the water’s edge.

24. Pontoise Jazz Festival

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If you’re a jazz enthusiast, plan your visit to coincide with the Pontoise Jazz Festival. This annual event brings together acclaimed jazz musicians from around the world for a series of captivating performances. Immerse yourself in the soulful sounds of jazz in various venues across the city.

25. Pontoise Cathedral Light Show

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During special occasions or festivals, Pontoise Cathedral often hosts captivating light shows that illuminate the facade of the building. Keep an eye out for these mesmerizing displays, as they transform the cathedral into a breathtaking work of art.

26. Picnic by the Oise River

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Take advantage of the scenic beauty of the Oise River and pack a picnic. Find a peaceful spot along the riverbank, spread out a blanket, and enjoy a leisurely meal surrounded by nature. It’s a great way to relax and soak in the tranquil ambiance of Pontoise.

27. Local Wineries and Vineyard Tours

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Explore the nearby wine-growing regions and indulge in vineyard tours and wine tastings. The Val-d’Oise and Île-de-France regions are known for their vineyards, where you can sample a variety of locally produced wines and learn about the winemaking process.

28. Attend a Performance at the Théâtre des Louvrais

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The Théâtre des Louvrais in Pontoise is a cultural hub that hosts a wide range of performances, including theater, dance, music, and more. Check their schedule and catch a captivating show during your visit to Pontoise.