15 Best things to do in El Monte (France)

El Monte is a suburb in the northwest of Paris. But while the capital may seem far away, it is only 10 minutes from Saint-Denis by public transport and 15 minutes from Gare du Nord.

You’ll also have the opportunity to hang out in areas that many tourists won’t see.

In the 19th century, the Seine and Oise brought the Impressionists in droves, and a few minutes later was Auvers-sur-Oise, where Van Gogh spent the last months of his life.

There are small specialist museums, former royal hunting grounds and fine castles that ripped up the building rulebook in the 17th century.

Let’s explore the best things to do in El Monte:

1. Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires

Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires

El Monte’s population doubled in the 1950s when new housing was built.

But it existed long ago as a humble wine and rural village, some of which has been preserved in this museum, which opened in 1997. There are a variety of tools dating back to ancient times, including harrows, plows, threshing boards, gin and forging.

You delve into ancient trades such as blacksmithing, viticulture, cooperating and woodcutting.

Accompanying these artifacts are archival fragments showing how the tools were used, revealing techniques that are now long lost.

2. Esperance Club

Esperance Club

As of 2017, the building has been abandoned.

Although it may seem odd to mention this site as a place worth visiting, there are a few things you should know about it.

Club des Espérances is a former youth club designed in the 1960s by engineer, designer and self-taught architect Jean Prouvé.

His work is still very valuable today (the originals of his chairs sell for thousands of dollars), when Le Corbusier was one of many architects who sang Prouvius.

When the city council announced in 2010 that the pair of semi-cylindrical structures would be demolished, the architects made them the only “historic monument” in the El Monte area to ensure their protection.

If you’re a photographer, bring your camera for some moody photos.

3. Moulin Rouge

Moulin Rouge

In El Monte, you’re only seconds away from this quirky historic monument dating back to 1759. The Moulin de Sannois is the largest windmill of its kind in Île-de-France and was producing flour until 1866. As we will find out later, at the turn of the 20th century, the villages and towns northwest of Paris were packed with artists, and this particular mill was painted by Maurice Utrillo in 1912. You can look around on the first Sunday of the month.

In the chestnut grove next to the mill, there’s the “Eco Park,” a treetop adventure center with six suspended courts for different ages, with harnesses and helmets, to scramble through.

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4. Jean-Jacques-Rousseau Museum

Jean-Jacques-Rousseau Museum

A few minutes east is the suburb of Montmorency, an elegant house where the erudite Rousseau of the 18th century lived for six years.

After escaping the “noise, smoke and mud” of Paris, he came to a more natural place.

During this period, Rousseau wrote the epistolary novels “Julie” or “New Heloise” and “Emile” or “On Education,” which is considered one of the most influential works of the Enlightenment.

You can visit the small study in the garden where he wrote these books, while the Maison des Commères enters Rousseau’s daily life in Montmorency.

The house itself hosts temporary exhibitions about Rousseau and the 18th century.

5. St. Denis Cathedral

Cathedral of Saint Denis

The suburb of Saint-Denis, north of Paris, may be a bit rugged, but there’s good reason to venture into it: The Basilica of Saint-Denis is the burial ground of all but three French kings, if you’re inspired by French history.

Many of these mausoleums are magnificent, and the monarchs are accompanied by a large number of other nobles, including queens, princesses, princes and dukes from hundreds of years ago.

Besides the epoch-making figures buried in Saint-Denis, the building itself has a lot to say.

The choir, built in 1144, has special significance, as it is the first complete example of Gothic architecture, a model for cathedrals in northern France.

6. Stade de France

Stade de France

If you can avoid the traffic jams, you will be in the spiritual home of French sports in just 15 minutes.

Completed in 1998, the stadium is the home of the French national football and rugby teams.

Most memorably, France lifted the World Cup here in 1998. You may have reserved your seat for a sporting event or a concert here in the summer.

Or maybe you just want to get a feel for the atmosphere of the biggest stadium in the country, in which case you can take a behind-the-scenes tour.

You’ll learn about the ground-breaking technology used in the building (the high-tech roof alone cost over 45 million euros) and hear little anecdotes about the stars that grace this lawn.

7. Force Majeure

force majeure

The nearby suburb of Cergy has a bit of an edge when you’re on the architectural trail, but is littered with avant-garde buildings from the 70s and 80s.

This is best summed up by sculptor Dani Karavan’s Ax Majeur, which began in 1980 and was not completed until 2005. When you look at the scale of this project, you realize it could take so long: it’s a 3.2-kilometer line monument that descends from the hills of Cergy and crosses the Oise.

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There are 12 “stations”, each representing a different aspect of Sergi’s past, like the banks of the river painted by the Impressionists Pissarro and Van Gogh.

The Paris Esplanade, located on the river, overlooks the capital from one stop.

8. Maison Castle


Just across the Seine, Chateau de Maisons was designed by the brilliant 17th century architect François Mansart.

He is considered a pioneer of the French Baroque movement, and Chateau de Maison is still regarded as one of the perfect examples of this design.

It was ordered by Finance Director René de Longueil, and from the moment the property was completed, it was loved for its game-changing style and beauty.

When you visit, you will be blown away by the luxurious interior decoration of the 18th century by Louis XVI’s brother Comtre d’Artois.

9. Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye

Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye

The Château de Maison is located on the eastern boundary of this 35-square-kilometer piece, which occupies almost the entire course of the Seine.

Like most of the ancient woodlands around Paris, the Forêt de Saint-Germain-en-Laye was a royal property used for hunting.

Avenues and roads now criss-cross, giving you easy access to the vast oak and beech forests where kings such as Louis XIV once rode.

During your tour, you will come across some beautiful monuments, such as the Château du Val built for Louis XIV in 1675, or the elegant hunting lodge Pavillon de la Muette built for Louis XV.

10. Musée Tavet-Delacour

Tavi-Delacour Museum

About a 15-minute drive from the nearby suburb of Pontoise is a small but valuable museum housed in a gorgeous 15th-century Gothic mansion.

Inside you’ll find Pontoise’s historical collection, which includes 20th-century art and some special items related to the French monarchy.

The art show features work by Arp, Matisse, Signovert and Legros, as well as Otto Freundlich, who put abstract painting on the map in the early 20th century.

For the amateur historian, there are medieval sculptures and manuscripts from the 18th century.

11. Camille Pissarro Museum

Camille Pissarro Museum

Pontoise also has a museum that recalls that era, and the western suburbs were home to Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters who painted the Oise and the Seine.

Pissarro chose Pontoise, where he stayed for 17 years, but Van Gogh and Cézanne settled upstream of the Auvers, as we’ll soon find out.

Although named after him, the museum has only one Pissarro work, Barges à La Roche-Guyon from 1864. But the museum is still worth a visit for its continuity with Pontoise’s past and the works of Signac, Daubigny, Cézanne. and Guillaume.

12. Auvers-sur-Oise

Orville Castle

Ten kilometers north of Elmon is this town, which is probably best known as the place where Van Gogh died and was buried.

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But that doesn’t tell the full story, as the Dutch artist spent months painting the town.

He was also one of the long list of Impressionists and Post-Impressionists who came to paint here, the most prominent being Daubigny and Cezanne.

Take a tour and compare Van Gogh’s paintings to monuments that have changed little over the past 130 years.

The Château d’Auvers has an artistic interpretation center, with rooms and scenes decorated in the style of the late 19th century, with projections of paintings by the masters of the time.

13. Paris Attractions


In Ermont, you can take the Transiliien or RER C commuter trains and arrive at the capital before you know it.

Even if this is your first time in the city, you already know the best things to see because the city’s monuments are well known.

But, to keep your memory fresh, there’s the Seine and its book market, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the quirky Centre Pompidou and countless parks and eclectic neighborhoods.

Follow in the footsteps of Montmartre artists and writers like Gertrude Stein, Camus and Hemingway in the Latin Quarter.

14. Paris Culture

Palais Garnier

It is no exaggeration to say that almost every taste is catered for in Paris.

If you want high culture, go to the Paris Opera and the Paris Opera.

But if you like live music of any kind, the city is full of great venues, especially around the 10th arrondissement.

The same goes for the world-class Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée d’Orsay is just the beginning of the museum.

History buffs will need the Musée National du Moyen Âge or the Petit Palais, and scientists will get lost in the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, Palais de la Découverte and the Muséedes Arts et Métiers.

Contemporary art lovers can choose from the National Museum of Modern Art (located in the Centre Pompidou) and the new Fondation Louis Vuitton.

15. Things to do in Paris


After all, you still have some things to do before you go home.

In the 2nd arrondissement, you can stroll through Passages Couverts, a sophisticated 19th-century shopping gallery with a metal and glass roof.

You can also make appointments with the city’s dead at the Père Lachaise cemetery, Montmartre cemetery or the piles of anonymous bones in the catacombs.

We haven’t even mentioned dining, whether it’s a café for croque-monsieur, a bistro for escargots or a legendary fine-dining restaurant like Roger la Grenouille or Lasserre.

Where to stay: The best hotels in El Monte, France
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