Monday, 31 December 2018

Farewell 2018

2018 has been a hugely stressful year with politics and democracy around the world in crisis. I hope you’ve found a way through the madness and that 2019 will bring less division and that the progress that has been made for equality continues to grow. 

Book haul from Hay Literature festival, almost all read
For some positivity, this has been my most prolific blogging year. Thank you readers regular and occasional for coming along for the ride. For the first time I‘ve also kept a book log so I can look back and see what I’ve read this year, something I should really do for theatre and exhibition visits too. My to-be-read pile may not have shrunk this year but I have got better at reading books when I get them. There’s still a whole library’s worth waiting to be read though, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Taking part in FutureLearn’s How to Read a Novel course (twice) really opened my eyes to more contemporary works of fiction. It’s a brilliant course for both readers and writers and if they run it again with the next wave of James Tait Black shortlist books I’ll be signing up once more.

An unexpected highlight of the reading year
Some book highlights of the year include The Sport of Kings, The Lesser Bohemians, Notes on a Nervous Planet, and The Price of Belonging (blog post due on Wednesday). They are varied but all made me think and feel and enriched my life. There were also a few that I expected to love but didn’t as much as I’d anticipated. Middlemarch looked promising in its early chapters but I found the strange, strong-willed Dorothea became disappointing in her transformation into a meek, subservient wife. Rebecca, although interesting and one I’d happily discuss for hours, has a narrator that became tiresome in her naivety and moaning. Despite not being quite what I'd expected I’m glad I read them.

Non-fiction also made a re-appearance in my reading and is something I intend to carry on into the new year. I also hope to read more Margaret Atwood, any recommendations gratefully received (I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake and watched Alias Grace so want to wait a while before reading it). What are you looking forward to reading in 2019?

Whistler, Canada
As for travel, Canada feels so long ago it’s hard to believe I was there this year. Whistler was a definite highlight. The snow and cold were more extreme than I’d previously experienced and the Airbnb would have made the perfect place for a writing retreat. Closer to home I thoroughly enjoyed spending more time in Wales and exploring the beauty of the Pembrokeshire Coast. And then there was Paris and the day trip to Auvers-sur-Oise which would happily have extended to a long weekend. We have some ambitious travel aims for this year which we’ll hopefully find a way to fund. My to-visit list is becoming almost as long as my to-read list. Where will you be exploring in 2019?

As with every year there has been successes and failures, stress and joy, and I expect the new year dawning will hold its own rollercoaster. My hopes for us all are to stay happy, loved, and creative, and to make the most of this beautiful life we’ve been given. Be the change you want to see.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception, Claudia Hammond

Hammond’s accessible pop-psychology book forces the reader to think about time differently. We’ve all experienced the sensation that time goes faster when we’re having fun and slows down when bored but this book will have you questioning how you visualise time, what external factors help us to estimate the passage of time, and how you’d react in some of the experiments detailed. It’s an excellent combination of anecdotal evidence and summaries of psychological experiments carried out over the years. At times a tad repetitive it will nonetheless have you pondering questions you’ve never thought of before.

There’s tales of couples becoming engaged on a first date, researchers living in isolation in a dark cave for months to see how well they can still estimate time, and those who try so hard to document their entire lives that you can’t help but think they’re missing out on really living. One recurring question is why does time seem to speed up as we age. Hammond dispels some common theories and demonstrates how it is a combination of factors. She talks of the reminiscence bump, usually in our late teens and early twenties when we are forming our identities. The memories from this period are strongest, meaning they are able to reinforce that identity. The creation of new memories makes time feel fast while you're living it but when we look back feels far more expansive. The more routine our lives become the quicker it seems to pass in retrospect as we have less defining moments.

A thoroughly fascinating book that’s easy to read and even comes with a self-help section of sorts in the final chapters offering advice on how to adjust your approach to time to feel as though you’ve lived a full life and not fall into the common misconception that you’ll have more time in the future.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Book Survey 2018

Jamie over at The Perpetual Page-Turner hosts an annual end of year book survey for fellow book bloggers. I decided to take part this year, for more bookish love check out the other blogs linked on her site. What have been your reading highlights of 2018?

**2018 READING STATS**
Number Of Books You Read:
 34
Number of Re-Reads:
 0 (part of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in French, so it doesn’t feel like a re-read)
Genre You Read The Most From: Classics (not really a genre, I know)
1. Best Book You Read In 2018
Notes on a Nervous Planet, Matt Haig
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Middlemarch, George Eliot
 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  
The Professor, Charlotte Brontë (in a good way)
 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read
 The Price of Belonging, Naomi Landy
 5. Best series you started in 2018? 
 The Book of Dust, Philip Pullman
 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?
 C. E. Morgan
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham
  8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
 White Tears, Hari Kunzru
 9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
 A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?
Melmoth, Sarah Perry
11. Most memorable character of 2018?
 Sylvie, The Price of Belonging
 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?
 The Professor, Charlotte Brontë
13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?
 Time Warped, Claudia Hammond
 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read? 
 Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018?

There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of any other. We always returned to it no matter who we were or how it was changed or with what difficulties, or ease, it could be reached. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy. - A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?
Longest – Middlemarch, George Eliot - 838 pages
Shortest – A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway - 126 pages               
 17. Book That Shocked You The Most
White Tears, Hari Kunzru (eye opening) 
1     18. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018?

 19. Favorite post you wrote in 2018? 
The ProfessorCharlotte Brontë
 20. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?
Hay Literature Festival – highlight being Margaret Atwood
4     21. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?
How to Read A Novel course on FutureLearn. Brilliant for both readers and writers and got me reading books I wouldn’t have otherwise have picked up.
2   22.  Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
Keeping up with posting while ill.
23. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
24. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
25. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Shakespeare and Company in Paris. Not exactly a hidden treasure but nonetheless a booklovers haven.
26.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

To read books as I buy them rather than just building up an ever-increasing to be read pile. Mostly successful, but the pile hasn’t got any smaller.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Melmoth, Sarah Perry

Using Charles Maturin’s 1820 novel Melmoth the Wanderer as inspiration, Perry brings us a modern gothic that forces us to ponder guilt and responsibility. Transforming the wretched wanderer into a woman forced to walk the Earth with bleeding feet as punishment for denying the risen Christ, Perry adds a religious dynamic to the tale. Taking her cue from Maturin, stories are folded into stories as we witness people at their most desperate. Karel Pražan in modern day Prague is haunted by the idea that Melmoth is watching, ever alert for the ripple of her black robes in the shadow. He tries to shake off the superstition, laughing about it with his wife Thea but repeated references to empty chairs left waiting for Melmotka and bloody footprints slowly fading blurs the line between fiction and reality.

Helen Franklin, friend of Karel’s, an unassuming woman hellbent on a self-imposed penitence for the actions of her youth reads through the evidence and testimonials and becomes entangled in the web of misery that surrounds it. Josef Hoffmann’s confession of his role in the Holocaust is the starting block, showing Perry isn’t likely to shy away from the atrocities of history. The juxtaposition of destruction on such a large scale compared to Karel’s betrayal of his recently disabled wife demonstrates that life’s horrors and soul destroying guilt come in many forms. It also lends a relatable humanity to the narrative as we see each character wrestle with their consciences, intermingled so that the reader is in an almost constant state of heightened emotion.

Each tale is heartwrenching but the constant hopping around in the narrative interrupts the flow and lessens the impact as you’re forced to reacquaint yourself with the different time periods and locations. Full of intriguing characters that scream out for more page time, this is a disorienting novel with moments of beautiful prose.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Our House, Louise Candlish

When Fi Lawson returns from a romantic holiday she finds a stranger moving into her home claiming to have bought it. With Fi’s husband missing and uncontactable and her children not at school the nightmarish scenario continues to escalate. This unusual premise is slowly dissected through transcripts of Fi’s appearance on popular podcast The Victim and her husband Bram’s lengthy confessional suicide document.

Fi and Bram separate after his infidelity is discovered but attempt a living arrangement whereby they both have time in their flat each week in the hope of minimizing any upset to their sons. Bram’s document reveals how Fi’s understanding gave him the opportunity to carry out fraud as we see his lies build until he is backed into a corner. Reading both accounts side by side we see Fi’s innocent naivety with each step, and yet can we trust either of them as narrators? Fi’s story is for public consumption and she admits that she has lied about two things in it. Bram is allegedly in a wretched state of mind, or is it a ploy to enable him to vanish without facing the repercussions of his actions?

Bram behaves badly throughout the novel, he cheats and lies, and it is this that causes his, and as a result Fi’s, downfall.  He is frustrating at times, desperately trying to extricate himself from the misery that unfolds when he could make it go away in an instant if he owned up to his actions. Nonetheless, it is his blackmailers that bear the brunt of ill will and some sympathy is afforded Bram in his desperation. At moments Fi’s predicament pulls on the heartstrings as you feel the hopelessness of it all. We watch as the betrayal grows, sometimes forgetting that she is entirely oblivious to all the events leading to it.

The story itself just about holds on to believability until the end where it becomes just a bit too far-fetched. An entertaining, at times gripping novel that leaves a lot of loose ends to ponder.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Paris Part Two – Parc Zoologique, Jardin des Plantes, and Notre-Dame

Parc Zoologique


In the outskirts of Paris is the Parc Zoologique. Situated next to the Bois de Vincennes, a green space covering 995 hectares which is worth making a trip to explore even without the zoo. First opened in 1934, the zoo underwent a major refurbishment in 2011 to bring its environments up to the standards demanded by modern regulations. The result is a beautifully landscaped zoo with enclosures that feel quite natural. A large artificial rock dominates the skyline and teases with glimpses of stairs inside, not open to the public. They house animals large and small and have an impressive greenhouse to simulate a tropical rainforest environment.

The next day started with a trip to Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, an impressive department store opened early in the twentieth century. If you enjoy shopping you can happily spend hours browsing their upmarket wares, but even if not, it’s worth visiting for the beautiful architecture and stunning views over Paris from the roof.

Views over Paris from the roof of Galeries Lafayette
After this we visited the Jardin des Plantes and found ourselves once again heading for a zoo. The menagerie is the second oldest in the world and parts of it do feel slightly run down. The enclosures are significantly smaller than those at the Parc Zoologique with a couple of animals showing signs of distress. Despite this they do house some big cats and the design of the enclosures allow for excellent views. Crowds were delighted to see baby leopards playing together.

The menagerie is located near the Seine and we took a pleasant stroll along its banks during the golden hour, many couples and friends enjoying the stunning surroundings with a bottle of wine. We arrived at Notre-Dame just before closing and with no queues. A service was in progress so we were unable to walk the full length of the building but we saw enough to be able to appreciate the majesty of the building. The crowds of tourists do make it hard to fully appreciate the intended peacefulness but that is to be expected of a trip to such an iconic building. Last time we visited we went up the towers and I would highly recommend this.
An evening stroll by the Seine

To round off the day we visited Shakespeare and Company, possibly the most famous English language bookshop in the city. The original, opened in 1919 by Sylvia Beach was frequented by the likes of Hemingway and Joyce. The current incarnation was opened in 1951 by George Whitman and continues the traditions of its namesake, welcoming authors and artists, and sometimes even housing them in exchange for work in the shop. Visiting today is a bibliophile’s dream with its many reading nooks, resident cat, and rows upon rows of books.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

The Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham

Bill Masen is hospitalized after a triffid attack, meaning he misses the meteor show that everyone else enjoys. His disgruntlement at having missed out soon proves misplaced as he discovers the widespread blindness that has occurred as a result. As he wanders the streets trying to work out what has happened he rescues another sighted person, Josella Playton, from her violent captor. It quickly becomes apparent that their sight puts them in danger and they make the difficult decision not to reveal their ability on grounds of self-preservation. All around are despairing, many preferring death to a life spent in darkness.

Other groups reveal themselves, each with their own ideas of how they should proceed, causing factions and separations. They try their best to survive with ever decreasing supplies and increasingly numerous triffids. There’s also a mysterious illness wiping out large swathes of the population that nobody is qualified to treat.

The book raises a lot of questions about humanity and our imagined superiority over nature. Previous to the disaster Bill had a colleague who believed triffids would take over if human sight was lost. It was our only advantage, and with the triffids already adapted to a sightless life they would have the upper hand. He was dismissed as having absurd ideas – imagine if the triffids had agency. The novel proves that they do, raising the question of how moral their treatment had been. It also leaves us with a sense that nature will survive long after humanity has exhausted itself, and that we will bring destruction on ourselves. Although written in 1951 this is a message that feels particularly pertinent today.

The writing is very much of its time and allusions to the Soviet Union as a place of mystery and secrecy play into the concerns of the day. The inevitable power struggle and attempts to give survivors something to believe in feels timeless however, and it is clear why this book continues to capture the imagination of its audiences.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Bristol

Bristol Botanic Garden
Initially lured to Bristol Botanic Garden by promise of their latest art installation, what I found was a tranquil oasis with a range of unusual plants. The explanatory signs placed around the garden explain the species unique to the area, far more than I would have imagined, and the various pollinators that keep plant species going. There’s also a Chinese Garden where you can learn about the medicinal uses of various plants, and greenhouses full of extraordinary species (including the biggest lily pads I’ve ever seen). Autumn is the perfect time to visit as the range of colours move from greens to yellows, oranges, and reds. It is a peaceful, beautiful place to spend a happy afternoon.

Part of The Impossible Garden
As for The Impossible Garden installation, well, it was a lot of fun. Twelve exhibits designed by Luke Jerram can be found around the garden, each aiming to stimulate discussion on visual impairment and perception. What has resulted is an entertaining yet meaningful display.  One moment you’ll find yourself in an Alice in Wonderland type dilemma, being dwarfed by a picnic bench, the next you’ll be tricked into thinking a sculpture is really an open doorway. Around the corner you’ll find yourself thinking about colour blindness or what it would be like not to be able to see in focus. The Impossible Garden is open until 25th November but whether or not you’re able to get there for it, the gardens are worth a visit any time of year.

While exploring the streets of Bristol and marveling at the mix of modern and historic architecture we happened upon the University of Bristol Theatre Archive. They welcome the public in to see displays of a selection of their material. At the moment they have an exhibition celebrating two hundred years of the London Old Vic and an exhibition curated by History of Art MA students on the importance of costume in performances by Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.

Clowns: The Eggs-hibition
Conveniently close by is Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. There predominantly for their unusual clown exhibition, we were first distracted by their Ancient Egypt gallery. A fascinating display on life and death in Ancient Egypt with some thought provoking interactive displays.

Clowns: The Eggs-hibition celebrates two hundred and fifty years of the circus with a display focusing on clown eggs – a unique way of ensuring the make-up and costume of established clowns are not copied. Clowns International started this practice over seventy years ago and each egg can take several days to paint. There are also displays of costumes and opportunities to try some clown tricks yourself. For those afraid of clowns this exhibition would be your worst nightmare but there is mention of clowns wanting to reclaim their image of fun rather than fear. Perhaps this exhibition will contribute somewhat, open until 6th January 2019.

The exterior of Bristol planetarium
Our final educational stop of the day was the planetarium at We The Curious, an attractions that looks fascinating. Planetarium guests can only visit the displays relating to space however, and although small it is packed with interesting facts and interactive opportunities. The planetarium itself is the only 3D one in the UK and on their night-time showings they have two different shows available. Unfortunately an uncomfortable experience (they’re having a refurbishment later in the year which will hopefully make things more comfortable), it was an interesting evening of learning about constellations and what we might have been able to see in the sky had it been less cloudy.
Deers at Ashton Court Estate

On our last day we drove over the famous suspension bridge to Ashton Court Estate. Covering 850 acres and with various activities from pitch and putt to mountain biking it’s bound to have something that appeals. Being on a budget we decided to take a walk in the deer park that offers panoramic views across the city as well as many deer. A pleasant end to the trip.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Paris Part One – Montmartre, Atelier des Lumières, and Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Clos Montmartre
Every October Montmartre hosts a festival celebrating the harvest of grapes from its one remaining vineyard. We were lucky that our visit coincided with this annual event as we were able to join a guided tour of the Clos Montmartre, closed to the public at other times of the year. There was a more formal celebration occurring at the same time with robed figures, members of the wine brotherhood of Montmartre as far as I could work out. The vineyard is small and not as historic as some may have you believe. Although vineyards were first introduced to Paris by the Romans and continued to thrive for many generations since, by the end of the nineteenth century they had vanished from the city. The Clos Montmartre was planted in 1933 to rekindle some of the area’s heritage.

After the tour we made our way uphill to the main festival site in front of the Sacré-Coeur. Here we found a bustling street food market selling a wide range of French specialities. The wine yield from the vineyard is auctioned off with proceeds going to charity. Local artists design the labels. Historically an area that attracted artists – Monet, Renoir, and Degas to name but a few, creativity is still evident as you walk the streets, and this custom pays homage to this. Montmartre retains its village feel and remains one of the most beautiful areas of Paris.

L'Atelier des Lumieres
We couldn’t linger too long however as we had tickets for the Atelier des Lumières. A nineteenth century foundry in the 11th arondissement houses an immersive art exhibition. Their first display predominantly features work by Gustave Klimt, as well as some photography from the period and works by Hundertwasser, whose work was new to me. A playlist accompanies the experience as images are projected across the walls, floors and ceiling. Accused by some of pandering to the Instagram generation, it is nonetheless a unique experience. By no means a replacement for seeing the originals, instead it feels not like experiencing them so much as witnessing new art in this carefully curated space, and is well worth a visit.

Pere Lachaise Cemetery
Conveniently nearby sits sprawling Pere Lachaise cemetery. Established in 1804 by Napoleon I, it is the final resting place of many a famous name and is the most visited cemetery in the world. Rows of ornate tombs line paths that spread as far as the eye can see. It feels almost to be a city in its own right. Home to tributes to wars and mass killings, it is hard to imagine that this peaceful, emotive place was once the site of a massacre itself.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Agnes Grey, Anne Brontë


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Anne Brontë’s first novel, Agnes Grey, is in part autobiographical. Agnes is the daughter of a clergyman in the north of England and, in wishing to aid the family’s finances takes a job as a governess with two families not entirely dissimilar to those Anne found herself with. The Bloomfield children are vile, spoilt children whose behaviour Agnes is unable to improve. There is a horrifying scene with her young charge Tom whereby he is planning how to torture some young birds. Agnes drops a stone on them to save them the horrors he had planned. His guardians do not understand her reasoning, promising him more innocent victims, and claiming they are put on Earth for our amusement. This distressing scene seems to show their opinion of those they consider inferior and does not bode well for their relations with young Agnes. It also goes to show how impossible her task is when faced with a family that positively encourages such behaviour. The unreasonable demands put on a governess are clear and you feel the frustration of being held entirely accountable in a hopeless situation.

Her second post, with the Murrays, is a slight improvement. Matilda and Rosalie are older and less physically ill behaved but they nonetheless seem to find making life difficult for Agnes something of a sport. She is expected to be on call at all times and must submit to the whims of the young Murrays. They have a strong sense of entitlement and feel little empathy for those less fortunate than themselves. This is evidenced not only in their treatment of Agnes but also in the delight they take in visiting poorer neighbours and mocking them. Rosalie also shows a great disregard for others in her cruel treatment of potential suitors, giving them attention only as long as it amuses her, with no intention of marrying them.

It is clear that Anne wanted to express the hardships endured by a governess and the contempt bred by privilege. In Rosalie’s unhappy marriage we see the result of such spoiling in childhood. They may have more money but in the end are not genuinely happy. The moral message seems to be that those who work hard, are honest and respectful, are given their quiet  contentment eventually.

A short, uneventful read with what was at the time a revolutionary message. Originally published as part of a three volume set alongside Wuthering Heights, it is not hard to see why it was overshadowed.

Pick up a copy:
Foyles
Waterstones

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Auvers-sur-Oise

Less than twenty miles from the centre of Paris sits Auvers-sur-Oise, a picturesque town that has attracted artists for many years. Perhaps most famous for the death of Vincent Van Gogh, it also played host to Paul Cézanne, Charles-François Daubigny and Camille Pissaro. The tourist office supplies a map detailing two walking routes that take in places of note and those that appear in the artwork of its famous inhabitants. Taking advantage of the one direct train there and back which runs from the Gare du Nord at weekends you’ll get a whole day there but struggle to visit everything.

Inside the Church
Armed with our map we first stopped at the Église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption d’Auvers-sur-Oise, immortalized in Van Gogh’s The Church of Auvers. A church has stood on the site since the twelfth century and what remains is an example of early Gothic design. After a brief tour of the interior it was on to the fields beyond, familiar also from Van Gogh’s works. His grave sits in the crematorium here, his brother Theo now rests beside him, having been moved in 1914.

The chateau
A walk across the fields and along quiet streets lead to the Maison-Atelier de Daubigny, a tempting stop that on this occasion we had to pass up. Continuing through historic streets you come to the Chateau d’Auvers, dating from the seventeenth century, a peaceful spot to enjoy the gardens and views over the town. The main building is not open to the public but there is a restaurant on site and a paid exhibition of Impressionist work. Being on a budget we had to pass up on this too (there are so many places to visit it’s best to decide before you arrive where you’re going to prioritise).

Exterior of Auberge Ravoux
For us the main draw was Van Gogh and so we made our way to L’Auberge Ravoux where he lodged for the last seventy days of his life. The staircase leading to the top floor is now poorly lit and in slight disrepair, the walls no longer the shade he would have known. His room is small and plain but all he needed as he spent the majority of his time outside painting from life. We were lucky as the only two English speakers on the tour we were able to spend more time in the room as the presentation was kindly repeated, free from the crowds. I’m told at weekend there are often long queues but we seem to have chanced upon a quieter day. The adjacent room has been dressed to give an idea of how it would have looked, Van Gogh’s having been left unchanged but for the removal of furniture.

After giving ourselves time to reflect after seeing where one of the world’s favourite artists lived during his most prolific period we turned our steps to the Absinthe museum. A small, unassuming building hosts an array of objects using in the preparation of the drink, information of what goes into it, and many examples of the way it permeated popular culture. The contrast is stark between posters hailing the spirit as the height of culture, laughing figures having the time of their life, and the later images of emaciated bodies, families plunged into poverty after suffering abuse at the hands of those inebriated by the potent substance.

The garden at Doctor Gachet's house
Unfortunately, there was not time to complete the longer walk detailed on the map of the town but there was just enough to visit the house of Doctor Gachet, to which entry is free. A tall house overlooking a lovely garden and many rooftops besides, it is a beautiful spot. Gachet welcomed many artists into his home where he offered treatment as well as friendship. A keen painter himself, he amassed a significant art collection which was later donated to French museums by his offspring. Visiting his home gives a great sense of the appeal to artists, but also the chance to learn about the fascinating man himself.


Before catching our train back to Paris there was just time to walk down to the river Oise and enjoy the glow of golden hour. Auvers-sur-Oise is a peaceful and beautiful town that takes no great leap of imagination to understand why it is so popular with artists. Today there are many working studios to enjoy as well as soaking in the history of the place. Even the postboxes and station subway are enhanced with illustration. A perfect day trip that could easily be extended into several days.