General Description

The town is situated on and around a rocky outcrop overlooking the River Oise about thirty kilometres north-west of Paris in the Isle-de-France region. Like so many of the places around Paris that were rural communities in the mid-nineteenth century, Pontoise has been encroached upon by the urban sprawl of the capital. This ancient community has also been absorbed by the relatively recent development of the new town of Cergy. Inspite of this, there is still a strong local identity and in the precincts of the old town there are many reminders of its considerable history which dates back to Roman times.


Fragments of mediaeval architecture are to found, not least in the impressive cathedral church of Saint Maclou with its flamboyant Gothic facade and tower. There are extensive remains of the old city walls and the ramparts of the castle which once housed a royal residence and beneath which there is a labyrinth of vaulted tunnels. The annual fair known as the Foire Saint-Martin is possibly the oldest in the world, dating from 1170. The town was a focus for local agriculture with a busy market but gradually declined over the centuries until the arrival of the railway in the mid-nineteenth century which led to a revival in its fortunes. The nearby hamlet of L’Hermitage, which has now become a much sought-after residential district of the town, was a centre for market gardening and it still retains some of the charm that attracted the attention of many artists including Pissarro and Cézanne.

How to get there from Paris
By train
Pontoise is the terminal station on line C of the RER and an intermediate station for suburban trains from Gare Saint-Lazare. There is also a terminus for suburban trains from  Gare du Nord (the fastest route). Local bus services originate from the Place Charles de Gaulle outside Pontoise railway station.

By car
From Porte de Clignancourt take the A1 north in the direction of Lille and Charles de Gaulle Airport. Take the exit for the A86 for Nanterre and then the A15 for Pontoise. When the road divides after crossing the Seine, follow signs for the A15 (Pontoise). Take exit 9 signed Pontoise-Centre.

Tourist information
Office de Tourisme de Cergy-Pontoise-Porte du Vexin
Place de la Piscine, 95300 Pontoise
Tel:  Fax: 
Open: Tuesday to Saturday 09.30–12.30 and 14.00–17.30, Sunday and public holidays 14.00–17.30
Closed: Monday

The town has two museums, Le Musée Tavet-Delacour and le Musée Camille Pissarro.  

Le Musée Tavet-Delacour
This is housed in an impressive fifteenth century mansion which was once the home of the Grand Vicaire de Pontoise. It contains a permanent collection of artifacts relating to the history of the town and also the collection of Otto Freundlich who was a pioneer of modern abstract art. The museum is also the venue for changing exhibitions of contemporary art.
4, rue Lemercier, 95300 Pontoise

E-mail:  Website:
Open: Wednesday to Sunday 10.00–12.30 and 13.30–18.00 (check admission times out-of-season)
There is an entrance fee

Le Musée Camille Pissarro
In the grounds of the ancient castle overlooking the river and the old town there is a grand house which contains an impressive collection of paintings, mainly of the local area. It is a good place to start for those interested in the origins of the Impressionist movement and there are works by both Camille and Lucien Pissarro, Boggio, Caillebotte, Cézanne, Daubigny, Daumier, Guillaumin, Signac and many others.
17, rue du Château, 95300 Pontoise
Tel: .40

E-mail:  Website:
Open: Wednesday to Sunday 14.00–18.00 (check admission times out-of-season)
Free entrance

Le Jardin de l’Hermitage
A garden inspired by the work of the Impressionist painters with a series of explanatory panels.
2, rue Adrien-Lemoine, 95300 Pontoise

Open: Saturday 14.00–18.00 (check admission times out-of-season)
Free entrance