Where: Ornans, Franche-Comté, France
Who: People who have an affinity for small towns, art history, and a slow-paced environment.
What: See the Musée Courbet. Visit the Church of Saint-Laurent. Kayak in the river. Get lost in the streets.
Madison and I took our first day trip on Saturday, the 24th of September!
We visited the gorgeous town of Ornans, which was an hour’s bus ride away from us in Pontarlier. The voyage there was filled with rolling green hills and picturesque valleys – there were moments during our bus ride that actually took my breath away.
Ornans is located in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region of France. It is about half an hour driving southeast from Besançon, which is one of the largest cities in the region (and also where we’re going for our orientations during the month of October!).
The river Loue flows through the city, and it is almost impossible to not sense the presence of the various waterways no matter what street you’re on. But before we could stop to marvel and soak in the many glorious sights, we had to take care of our appetites!
We stopped by Restaurant Le Chavot, which we had actually noticed from the other side of the river due to one of it’s dining rooms being right by/above the water. (Naturally, we had to go investigate.)
Madison and I tucked into a scrumptious meal of thin crust pizzas with mushrooms, cheese, and ham. We admired the afternoon sunlight glistening on the water, the almost lulling French conversation coming from our fellow diners, and the taste of our first sit-down meal outside together in France. Ah, what a sweet life it is indeed.
After lunch, we ambled our way through the tiny streets of the city. We eventually made our way to the Musée Courbet, which is the museum celebrating the art and life of Gustave Courbet, a highly influential artist part of the Realist movement who happened to be born in – you guessed it – Ornans!
We got free entry into the museum because of a handy little booklet of youth discount tickets we got along with our carte jeune from the tourist office in our town. The booklet costs about 8€, and in it there are discount codes for things to do all throughout the France-Comté region! Considering that the museum tickets were about 7€ for adults, it already paid for itself. In it there are also things like a yearly membership for a municipal library in the region, 6€ off any book in a bookstore in the region, discounts for kayak rentals, etc.
I was really excited to learn about Courbet’s influence and his lasting mark on the art world. I was particularly tickled by the fact that his work was very important to some of the bigwigs in the art world that came later, during the era of Impressionism. This influence was so important, in fact, that la Musée Courbet actually had a special expo going on that highlighted some Impressionist works and Courbet’s relationships with the artists.
Madison and I spent a good bit of time in the art museum. We even managed a cute exchange with a few local french girls working there who caught sight of Madison’s film camera and were asking questions about it/talking shop about photography as an art form.
After leaving the museum, we then roamed the rues of Ornans.
After meandering through the city, Madison and I still had time before our bus left for Pontarlier. So, we stopped into this adorable store that had a variety of secondhand and vintage home goods and furniture. Madison found a calendar from 2004 with nifty images of retro advertisements, and I found a beautiful print from the 1950s of yellow roses which reminded me of the yellow roses we have growing by the side of our house in Charleston.
Even after perusing the store, we still had more time, so we stopped by a little place with questionable hygiene but superb hospitality for some ice cream and relaxing.
We hopped on the bus back to our home away from home, and revelled in the memories of our first day excursion.
Until next time,