Not to be missed
Which sites are definitely must-sees?
Château de Pierrefonds
On the edge of the Compiègne Forest proudly stands the famous Pierrefonds castle, a medieval fortress piercing the sky in its armour of stone. Cross the drawbridge, enter the main courtyard, climb the old steps and start exploring the chateau's fascinating rooms. A journey back in time to a land of knights and princesses, guaranteed to delight the whole family! An extraordinary location particularly prized by filmmakers, as recently illustrated by the popular BBC series Merlin!
The Domaine de Chantilly
In Chantilly, there exists a magical place where one can admire works of art, discover the world of equestrianism and stroll about a park designed by the renowned André Le Nôtre. A timeless day of exploration for the whole family. The Château de Chantilly houses the second largest collection of premodern paintings after the Louvre, with masterpieces by such artists as Raphael, Ingres and Delacroix. The superb “Grand Apartments” allow younger visitors to marvel at the pomp and splendour of the Ancien Régime nobility. The château is also the setting of a sumptuous library!
The Compiègne Palace
While the origins of the royal residence of Compiègne date back to the French monarchy, it was during the 19th century, under the reign of Louis XV, that the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel modified numerous decors and refurnished the historic apartments, thereby lending the Compiègne Palace its current appearance. Come discover as a family the many splendours of this multifaceted and fascinating chateau! The Compiègne Palace is also home to the Second Empire Museum, the National Museum of Automobiles and Tourism, and a landscaped park crossed by the famous Allée des Beaux-Monts forest corridor stretching nearly 5 kilometres!
Which activities are must-dos?
The Parc Astérix theme park
Thrills and adventure for young and old, complete with one-of-a-kind attractions and spectacular live shows, not to mention a touch of Gaulish humour and a dash of impish impertinence… Such are the winning ingredients of the Parc Astérix magic potion! Dedicated to children aged 3 to 11, La Forêt d’Idéfix ("Forest of Dogmatix") is sure to delight younger visitors with its reduced-scale attractions specially designed for children.
Biking about the Compiègne Forest
The Compiègne Forest is crisscrossed by over 1,000 km of bike paths and roads for your pedalling pleasure! As vast as Paris, Compiègne National Forest is a majestic green lung covering no less than 15,000 hectares. A network of over 100 km of sylvan bike paths notably offers two routes particularly popular with families: The first departs from the village of Saint-Jean-aux-Bois and will take you all the way to Pierrefonds, the old thermal resort town boasting the famous castle “reinterpreted” by Viollet-le-Duc. The second path plunges into the heart of the forest to return to Compiègne via Vieux-Moulin.
Gerberoy and its roses
No one is immune to the charms of picturesque Gerberoy in Oise, one of the most beautiful villages in all of France, with its cobblestoned lanes, dollhouses of cob and colourful timber framing, hollyhocks and wisteria set against old stones… A unique cinematic setting, as seen in the French series Maupassant and in the film Witch’s Way of Love starring Vanessa Paradis! An ever fragrant destination for a springtime excursion or a summer outing. In Gerberoy, roses reign and this beloved flower is celebrated every third week of June. The remarkable garden of the post-impressionist painter Le Sidaner is home to 25 varieties of rare and antique roses. Real flower power!
Which 3 events must not be missed?
The Palais en Jazz music festival at the Compiègne Palace
The Compiègne Palace has ever sought to attract new visitors by hosting one-of-a-kind events offering diverse, exclusive and top-quality musical experiences. Composing a fascinating mix of periods and cultures, Palais en Jazz is also the first jazz festival to be held within a royal palace. The perfect opportunity for music lovers to (re)discover this exceptional estate and its museums, combining splendour and simplicity, art and nature. Palais en Jazz offers two days and two evenings of concerts and debates, musical, theatrical and literary performances, unique, ephemeral and contemporary creations, documentary film screenings and more.
Equestrian shows at Chantilly
For over three decades, the prestigious riding troupe of the Grand Stables has staged equestrian shows and presentations dedicated to the art of horse training. Combining poetry, humour and trick riding, the unique performances created by Sophie and Virginie Bienaimé contribute to Chantilly’s international equestrian renown. The spectacles are held beneath the Grand Stables’ majestic 28-metre-high dome, with its circular arena and stands welcoming nearly 600 spectators. Its recently restored fountain bears the dates of the Stables' construction: 1719-1735.
The "Festival of the Forests" in Compiègne
The “Festival of the Forests” assembles over 40 composers and no less than 200 talented artists. Melodiously spotlighting the exceptional natural heritage of Oise, the festival allows music lovers to relax and enjoy themselves with friends and family in a special sylvan setting. You won’t want to miss the unique concert-hikes: strolls through the woods punctuated with short musical breaks lasting a dozen minutes. Each walk is guided by a forest expert, sharing precious botanical and historical knowledge and anecdotes with participants. These easy itineraries are suited to everyone. The “Festival of the Forests” also offers classical music concerts in churches, cinematic-concerts, light-show concerts, activities for young music lovers (concerts and workshops for children aged 4 and up), special weekend packages, etc.
Which specialities must be tasted? Where must one go to try these gastronomic delights?
Coeurs de Noyon sweets
An ideal destination for gourmands, Noyon has long been known as the “red-berry capital” of France. Thanks to a favourable microclimate and a berry-farming tradition dating back to the 10th century, strawberries and blackberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants, cherries and raspberries form a lovely palette of colours on the town’s market stalls and in its boutiques. Every first Sunday of July, the "Red Berries Market" of Noyon lures berry-enthusiasts with its tarts, sorbets and refreshing drinks.
"Tomme au foin" cheese – La Chapelle Saint Jean dairy
The mere thought of this speciality cheese, with its inimitable aromas of hay and walnut, is enough to make any cheese-lover’s mouth water. Produced and savoured for several centuries in the village of Songeons near Beauvais, this hard, semi-pressed cheese is uniquely aged within a round of hay, following its natural ripening in the cellar. In addition to lending it a special aroma, this ripening within hay protects the cheese while also keeping it moist. It can therefore continue its ripening away from the cellar, in a room at home, or even be transported outside for up to a week!
When one considers how the princes, princesses and other famous figures welcomed to Chantilly by the Prince of Condé queued up to taste this delightful Chantilly cream, served as a snack in the Hamlet’s large thatched cottage and at the famous Chantilly dairy, then it’s no surprise that food-lovers continue to crave this world-renowned cream born by a stroke of luck! Indeed, this speciality that wows all palates with its smooth cloudlike texture and delicate sweetness, making it impossible to resist a final spoonful, was created by chance. While a kitchen boy at the Chantilly Hamlet in the Oise department was busy beating up some cream, he noticed that it was beginning to expand. Inspired, he had fun by adding some sugar and vanilla before serving it as such to the great delight of the estate's guests that fortuitous day.
When should one come to Oise? How long should one stay?
Oise is best experienced in the spring and autumn. These two seasons illuminate the department’s wonderfully verdant landscapes, and Mother Nature adorns herself with a thousand and one vibrant colours.
Oise is rather a destination for short stays. A long weekend of 3 or 4 days will allow you to explore this multifaceted department, boasting an excellent network of well-maintained roads.
What to do at night?
Enjoy the Beauvais Cathedral light show, from June to September and during the end-of-the-year holidays. You’ll be swept away by the unique, magical spectacle designed and staged by Skertzò.
“The immense, eternal cathedral of Beauvais” pays tribute to the exceptional destiny of the Saint-Pierre Cathedral, whose extraordinary elevation seemingly defies the laws of physics! Rediscover the recently restored southern portal as threads of light redraw it before your very eyes! A magical composition of images, music and lights, imagined for you by the famous Skertzò company.