I spent my last night in France at Auvers-sur-Oise on the outskirts of Paris. This location was convenient for dropping off my rental car at the airport the next morning, and also where Vincent van Gogh spent his last days, and painted quite a few of his great paintings.
In Auvers-sur-Oise, I stayed at the Hostellerie du Nord—described in the Rick Steves guidebook as “a small, friendly, polished treat for those who want to sleep in luxury” with a “seriously good” restaurant.
All true, but what Rick Steves didn’t convey was the flavor of the place as a rendezvous spot for Parisian couples who wanted a long, languorous and seductive meal before proceeding upstairs to one of the sensuous rooms. Mine was decorated with reproductions of Gauguin paintings of bare-breasted Tahitian beauties.
The atmosphere oozed seductiveness, from the omnipresent statuary of buxom women and Art Nouveau glass to the style of the dinner—formal and extensive, but slow enough and with so much variety that one wouldn’t really get overfull. As I ate I enjoyed playing the voyeur and watching the attractive and prosperous couples around me, and fantasizing about what would happen once the many courses were done. I would have liked to share my strawberry tasting dessert, shown above in an iPhone photo, while lazily thinking about the sweet treat that might follow!