60km (37 miles) SE of Troyes
This small village on the border with Burgundy is on the map thanks to its artistic connections: Essoyes was the birthplace of Aline Charigot who went on the become Mme. Auguste Renoir. The couple bought a house here in 1896 and in 2017 it opened to the public as the Maison des Renoir. You buy a ticket in the Espace Renoir, 9 pl. de la Mairie (www.renoir-essoyes.fr; tel. 03-25-29-10-94; 14€ adults, 7€ children 17 and under; Mar Sat and Sun 10am–12:30pm and 1:30–5pm; April–May and Sept–Oct Wed–Sun 10am–12:30pm and 1:30–6pm, June–Aug Wed–Mon 10am–12:30pm and 1:30–6pm, mid-July to mid-Aug 10am–6pm, Nov Sat and Sun 10am–12:30pm and 1:30–5pm), where you can browse an exhibition and watch a film on the artist’s life before going on to visit the family home, garden, and his light-filled studio. A nice spot for lunch, notably grilled meat, is La Guinguette des Arts, 4 bis quai de l’Ource (www.laguinguettedesarts.fr; tel. 03-25-29-70-59; Wed–Mon noon–2pm and 7–9pm) next to the river.
The easiest and cheapest way to get to Essoyes is by car, which takes around 50 min. on the A5.
52km (32 miles) NW of Troyes
Most famous for being the lover and student of Auguste Rodin, Camille Claudel (1864–1943) was one of the unsung artists of the 19th century until recent years. Now, as well as having works on show at the Musée Rodin in Paris, as of 2017 Claudel’s birthplace is open to the public with an attached museum, Musée Camille Claudel, 10 rue Gustave Flaubert (www.museecamilleclaudel.fr; tel. 03-25-24-76-34; 7€, free for ages 26 and under, free to all first Sun of month; Apr–Oct Tues–Fri 11am–6pm, Sat and Sun until 7pm, Nov–Mar Wed–Sat 11am–6pm and Sun until 7pm). Here, 43 of her works are exhibited alongside some of her contemporaries, including Rodin and Bourdelle, to celebrate this rich period of French sculpture. A short walk south is wine bar Au Numéro Vins, 5 rue de l’Étape au Vin (tel. 03-25-25-73-47; daily), where you can savor traditional French dishes or platters of cheese and charcuterie.
From Tropes, several direct TER trains a day run (trip time: 30 min.), or by car it’s about 50 min. along the D442.