Normandy and Ile-de-France, the Birthplaces of Impressionism


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À mi-chemin entre Paris et Honfleur, Giverny a inspiré de nombreux peintres. Ici, la fondation Claude Monet.
© Gautier Salles / Unsplash - À mi-chemin entre Paris et Honfleur, Giverny a inspiré de nombreux peintres. Ici, la fondation Claude Monet.

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 7 March 2024, updated on 15 April 2024

Between extraordinary light, meandering rivers and the simple joys of life, welcome to Normandy and the Ile-de-France! Two regions touching and touching... sharing the same cradle: that of Impressionism, the famous French pictorial movement born from the union of a few artists in the second half of the 19th century. Let's follow in the footsteps of its great masters, from Montmartre to the Normandy coast, via Giverny and Auvers-sur-Oise.

Normandy and the Ile-de-France, the quintessential Impressionist destinations, will take you along the tributaries of the Atlantic Ocean, bathed in a light so special that it has inspired some of the greatest artists, witnesses of our time.

From Normandy...

From Normandy, imagine Monet, Courbet or Eugène Boudin painting in Honfleur, a small port at the mouth of the Seine, whose changing lights inspired these geniuses of colour.

Cross the Seine and you're in Le Havre, at the Musée d'Art Moderne André Malraux (MuMa), home to works by the greatest artists of this school.

Not far away, the Côte d'Albâtre, with its dizzying white chalk cliffs, is home to the small port of Étretat. It was here, inspired by the changing light of the seasons, that Monet painted his masterpiece, Etretat, la Manneporte, reflets sur l'eau.

About Giverny...

Halfway between Paris and Honfleur, Giverny stands proudly as the Mecca of world Impressionism, popularised by local painter Claude Monet. His house houses an exceptional collection of Japanese prints. The gardens include the Clos Normand with its flower beds and the Jardin d'Eau, planted with oriental vegetation, water lilies and weeping willows.

À mi-chemin entre Paris et Honfleur, Giverny est le symbole de l'impressionnisme en Normandie.
© Irakite - AdobeStock - À mi-chemin entre Paris et Honfleur, Giverny est le symbole de l'impressionnisme en Normandie.

the Château d'Auvers-sur-Oise...

Just 30 minutes northwest of Paris, you'll find yourself exploring a string of mythical sites: the Ravoux inn, known as "Van Gogh's house"; the Château d'Auvers, embodying the Impressionist art of living; the William Thornley Museum in Osny; and Daubigny's studio in Auvers-sur-Oise.

in Île-de-France

The Impressionists also drew on the natural wonders of the Île-de-France region, which since the 12th century has been named after the Atlantic tributaries that surround it: the Seine, the Oise and the Marne**. This triangle of rivers is brimming with mythical sites that gave the Impressionist movement its letters of nobility.

Let's take the loops of the Seine, bathing - among others - the City of Light. Paris is brimming with museums and studios built to the glory of Impressionist works. Just think of Eugène Delacroix, whose studio in Saint-Germain-des-Près has become a museum, in addition to those in Orsay, Marmottan and the Orangerie... end our artistic journey in Montmartre or on the island of Chatou

A hotbed of forbidden pleasures, Montmartre was also a haven for Impressionist artists. The shadows of Bazille, Renoir, Monet, Pissaro, Cézanne and Degas loom large. At the foot of the Sacré-Coeur, painters gathered to paint their everyday impressions, such as the jubilant moments captured on the spot in Van Gogh's Terasse de café à Montmartre (La Guinguette).

But this wasn't the only place where the Impressionists enjoyed themselves. To the south-west of Paris, the Impressionists also found inspiration on the Île de Chatou, renamed the Île des impressionnistes. Here you will find the famous restaurant La Maison Fournaise, whose guinguette décor is inspired by Renoir's two famous paintings: *Le Canotiers à Chatou and Le Déjeuner des Rameurs.

Recommendations and advice The Normandy coast is often a victim of its own success. If you want to enjoy this destination in optimal conditions and soak up its inspiring landscapes with peace of mind, consider organizing your stay out of season. In addition, take care of these sublime but fragile landscapes, which are prey to erosion, by respecting the recommendations and prohibitions concerning the accessibility of certain coastal paths. By doing so, you'll be helping to preserve these sites and ensure that their charm continues to be felt for many years to come. Enjoy your impressionist stroll!

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