The Paris region was a fertile source of inspiration for Impressionist painters in the nineteenth century. You can visit their masterpieces in emblematic museums, but also relive the emotions that inspired them. From the buzzing streets of Paris to the banks of the Seine or the Oise, the Impressionists have immortalised the most modern and the most bucolic aspects of Paris and its region. These landscapes, for the most part still intact, bear the imprint of these great painters still today, and are just waiting for you. Happy travels!
Paris and Montmartre, the heart of the impressionist movement
Under Napoleon III, Baron Haussmann transformed the city and brought Paris into modernity. Chroniclers of modern life such as Monet, Degas, Manet, Renoir, Pissarro and Caillebotte were frequent visitors to the new destinations of city life: cafés-concerts, brasseries, balls, operas, but also parks, gardens and racetracks.
With its history filled squares, its many cafes and incomparable nightlife haunts, the village of Montmartre has perpetuated this vibrancy. The Maison du Bel Air is home to the Montmartre museum and the Renoir gardens, named in honour of the iconic painter that once lived there.
Paris and its spectacular museums are home to the finest collections of impressionist art. The Musée d'Orsay presents the largest collection of Impressionist paintings in the world. The Musée de l'Orangerie, located at the bottom of the Jardin des Tuileries, is the setting of a spectacular monumental ensemble of Monet's Water Lilies. And Monet's greatest masterpiece, " Impression, Sunrise", has pride of place at the Marmottan Monet museum, which displays the most important Monet collection in the world.
Barbizon and around Fontainebleau
And there is just a step from the painting to the inspiration… The spirit of the Impressionists also endures in the open air, in the landscapes that inspired the painters. South of Paris, the Fontainebleau forest left its mark on the movement, inspiring its precursors, the landscape painters known as the Barbizon School. In this charming village, discover Jean-François Millet's studio, which retraces the artist's life, before visiting the Musée des Peintres de Barbizon, to learn everything about the Barbizon School and its aesthetic innovations.
Close to the Fontainebleau forest, the medieval town of Moret-sur-Loing was home to the painter Alfred Sisley for the last 20 years of his life. A dedicated circuit, adapted to the whole family, introduces you to the places that inspired him.
A little further on, Yerres is host to the sublime artist's residence, the Propriété Caillebotte, reconstituted as the painter knew it.
The joys of the Seine
With the development of the railway in the 19th century, Parisians made the west of Paris, and particularly the banks of the Seine, their favourite holiday destination. Between Neuilly-sur-Seine and Levallois-Perret, the Île de La Jatte island is a perfect example. A four-kilometer walking trail allows you to discover in situ works by Seurat, Monet or Van Gogh inspired by this piece of countryside in Paris.
Continue to Chatou and its Island of the Impressionists, adored by Renoir, and stop for a snack on the terrace of the restaurant Fournaise, famous guingette, which inspired the painter for his famous Luncheon of the Boating Party. The musée Fournaise, located just next door, recreates this joyous period on the banks of the Seine. From here, the Renoir and Monet circuits will take you to the places where the famous artists set up their easels, during a pleasant stroll along the Seine.
Auvers and the Oise Valley: an invigorating artistic centre
To the north of Paris, the town of Auvers-sur-Oise is a genuine open-air museum. From Van Gogh to Daubigny as well as Corot, Pissarro and Cézanne, many painters have taken inspiration here. The Auberge Ravoux, also known as Maison Van Gogh, immerses you in the life of the painter, who is buried here in the village cemetery alongside his brother Théo. And the Musée Daubigny and the Maison-Atelier will introduce you to the work of Van Gogh, one of the precursors of Impressionism. The immersive experience at the Château d'Auvers will allow you to better understand the history of this artistic movement. And very close to Auvers, the town of Pontoise honours Pissarro, another great Impressionist painter inspired by the valley of the Oise.