Celebrate Impressionism at Saint-Germain Boucles de Seine



Celebrate Impressionism at Saint-Germain Boucles de Seine

This year, Saint Germain Boucles de Seine is celebrating the anniversary of Impressionism, with more than 50 events planned between now and October.

On April 15, 1874, the first Impressionist exhibition took place in Paris at the studio of photographer Nadar, a breakaway event from the official Salon. Around 30 artists showed their works, including Monet, whose Impression soleil levant inspired critic Louis Leroy to nickname the group the Impressionists. Leroy wrote in the satirical magazine Le Charivari: “What does this painting represent? Impression. Impression, I was sure. I also thought, since I’m impressed, there must be an impression in there.” And so it was that Impressionism was born. Today, 150 years later, the names of Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley and Paul Cézanne are revered the world over.  

This year, Saint Germain Boucles de Seine is celebrating the anniversary of Impressionism, with more than 50 events planned between now and October. This exceptional season of cultural delights will culminate in a gathering of 150 painters on the banks of the Seine whose challenge is simple: to follow in the footsteps of Impressionists before them and immortalise the River Seine. 

Explore the Impressionist landscapes

The Impressionists immortalised the landscapes of Île-de-France and in particular those of Saint Germain Boucles de Seine. With coloured tubes of paint stuffed into their pockets and easels tucked under their arms, they would leave their studios and head for the Gare Saint-Lazare to board a train for Chatou, Croissy-sur-Seine or Louveciennes. Today, visitors can follow in their footsteps via the Chemins des Impressionnistes, a series of walking routes along which reproductions of the paintings have been placed in the very spots where they were created. On the balcony of the restaurant Maison Fournaise, in Chatou, you can sit where Renoir sat to paint his Luncheon of the Boating Party; or marvel at the timeless splendour of the horse-watering pool of the former château in Marly-le-Roi, which Sisley so beautifully captured in 1875. It’s a chance to experience for yourself the allure of the open air alongside the gentle colour palettes and unique tone of light which attracted so many famous artists to this area. 

The Chemin des Impressionnistesallows you to see where famous paintings were created

Go with the flow

If you would like to discover the landscapes that inspired the masters of Impressionism with the aid of a guide-lecturer, follow one of the hikes offered by the Tourist Office. Every month, there is a walk organised to discover the reproductions of the artists’ paintings and learn more about the area which inspired them. Or relax and unwind on the water by taking a boat trip along the Seine to discover the rich cultural history of the area.

Explore the area on a relaxing boat tour

Relive the guinguette spirit

Four celebratory picnics are being held this year so visitors can enjoy a real-life Déjeuner sur l’herbe in a friendly atmosphere. Picknickers are encouraged to come in costume to create an event to remember – with a boater on your head or a sailor shirt, you’ll be fit to appear in Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party, which was painted in Chatou. And while you’re in Chatou, be sure to visit the Fournaise Museum where you can enjoy an immersive experience and rub shoulders with the great artist himself. “You won’t regret your trip, it’s the prettiest place around Paris,” as Renoir once said. 

Enjoy a picnic and entertainment to mark 150 years of Impressionism

Have fun

The whole family will love the dramatised tours offered by the Ankreation company of actors. In Chatou you can relive the sumptuous fun of the guinguette on the banks of the Seine; in Croissy-sur-Seine you can revel in the tribulations of colourful characters; and in Saint-Germain-en-Laye you can learn more about the Nabi painters who captured the local landscapes with their warm and luminous colours. Or in Port-Marly and Croissy-sur-Seine, use your wits to solve a dastardly mystery, with the help of the actors from the Artecie company. 

Dramatised tours will bring the past to life

Dare to be colourful

Unleash your inner Impressionist at a painting workshop in Chatou or Le Pecq. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint but have never dared put brush to canvas, now is the time. Supervised by professional painters, these workshops take place in the open air, so you will work just as the Impressionists did, giving free rein to your creativity. Plus you get to take your painting home with you. For running enthusiasts, a colour run will be held through the wooded paths of the Marly Forest – it’s a chance to explore the stunning countryside before becoming part of a living tableau as colourful pigments are thrown around. 

On your marks, get set for the colour run

Have an impressive experience

Treat yourself to a day-long guided itinerary courtesy of the Tourist Office, which on four dates this year will offer visitors a chance to walk in the footsteps of the Impressionists, experience enriching encounters and make unusual discoveries.  

Find out about guided tours at the Tourist Office

Further afield

While you’re here, be sure to visit the museums and castles in the area too. In Croissy-sur-Seine, the Musée de la Grenouillère offers you a deep-dive into the atmosphere of the guinguettes. In Chatou, head to the Sequana boat restoration workshop where volunteers restore boats from the Belle Époque and are happy to share their enthusiasm and expertise with you. In Saint-Germain-en-Laye, explore the Musée départemental Maurice Denis, which is dedicated to post-Impressionist painters, the Nabis and the Pont-Aven group, and enjoy the architecture of this magical place with its terraced gardens. 

Don’t miss the exceptional collections at the Maurice Denis Museum

Savour the moment

Take the time to unwind and enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants in Saint Germain Boucles de Seine. Whether you favour traditional or exotic cuisine, your taste buds are sure to be satisfied. At Le Vésinet, on a charming little island, check out the Pavillon des Ibis, a restaurant with Art Deco décor which is sure to delight. On the banks of the Seine, the Rives de la Courtille in Chatou or the Maison Louveciennes are perfect for lunch with a waterside view and, if you wish, your toes in the sand. And in Marly-le-Roi, there are a number of beautiful eateries to be discovered, such as Le Point d’Origine or the Village Tomohiro, a Michelin-starred restaurant. And last but not least, Saint-Germain-en-Laye offers many spots for a quick lunch or a candlelit dinner. 

Great places to stay 

Far from the hustle and bustle of the city, recharge your batteries in one of the hotels or B&Bs in Saint Germain Boucles de Seine. In the heart of the Saint-Germain forest, you are sure to enjoy your stay at the Hotel Cazaudehore or the Maison du Val. Or in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, enjoy an incredible view over the west of Paris while enjoying your breakfast at the Pavillon Henri IV. There are too many excellent options to mention here, so for help organising your accommodation and other elements of your visit, contact the Tourist Office. 

festival lumieres

Did we mention the Olympics?

2024 is also the year of the Olympic and Para-Olympic Games in Paris. So in the unlikely event that the previous nine reasons haven’t convinced you to visit, this one should seal the deal. The city of Saint-Germain-en-Laye will be welcoming the British team and to celebrate the occasion, many festivities are planned. Contact the Tourist Office for more information. 

The enchanting town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye plays host to the British Olympics team for Paris 2024

Lead photo credit : Saint Germain Boucles de Seine is celebrating 150 years of Impressionism

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