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A Festival of Impressionism - Paintings & places in Paris and Normandy

The finest collections of Impressionism in France and places associated with the artists.

Coincides with an Impressionist festival in Normandy, featuring major exhibitions in Rouen, Le Havre and Giverny.

Standard Premier rail travel by Eurostar from London and good hotels in Paris and Rouen.

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Far more Impressionist pictures can be seen in the region covered by this tour than in any other territory of comparable size. This should be no surprise, as this is the region where Impressionism was born and where it was most practised, and the tour visits some of the key sites in that development. Attention is also paid to the precursors – Pre-Impressionists such as Eugène Boudin and Jongkind – and to some Post-Impressionist successors.

As it was for mainstream artists, so it was for rebels and innovators: throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, Paris was the centre of the art world. All the French Impressionists spent time here, many lived here for most of their lives.

Yet the essence of their art – the recording of the world about them as it presented itself to their eyes in its immediate, transitory aspect – required them to spend time in the countryside. And the countryside they frequented most was in the north and north-west of Paris, the broad valley of the meandering Seine and of its tributaries the Oise and the Epte, and on to the coast.

This can be illustrated by the case of Claude Monet, the major exponent of Impressionism. He was born in Paris in 1840 and was brought up from 1845 in Le Havre on the Normandy coast before returning to Paris to study painting. He made frequent painting expeditions to river and sea, and from 1871 he made his homes in the suburbs, progressively further downstream at Argenteuil, Vétheuil, Poissy and finally, in 1883, at Giverny.

Impressionism was developing at the same time as seaside tourism on France’s northern coast and the relationship between the two is fascinating. Water, fresh or salt, was an important ingredient of Impressionist pictures, its fleeting, changing, evanescent qualities similar to the characteristics of light they sought to capture on canvas. The Impressionist emphasis on the importance of painting en plein air makes a tour that includes sites where painters set up their easel particularly rewarding.

The Impressionists were also masters of figure painting and renewed the genre of portraiture in their depictions of the face and body, the family, circles of friends, and the representation ofsociety. Renoir liked to paint the delicate faces of young girls in their prime, Dégas chose milliners and washerwomen and Pissarro country girls. These artists painted the society of their time: from political to intimate portraits, offering a description of history at all levels, one contemporary with the development of photography.

For its fourth edition, the Normandie Impressionist Festival has chosen innovation and creation as its theme under the guidance of Philippe Piguet; historian, art critic and curator.

Day 1

Paris. Leave London St Pancras at c. 10.30am by Eurostar. In Paris visit the Musée Marmottan which, through a donation by Monet’s son, has one of the world’s largest collections of Impressionists including Impression: Sunrise. Continue to Rouen in Normandy where four nights are spent.


Day 2

Rouen, Caen. Spend the morning in Rouen at the Musée des Beaux Arts at the exhibition entitled Une passion impressionniste; masterpieces from François Depeaux’s private collection, including works of Sisley, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec and Pissarro. In the afternoon visit the Musée des Beaux Arts in Caen. The exhibition Au travail: Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, peintres de la société du labeur, includes over 100 works of artists including Caillebotte, Dufy, Van Gogh, Manet, Matisse, Monet, Pissarro, Seurat and Signac.


Day 3

Giverny. The morning is devoted to the premier site in the history of Impressionism, Monet’s house and garden at Giverny where he lived from 1883 until his death in 1926, designing and tending the gardens which grew in size as his prosperity increased. Also at Giverny is the reconstituted Musée des Impressionismes and the exhibition Peindre en plein air, from Corot to Monet. Return mid-afternoon for some free time in Rouen, perhaps to study the cathedral, the subject of over 30 of Monet’s paintings.


Day 4

Étretat, Honfleur, Le Havre. Morning excursion to Étretat, a little seaside town flanked by dramatic chalk promontories scooped into arches by wind and sea, painted by Monet and many others. Honfleur is an utterly delightful fishing village at the mouth of the Seine, now crammed with art galleries and antique shops. In the museum are many works by Eugène Boudin, a major influence on the Impressionists. Cross the Seine estuary to Le Havre. After a recent donation and refurbishment, the Musée André Malraux has become the second largest collection of Impressionists in France. As part of the 2020 festival it will host the exhibition Nuits électriques, focussing on the Impressionist artists’ fascination with electricity and light.


Day 5

Auvers, Paris. Auvers-sur-Oise was a popular artists’ colony, frequented by Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. See sites associated with Van Gogh, who spent the last few weeks of his life here, and the studio of Daubigny. Return to Paris for an optional visit of the Musée des Beaux Arts in the Petit Palais, an under-appreciated collection for which space has been expanded. Overnight Paris.

We sometimes change the visit to the Petit Palais in order to take advantage of a temporary exhibition elsewhere.


Day 6

Paris. Walk through the Tuileries Gardens to the Orangerie where an excellent collection of Impressionists, Monet’s famous water-lilies and 20th-century paintings are housed. Cross the river to the Musée d’Orsay; here are displayed not only the world’s finest collection of Impressionism but also masterpieces by important precursors such as Courbet and Millet. Return to London by Eurostar, arriving St Pancras at c. 5.30pm.

Final exhibition titles were not yet confirmed at the time of printing, those listed are working titles.


Two sharing: £2,360 or £2,140 without Eurostar. Single occupancy: £2,710 or £2,490 without Eurostar.



Train travel by Eurostar (Standard Premier); travel by private coach throughout; hotel accommodation as described below; breakfasts, 1 lunch and 4 dinners with wine, water and coffee; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.



Mercure Rouen Centre Cathédrale: modern, functional 4-star hotel in the historic centre. Hotel Édouard 7, Paris: comfortable 4-star hotel, five minutes on foot from the Opéra Garnier.


How strenuous?

This is a fair amount of walking as well as standing in the art galleries. You need to be able to lift your luggage on and off the train and wheel it at stations.

Are you fit enough to join the tour?


Group size

Between 10 and 22 participants.


Travel advice

Before booking, please refer to the FCDO website to ensure you are happy with the travel advice for the destination(s) you are visiting.

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