The Alluring Village that Inspired Many Famous Claude Monet Landscapes

Bougival is a lovely village that inspired many Claude Monet landscapes. The village is located only 17 kms west of Paris. It is situated in the Drionne valley between the hills of Louveciennes and Jonchère.

Art historians call this village one of “the Cradles of Impressionism” as many impressionists, including Claude Monet, immortalized this lovely village onto their canvases.

Claude Monet Famous Paintings - The Seine River at Bougival
Claude Monet landscape – The Seine River at Bougival

Bougival & The Impressionists

In the 19th century, many impressionists chose to leave the hectic Parisian capital. Some made their way to the pretty and nearby Bougival. This village was easy to get to and provided the painters with more than enough inspiration.

Bougival, during the Belle Epoque was a happening place. The picturesque village offered beautiful walks along the banks of the river, boating regattas on the Seine and plenty of dining and accommodation options. The Parisians flocked here and the artists followed.

The Seine at Bougival - Pierre-Auguste Renoir Painting
The Seine at Bougival – Pierre-Auguste Renoir Painting

The artists who first fell under the charms of Bougival were Turner and Corot. The impressionists Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Berthe Morisot also arrived in Bougival. Some stayed for short periods, and others like Monet and Morisot rented homes here.

They all fell for the beauty of the river and set up their easels outdoors and painted (known as plein-air painting). The impressionists captured the natural light and the beautiful scenery in and around Bougival. In particular, it was the Seine river and the green, lush banks of Bougival that captured their attention and filled their canvases.

But not only were the painters drawn to Bougival. Scholars, composers and celebrities of the 19th century also spent time in this charming village.

Claude Monet Landscapes of Bougival

In 1869, Monet moved to the district of Saint-Michel in Bougival together with his wife Camille Doncieux and their son Jean. They lived here until the the Franco-Prussian war broke out in 1870. The Monet family decided to flee Bougival and left France entirely. They lived in London until the war ended.

During Monet’s stay in Bougival, he set up his easel outdoors and painted the gorgeous landscapes surrounding him.

“The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration” Claude Monet Quotes

The Bridge at Bougival - Claude Monet Landscape
The Bridge at Bougival – Claude Monet Landscapes

Walk the Impressionism Trail in Bougival

Today, Bougival still has its charm of a small town in the Île-de-France. Most of the shops, artisan workshops, cafes and restaurants are located on a street facing the Seine. The river banks have been preserved and it is easy to imagine how these views inspired the impressionists.

From Bougival to Argenteuil, the Seine River offers beautiful landscapes along its banks. These are the exact same views that attracted the Impressionists during the 19th century. Today there is a fantastic walk with twelve panels showing reproductions of some of the famous Impressionism paintings of Bougival.

These panels are standing at the exact spot where the impressionists set up their easels and painted. Some of these places have not changed much and you will see the scenery as though through the eyes of the artist. This is a wonderful walk, especially if you are a fan of the impressionists!

To download a map of the Bougival impressionism walking trail, press here.

The Impressionism Walking Trail in Bougival
The Impressionism Walking Trail in Bougival / Photo by OTMarly (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Boats at Bougival - Alfred Sisley Painting
Boats at Bougival – Alfred Sisley Painting

Check out Berthe Morisot’s House in Bougival

The impressionist, Berthe Morisot, lived in Bougival, at 4 rue de la Princesse. She rented this house and spent her summer months here between 1881 and 1884. In 1982, Morisot spent nearly an entire year here with her husband Eugene Manet and her daughter Julie.

From her paintings, we know that this house had a very large and beautiful garden. Famous paintings from her time in Bougival are:

  • The Fable (1883 )
  • Julie and Eugene Manet (1883)
  • Red haired girl sitting on a veranda (1884)
  • The Garden at Bougival (1884)
  • Roses Trémières (Hollyhocks)

Today Morisot’s house is used as a Medical Practice.

The Garden in Bougival - Berthe Morisot Paintings
The Garden in Bougival – Berthe Morisot Painting

How to get to Bougival

Bougival is  easy to reach by train from Paris. SNCF trains leave every half an hour from Saint Lazare Station, in the 8th Arrondissement of Paris. When you arrive at Bougival, it is a 5 km walk to reach the river but there are plenty of wonderful things to see on the way. If you have access to a bicycle, it is a great option to take it with you on the train!

En route to the river, wonder through the old and picturesque neighbourhood of Saint Michel. This is where Claude Monet lived with his wife Camille and their son Jean.

Further on, you will reach the majestic 12th-century Notre-Dame Church . Go inside but also walk around the church. It is very beautiful!

Continue to walk in the direction of the river. En route, stop by the building that was once the house of Berthe Morisot.

Press here for a map showing the location of Saint Michel, Notre Dame Church and Morisot’s home.

For more information about Bougival, check out the tourist information website

The Seine at Bougival - Berthe Morisot Painting
The Seine at Bougival – Berthe Morisot Painting

For more articles about the Impressionism Painter, Claude Monet, & the places he loved, check out the links below