Do you love the Impressionists? Are you visiting France? – Normandie is where it all happened!!

One cannot separate the history of Impressionism and Normandie in France. It was here in Normandie, where it all began.

The beautiful north-western part of France, Normandie, has always been a magnet to many French artists. Firstly, Normandie is easily accessible and close to the art hub of Paris. Secondly, the beautiful landscapes of Normandie attracted the impressionists, and some even stayed.

The impressionists created an artistic heritage in Normandie which is virtually unparalleled elsewhere.

Medieval Honfleur – France, Normandie

In Normandie, the Impressionist painters preferred to paint outdoors (known as plein-air painting). They captured the natural light, and concentrated on landscapes, towns and scenes of daily life.

Claude Monet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Honfleur artist Eugène Boudin was in fact the predecessor of Impressionism. Boudin had a huge influence on Claude Monet

If I am a painter, I owe it to Eugène Boudin”  –

Claude Monet Quotes

We spent five magnificent days in Normandie and based ourselves in Bayeaux and Honfleur. Both towns are full of French historical charm. By staying in both places, we were able to travel through different parts of Normandie with ease. There are plenty of historical and cultural sites scattered all across the region.

Honfleur – The birthplace of Impressionism

Honfleur is of particular relevance to Impressionism as it is the home of Eugene Boudin. Press here to understand the incredible significance of this medieval port town on impressionism…. it is fascinating!

Later on, the founder of pointillism and celebrated neo-impressionist, Georges Seurat, would also spend a summer in Honfleur and paint some beautiful seascapes. After visiting, you will understand why Honfleur attracted so many painters.

Majestic Etretat Cliffs

One of the places I recommend you visit are the Etretat cliffs and beach, which was a place that inspired many of Monet’s famous landscapes. This beach is gorgeous. 

Etretat Cliffs on the coast of Normandy and the subject of many of Monet's paintings
Etretat Cliffs on the coast of Normandie, France
Etretat - Monet painting
Etretat – Claude Monet [Public domain], France, Normandie

Le Havre

Le Havre city is proud of their famous “son” Raoul Dufy who was born here in 1877. In celebration of their world famous “son”, the Museum of Modern Art André-Malraux in Le Havre, (also known as MUMA), showcases a wonderful Raoul Dufy collection. The Dufy paintings are of his famous landscapes covering all periods of his artistic career.

The MUMA museum showcases paintings from his first canvases painted in Normandie under the influence of the Impressionists. Also exhibited are Dufy’s later landscapes and seascapes which show the influence of fauvism art on Dufy’s style. These later paintings are full of bright & bold colors and painted with a rough & untamed brushwork .

Even though Dufy spent many years in the South of France, he often continued to paint the scenes of his beloved home town and the Normandie region.

This spectacular museum has one of the largest collections of the French impressionist works. It’s an impressionist-lover’s dream come true!!

Press here for a suggested organized tour to the Modern Art Museum in Le Havre from Paris.

Giverny – Monet’s House & Gardens

And of course, a holiday to France’s Normandie would be incomplete without a visit to Claude Monet’s beautiful house and garden in Giverny.

The Monet gardens are breathtakingly gorgeous. You feel like you are walking inside a Monet painting.

Giverny is a great day trip if you are in Paris. You can get there easily by train or go on an organized tour. If you are interested in an organized tour to Giverny, press here for some great options.

Monet's garden and famous pont in Giverny - the Japanese bridge
Monet’s garden and famous pond in Giverny – the Japanese bridge
The Japanese Bridge, Giverny
Claude Monet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Other beautiful gems worth visiting during your trip to Normandie are Trouville – Deauville, Bayeux and Mont Saint Michel. In particlar, Trouville – Deauville, has a rich impressionism past.

Press this link for some great day trips to Normandie from Paris.

If you are traveling to France, Normandie is a MUST! Enjoy!!

Deauville Normandy
Deauville town

The Majestic Dieppe Coast & Port Town

Dieppe in Normandie is known as the birthplace of seaside swimming in France. As soon as the train route from Paris to Dieppe was completed in 1848, Dieppe beach and the surrounding area became the fashionable place to visit by the French aristocracy.

The impressionism painters quickly followed. These painters fell in love with the white chalk cliffs and the small fishing towns on the Alabaster Coast. Dieppe beach, it’s port & the old town are subjects of many paintings of impressionism artists, including Gauguin, Pissarro, Boudin, Gonzales, Renoir, Monet, Albert Lebourg and others. Press here to read about Dieppe & what there is to see & do.

Dieppe Port painted by Paul Gauguin [Public Domain]
Dieppe Port painted by Paul Gauguin [Public Domain]

Photo of Dieppe Port
Dieppe Port photo by Pierre-Julien Grizel
(CC BY-NC 2.0)

Rouen In the Footsteps of the Impressionists

If you are a lover of impressionism, then Rouen MUST be on your itinerary when visiting France, and in particular Normandie. This town inspired many of the impressionists including Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley.

There is plenty to see and do in Rouen. It offers a magnificent Gothic cathedral, a beautiful restored medieval town, old historical churches, excellent museums, plenty of shops, restaurants, cafes and an exciting nightlife. And of course, you have the lovely Seine river crossing through the city, offering a peaceful and beautiful place to sit and relax or take a cruise! Click here for details about beautiful Rouen.

Rouen Notre Dame Cathedral
Rouen Notre Dame Cathedral

The Impressionists’ Trail & Varengeville-sur-Mer

Situated on the majestic Alabaster coast of Normandy is a small hamlet called Varengeville-sur-Mer. So small, it could easily be missed!… But the giant artists of the 19th century did not overlook this beautiful town. The gorgeous scenery of Varengeville-sur-Mer has been painted on canvases by Renoir, Monet, Pissarro and others.  It is a must place to visit when traveling in Normandy.

Eglise St Valéry church - Varengeville
Eglise St Valéry church – Varengeville
Photo by Pierre Lesage (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Festival Normandie Impressionniste – Save the Date!

Since 2010, the Normandy region hosts an incredible 5 month festival called “Festival Normandie Impressionniste“. The Normandy Impressionism Festival celebrates the close connection of the 19th century impressionism art movement to the Normandy region. 

It comprises of many different kinds of events including:

  • special exhibitions of the famous impressionism painters in various art museums scatter across the region
  • exhibitions of contemporary artists inspired by the impressionists
  • concerts
  • lectures
  • sound & light shows and so much more!

This festival happens every three years and the next impressionism festival scheduled is between the dates April 3 to September 6, 2020. This festival is a major event, attracting over a million visitors. It is one of the largest festivals of its kind in all of France.

If you are planning a trip to France between April and September in 2020 you are IN LUCK! Add Normandy to your itinerary!

Normandy Tourism for a Road Trip.
Tips & Trips of Where to Go & What to See!

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