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Alfred Sisley – the French Landscape Painter

An hour away from hectic Paris is the magnificent and tranquil, medieval town of Moret-sur-Loing. Visit the town of the French landscape painter, Alfred Sisley and you will find a beautiful a place adorned with architecture dating back to the Middle Ages, complete with arches and town gates. Absolutely charming!

The Loing River - painted by the French landscape painter, Alfred Sisley
The Loing River – painted by the French landscape painter, Alfred Sisley Public Domain]

An Impressive Impressionism Past

Moret-sur-Loing’s claim to fame is that it has a rich artistic past. The town captivated Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro. Both artists visited this town, set up their easels by the banks of the river Seine and captured the scenery onto their canvases.

This town was also home to the impressionism painter Alfred Sisley. He lived here for nearly 20 years!

Sisley, the French landscape painter, could barely make a living from painting. Unable to pay the expensive rent in Paris, he needed to find cheaper accommodation away from the city. Alfred Sisley ended up in Moret, living a quiet and humble life with his wife and two children. He stayed in Moret until his death. His resting place is in the local Moret cemetery.

If you are a Sisley fan, you may recognize the sites from many of Alfred Sisley’s paintings. The church, the River Loing, the Moret bridge and the mills.

However, you don’t need to be a Alfred Sisley fan to fall in love with Moret-sur-Loing.

Moret Mills
Moret Mills
Moret Mill - Alfred Sisley Painting
Moret Mill – Alfred Sisley Painting [Public Domain]

Wander through the Picture Perfect Streets

Walk through the stunning streets of Moret. The architecture is beautiful and the streets are lined with boutique shops, ice cream parlours, cafes and creperies, cosy restaurants and small family-owned delicatessens. Purchase artisan cheeses, wines and awarding-winning croissants. Make sure you come to this town on an empty stomach!!

Moret - The town of the French landscape painter, Alfred Sisley
Stunning architecture in Moret – Loïc Ventre  Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In the Footsteps of Alfred Sisley

You cannot miss the grand Notre-Dame church, just off Grande Rue. This church was built between the12th and 15th centuries. The organ inside is one of the oldest in France and one of the three remaining from the renaissance period. Those who love Alfred Sisley may recognize this church from a few of his paintings.

Notre Dame Church in Moret-sur-Loing, French landscape painter, Alfred Sisley Painting
Notre Dame Church in Moret-sur-Loing, Alfred Sisley Painting [public domain]
Photo of  Notre Dame Church in Moret-sur-Loing
Notre Dame Church in Moret-sur-Loing CC-BY-SA-4.0

Another building worth visiting is the Town Hall on Samois square. This stunning building dates back to 1527.

If you continue walking along Grande Rue and pass underneath the stone tower at the end of the street, you will be on Sisley’s bridge. This is is the bridge that has been immortalised in many Alfred Sisley paintings.

Moret Bridge - famous landscapes
Moret Bridge – Alfred Sisley Painting [Public Domain]
Photo of Moret bridge
Moret Bridge

There are footpaths leading from both sides of the bridge, but take the path leading to the left. This path will lead you to the River Loing. The views of the River Loing from the bridges are stunning. Just stop, sigh and enjoy the moment!!!

It is no wonder that Alfred Sisley and other painters never tired of capturing these beautiful landscapes.

A Museum for those with a Sweet Tooth!

There is one museum in Moret and it is not an art museum but a barley sugar museum!! It is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday – and in the afternoons only. This museum is said to be the smallest museum in France. It sells the most delicious candies!

But hands down, the most beautiful part of this village is the river. Alfred Sisley knew this and never tired of setting up his easel on the banks of the Loing and capturing the changing light and seasons. Go for a walk along the river and enjoy the beauty and tranquilty…

Tranquil river views - French landscapes
Tranquil river views
Photo by C. K. McClelland  on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)
tranquil River Views - Alfred Sisley
Tranquil River Views – Alfred Sisley, French landscape painter [Public Domain]

Public Transport to Moret is Easy Peasy!

Moret is 79 kms south-west of Paris and is easy to reach by both car and public transport.

Take the train from Paris’s Gare de Lyon railroad station.  From the station, catch the train in the direction of the towns of Fontainebleau and Melun. Trains on this route run every half an hour. The train ride is around one hour and you descend at the station Moret-Veneux-les-Sablons station.

This station serves two towns. The station itself is in Veneux-les-Sablons. The walk into Moret is only 20 minutes. When exiting the station, walk to your right and you will reach Moret.

A Nice Side-Story – The Missing Sisley Paintings in Moret… True? Not sure!

Alfred Sisley’s paintings did not sell well during his lifetime. However, we now know that he sold many of his paintings to Moret-sur-Loing villagers at bargain prices in order to pay for rent and food. Today, these paintings would be worth millions.

This has led to a more interesting turn of events. According to this article from The Guardian, art historians believe that villagers in Moret may be hiding original Sisley paintings that their ancestors may have bought or bartered decades ago.

French landscape painter, Alfred Sisley - medieval town of Moret sur Loing
Moret-Sur-Loing lanscape – Alfred Sisley painting [Public Domain]

Why are they hiding these paintings?

The Moret heirs are afraid of the tax authorities….If they admit to an original Sisley in their possession, they may need to pay incredible amounts of inheritance tax?? It is thought that there may be over 500 original Sisley paintings missing and perhaps somewhere in Moret!!

So if you are staying in a local B&B is Moret, have a peak in their attic or basement. You may find a Sisley original!!!!!!

Bon Voyage

Paddling in the Loing river
Moret-sur-Loing / Photo by Formosa Wandering (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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