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L’Estaque & Its Rich Post-impressionism Past

North of Marseille, at the foot of the Nerthe mountains, is the quaint port of L’Estaque. On a beautiful sunny day, take the half hour boat ride to L’Estaque from the old harbour of Marseille. It is a beautiful boat-ride along the coast.

Travel Provence - l'Estaque beaches and coast
L’Estaque by Jeanne Menjoulet on Flickr(CC BY 2.0)

The streets of L’Estaque are quaint and the meandering allyways are especially enchanting compared to the busy streets of Marseille. 

L’Estaque – A Beautiful Port Town with a Rich Artistic past

L’Estaque has always been associated with the arts. Once the town was famous for the manufacture of artisan tiles. Later, artists discovered L’Estaque for its serenity and beauty. Some of them chose to make this enchanting port town their home during a period in their lifetimes.

Art historians have linked L’Estaque with the three art movements – impressionism, fauvism and cubism.

The most famous artist, who resided in this little village is Paul Cézanne. Cezanne came here for a while, hiding his mistress and illegitimate baby son from view of his wealthy and dominating father (who financially supported him)!

Cezanne - cubism style - l'Estaque coast
L’Estaque painting by Cezanne [Public Domain]

Georges Braque, another famous French artist and one of the founders of cubism, also resided in L’Estaque. He came to L’Estaque to learn from his esteemed mentor, Paul Cezanne. During his time in this picturesque coastal village he painted many famous landscapes of this area. These paintings show strong cubism elements, way before the establishment of the cubism art movement.

Georges Braque - cubism style painting of L'Estaque Viaduct
Georges Braque – cubism style painting of L’Estaque Viaduct

Other notable artists include Derain, Dufy, Marquet, Friesz, Macke, Renoir, Guigou and Monticelli, all leaving behind a wealth of beautiful and colorful canvases depicting the landscapes of L’Estaque.

Pierre Auguste Renoir paintings
L’Estaque – Renoir painting

L’Estaque Painter’s Walking Trail – ‘Chemin des Peintres’

In celebration of the artists who loved and lived in this area, there is a wonderful walking trail called the “Painters’ Trail” or in French ‘Chemin des Peintres’.

This trails follows the footsteps of the artists Renoir, Cézanne, Dufy and Braque around the port and the old town.

The trail takes around two hours of easy walking. Just put on your walking shoes, take bottles of water and make sure you have your camera ready for snapping!

travel French Riviera - L'Estaque coast
Rocky Coast of L’Estaque

The ‘Chemin des Peintres’ will lead you into the old parts of L’Estaque and then out along the jetty, with views of of the hillside. Along the trail, you will see panels of paintings, showing you the view of L’Estaque from the painter’s eyes. For a map of the trail, press here.

L’Estaque is no longer the tranquil port village of the 19th century but it is still such a lovely place to visit when you are in this part of France. L’Estaque also offers some beautiful beaches for those very hot days.

Bon Voyage!

L’Estaque Photo by ignis (CC BY-SA 3.0)

For more French Riviera Travel Tips in the footsteps of the Impressionists, check out the articles below