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Essoyes, Champagne & the Summer House of Renoir

In June 2017, the summer House of Renoir in Essoyes, opened its doors to the public. The house, now completely renovated, aims to give the the visitor a glimpse into the rural and intimate life of Pierre-Auguste Renoir & his family in the beginning of the 20th century.

Many of Renoir’s most famous landscapes and paintings of his family were painted here in Essoyes. 

A photo of Pierre Auguste Renoir painting
A photo of Pierre Auguste Renoir painting

Essoyes a small village that captivated Renoir 

Essoyes is a small village with around 700 inhabitants. It has a rich impressionism past connected with the world famous artist Pierre Auguste Renoir. The lovely Ource River flows through this village. Renoir described the river as resembling molten silver.

Today Renoir fans flock to this quiet village to see the sites where Renoir lived and loved to paint. 

Visit Essoyes to see the landmarks where Renoir lived & loved to paint
Visit Essoyes to see the landmarks where Renoir lived & loved to paint

What to do and see in Essoyes 

Today when visiting the charming rustic village of Essoyes, only 120 miles southeast of Paris, you can follow Renoir’s footsteps by visiting the following places:

  • The Summer house of Renoir
  • Renoir painting studio
  • The Renoir Space (also the Essoyes Tourist Information Center)
  • Walk the Renoir Trails; and
  • Visit his grave in the local cemetery
Renoir's grave in the Essoyes cemetery
Renoir’s grave in the Essoyes cemetery

To visit the Renoir Espace, house and painting studio, you need to buy an entry ticket that covers all three sites. Tickets can only be purchased at Espace des Renoir at Place de la Mairie in Essoyes.

The Renoir Espace

The Renoir Space (center) is housed inside the former stables of the Heriot Castle. Here you can see a 15-minute film about Pierre-Auguste Renoir and see changing exhibitions about the life and work of the impressionism artist.

The Essoyes tourist information is also located here. So it is a good place to start your visit!

The Summer House of Renoir

Renoir bought a house in Essoyes in 1896, six years after marrying his model and mistress Aline Charigot. Aline was born in this rustic village, which was nestled amongst the champagne vineyards. She loved her hometown and convinced Renoir to buy a home here. Renoir felt reluctant to leave the busy Parisian capital but quickly fell in love with the pretty rural village and it’s picturesque surroundings 

Springtime in Essoyes - Renoir landscape
Springtime in Essoyes – Renoir landscape [Public Domain]

The Essoyes Summer House is used by the Renoir Family until 2012

Years later, the Renoir family moved to Cagnes-sur-Mer in the French Riviera but continued to spend their summers in Essoyes. Renoir, his wife and their three children are all buried in the local cemetery of Essoyes. However, the Renoir descendants continued to spend time in this house until 2012.

Renoir purchased this two-story modest house during a time when he was not yet an acknowledged and famous artist. His means were modest. Renoir only started getting serious recognition for his paintings when he was sixty, in the early 1900s. Until then, he lived a very humble life with his family.

A painting fo the Gardens & House of Renoir in Essoyes
La Maison d’Essoyes (1906) – Renoir Painting – A View of the House
Renoir's house in Essoyes, now a museum
Renoir’s family house (Maison de Renoir) in Essoyes

The Essoyes Municipality Purchases Renoir House 

Sophie Renoir,the great-granddaughter, sold the Renoir summer house to the Essoyes village council in 2012. The council then spent over one million Euros in major renovations in order to convert the Renoir home into a museum.

The design of the inside of the house, gardens and studio were guided by Renoir’s paintings. The aim was to restore it to how it looked when Renoir and his family lived there.

An audio tour of the house in available in six languages, including English, providing additional information.

Renoir’s Painting Studio (Atelier Renoir)

At the bottom of the garden, Renoir built his own painting studio in 1906 so as not to not to disturb his children and to have a workspace to himself . Renoir painted many of his most iconic canvases here!

The ground floor of the studio gives you a glimpse into his workplace. In the center of the room, is Renoir’s wheelchair. Because of severe rheumatism, Renoir was unable to walk in his later years.

His arms and hands were also effected but Renoir never gave up his art. In fact, Renoir created many of his most beautiful paintings & sculptures in his later years, despite his severe rheumatism and physical disability. 

Renoir's painting studio, Essoyes, France
Renoir’s painting studio, Essoyes, France

The Renoir Walking Trail

After visiting Renoir’s house and painting studio, there are four different walking trails that you can explore in the footsteps of Renoir.

On these fabulous walking trails, you will find yourself standing in the exact places where Renoir set up his easel and painted en-plain air.

Dotted along the way are reproductions of those Renoir paintings of the exact scenery where you are standing. Many of these views have changed very little since Renoir’s time…

The Church at Essoyes - Renoir landscape painting
The Church at Essoyes – Renoir painting [Public Domain]
The church in Essoyes painted by Renoir several times
The church painted several times by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

All the walking trails begin at the Renoir Espace and take you through the village and the beautiful surrounding areas. On these walks you will be able to enjoy the same landscapes that inspired Renoir.

The Ource river in Essoyes / Photo by Over Doz (CC BY-NC 2.0)

“I like paintings that make me want to walk inside them.”

Quote Renoir –

And indeed, by taking one of the Renoir walking trails, you will be walking into Renoir’s landscapes.

The Four Renoir Walking Trails:

  • The first trail named after his painting “Path Leading Through Tall Grass” is 3 km in length.
  • The second trail entitled: “Aline Charigot” is 6 kms long and takes you through the nearby forest. 
  • The third trail called “Pierre-Auguste Renoir” is 12 kms in length. Press here for a map and details of the walk
  • The forth trail named “Gabrielle Renard” is the longest, 14 kms long. 

Press here for a map of the “Pierre Auguste Renoir two hour walking trail.

Essoyes Landscape Washerwoman and Bathers - Renoir painting
Essoyes – Renoir landscape painting [Public Domain]

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For more articles about Renoir’s life, where to see his artworks and how to travel in his footsteps, see below