On the painter's trail in Ile-de-France
Ile-de-France and Paris, a lush and stunning landscape of light and vivid colors, have inspired many painters. Perhaps the best known artists who used the region as their muse are the Impressionists. Explore the towns along the banks of the Seine that gave rise to the works of Renoir, Monet, Pissarro and Sisley, among others.
In Chatou, the Maison Fournaise was a favorite get-away for Auguste Renoir. It is at the Restaurant Fournaise where he painted his famous Le Dejeuner des Canotiers. Several years later in Chatou, the artists Derain and Vlaminck developed a style of painting with bright colors that would herald the Fauvist movement. Toward Barbizon, Millet's house-studio holds the memory of that period, and the walls of Auberge du Père-Ganne, where Rousseau, Millet and Corot (known as the Barbizon Group) often stayed, are adorned with their works.
Just 18 miles from Paris is the village of Auvers-sur-Oise, where Daubigny's authentic studio, holding works from himself and his contemporaries Corot, Daumier and Oudinot, still stands. It is also here that Van Gogh resided in the latter days of his life and ultimately died, at the Auberge Ravoux. In Saint-Germain-en-Laye, one can view collections from the Nabi artists (The Nabis were a group of young Post-Impressionist avant-garde Parisian artists, of whom the most famous is Paul Sérusier, who made their mark on graphic arts in the 1890s) at the Musée Départemental Maurice Denis " Le Prieuré " (visit www.pidf.com for information in English). Then there's Villiers-le-Bâcle, a village that will forever be linked with the painter Foujita. A student of the Ecole de Paris, Foujita lived and worked in the little village starting in 1961. His intimate studio has remained as intact and true to form as possible.
Due to its proximity to Paris and its idyllic landscapes, the town of Louveciennes was one place where Impressionist painters managed to live and work while developing their craft. It served as a backdrop for many of Sisley's and Pissarro's paintings, such as the aqueduct from Sisley's l'Aqueduc de Marly.
The painter's circuit naturally leads its followers to the capital, Paris. Eugène Delacroix chose to spend his last days in the quarter of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, near the great Saint-Sulpice church where his work is boldly displayed. Many artists preferred to settle down in Montmartre. Gustave Moreau's studio, the Bateau Lavoir and the Lapin Agile, made famous by Picasso's stay there, can be found in this high-energy Parisian neighborhood.