The port of Le Havre is a typical visitor starting point, so let's begin here, in the bustling city that so fascinated Boudin, Pissarro and their contemporaries. Boudin, generally regarded as a pre-Impressionist painter, made Le Havre's semaphore the subject of a painting - 'Coup de vent devant Frascati, Le Havre' - while Pissarro painted 20 views of the harbour during his stay at the Hotel Continental, opposite the main quay.
A stone's throw from here, you can't miss the André Malraux Museum of Modern Art (MUMA) with its glass and concrete façade. In this bright gallery is the second largest collection of Impressionist works in France after Paris. The museum is a festival of colour for the eyes, with works by Boudin, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Degas and Sisley to name but a few, who paved the way for other artists like Dufy, Friesz and Braque. Don't miss the museum's café, which offers a splendid view of the beach, the sea and the promenade. The promenade is sometimes referred to as Le Nice Havrais, a sort of Promenade des Anglais of northern France, and continues along the beach to the nearby town of Sainte-Adresse, where Monet painted 'Terrasse à Sainte-Adresse'.
There's always been something special about the sky over Honfleur. Boudin sensed this when he captured the changing moods of the sky, known as the 'King of Skies'. Admire his work at the Eugène Boudin Museum, to which he donated over 100 paintings. For 15 years, he and his friends would meet at the Ferme Saint-Siméon, an inn run by Mère Toutain. Today the establishment is a luxurious five-star restaurant and hotel, where you can enjoy a drink while imagining the lively debates on art that took place there. Honfleur is the ideal place for a stroll around the historic port (the Vieux Bassin) to the Sainte-Catherine Church and its bell tower separated by two naves. A real picture postcard.
Trouville-sur-Mer and Deauville
If you want to experience Normandy's seaside resorts as Courbet, Boudin and Caillebotte did, head to Trouville-sur-Mer or Deauville, where it's easy to imagine 19th-century women in their crinolines and men in their Sunday best. Continue your art walk to Deauville's new cultural centre, Les Franciscaines, or stroll along the seafront and admire the impressive Belle-Epoque villas, palaces and picturesque beach huts of these seaside resorts.
It's only in Normandy and Paris that you can admire such a collection of Impressionist paintings and experience the emotions that inspired these artists.
The Impressionists loved nature and modernity, and set up their 19th-century easels in the forests and gardens, along the Seine and the Oise, on the Normandy coast, and in the vibrant modern districts of Paris.
These largely unspoilt environments still carry the traces of the greatest artists and their followers: Monet, Renoir, Degas, Manet, Morisot, Pissarro, Boudin, Caillebotte, Sisley, Van Gogh...
Impressionist Adventures offers you an infinite number of routes to explore - it's up to you to invent your own journey!