Impressionist Art Tours in Paris

July 15, 2013 by

Art & Museums, City Tours & Sightseeing, Europe, Places to Go

For Impressionism aficionados, there’s no better city on the planet to visit than Paris. From the Musée d’Orsay to the Musée de l’Orangerie, from the banks of the Seine to the Gare St Lazare, Impressionism is dotted across the city and its surrounding villages in one way or another. The movement was born here in 1874, when  a group of artists including Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Camille Pissarro, just to name a few, held their own exhibition after being denied entry to Paris’ traditional art shows.

Today, of course, Impressionist art is much loved and you can see famous paintings in museums all over the world, but Paris is truly the epicenter, and there are a few great ways to get your Impressionism fix.

House of Claude Monet

House of Claude Monet

The most devoted Monet fans don’t want to miss the Impressionist Art Tour: Musée de l’Orangerie, Monet’s Gardens and Giverny. With an art-expert guide, you’ll visit Musée de l’Orangerie in the Jardin des Tuileries to see Monet’s greatest masterpieces, his eight wall-length panels of Water Lilies, plus Impressionist works by artists like Renoir and Alfred Sisley. Then hop on a coach and head to the village of Giverny, where Monet lived for the last 43 years of his life. Wander around his impressive garden, admire the real-life water lilies pond and tour the inside of his house.

Renoir paintings at the Musée de l’Orangerie

Renoir paintings at the Musée de l’Orangerie

On the Impressionist Art Tour: Giverny, Chatou and Musée de l’Orangerie with Seine River Cruise, you can see the same sights as above, plus up the Impressionism factor with an additional visit to Chatou, a Seine-side village where Impressionist painters used to gather. This was the scene of one of Renoir’s most famous pieces, the Luncheon of the Boating Party. The tour ends back in Paris with a Seine River cruise; glide down the river, gazing at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed riverbanks that so inspired the Impressionists.

Seine River Cruise

Seine River Cruise

If you want to see as many Impressionist paintings as possible under one roof, then you want the Impressionist Art Tour: Musée d’Orsay and Barbizon Village. Paris’ Musée d’Orsay houses the world’s largest collection of Impressionist art in a former Beaux-Arts train station. Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet – they’re all here, plus Post-Impressionist masters like Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh. After the museum tour, you’ll head south to the quintessential French village of Barbizon, which lends its name to the Barbizon school of painters, an art movement that was active just before Impressionism began. Monet, Renoir and Sisley painted in Barbizon before they gathered in Paris and started their own movement. Free time here allows you to wander on your own, visiting the village’s art museums and galleries.

The Pont Neuf

The Pont Neuf

Lastly, for those looking for just a snippet of Impressionism history in Paris, skip the full-day tours and enjoy a one-hour Impressionism-themed cruise on the Seine instead. On the Impressionist Art Tour: Seine River Cruise and Commentary, you’ll float up and down the river, passing Paris’ major attractions like Notre Dame and the Pont Neuf, which have Impressionism connections you’ll hear about from the onboard guide.

-Leah Still

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