Posts Tagged 'Normandy'

Follow the Impressionist Painters Along the Normandy Coast

Like a beret perched askew on a Frenchman’s head, the 360-mile Normand coast curls along the north and northwest of France. After visiting Rouen, I headed for the coast to soak in the beaches and soft-green landscapes bathed in shifting light.

Cliffs of Etretat. Painted by Monet.

Etretat

I count on doing a large canvas of the cliffs of Etretat, although it is certainly bold of me to do that after Courbet who did it admirably, but I will try to do it differently …” Claude Monet, January 1883

For several years Monet visited the seaside resort of Etretat to paint the white cliffs, beach and fishing boats.

You can stand in the exact location along the beach where Monet painted the rock arch and needle sculptures jutting into the sea. He painted in all light and weather conditions.

After an exhilarating, windy walk along the green hillsides above the precipitous cliffs for views of vast sky, sea, and beach.

Honfleur

The port of Honfleur attracted painters, including Turner, Boudin, Corot, Courbet, Pissaro, Braque, Seurat, and Bonnard

The port of Honfleur attracted many English, Romantic and Impressionist painters, including Turner, Boudin, Corot, Courbet, Pissaro, Braque, Seurat, and Bonnard, who were captivated by the light of the bay, the old streets, the lighthouse and Sainte-Catherine church. Monet visited Honfleur many times and painted numerous canvasses here including the bell-tower, Le clocher Sainte Catherine. Take time to absorb the fine workmanship of the interior as well as the exterior of the half-timbered Sainte Catherine, the oldest wooden church in France.

In the center of the old town a long dock with colorful yachts punctuates the picturesque harbor built in the 17th century. Across the water half-timbered and slate-fronthomes and a parade of open-air cafes and restaurants vie for your attention.

Unlike Le Havre, which was almost entirely bombed during World War II, Honfleur escaped the destruction and the streets and locations painted by the 19th-century artists have been well preserved.

Helpful Websites:

www.normandie-tourism.fr

www.seine-maritime-tourism.fr

www.calvados-tourism.com

www.manchetourism.com

Outstanding Restaurants  Rouen: www.lacouronne.com.fr/and www.le-sixiemesens.fr Etretat : www.allchateaux.com/hotelledonjon.html  In the Pays D’Auge: www.auberge-des-deux-tonneaux.abcsalles.com

France. Follow the Impressionists in Normandy. 1.

Rouen. The Street of the Large Clock leading to the Gothic Cathedral Monet painted from 20 views

Who’s a Francophile? Someone who appreciates French history, culture, fashion, art and cuisine, and that describes me.  Ever since I lived in Paris for four years when I was in my 20’s, I jump at every opportunity to return.

Last month  I jumped at a chance to return to Normandy to follow in the footsteps of the Impressionist Painters. I criss-crossed the countryside from Giverny to the cobble-stoned streets of Rouen, across a patchwork quilt of emerald jewel fields and lush valleys dotted with lambs and cows,  to storybook seaside resorts with chocolate shops, toy stores, fresh fish and flower markets, pastries and sidewalk cafes.

TIP: Pack your umbrella, sunhat, sunscreen and a windbreaker.

Regardless of the season, I knew that we could count on the whimsical weather of fleeting clouds, peek-a-boo sun, and moody mist as our companion.

Rouen

The art history journey began in Rouen, the capital of upper Normandy; one hour and ten minutes by train from Paris.  Filling street after colorfully-restored street are two-stored half-timbered homes. Antique shops, cafes and restaurants fill the first floors and red geranium-choked flowerboxes decorate the upper floor windows.

I meandered down narrow cobbled-stoned streets admiring some of the 800 restored homes dating from the 14th to the 18th century.

The pedestrian street of the Great Clock (rue de Gos Horloge) is the busy shopping area, home to tempting pastry shops and fancy stores. We meandered through this historic part of town, built in the 16th century, then relaxed in a pew at the 13th-century Gothic cathedral (painted by Monet) and watched twinkling red and blue light filter through the stain glass windows. On a more somber note, no visitor to Rouen misses the historic square where Jeanne d’Arc was burned at the stake.

Claude Monet said “Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.”

When Monet painted the façade of Rouen cathedral, he worked on up to 14 different canvasses at one time, capturing the ever-changing light and color.

He painted at various times of day and the year and in different weather conditions as he tracked the passage of time, color and light on the cathedral façade. Monet painted – from a window in the second story of a women’s underwear shop – today it houses the office of tourism where we stood to take in his view.

In  July and August “Impressionists Nights,”  a light show, is projected on the cathedral façade and the Beaux-Arts Museum portraying the life and work of Monet, Pissaro and Gauguin in Rouen.

Red Carpet rolled out for guests at Rouen's 5-star hotel in a 16th century Renaissance Manor

You can go for a day or rent a car and visit all the Normandy sites in four days or more.

The tourism websites are: www.normandie-tourism.fr , www.seine-maritime-tourism.fr,

Where to stay.  Rouen:  A 5-star hotel in a 16th century Renaissance Manor. www.hotelsparouen.com

Outstanding Restaurants  Rouen: www.lacouronne.com.fr/ and www.le-sixiemesens.fr

Air France has daily flights from major US cities.


About Marybeth Bond

Marybeth Bond is the nation’s preeminent expert on women travel. She is the award-winning
author-editor of 11 books.

Marybeth has hiked, cycled, climbed, dived and kayaked her way through more than seventy countries around the world.

She was a featured guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Marybeth has appeared on CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, National Public Radio and National Geographic Weekend.