Lives & Landscapes of the Impressionists
- Lose yourself in the beauty of Monet’s magnificent gardens at Giverny
- Trace the final days of Vincent Van Gogh in the village of Auvers-sur-Oise
- Discover the site of Renoir’s studio along with cafés beloved by renowned artists in Montmartre
This new groundbreaking tour will tell us all we need to know (and more!) about the most revolutionary painters in the history of art: the French Impressionists. Ranging from the actual landscapes they painted in Normandy and the Seine valley, to visits to the Parisian galleries where their immortal works are shown; to the restaurants where they ate and the cafés where they drank, and informed by talks delivered by top TV art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon, this tour will make you an expert on the best-loved artists in history.
Derided at fi rst for their loose ‘impressionistic’ use of colour and their realistic scenes of everyday life and ordinary people, artists like Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Pissarro and Berthe Morisot, with their post-impressionist successors Cezanne and Van Gogh, utterly transformed classical western art and set the scene for the artistic upheavals of the 20th century.
We meet early in London to travel to the south coast near Newhaven in Sussex, where our guest celebrity speaker, Andrew Graham-Dixon, will deliver an introductory talk. We then board our Club Class ferry to Dieppe, enjoying a buffet lunch on board. On our arrival in Normandy we drive west along the coast and make our first sketching stop at Etretat, the chalk coastline immortalised by Claude Monet, who painted its dramatic arches and needles. We continue to our hotel in the tiny charming port of Honfleur, an ancient town much favoured by the Impressionists, who were encouraged to abandon their studios for the great outdoors by Eugene Bodin, an artist native of Honfleur.
After exploring Honfleur we turn inland and, following the River Seine, arrive in the great city of Rouen, the capital of Normandy. We visit and can sketch the city’s cathedral, painted by Monet almost thirty times in all weathers and at all times of day. Camille Pissarro was another artist fascinated by Rouen’s teeming street life, and Paul Gauguin also worked here. We see their pictures in the city’s Musee des Beaux Arts. The afternoon is free to explore Rouen, the city where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, immortalised in paint by the Impressionists, and in print by their contemporaries, the Normandy writers Gustave Flaubert and Guy de Maupassant.
Today is devoted to our visit to Giverny, the home and gardens of the Impressionist leader Claude Monet. We visit the house where Monet, his wife, and eight children lived, and the churchyard where he is buried. But the glory of the visit is the Clos Normand flower garden, and the Japanese water garden with its bridges, weeping willows and lilies, so obsessively painted by this most perfectionist of all artists. We break our visit with lunch at the Ancien Hotel Baudy in the village, which is festooned with paintings and had two artists’ studios in the grounds. We conclude our Giverny visit by viewing the village’s modern Museum of Impressionism.
We say Au revoir to Rouen and drive a short distance to the village of Auvers-sur-Oise where Vincent Van Gogh spent his final months in July 1890, painting the village church, portraits of his physician, Dr Gachet, and the ominous wheat fields with crows depicted in his last pictures. We visit the site of his lodgings where he died from a gunshot wound, and the Chateau d’Auvers, which has a permanent exhibition on Impressionism, before paying our respects at the graves of Vincent and his devoted brother Theo Van Gogh. We then enter Paris, picking up a riverboat on the River Seine to get our bearings by water.
On the morning of our first day in Paris we take a walk through the artists’ quarter of Montmartre where many of the Impressionists lived and worked as young men. We visit the sites of the studios of Renoir, Degas and Monet, as well as their favourite cafes such as the Moulin de la Galette, painted by Renoir; the Musee de Montmartre located in Renoir’s former house; and the legendary Lapin Agile artists’ cafe. After lunch, we visit the incomparable collection of Impressionist art in the Musee d’Orsay.
In the morning we tour the Orangerie, a smaller and quieter annexe of the Louvre, and a treasure house of Impressionist Art. For those who wish, the afternoon is free to explore non-Impressionist sites in Paris but for hard-core Monet addicts, we visit the little-known Musee Marmottan, which houses 100 of the Master’s works. In the evening we return to our hotel for dinner and a concluding lecture by Andrew Graham-Dixon.
We check out of our hotel early in the morning to begin the long return to London.
- Tour Manager & Guide Lecturer
- Meals - Most meals included
- Transport - Return ferry crossing and all local travel
- Hand-picked hotels throughout the tour
Expansion & Empires
The early Modern era is one of expanding empires and emerging identities. This new progressive age took cues from the Renaissance that preceded it - embracing individualism, secularism, and democracy. Change came at an unprecedented speed, reshaping Europe and all of the Empires it had acquired abroad. Join us as we explore the changes and transitions that helped the world move towards the modern life that we live today.