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Paris, Monet, and the Impressionist Art
Claude Monet is one of the most famous painters in the history of art and a leading figure in the Impressionist movement, whose works can be seen in the most prestigious museums around the world.
Monet was Parisian! He was born in 1840 at 45 rue Lafitte (Paris 9), a street that later would become an art gallery street for decades.
It was only when he was five that Monet moved to Le Havre (Normandy) with his family. In Normandy, Monet met Eugene Boudin, a local landscape artist who introduced him to painting outdoors. Plein air painting would later become the cornerstone of Claude Monet’s artwork.
In 1859 the painter moved back to Paris to pursue his art career. In Paris, he met other young painters who would become friends and later fellow Impressionists. Monet was very active in the French capital, especially when the impressionist movement started.
In this article, we are going to follow Monet’s steps, visiting the best places to see Monet paintings in Paris and the most significant addresses related to his life and artwork in Paris and beyond.
Where to Find Monet in Paris
If you like Claude Monet and his Impressionist Art, here’s the list of the main places related to Monet for your next trip to Paris. It is essential to visit some of these places to understand the Master better, seize the origin of his inspiration, and imagine him still alive with us.
Nadar’s Photography Studio
Nadar (1820-1910) was a famous French photographer of the 20th century. His portraits are held by some of the best national collections of photography.
Nadar was a friend of Monet, and around 1873 he hosted the painter in his photography studio at 35 Boulevard des Capucines (Paris 2). From there, Monet painted the famous canvas ‘Boulevard des Capucines’ (1873).
Nadar’s photography studio was also the place where the first impressionist exhibition was held in 1874. In this event, Monet exhibited his famous work ‘Impression, Sunrise’ that marked the beginning of Impressionist art and gave the group its lasting name.
Today, the building is transformed into a clothes shop, but its singular architecture and facade are still worth a shortstop if you are around. Outside, there is an information panel about the history of the building.
Gare Saint Lazare
During his career, Monet painted many series of canvases using the same subject from different points of view or different lights. In 1877 he made a large series of paintings of Gare Saint Lazare in Paris.
Inaugurated in 1837, Paris Saint Lazare (Paris 8) was the point of departure to weekend getaways to trendy beach suburbs. At that time, the station’s iron and glass architecture symbolized the world’s industrial progress and speed.
Gare Saint Lazare was immortalized by other artists like Zola (The human beast), Manet (The Railway), Gustave Caillebotte, and many more.
Parc Monceau, in Paris 8, was commissioned in the 18th century by the Duke of Orleans, who wanted to create an English-style garden with fantastic reconstructions of buildings of different ages and continents.
Today Parc Monceau is one of the most elegant parks in Paris, surrounded by magnificent private mansions. The park features many statues, a pond, and a Renaissance archway.
Monet painted six views of Parc Monceau between 1876 and 1878. Today it isn’t easy to find the exact point where Monet set his easel because the trees and plants have grown or changed. However, it is always pleasant to visit Parc Monceau, especially on a sunny day.
Monet Paintings in Paris
In 1911 Monet began a final series of eight water lilies paintings commissioned by the Orangerie Museum in Paris 1. The artist decided to make them on a large scale, to fill the walls of two special oval rooms.
These rooms have the advantage of natural light from the roof and are oriented from west to east, following the sun’s course.
Monet wanted the works to serve as a ‘haven of peaceful meditation,’ a place to forget about the outside world. The end of the First World War in 1918 reinforced his desire to offer beauty to wounded souls.
We like to go to Musée Orangerie when it rains. For us, the sound of the rain on the roof adds something special to Monet’s water lilies.
Musée Marmottan Monet
If you are a serious fan of Claude Monet, don’t miss the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris 16. The museum features over three hundred Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings by the artist.
The paintings, coming from Monet’s second son and other private collectors, allow the public to admire all the significant stages of Monet’s career and follow the evolution of his technique.
Among others, the collection holds the movement’s eponymous painting ‘Impression, Sunrise.’ There are also paintings from his Argenteuil period, some views of Monet in Paris, and some water lily canvases coming from his pond in Giverny.
This impressive architecture, formerly a railway station, has the largest collection of works by Monet, home to some famous paintings such as ‘Women in the Garden’ (1866), ‘Regates à Argenteuil’ (1872), and ‘Coquelicots’ (1873).
The Musée d’Orsay is one of the best places to experience Monet up close while also offering further contributions to the Impressionist theme. The museum’s collections encompass artists from Manet, Degas, and Renoir to Van Gogh and Gauguin.
Monet Beyond Paris
All these places make beautiful day trips or weekend getaways from Paris, and they are very easy to organize:
Rouen Cathedral (Normandy)
Sometimes Monet liked to travel to find other sources of inspiration. In the early 1890s, we find Monet in Rouen painting a series of works focused on the Rouen Cathedral. The different paintings (30) depicted the cathedral in different lights and weather, showing Monet’s fascination with the effects of light.
Rouen, the capital of Upper Normandy, is located by the river Seine at 135 km North-West from Paris. The city has a beautiful and compact historical center, easy to navigate on foot. For this reason and its direct and fast connection with the French capital, Rouen is a popular day trip from Paris by train.
Direct trains leave Gare Saint Lazare to Rouen train station hourly for a journey of 1 hr 10 min, one way.
Monet’s Garden in Giverny (Normandy)
In 1883, Monet and his family moved to Giverny, his final home and source of great inspiration for the artist. By November 1890, Monet had enough money to buy the house he was renting, the surrounding buildings, and the grounds for his future garden.
The painter dedicated special attention to the garden, which appears in many of his canvases. Monet wrote daily instructions to his gardener, precise designs, and layouts for plantings.
By the end of his life, Monet had seven gardeners, but he always remained the garden’s architect.
It took me some time to understand my water lilies . . I cultivated them with no thought of painting them . . One does not fully appreciate a landscape in one day . . And then, suddenly, I had a revelation of the magic of my pond. I took my palette. From this moment, I have had almost no other model (Claude Monet)
Every year thousands of visitors travel to Giverny from Paris to admire the water lily pond that inspired Monet water lilies paintings. Monet’s house and studio are also interesting to visit, a visual experience of different spaces, colors, and materials where Monet left nothing to chance.
Monet’s house and garden in Giverny is one of the best day trips from Paris. Check out this quick guide to Monet’s Gardens in Giverny with all the options public and private to visit this wonderful place.
Seine River cruises from Paris to the Normandy coast also stop at Giverny to visit Monet’s house and gardens. Click here to read about historic Normandy on a deluxe Seine River cruise.
Etretat is a small fishing village on the Alabaster Coast in Normandy. The village is famous for its impressive towering cliffs captured on many canvases by Monet.
In Etretat, Monet did not hesitate to take the steep path which descends from the top of the cliffs to its feet with all his equipment to have a better angle.
Apart from the cliffs and the beach, Etretat is a town worth exploring. It beautiful Norman architecture, many hiking trails, and good fish restaurants.
And there you have it, where to see Monet paintings in Paris and the best places related to Monet in Paris and beyond. If you like Monet, Paris is the place to go!