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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.

Orangerie Museum

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.

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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 

Paris Saint Lazare station

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.

Gare Saint Lazare - Paris

Parc Monceau

Parc Monceau Paris

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.

Parc Monceau - Monet

Monet Paintings in Paris

The Orangerie

Orangerie Museum

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.

Click here to buy your tickets to the Orangerie

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.

Impression Sunrise - Monet

Click here to buy your tickets to Musée Marmottan-Monet

Orsay Museum

Orsay Museum

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.

Click here to buy your tickets to Musée d’Orsay

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 Cathedral Series - Monet

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.

Click here to book your train tickets to Rouen

Monet’s Garden in Giverny (Normandy)

Giverny water pond

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)

Monet water lily pond

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 in Giverny

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.

Click here to book your tour to Monet’s house from Paris

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 (Normandy)

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.

It is possible to visit Etretat on a day trip from Paris, but we recommend visiting it as part of a French road trip or spending at least one night on site. You can find all the information and good tips in this quick guide to Etretat.

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!

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  • Adrenaline Romance
    10/11/2017 at 1:51 am

    We are sticklers of art. We like Monet’s work as well as Van Goh’s. We also love artworks that exhibit neoclassicism and romanticism.

  • nic
    10/06/2017 at 3:25 am

    I remember seeing one of his paintings when I visited Paris with collage, I was almost star struck. Such a cool way to explore further into his inspiration and environment and get to know more behind the paintings.

    • WorldInParis
      10/11/2017 at 7:25 pm

      Glad to know that you were “impressed” by Monet’s artwork during your Paris visit. Not my favorite painter but I won’t deny that his artwork opened a new chapter in Art History

  • Damien McGuigan
    10/05/2017 at 1:40 pm

    I do not know much about Monet but I love how you were able to compare the present day with his original paintings. It’s interesting how some things have changed a lot and others barely at all!

    • WorldInParis
      10/05/2017 at 1:48 pm

      Thanks Damien for your beautiful comment, I really appreciate it! 😉

  • Jennifer
    10/03/2017 at 9:26 pm

    I really like that one of the train station. It’s so different from anything else I’ve ever seen by Monet.

    • WorldInParis
      10/04/2017 at 9:21 am

      Oh, he did many paintings about Gare Saint Lazare. You have to imagine living during that period, they all were fascinated by the Industrialism, iron architecture and new machines. He was not the only one painting that kind of subject . . .

  • Corinne
    10/02/2017 at 1:00 pm

    What an interesting post. I love the idea of photographing Monet’s sights…very cool.

    • WorldInParis
      10/02/2017 at 7:34 pm

      Thanks Corinne! 🙂

  • anto
    10/02/2017 at 8:08 am

    Somehow I always assumed that Monet just lived in Paris. Thanks for the insight on his life, he is well known here in Holland and I loved learned about his life a little more while reading this blog!

    • WorldInParis
      10/02/2017 at 7:35 pm

      He grew up and spent his last years in Normandy but he spent a lot of time in Paris to promote the Impressionism movement

  • Aisha
    10/01/2017 at 4:25 pm

    Wow! This was a creative trip idea. What made you decide to follow in his footsteps to see what inspired him?

    • WorldInParis
      10/02/2017 at 7:36 pm

      I just collected some bits of different past trips to make a single post 😉

  • Linda de Beer
    10/01/2017 at 7:08 am

    I have always loved Monet’s paintings of gardens. They have such a warm, romantic feel to them. Your article gives amazing insight into where he got his inspiration from. Having been to the cathedral in Nyon I can understand why he painted it so many times. The day trip to Monet’s garden in Giverny and the one to Etretat in Normandy would be something I would love to do.

    • WorldInParis
      10/02/2017 at 7:38 pm

      You can visit both locations in a single day if you have your own car but I always recommend to spend at least one night at Etretat to enjoy the sunrise /sunset

  • Lara Dunning
    10/01/2017 at 12:55 am

    I so love Monet. I have a print hanging in one of our bedrooms that I’ve had since a preteen. Thanks for sharing his special painting spots. I would love to see them one of these days.

    • WorldInParis
      10/02/2017 at 7:39 pm

      I also had a print of the water lilies in the dining room many moons ago 🙂

  • Elaine
    09/30/2017 at 5:51 pm

    Monet is my favorite painter. No one else is even close. We have several Monet prints adorning our walls. When we finally travel to northern France, Varangeville, Giverny are on the top of my wish list to see. Thanks for showing the actual sites and his interpretation. I so want to visit the area and explore the museums.

    • WorldInParis
      10/02/2017 at 7:40 pm

      I am sure you will like all the locations when you make it to Northern France 🙂

  • Mei
    09/30/2017 at 12:35 pm

    It might seem like a cliché, but it’s Monet’s paintings what made me want to study Art History back then. I discovered his art when I was 12, and was soon pretty sure that I wanted to become an artist like him. LOL! Now more than 20 years later, I still love Monet (although I did not choose to do my Master degree on his works…). When we still lived in Paris, we went to see all the places in the capital that you’ve mentioned here, but never got to visit Rouen. As for Etretat, I must admit that we’ve always associated it with Maurice Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin, but it’s true that Monet also painted this breathtaking site. Still need to explore it too! Thank you for this lovely post that awakens my love for Monet’s art again. 🙂

    • WorldInParis
      10/02/2017 at 7:41 pm

      Oh, an Art Historian! Hope not have said too many silly things, lol

  • Maxine
    09/30/2017 at 9:19 am

    Such an informative, lots of information. Beautiful photos too. I would love to visit Monet’s garden some day.

    • WorldInParis
      10/02/2017 at 7:41 pm

      I was always lazy about Monet’s garden but it was my biggest (good) surprise . . . so inspiring!