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Paris Ile-de-France, destination: Impressionism

Paris Ile-de-France, destination: Impressionism

Whether it is prestigious collections, studios, places and landscapes that inspired the Impressionist painters, follow the guide.


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Paris Ile-de-France, destination: Impressionism

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Paris Ile-de-France, destination: Impressionism - Paris, backdrop to Impressionism, Le Moulin de la Galette

Paris, backdrop to Impressionism

A city in metamorphosis, Paris became in 1850 the backdrop for artists turning to modernity. The North of Paris, notably the Montmartre and Batignolles districts, inspired them to paint all the nuances of the real world.

Like any revolutionaries, the Impressionists had to overcome the shackles of the past and the young Parisian painters of the mid-19th century decided to rebel against the overly academic painting and to change everything: pictorial techniques (lighter tones, use of brush strokes and colours to create forms, use of the thickness of paint), opting for more contemporary themes and more subjective representations. Degas, Manet and Monet became known by such names as ‘the Independents’, ‘the Intransigents’ and the ‘Batignolles Group’ before being defined as the ‘Impressionists.’ These bold painters, who were banned from the Paris Salon, took Paris as a backdrop as it was then undergoing major architectural and industrial changes, as was the region.

Paris Ile-de-France, destination: Impressionism - Paris, backdrop to Impressionism, Le Moulin Rouge

The Impressionists fell totally in love with Montmartre Village. At the time, due to its particular light and low rents, the hill was inhabited by Corot, Renoir, Degas... Many tours are offered by the Tourist Office of the district. Climb to the Sacré Cœur and visit the Place du Tertre immortalized by Utrillo, among others. Discover the old tavern ‘Chez Olivier,’ Cormon's studio, the homes of Seurat or Rosimond, now the Museum of Montmartre. Then discover Jean-Baptiste Clément square and Marcel Aymé square to then descend to the Rue Lepic. On your way, you will discover popular places painted by the Impressionists. La Bonne Franquette, Le Lapin Agile and Le Moulin de la Galette were cafés where much discussion took place and the absinthe flowed, as well as studios and exhibition venues. Down to Pigalle, do not miss the iconic Moulin Rouge, one of the Impressionists’ favourite places of nocturnal pleasure.

Paris Ile-de-France, destination: Impressionism - Paris, backdrop to Impressionism, Museum of Montmartre

Apart from Montmartre, the Impressionists often frequented the Opéra Garnier, opened in 1875, in which artists regularly attended new performances and kept an eye on the work behind the scenes (you can visit it every day from 10am to 5pm).

Would you prefer to take part in a guided tour? If so, several solutions are available to you! On land, you have the choice between organized visits with Meeting The French and the excursions offered by Cityvision (between Montmartre and Auvers sur Oise, or the Monet Day out). On the water, the Vedettes de Paris organises an Impressionist cruise.

Impressionist paintings with a Parisian backdrop

  • Manet: Music at the Tuileries
  • Monet: The Gare Saint Lazare, The Rue Montorgueuil
  • Pissarro: Place du Carrousel, The Tuileries gardens, Avenue de l'Opéra
  • Caillebotte: The Floor scrapers, View over the roofs, The Pont de l'Europe, Paris in the rain
  • Renoir: The Pont Neuf, The Moulin de la Galette
  • Morisot: View of Paris from the Colline de Chaillot
  • Seurat: The Eiffel tower
  • Degas: Absinthe, The Comte Lepic Place de la Concorde
Paris Ile-de-France, destination: Impressionism - Paris, backdrop to Impressionism, Montmartre

For more information, see the guide ‘Montmartre and its surroundings.’

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The new Paris Ile-de-France suggests you some routes to visit Paris according to your desires: culture, architecture, fashion, shopping, jazz, contemporary art, nightlife … or according to the places you want to see: Belleville, Ménilmontant, Montmartre, The Marais, The Latin Quarter, Rive gauche, Concorde, La Défense, Versailles, Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées, Notre Dame… Organize your week-end or family trip with your children in Paris, France.