At La Roche-Guyon, the Chemin des peintres is a walking trail with 14 stops encouraging visitors to discover works by artists who were inspired by the village and its surrounding landscapes. Set in a great natural amphitheatre beside the Seine, its château rising from its centre, this fortified little medieval town occupies an exceptional site, protected by the Seine’s slopes. Impressionists came to stay here and paint the area, among them Monet and Renoir.

The 2.7km-long trail is now, literally, picturesque (that word from the Italian, “pittore”, meaning painter), being dotted with reproductions of works by the likes of Paul Jouanny, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro and Maximilien Luce. Placed in the exact spots where they were executed, these reproductions allow you to view the very spots in which the artists composed their canvases. They were working outdoors, in the moment, or “sur le motif”. This was a truly innovative way of painting at the time, initiated by artists “de plein air” (“of the great outdoors”) as they were called, precursors of the Impressionists.

Several museums in the département, or French county, of Val d’Oise display the odd canvas painted at La Roche-Guyon, for instance Pilier du pont de la Roche-Guyon by Maximilien Luce, on show at the Musée de l’Hôtel-Dieu in Mantes-la-Jolie, or Péniches sur la Seine by Camille Pissarro, on display at the Musée Pissarro in Pontoise.

This trail even encourages visitors to observe, with an artist’s eye, the buildings, monuments, streets and landscapes around this pretty village as it appears today. Some of you might even take the time to find inspiration here and sketch, draw or paint a view, as a way by which to remember this artists’ trail. For cyclists, following this trail might provide a lovely pause along the Seine à vélo cycle route which passes through La Roche-Guyon.

Just a few kilometres away, another artists’ trail, in Vétheuil, reveals to visitors places where Claude Monet once lived and worked, as would, much later on, the abstract artist Joan Mitchell. Also recalled is the fact that the likes of Gustave Caillebotte and Auguste Renoir set up easel here to depict light-drenched Seine-side landscapes that filled them with wonder.



And also

All events