From Le Havre to Deauville via Honfleur, relive the dawn of Impressionism along the Seine Estuary

The Seine Estuary, with the major sites of Le Havre and Honfleur to either side, can recreate for you even today, pretty well unaltered, a mass of fugitive impressions experienced and exquisitely rendered by the Impressionists. Contemplate how sea, sky and light change around Honfleur, so dear to Boudin; wander around the port’s historic harbour; and admire the vast views down over the Seine from the nearby Côte de Grâce, immortalised by the Impressionists. Also experience, over a century after Monet’s seminal painting of Le Havre, a sunrise over this great port’s waters.Thanks to the expansion of France’s railway network, the Impressionists were able to turn Normandy into a vast artistic playground. Some set up their easels on Normandy’s coasts. Eugène Boudin advised the young Monet to paint seascapes, as ‘‘the sea and skies are just so beautiful’’. Claude Monet depicted joyous scenes at Sainte-Adresse beside Le Havre. Boudin, with his talent and skill at capturing details, immortalised Honfleur, Deauville and Trouville in vibrant paintings. As to Camille Pissarro, he illustrated the bustling port of Le Havre in over 20 canvases.

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around the Seine Estuary

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Explore the Impressionist Seine Estuary thanks to our interactive map!

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Watch the sun rise from Quai de Southampton in Le Havre and absorb the unique atmosphere of this place set between sea and sky, port and estuary, which gave rise to that most celebrated of canvases, Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise) by Claude Monet. A little further round the coast, from Sainte-Adresse Beach, turn towards the open seas to watch the fascinating, ceaseless ballet of cargo ships, yachts and container ships.

From Le Havre, cross the estuary via the Pont de Normandie bridge to reach Trouville. Imagine yourself back in the late-19th-century, walking along its boardwalks, placed centre stage in Monet’s painting La Plage à Trouville. Fall under the spell of this resort offering wonderful walks overseen by magnificent villas that attracted fashionable society in Impressionist times.

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