Wonderful opportunity to explore the world of the Impressionists
Particular concentration on Monet & his garden at Giverny, together with his paintings of water lilies
Day spent in Paris exploring the Musée d’Orsay & Musée de l’Orangerie
See Bois des Moutiers by Lutyens & Jekyll, plus inspiring Jardin Plume
Tour led by Caroline Holmes, based in Rouen, using a comfortable 4* Hôtel
The landscapes and gardens along the Seine valley, meandering through Paris and on into Normandy, inspired the Impressionists and this exciting tour will allow us to see not only their sources of inspiration but how their art continues to work its magic today. Art and gardens, Monet and Giverny, are now inextricably linked, but many American Impressionists also stayed and lived there. We shall explore this at the Hôtel Baudy and Musée des Impressionnismes, as well as at Monet’s own house and gardens where he lived for more than 40 years. On a contemporary note, living colour weaves its way through the nearby glorious gardens of the Jardin Plume, described by Robin Lane-Fox in the FT one of the most exciting gardens to be created in France in recent years.
And so to Paris for the painted canvas, starting at the magnificent Musée d’Orsay where, amidst a panoply of decorative arts, sculptures and photographs, we explore the paintings. We start with Monet’s Women in the Garden (1866) painted at Ville-d’Avray, comparing and contrasting the works of his fellow Impressionists, notably Renoir and Pissarro. A walk through the Jardin des Tuileries takes us to the Musée de l’Orangerie whose two oval basements are dedicated to Monet’s water lilies where (in every sense) you can immerse yourself in his art, plants and water garden.
We leave the Seine Valley for Dieppe to visit the Château de Miromesnil with the current owner, its architecture a happy alliance of two Renaissance styles overlooking that most French of formal gardens, an extensive jardin potager. The writer Guy de Maupassant, master of the unexpected outcome, was born here. We make a short drive south to Varengeville-sur-Mer for lunch, on to the ‘marine churchyard’ of St Valery from where Monet painted the cliffs and lastly to Le Bois de Moutiers. The Mallet family commissioned the young Edwin Lutyens to design an English Arts and Crafts house in 1897 within which we shall find an eclectic range of furniture, paintings and objets d’art, and for which Gertrude Jekyll designed a series of gardens; it remains in the family today. Finally, on our journey back home, we stop at Notre-Dame de Calais to see the series of small gardens designed by Caroline that encompass the church. Five days in which we imbibe light and colour in landscapes, gardens and paintings.
We stay for four nights in Rouen at the 4* Hôtel Mercure, one of the prettiest towns in Normandy. It has a fine historic centre with much to see and there are excellent restaurants of many different types to suit most tastes.
The tour will be led by Caroline Holmes, garden and Impressionist historian. She has led many tours to France and is the author of eleven books including Monet at Giverny and Impressionists in their Gardens. Her latest Water Lilies and Bory Latour-Marliac, the genius behind Monet’s Water Lilies was launched with a French conference hosted jointly by the Fondation Monet and Musée des Impressionismes in Giverny. She lectures for Cambridge University ICE, The Art Society, the RHS and The Art Fund. Caroline has also presented several series on both TV and BBC Radio Four. She has a particular interest in the relationship between horticulture and painting in nineteenth and twentieth century France. James Hill will be the CICERONI Tour Manager while the group are in France.
Day by day
- Day 1: Tuesday 24 September
- We depart in the early morning by coach from Shipley, West Yorkshire, and on to Ashford International station for a second pick-up before driving via the Channel Tunnel to France and onto Rouen. We check into the 4* Hôtel Mercure Rouen Cathedral for our four-night stay. Dinner will be in a restaurant in the historic centre – wine, water and coffee are included with all group lunches and dinners.
- Day 2: Wednesday 25 September
- We leave our hotel and drive eastwards from Rouen to visit Jardin Plume where contemporary plantsmanship is displayed to the highest standards – inspiring as each concealed section is revealed. Following a pause for coffee, we continue southwards following the line of the Seine to Giverny. We enjoy a group lunch at the Hôtel Baudy where the young American Impressionists stayed and see their atelier in its gardens. In the afternoon we visit Monet’s House, his home for 40 years, exploring his house and collections of Japanese prints. We continue into his gardens, where the nasturtiums should have clothed the path running through the Grande Allée towards the Water Garden, where the water lilies will be in bloom. We end our day with a visit to the Musée des Impressionnismes, the former American Impressionist Museum, set in contemporary borders inspired by movement, and especially by the work of Monet. We return to Rouen and a free evening.
- Day 3: Thursday 26 September
- We leave Rouen and drive around 90 miles to Paris pausing en route for a coffee break. Our morning visit is entirely dedicated to the Musée d’Orsay. The collections of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts and photography from 1848-1914 are gloriously displayed in this former rail station. We shall enjoy a chronological, selective, walk exploring from early Impressionism through to 1914. You will then have some free time to explore the museum and to have lunch, not included today, either on site or outside the museum in the immediate area. In the afternoon we walk over the Seine and through the Jardin des Tuileries to visit Paris’s Musée de l’Orangerie, whose two oval basements were selected by Monet to display his Grandes Decorations. Better known as Monet’s ‘water lilies’, he painted these vast canvases to commemorate the French who gave their lives during the Great War. We return to our hotel and there will be a group dinner in a local restaurant.
- Day 4: Friday 27 September
- We leave Rouen and drive around 40 miles towards the coast at Dieppe, where we visit the Château de Miromesnil at Tourville-sur-Arques. It dates back to 1590 and it was the childhood home of Guy de Maupassant. The current owner will lead us on a guided tour of the Château, family chapel and the formal garden. We continue to Varengeville-sur-Mer for a group lunch. In the afternoon we drive to Église St Valéry from which Monet painted the cliffs. We conclude our day with a visit to an ‘English Arts and Crafts’ house in a French setting, Le Bois des Moutiers. We shall have a private tour of the house designed by Edwin Lutyens and surrounded by Gertrude Jekyll gardens that overlook a French picturesque park leading down to the sea. We return to Rouen and the final evening will be free.
- Day 5: Saturday 28 September
- We leave in the morning and return to the UK via Calais. Before our crossing through the Channel Tunnel, we pause to visit the Gardens of Notre-Dame de Calais designed by Caroline Holmes. Following our crossing we make a first drop off at Ashford International Station before returning to Shipley, arriving in the evening.
- Price: £1,450 per person
- Deposit: £175
- Single Supplement: £249 (Double Room for Sole Use)
- Tour Manager: James Hill
4 nights with breakfast at the 4* Hôtel Mercure in Rouen
Coach UK coach transfers picking up in Shipley, West Yorkshire and Ashford, Kent
2 dinners & 2 lunches with wine, water & coffee, UK coach for the full tour, City Tax, entry fees & gratuities, services of Caroline Holmes as lecturer & James Hill as tour manager
Travel to/from coach meeting points, 2 dinners & 3 lunches
UK coach transfers picking up in Shipley, West Yorkshire and Ashford, Kent. The Southern pick-up point will be Ashford International Station, Newtown Road, Ashford, Kent, TN24 0PS, which can be easily reached by train or by car. There are two car-parks with rates between £5-10 per day. Further details can be found at https://ashfordintl.co.uk
We do expect a reasonable level of fitness. For full details see our frequently asked questions.