The Seine from Rouen to Villequier
Our thanks to Jacques-Sylvain Klein, who very kindly made available to us texts which he has written for the "Guide du Routard des Impressionnistes en Normandie". To read these texts in full, readers are invited to purchase the "Guide du Routard" guidebook (in French), available from French bookshops.
The Seine from Rouen to Villequier
From Rouen to Villequier, both banks of the Seine are dotted with towns and villages which have strong links with Impressionism. Why not make Rouen your base and head out to explore La Bouille, Sahurs, Jumièges, Caudebec-en-Caux and Saint-Wandrille.
• Déville-lès-RouenWhen Monet first came to paint in the Norman capital, he lived at his brother Léon's house in Déville. His paintings Factories at Déville and The Train Convoy are some of the earliest signs of the artist's interest in industrial landscapes and the modern world in general.
• Bapeaume-les-RouenIt was in the meadows of Bapeaume that Delattre, who was a great admirer of Corot and Monet, inspired the second generation of painters from the Rouen School.
• CanteleuFollowing in the footsteps of Turner and Corot, numerous painters have depicted the magnificent views which can be enjoyed from Canteleu hill. In his novel Bel Ami, Maupassant gives a memorable description of this site, while Pissarro, remembering the "magical" day spent in Canteleu with the Monet brothers and Durand-Ruel, evokes "the most splendid landscapes that a painter could dream of".
• La Bouille and SahursSisley and Lebourg both set up their easels in the meadows of La Bouille and Sahurs, two charming villages on opposite banks of the Seine river. From Sahurs, take the free ferry across the Seine to La Bouille, where you're immediately plunged into the medieval atmosphere of this delightful village.
Things to see and do in La Bouille and SahursMany Impressionist-style painters exhibit their works in the gallery on the quayside, as well as in the narrow streets of the village. Don't miss the Grenier-à-Sel, a legendary Impressionist gallery renowned for its contemporary exhibitions.
• JumiègesRuins are all that remain of the most powerful abbey in Normandy, which was built by William the Conqueror in 1067. But what stunning ruins! Turner showed a deep understanding of the spirit of this place when he chose to depict the abbey at night. Website: www.jumieges.frAs part of the Normandy Impressionist Festival, an open-air cinema will show films at the Abbaye de Jumièges.
• Saint-WandrilleThis abbey, built in 649 by Charlemagne's great-uncle, is one of the oldest and best preserved in Normandy. Isabey painted a watercolour of the cloisters bathed in golden light.
• Caudebec-en-CauxIn the past, it was at Caudebec that the tidal bore was at its most visible. The gentle landscapes of the village of Caudebec-en-Caux, overlooked by the spire of Notre-Dame church (one of the most beautiful churches in Normandy), were depicted by the painter Boudin.
• VillequierTurner's watercolour Between Quillebeuf and Villequier bears witness to the dangerous nature of the Seine at this point, where the river follows a large meander. This painting prefigures the tragedy which took place here in 1843, when, on 4 September, Victor Hugo's eldest daughter Léopoldine and her husband Charles Vacquerie were drowned in a boating accident. The Musée Victor Hugo houses a collection of memorabilia, writing and drawings by the poet.
Contacts and useful links
Most of these websites are available in English. Once on these website, please click on your country flag.Rouen Vallée de Seine Tourist OfficeTel : 0033 232 08 32 40Website : www.rouentourisme.com
Click here for the Normandy Impressionist Festival programme.
As part of the Normandy Impressionist Festival, an open-air cinema will show films at the Abbaye de Jumièges.