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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Haresign

So, you're going to Paris... to see Monet (and other Impressionists)

*Many sites in France and Europe are free or discounted for students and people under age 26 so make sure to check!*

Claude Monet Postcard from Giverny House museum.

Coquelicots by Claude Monet as seen in the Musée d'Orsay

Famous for establishing the impressionist style of painting, French artist Claude Monet is well known for his water lilies and his impressions of natural life. You would be surprised how many museums around the world house his art. If you are passing through the great state of New Jersey, don't miss Grounds for Sculpture where you can see gardens and sculptures bringing you directly into many of Monet's paintings (including the one just above). Now, lets get back to Paris. Here are a few of the best places to find some impressionism!

Looking towards Basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre from the Musée d'Orsay, 2016

Musée de l'Orangerie

If you only have 30 minutes to dedicate, then you should visit the Musée de l'Orangerie within the Jardin des Tuileries. For three decades, Claude Monet painted the Water Lilies in his gardens at Giverny. As the permanent home of eight gigantic water lilies that curve around the walls, you will find yourself surrounded by a serene set of paintings not only by Monet, but you will also find works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri Rousseau, and others.

Musée de l'Orangerie

Located just by the Louvre, the building used to serve as a greenhouse built by Napoleon III to house the citrus trees in the winter before the palace was an art museum. Just outside the building you can find a cast of Rodin's 'The Kiss' sculpture. You can find the original at the Musée Rodin.

After WWI, Monet gifted his Nymphéas panels (initially intended for the Rodin museum) to the State in conjunction with the armistice of the War as an ode to Peace. While unfortunately, WWII was not far off, and our world has yet to fully recognize a total state of peace, you can hopefully find some peace within while below the skylights surrounded by one of Monet's greatest pieces.

For a side quest at Place de Concorde, you can ride the Ferris Wheel for a different perspective or you can see the Obélisques de Louxor a 3,000 year old obelisk which was a gift to the French from Egypt. It's twin still stands in Egypt. In exchange for the obelisk France gifted Egypt a mechanical clock. It has hardly ever worked.

Musée D'Orsay

Just across the river Seine from the Orangerie, is the Musée D'Orsay. Located inside of a historic train station, it houses art from about 1848-1914. The space includes the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art in the world and is one of the largest art museums in Europe. The museum houses the art after the Louvre and before the Pompidou.

Musée d'Orsay Clock, Victor Laloux, Main Hall
Starry Night Over the Rhône, Vincent Van Gogh, Musée D'Orsay
Musée D'Orsay
Musée D'Orsay
Annie Swynnerton: Mater Triumphalis , Musée D'Orsay

Torse du Printemps, Aristide Maillol, Musée D'Orsay
Femme et enfant dansant, Joseph Bernard, Musée D'Orsay
Dance in the Country (L), Dance in the City (R), Auguste Renoir, Musée D'Orsay

One of my favorite pieces of art I have loved since I was a little girl is also housed in the Musée D'Orsay. You can find La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans, there are about 28 copies around the world and each one is lovely to experience. If you want to expose young children to Degas (or you enjoy children's books I would recommend reading Marie in Fourth Position)

Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe at Musée D'Orsay can also be experienced in real life at Grounds for Sculpture in NJ.

Musée Rodin

If you want a less known but highly rewarding experience, then you would not regret the Rodin Museum. Opened in 1919, the museum was primarily dedicated to the art of Auguste Rodin, it also houses some touching impressionism and is well worth your time.

Belle-Île, Claude Monet , Rodin Museum

Jardins at Musée Rodin
Jardins at Musée Rodin
The Kiss, Musee Rodin
The Kiss, Musée Rodin

Musée Marmottan

If you have made it this far (first of all Thank You) you are rewarded with the BEST spot in Paris to hit if you want to catch some off the beaten path Monet. The Marmottan Museum. This museum dedicated to Monet is little known to most and stocked with over 300 of his paintings. The experience was so immersive I actually took no photos and left with nothing but some postcards. I wish you a beautiful time there.

Musée Marmottan Monet Postcards and Stamps

Monet at Giverny

If you have a day to dedicate to a full immersion of Monet, then you are going to want to settle in for a trip to Giverny to visit his home and gardens. You can easily reach Giverny by train from Gare Saint-Lazare. With a ticket to Vernon purchased from the station or online from SNCF you will travel for about 45 minutes ( stamp your ticket before hopping the train). Once you arrive you will be able to catch a bus to Monet's house which is only about 7km away. His gardens are beautiful anytime of year so if you can afford the time you won't be disappointed.

Monet's House in April
Escargot at Giverney
Monet's Kitchen at Giverney
Monet's Gardens at Giverney

Thank you for reading. Let me know in the comments which sites are your favorite!

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