From impressionism to sewer museums, there’s something for everyone in France this summer and fall
France’s picturesque landscapes and charming villages have inspired some of the most famous Impressionist artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. And when you travel on Grand Circle’s The Seine: Paris to Normandy River Cruise, you’ll be able to explore the villages and landscapes that so enchanted Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, and Cezanne, along with the famous beaches of Normandy—an important region in American—and French—history.
We recently caught up with Grand Circle’s Hotel Manager for the M/S Bizet, John Thompson, to find out about some of France’s special upcoming events for the spring and summer seasons. From celebrating France’s amazing Impressionist artists to honoring Honfleur’s little grey shrimp, there’s something for everyone to enjoy while visiting the region …
Sewers have been ridding excess water from the “City of Lights” since the beginning of the 13th century, and until recently, this sewer system has also transported tourists. These visitors were first carried by carts suspended from walkways running along the tunnel walls, then carriages pulled by a locomotive, and finally (until the 1970s), by boats.
Today, these carts and boats have been replaced by the Musée des égouts de Paris, or Paris Sewers Museum. If you dare to descend into this historical underground museum, you’ll be able to see past and present sewer-maintenance equipment, models of workers in their underground attire, large wooden balls used to clean the tunnels beneath the Seine River, and exhibits featuring the history and design of the sewer network.
All hail the shrimp
Each fall, the city of Honfleur celebrates its local specialty: the little grey shrimp, known as petite grise. Honfleur’s Shrimp Festival—one of the largest in all of France—runs from October 2-3, 2010, and will feature sea shanty concerts, shrimp-peeling competitions, and an exhibit of antique sea vessels and ships. And of course, the much-anticipated Fête de la Crevette also features plenty of freshly prepared seafood, including Normandy oysters, and bouchot mussels, as well as the signature crustacean.
Art along the Seine
If you find yourself in Normandy this spring and summer, experience the area’s very best in Impressionist art. Running from June through September, the first-ever Impressionist Normandy Festival will celebrate Impressionism spanning from Upper to Lower Normandy—allowing visitors to discover the area’s rich culture and creative talents.
The Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny kicked off the festival on April 1 with its “Impressionism along the Seine” exhibition—which runs through July 18, 2010. Visitors have the opportunity to learn about the history of Impressionism and tour works by artists including Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edouard Manet, Georges Seurat, Gustave Caillebotte, Paul Signac, and even Vincent van Gogh—along with several lesser-known artists who helped form the wonderful history of this genre.
The Poulain Museum in Vernon is celebrating many Impressionist artists whose names and works are not as widely known around the world. In an exhibition titled “Painters along the Seine from Boudin to Vallotton,” paintings from private collections and regional museums (many rarely published) will be shown, including the works of Boudin, Signac, Vallotton, Luce, Friesz, and the lesser-known Saint Delis, Gernez, Pécrus, Binet, Bouchor, Clary, Martin-Breton, and Niquet. The exhibition will run from now through July 25, 2010.
And for a truly unique event, head to the Rouen Fine Arts Museum, which will be hosting a major exhibition of Impressionist artists from June 4 through September 26, 2010: “A City for Impressionism: Monet, Pissarro, Gauguin in Rouen.” This exhibition will feature more than 100 paintings from private and public collections from around the world—including some that have never been exhibited before.
Explore France’s rich Impressionism history—and unique festivals—on our The Seine: Paris to Normandy River Cruise.