The place where Auguste Renoir (1841~1919) met a woman for life
“I’ve been staying in Chatou for painting for a long time. Come and visit me here for lunch one time. You won’t regret doing so. This is the most beautiful place in the suburbs of Paris,” wrote Renoir in a letter to his friend. It is only 15 minutes from Paris by train (RER) and located on the sandbank in the Seine. The small island, Ile des Impressionistes, still now reminds us of the old times when the impressionists were gathering there to have exciting discussions about their art.
At the end of the 19th century, Ile des Impressionistes was a popular resort for rich Parisians who were spending their weekends enjoying boating in the Seine, and especially the restaurant in the woods, La Fournaise, was always full of vacationers. Many artists like Monet, Pissarro and Sisley also heard about the beauty of the river, light, and green in this region and gathered in this little place. Among them, it was Renoir that most successfully depicted the happy moments the people there had, and his work, “The Lunch for Boating People” (1881) represents the time well.
A museum restaurant, “Restaurant Fournaise,” and behind it you can find a panel of Renoir’s painting in the colorful flower garden.
Fournaise Museum Official Home Page Musee Fournaise
*Restaurant Fournaise (Tel 01 30 71 41 91) Open only for lunch and dinner. Better to make a reservation in the summer. Around 40 euros per person.
There’s another restaurant opposite to the museum restaurant called “Les Rives de la Courtille,” where you can enjoy a café looking down the river.
The artist aged 40 who had just received recognition in the Salon fell into love with a woman carrying a puppy in her arms in the painting above. Her name is Aline. She was brought up in a countryside and was not from a rich family, but she was accepted as a model by the artists and sitting on the terrace with them on the day when she met her lifelong partner. Ten years later she became Renoir’s wife, had three children, and then devoted herself to taking care of her husband suffering from rheumatism in her last years. Renoir painted many pictures of his wife after marriage, and those paintings show us their warm and happy life.
Chatou Official HP
Access from Paris
Take RER Line A, and get off at Rueil Malmaison. It’s about a 15 minute’s ride. Walk in the direction of Chatou from the station, and you will find the staircase which leads to the riverside (about 500m). The sigh below will also help you find the way.
On the bridge there will be a sign like this two times. The first one will take you to “Impressionist Park,” and the second one will lead you to “Fournaise Museum.”
The Entrance of Impressionist Park
These photos were taken in May. There were so many colorful flowers, and people were taking a walk in the picturesque garden.
You can’t imagine it is only 15 minutes away from Paris. If you are looking for somewhere calm to relax, I recommend this place. Next time I will take a pencil and paper with me to draw a picture!!