Purely Paris: Impressionism and Paris Style


Paris style has no more popular masters than the Impressionists and the city has just declared its own “Impressionist Spring.” Its centerpiece is the still-fresh makeover of the Musée d’Orsay, which, anyone must admit, provides a new and stunning setting for its precious paintings. But don’t stop at seeing that—the city has come up with plenty of new ideas. Below is a bouquet of things Impressionist fans may like. Some are for worshippers of the actual artists, others for those who just love their era.

Autoportrait, Berthe Morisot, 1885 (detail). Photo: Musée Marmottan Monet Paris/Bridgeman Art/Presse. 

An Impressionist Cruise of the Seine
Now available, Mondays and Wednesdays at 5 p.m. (1 hour)
Port de Suffren, €25; €15 for all under-12s
Departs from below the Eiffel Tower and features a lecturer in English or French, who gives passengers a look at the Seine through Impressionist eyes. Project yourself into the place of Berthe Morisot, Renoir or Monet.

La Seine’s l’île aux Cygnes, created artificially in 1825. Photo: Sophie Robichon/Mairie de Paris.

Even More Monet
Musée Marmottan Monet
The home of Claude Monet’s Impressionism, Sunrise (which named the movement), this museum has dedicated a new space to the artist. An impressive 2,000 square feet, it features works inspired by his garden in Giverny, by the Normandy coast and by a visit to London. The museum itself is a treasure, especially for its cache of Berthe Morisot art and—until June 20—a trove of works by Paris style fave Marie Laurencin.  

Trois jeunes femmes, Marie Laurencin, circa 1953, Musée Marie Laurencin, Nagano-Ken, Japon Musée Marmottan-Monet. 

Gardens of Renoir
Musée de Montmarte
Here the butte offers a view out over the river and this little museum sits on the spot of Renoir’s old studio. Due for a renovation in 2014, this year sees refurbishment of their three gardens. Each of these inspired separate Renoir works.


Musée de Montmartre, home of the Renoir gardens. Photo: Guillaume Lachaud/Musée de Montmartre. 

French Cancan Class (Atelier Cancan)
Paradis Latin, 28, rue Cardinal Lemoine
Monthly at 6 p.m. (1 hour 30 minutes)
€95, must be over 16

Here’s a real test of your love for Paris style: learn the cancan! The Paradis Latin offers a cabaret for those who want something slightly more frugal than a big-ticket show. Opinions differ on their spectacle but the monthly cancan classes (started last year) have been a hit. You turn up in tights and sneakers and are coiffed, made up and dressed. Afterward, you’re given a champagne cocktail, snacks and a souvenir photo. “In French but friendly,” so email if you have language worries. Warning: those famous skirts weigh more than seven pounds each!

Atelier French Cancan, Cabaret Paradis Latin. Photo: Cabaret Paradis Latin. 

The Macchiaioli: Italy’s Impressionists
Musée de l’Orangerie, Jardin des Tuileries
April 10–July 22

Only a stroll across the Seine from the Musée d’Orsay, you’ll find this expo on Italy’s mid-1850s Macchiaioli. Revolutionaries who focused on macchia (“spots of light”), their poetic works greatly inspired the Impressionists. Later, they had an equal impact on filmmakers like Visconti.

Le Bal au Moulin de la Galette, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1876, Musée d’Orsay (detail). Photo: Musée d’Orsay. 

They Owe It All to . . . Eugène Boudin?
Musée Jacquemart-André
Now–July 22

Real Parisian art lovers have been flocking to this show, a retrospective by an artist not shown since . . . 1899. It features landscapes with wonderful light and skies, from an idol of many Impressionists. (Manet famously said, “I owe everything to Boudin.”) Featured is the artist’s specialty: portraits of high society at play on the beach. 

Concert au Casino de Deauville, Eugène Boudin, 1865 (detail). Photo: Washington National Gallery of Art/Museum Jacquemart-André. 

Related Links
Destination Impressionism (all of France, not just Paris)
An Impressionist cruise of the Seine
Even more Monet
Marie Laurencin
Gardens of Renoir
French Can-Can Class (Atelier Can-Can)
The Macchiaioli: Italy’s Impressionists
Eugène Boudin

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