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Visit Locales Where French Impressionists Painted Their Masterpieces with VBT

Impressionist art was a movement spawned in the 19th century by a group of French painters that emphasized colors, lighting and the essence of time passage in the works which often featured outdoor landscapes and depicted human movement rather than still portraits—a new artistic concept for the times. French Impressionist painters like Renoir, Sisley and Monet—whose Impression, Sunrise painting of Le Havre’s harbor coined the movement’s name—often traveled outside of Paris and into the countryside for their inspirations. Travelers on our Heart of France Bike and Barge tour will get to see some exact spots where famous Impressionist artists painted their masterpieces in Barbizon, Bourron Marlotte, and Moret-sur-Loing while on this unique tour.

We’ll discover the roots of the movement when a pleasurable morning cycle along the banks of the River Seine bringsBiking along the Seine us to the “painter’s village” of Barbizon. During the mid-19th century Corot, Rousseau and Daubigny were leaders of the “Barbizon school”, which became the setting for an artistic revolution that set the stages for the Impressionist painters of the 1870’s, especially their use of the en plein air technique of painting outside in order to capture natural light. Even today many artists live in the area, mesmerized by the countryside. During our visit to the town, we’ll stop in at the local museum of the Barbizon school and see where famous landscape artists painted their works.

A Young Man in the Forest of Fontainebleau by RenoirAnother fantastic day where cycling meets art is when we cycle through the wonderful forest of Fontainebleau, which includes a stop at the impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Château of Fontainebleau. The beauty of this forest was famously depicted in A Young Man in the Forest of Fontainebleau by French Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir.  We continue to ride through this peaceful forest to Bourron Marlotte, a community that homed and inspired many artists including Renoir, Cézanne and Sisley—whose 1866 painting Street of Marlotte features a group of women leaving the town’s stone structures presumably for a walk in the woods.

Another artist community that we’ll visit on this tour is the charming, medieval-Moret-sur-loingfortified town of Moret-Sur-Loing, strategically situated on the banks of the Loing. Here Sisley found inspiration for his beautiful Impressionist paintings including the aptly named 1888 piece, Moret-sur-Loing. Our barge actually moors here overnight and you’re encouraged to take a walk on the “Sisley in Moret” trail during the evening to see a variety of places that inspired the artist.

These are just some examples of the Impressionist-themed experiences you’ll enjoy on our Heart of France Bike and Bargetour. To read more about our French vacations, please click here.  If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

Visit Le Monte Saint-Michel France with VBT

France, Normandy, Normandie, Mont Saint-Michel, Abbey, Unesco World Heritage

On the final day of VBT’s “Bicycling France: Normandy & Brittany” vacation travelers will tour one of the most visited monuments in France: Le Mont Saint-Michel.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island is best known for the spectacular and well-preserved Benedictine abbey which sits at its peak—as well as the extreme tidal changes along that part of the Normandy coast which have changed the areas landscape through the years.

771px-MtStMichel_avionWhile thousands of years ago the commune was a true island, years of erosion has made Mont Saint-Michel a tidal island that can see up to a 46 feet differential in sea level height depending on the tide. In 1879 a dry causeway was constructed to replace the temporary tidal causeway to enable access the commune at all times. Upon arrival on tour with VBT, you’ll meet our local guide, who will accompany you across to the cone-shaped islet in the Gulf of Saint-Malo to Mont Saint-Michel to begin your tour.

The highlight of the tour is the Mont Saint-Michel Abbey which soars about 92Mont Saint-Michel Abbey meters (roughly 240 feet) above sea level. It was completed in 1523 and is well-known for its beautiful Gothic architecture. The placement of the abbey within the town is in direct relation to the social hierarchy of the times—with God at the top, followed by the housing for nobles and then the peasant’s quarters at the bottom of the hill. The abbey is surrounded by winding streets and architecture characteristic of a medieval town. Small houses, shops and street stalls are found on its lowest level. Above these stand the monastic buildings, many of which date to the 13th century.

This is just one example of the many historical and cultural highlights you’ll find on this exciting biking tour of France’s northern coast. To read more about our Bicycling France: Normandy & Brittany vacation, please click here.  If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868, available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST.

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