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.

Relax in the Spas of Montecatini Terme on VBT’s new Lucca to Pisa Biking Tour

Terme tettuccio
One of the highlights of VBT’s new Cycling Italy’s Middle Ages: Lucca to Pisaare the two days spent in and around the town of Montecatini Terme. One of the most famous things to do in Montecatini Terme is visit the town’s spas as it is considered the capital of natural hot springs in Italy. The healing properties of the thermal springs in the town have been known for centuries but it wasn’t until the late 1700’s that baths were constructed under the order of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Pietro Leopoldo. He also ordered proper channels for the disposal of the thermal water as unconfined springs had created vast marshes where many hotels and spas in present day Montecatini are built.

After the completion of the thermal baths, many tourists began to flock to the town in order to “take the waters.” ByTerme di Redi the early 20th century celebrities began to frequent Montecatini—including Vivaldi and Puccini,  who even  composed parts of La Boheme here—and shops, restaurants, nightclubs and a casino soon followed. Of course the main reason everyone comes to Montecatini is that these waters actually have proven health benefits. A hydro-mineral basin that lies around 60 meters below the ground pumps out a chloride-sulphate-sodium water type that is also bacteriologically pure. Research conducted over the years has concluded the waters at Montecatini Terme have the best effect on one’s digestive and metabolic systems. Current day-spas have added many modern elements like massage, mud pack treatments and hydrotherapy in order to make Montecatini an all-around health spa retreat.

Terme excelsiorDuring your stay with VBT we’ll meet for a cocktail at the Terme Tettuccio, the heart of the Terme complex which dates back to the 1920’s, during our first night. The Terme is a complex of 9 buildings, each with its own character, staff and range of treatments. To enjoy the hot natural thermal springs, the easiest and quickest way is to access the Thermal Pool in the Terme Redi building, which is walking distance from our hotel. The thermal pool is fed with Leopoldina thermal water at 91°, excellent for rheumatic troubles and vascular disease. A vast range of both relaxing treatments with thermal water and esthetic treatments are available at the Terme Excelsior, also within walking distance from our hotel.

These are just some examples of the authentic cultural experiences you’ll have while on our new  Cycling Italy’s Middle Ages: Lucca to Pisa ​tour. Visit the to get familiar with the range of spa packages offered during your stay. To read more about our Italian 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.