Monet’s garden in Giverny is the quintessential stop on the Impressionist trail, but it’s certainly not the only one. Continue west further into Normandy, and you’ll come across some other places where he was inspired to paint.
Beginning in 1892, Monet spent a year camped out in front of Rouen’s cathedral, capturing the play of light on its façade at different times of the day and in various seasons. In all, he produced some thirty paintings of the Gothic church, none of which included the scaffolding and advertisements that besmirched the exterior while we were there.
Fellow artist Eugène Boudin first persuaded a young Monet to paint in this picturesque seaside port—and to give up the caricature drawings he had been focusing on and try his hand at landscapes instead. The small, excellent Musée Eugène Boudin has works by both artists on display along with a collection of chests, wardrobes, costumes and paintings depicting daily Norman life in centuries past.
Constructed by local ship builders in the late 15th century, Sainte-Catherine is the oldest and largest wooden church in France.
Fishermen still haul in the daily catch in this vibrant, colorful harbor town.
A single afternoon in Étretat isn’t nearly enough. The next time we’re in Normandy, we plan to stay in this strikingly beautiful seaside resort for at least a couple of days. Monet was impressed enough by Étretat’s rugged grandeur to return here again and again, painting fifty canvases of boats on the beach, dramatic limestone cliffs, and unusual rock formations.