From the heart of Paris to the Normandy coastline, the Seine connects iconic areas of France, each as diverse as the next.
The thriving capital is a wonderland of architectural masterpieces, iconic artwork, and cosmopolitan living, while neighbouring Vernon gives you a taste of the idyllic Norman countryside. Further on, Rouen – Normandy’s capital – is straight out of the Middle Ages with painted timber houses and cobblestone streets.
This region of France is associated with the masterful artist Claude Monet, the father of impressionist painting who was committed to painting nature with the magical nuances as we perceive it. From viewing his Water Lilies series at the Musée de l’Orangerie to wandering his gardens in Giverny, a river cruise along the Seine is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the world of Claude Monet. Everyone from history buffs to nature-lovers will be enchanted on this serene Seine sailing adventure.
Paintings in Paris
Although he spent most of his childhood in Normandy, Monet was born and raised in Paris until the age of five. The French capital was also where he based himself for his painting career, introducing other young artists to his new impressionist style. Lose yourself in the beauty and tranquillity of the Water Lilies exhibition at the Musée de l’Orangerie; stroll Parc Monceau where Monet used to set his easel; see over 300 Monet pieces at the Musée Marmottan, and browse some of the most notable and beautiful pieces of Impressionist art at the Musée d’Orsay which is in itself stupendous.
Gardens of Giverny
As the Seine flows out of Paris and towards the coast, the scenery around you transforms into quintessential French countryside – a stirring landscape of rolling fields, patches of woodland, and fairy-tale villages, criss-crossed by winding waterways. This section of the Seine is a welcome contrast to the busy streets of Paris and gives you the chance to see the glorious gardens at the Monet Foundation in Giverny.
Normandy’s Notre Dame
Rounding off the journey down the Seine is a stop in Rouen, Normandy’s capital. Monet loved to visit the Notre Dame cathedral here, a spectacular example of Gothic architecture that is echoed in the nearby churches of Saints Ouen and Maclou. The mark of the Middle Ages is also evident in this charming old-world city, in the colourful houses with timber beams and cobblestone pavements. It was here in 1431 that world-renowned Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for heresy. A short drive from Normandy takes you to beautiful coastline including the D-Day landing beaches.
So, there you have it – sailing the Seine is undoubtedly one of the most unique and comprehensive ways to discover the world of Claude Monet, from his early career in the capital to his favourite countryside haunts which were the main inspiration for his astonishing artwork.