Famous Paintings You Can Visit in France

By Jessica Russo

Yes, you can really Van Gogh to these settings of real-life masterpieces! Whether you're an avid art lover or you've never stepped foot in a museum, you'll feel a shocking sense of familiarity and deja vu when you visit these painting locations!

From Monet and Seurat's dreamlike landscapes to the colorful strokes of Van Gogh and Matisse, art lives all over France. Follow in the footsteps of famous artists and immerse yourself in the tremendous beauty that once inspired them. Bring a sketchbook - maybe a paint set! You never know...

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Claude Monet

A founder of French Impressionist painting, Claude Monet was an innovative artist who magically blended emotion and imagination with the intricate details of nature. Monet, born in Paris in 1840, was more concerned with form and light than realism.

The settings of his work can be found all over France, from his own home and gardens in Giverny to the coasts of Etretat and Pourville. A few of his famous paintings were also set in the quaint villages of Rouen and Honfleur, both of which are still popular tourist destinations today!

Which can you recognize?

Water Lilies series

Did you know Monet's famous "water lilies" is not just one painting? Try 250 different paintings! For years, the famous artist created paintings of the water-lily pond in Giverny, experimenting with light, color, and abstraction.

84 Rue Claude Monet, 27620 Giverny, France

The Cliff at Etretat

Monet painted this amazing cliff from many different perspectives and at many different times of day. One version shows a serene yellow-orange sky of sunset, whereas another version boasts a cooler pastel-blue color scheme, dotted with people swimming about. Monet conveys several different feelings at this same physical location.

Located off Route du Havre, 76790 Étretat, France

Rouen Cathedral series

Painted in the 1890s, this famous series captures the Rouen Cathedral at different times of day. By using different colors, tones, and shadows, Monet created individually unique works.

Place de la Cathédrale, 76000 Rouen, France

Vincent Van Gogh

The Dutch Post-Impressionist painter is among the most influential figures in the history of Western art. Vincent Van Gogh was primarily self-taught and unfortunately, remained relatively unknown until after his death at a young 37-years-old.

Throughout his short life, he created over 1,000 drawings, 150 watercolors, 10 graphic works, 9 lithographs, and an etching. Oh, not to mention his 900+ oil paintings! He generally focused on distinct brushstrokes, vibrant mixed color usage, and playful shapes. His subjects varied, but were heavily made up of flowers, nature, and landscapes.

Cafe Terrace at Night, The Starry Night, and others

The fascinating video above shows painting/real-life comparisons, as well as a Van Gogh trail which you can actually follow around Arles, France to see all places Van Gogh! Yes, the cafe in the painting is a working cafe, so why not sit down for lunch and feel like one of Van Gogh's subjects?

The legendary artist painted The Starry Night over the River Rhone that you can easily visit, too. While it may be more difficult to physically make out the details of the painting in the sky, simply standing where Van Gogh stood when he painted it will give you a spirited sense of inspiration and awe. Some other Van Gogh locations in France include the church at Auvers-sur-Oise and various farmhouses in Provence.

Cafe: 11 Place du Forum, 13200 Arles, France

Langlois Bridge at Arles

This little bridge is the subject of four of Van Gogh's oil paintings that are big in beauty. These works were made in 1888, when Van Gogh lived in Arles!

Located off Rue Gaspard Monge, 13200 Arles, France

Paul Cezanne

This French Post-Impressionist painter was known as the “Master of Aix,” since he called Aix-en-Provence home for most of his life. He is credited with paving the way for the emergence of twentieth-century modernism, both visually and conceptually.

Mont Sainte-Victoire

Montagne Sainte-Victoire is a limestone mountain in the south of France overlooking Aix-en-Provence. The mountain’s impressive silhouette greeted Cezanne at his home every day, and naturally, it became one of his favorite landscape subjects! He began painting it around 1882, creating a series of the specific mountain from various views and perspectives.

13126 Vauvenargues, France

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse, a French painter, was a leading figure of the French movement of Fauvism and one of the most influential artists of the modern era! He frequently experimented with vivid colors, Pointillist techniques, simplified forms, and flat shapes – all features of and inspired by Fauvism and Post-Impressionist artists.

The Open Window and View of Collioure

Matisse spent the summer of 1905 in Collioure with fellow painters Pablo Picasso and Andre Derain, where they all created colorful works inspired by their bright surroundings. Matisse’s Open Window and View of Collioure, both examples of Fauvism, boast intense colors, distinct brush strokes, and simplified forms. When visiting Collioure, you’ll need to use your artistic imagination to really see Matisse’s paintings, but you’ll feel the colorful vibrancy as soon as you arrive!

Le Village, 66190 Collioure, France

Georges Seurat

As the “pioneer of Pointillism,” Georges Seurat created full works out of single small dots or strokes of color. The French artist was fascinated by the science of color, form, and expression, and believed that different levels of warmth and coolness could evoke expressive effects.

Born in Paris, Seurat was inspired by the beauty of France and used his home country as the basis for most of his work. While Seurat was only 31 when he died, he left behind an influential and prolific body of work.

A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte, The Eiffel Tower, The Lighthouse at Honfleur

One of Seurat’s most famous works, A Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte, was painted in 1884 on – yes, you guessed it – the Ile de la Jatte! See all of those people relaxing by the Seine River in the painting? That can be you and your travel companions. The small island is located right near Neuilly-sur-Seine and has its own metro stop! Go on a Sunday, just for fun.

Seurat also painted works of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the old lighthouse in Honfleur. Visit the Vieux-Bassin (old harbor) of this charming city in France’s Normandy region and feel like you stepped into Seurat’s painting!

71 Boulevard Georges Seurat, 92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine, France

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