The Artists Trail

Between 1830 and 1870, Pays de Fontainebleau was the backdrop for an artistic revolution which changed the course of modern painting.

It was here, in the forest of Fontainebleau, that the precursors of Impressionism abandoned their studios to paint the forest and plains and the banks of the Seine. From Barbizon, where Jean-François Millet painted his masterpiece, L’Angélus (The Angelus), to Chailly-en-Bière, which inspired Monet to paint his famous Déjeuner sur l’Herbe (Luncheon on the Grass), Fontainebleau and the Barbizon School remain an international reference for Impressionism.

Discover our Artists Trail with the aid of our documentary sources, walking tours and audio-guides.


Chailly-en-Bière was a frequent destination for painters from as early as 1820. Jean Baptiste Corot was one of the first to make regular stays here. This was where Claude Monet painted his famous Déjeuner sur l’Herbe (Luncheon on the Grass), while Frédérique Bazille painted an injured Claude Monet in his inn room in Chailly (L’Ambulance Improvisée / The Improvised Ambulance, 1865). The painters used to meet at the Auberge du Lion d’Or (the Golden Lion Inn) or the Cheval Blanc (the White Horse), where some traces of this past are still visible on the walls.

Some of these artists are buried in the cemetery in Chailly-en-Bière, including Jean-François Millet and Théodore Rousseau.

Historic buildings and places

Auberge du cheval Blanc
St. Paul’s Church

Useful links :
Chailly-en-Bière Town Hall


Barbizon was once a simple hamlet of woodcutters, but with the arrival of Corot, Rousseau, Millet and Diaz de la Peña, it became the village that paved the way to Impressionism. From 1820 on, painters used to walk from Chailly to Barbizon, where the inn run by Edmée and François Ganne became a rallying point.

Numerous artists settled here, including Théodore Rousseau, Charles Jacques, Jean François Millet, Diaz de la Peña, to name just a few.
Everything about the place enchanted them: the play of light in the undergrowth, the shadows of the tall trees, the lakes, the stormy skies and the variations of nature depending on the season and time of day. With their easels on their backs, they left their studios to paint their great masterpieces:

Corot, various views of the forest of Fontainebleau, 1830-1832; Théodore Rousseau, Groupe de chênes, Apremont (Group of Oaks, Apremont) 1850-52; Jean-François Millet, Les Glaneuses (The Gleaners), 1857 and L’Angélus (The Angelus) between 1857 and 1859.

Barbizon has lost nothing of its rustic charm, with its opulent, ivy-covered stone houses and its rose-filled gardens, and is still the “village of painters” – all painters!

Historic buildings

Museum of Barbizon Painters

House and studio of Jean-François Millet

House of Théodore Rousseau and the chapel :

The painter lived and worked in this secluded little house at the bottom of a farmer’s garden, consisting of just two dark, low-ceilinged rooms and a barn, which he converted into a studio between 1847 and 1867. Visiting artists also met up here to spend cosy evenings together. The studio was converted into a chapel in 1889, when Millet’s second son, who was an architect, built a modest bell tower on top; it was then extended to a church in 1950. The garden became the site of the war memorial, the centrepiece of which is the sculpture The Gaul by Ernest Révillon (1854-1937), which was offered by a Franco-American subscription in 1920. Formerly the town museum, the house and studio of Theodore Rousseau is now the annex to the Barbizon School Museum and is used for temporary exhibitions.

Learn more about Barbizon’s history here (in French):


Walking tours (in French)


The nineteenth century marked the start of Bourron-Marlotte’s great artistic period. In around 1830, Caruelle d’Aligny and his friend Jean-Baptiste Corot settled in Marlotte, where a large number of artists from Barbizon came to visit them – including Harpignies, Daubigny, Diaz de la Peña, Olivier de Penne and Celestin Nanteuil.

From 1860, they were joined by Sisley, Renoir, Monet, Cézanne, Pissarro and Bazille. They would all meet up in the village’s two inns, Auberge Saccault and the inn run by “Mother Antony”. A Bohemian spirit reigned.

Other painters followed in their wake, such as Auguste Allongé, Eugène Cicéri, Charles Delort, Jules Rigolot, Armand Charnay and Armand Point, who are less well-known today but who at the time enjoyed a certain celebrity and bought or built houses to live here after 1870. Some are buried in Bourron cemetery.

Source : Bourron Marlotte Town Hall website

Useful link :

Historic buildings

> Château de Bourron Marlotte :
> La Mairie-Musée :

Walking tour (in French)


The idyllic situation of Bois-le-Roi between the Seine and the forest combined with the arrival of the railway in 1848 prompted numerous painters and writers to come here to live. The street names pay tribute to these influential artists.

Aimé Perret, who is often compared to Millet, settled here in 1878 and painted numerous works (Chemin de halage/The Towpath, Bois-le-Roi). Robert Noir, whose real name was Ernest Salmon and whose parents moved to the village in 1880, painted numerous works here bearing the name of Bois-le-Roi, including La Ramasseuse de Bois-le-Roi, and many others.

The “affolantes” – the flamboyant villas built in eclectic styles along the Seine – bear witness to a sumptuous past and formed a backdrop of choice for these artists in search of inspiration.

Useful link :

Historic buildings

> Le château de Brolles :

Walking tour

> History of the streets :
> Murals tour :


Ideally situated between river and forest, in the nineteenth century Samois-sur-Seine attracted numerous Impressionist painters, such as Redon, Nadar, Seurat and Marquet, seeking inspiration on the banks of the river. Everything here inspired them, from the reflection of the poplars in the water to the changing hues of the sky throughout the day.

Armand Guillaumin set up his easel here on several occasions between 1898 and 1902, producing some ten works featuring the Seine at Samois (1898); while Paul Signac paintedThe Barge here in 1901, among other works.

Numerous outstanding gardens have been inventoried here and, as in Bois-le-Roi, the “affolantes” – the flamboyant villas built in eclectic styles along the Seine – bear witness to a sumptuous past and formed a backdrop of choice for these artists in search of inspiration.

Useful link :

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