11 Apr 2017

Normandy’s Le Havre celebrates its 500th anniversary

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Le Havre is a fantastic destination to consider for a Normandy art school trip.

Founded by King Francis I in 1517, the port city of Le Havre has undergone various guises throughout the centuries. It acquired increasing importance at the end of the 18th century as a result of the slave trade and growing international commerce. Indeed, on the eve of WWI, Le Havre was the leading European port for coffee, as well as a major import destination for cotton and oil.

Occupied by German forces from 1940 and then suffering intense bombardment at the end of World War II, Le Havre was one of the worst affected cities in Europe with both its port and city centre largely destroyed. A visionary architect, Auguste Perret, was put in charge of the post-war reconstruction of the city and whilst his pioneering use of concrete was considered somewhat controversial, Le Havre’s city centre was classified in 2005 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is today very popular with fans of contemporary architecture.

Monet's Impression, Sunrise, on display in Le Havre's MuMA.

Monet’s Impression, Sunrise, on display in Le Havre’s MuMa.

Today much more than just a port town, Le Havre is a vibrant, cultural hub and home to one of France’s finest art institutions, the Musée d’Art Moderne André Malraux. To celebrate the city’s 500th birthday this year, there’s a number of special events planned including the return of Monet’s masterpiece, Impression, Sunrise for a special one-month exhibition (9 Sep to 8 Oct, 2017). Visitors will be able to view the painting alongside a selection of works by Eugène Boudin, William Turner and Raoul Dufy.

Excellent for French language, history, food technology and general enrichment as well as art & design school trips, Normandy is a superb region to explore. As well as Le Havre’s MuMa, consider visits to the beautiful city of Rouen, not only home to an outstanding Musée des Beaux Arts, but also its soaring Gothic cathedral, captured on some 30 canvasses by Monet. Another important visit is to Honfleur, a charming fishing port which saw Monet, Courbet, Corot, Sisley, Pissarro and Renoir all drawn here to paint the estuary seascapes. It also plays host to the Musée Eugène Boudin, a Honfleur native.

Visit Giverny on an art & design school trip to Normandy.

Visit Giverny on a Normandy art school trip.

And of course, there’s Giverny, enjoying global renown as the home of Claude Monet. Giverny comes alive during the summer months with visitors flocking from around the world to walk amongst the beautifully restored and lovingly maintained house and gardens where the Impressionist master lived and worked, creating some of his most famous paintings. Situated next door to Monet’s house and gardens meanwhile, the Musée des Impressionismes Giverny works in partnership with the Fondation Monet, the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris to present a series of temporary exhibitions dedicated to Impressionist art.

If you’d like to include Le Havre, Rouen, Honfleur or Giverny as part of a Normandy art school trip, please contact us for more details.

Pictures © Florian Kleinefenn & Andrea Solter.

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