The Impressionist Trail at Carrières-sur-Seine

The village and banks of the Seine in Carrières-sur-Seine are well worth a visit! Come and discover what this village has in store for you. Trace its development as you wander through the streets lined with troglodyte dwellings, and take advantage of the opportunity to meet the craftspeople whose doors are open to you.

We invite you to follow the trail to learn more about the works of the Impressionist movement, its forerunners and its successors. Reproductions of some of these works have been installed along the banks of the Seine in Carrières-sur-Seine and in the heart of the village.

Carrières-sur-Seine through the centuries: from the first stones to the Impressionist movement

The stone quarries and their development

Carrières-Saint-Denis’ city was founded on 15 July 1137 by Suger, the abbot of Saint-Denis. The creation of the town was intended to enrich the powerful royal abbey of Saint-Denis, thanks in particular to its exceptional natural resources.

It became famous during the 8th century for the extraction of liais stone (limestone) used for building religious buildings in particular, and the clay soil used for viticulture.

The heavily quarried rocks were also used to build troglodyte dwellings and storage areas for harvesting various crops (cereals, rye, barley, etc.). The diversification of agriculture developed gradually up to the 17th century.

Today, a windmill, a troglodyte dwelling and a superb 18th-century wine press in the Cour du Soleil (Impasse du Pressoir) remain from this period.

Troglodyte dwelling in 1900 Troglodyte dwelling today  Mushroom farm in 1900 Carrara City today

Then came the Paris mushroom, which revitalised the town’s economy after it had suffered greatly as a result of the French Revolution!

Today, the quarries have been renovated for tourism and leisure activities. In the Cour du Soleil, two of the quarries house objects that bear witness to traditional and hereditary skills. The Sequana organisation has several old boats undergoing restoration or ready to return to the water. The organisation that preserves the quarries, the “Association Histoire et Sauvegarde du Vieux Carrières”, presents a display of old tools and reconstructions linked to the commune’s rural past at the Maison du Patrimoine,

Finally, Carrara City is without doubt the most important quarry today. It is now dedicated to artistic creation and events. You can explore it on guided tours organised by the Tourist Office throughout the year, often during the European Heritage Days.

The banks of the Seine in Carrières were admired by the Impressionists

The town of Carrières-sur-Seine enjoyed a great period of prosperity thanks to Abbé Suger and the exploitation of its resources until the reign of Louis XIV. It was also highly appreciated for its location on the banks of the Seine. It was the Impressionists in particular who came to Chatou and Croissy-sur-Seine for the Fournaise and La Grenouillère taverns, extending their explorations of the surrounding countryside to the banks of the Seine in Carrières.

Monet, Vlaminck, Derain and Braque were drawn to the reflections found on the water, as well as the picturesque architecture in the village of Carrières, which is still the pride of its inhabitants today.

The characteristic white stone is still incorporated into modern buildings in order to honour the identity that is one of the town’s assets.

The town’s natural heritage also contributes to its unspoilt charm, particularly the Parc de la Mairie, listed as one of the “most beautiful gardens in France”. This is a French-style garden with Italian influences with terraces, ponds and fountains, probably created in the time of its owner Simon Le Tellier, under Louis XIII.

Carrières-sur-Seine: A town of tradition and skills

Craftspeople reproduce age-old techniques in Carrières-sur-Seine

Carrières-sur-Seine was once famous for its crops and stone quarries. Today, it continues to promote exceptional skills through the passionate craftspeople who have set up their workshops here.

They will explain their techniques, materials and passion for ironwork, restoring old books and goldsmithing. You can meet them all year round by appointment, on open days, or during the European Crafts Days.

Another of the exceptional skills that make the town so rich is the production of the drink Eau de Mélisse.

The Eau des Carmes Boyer factory in Carrières-sur-Seine and its Eau de Mélisse

Carmes Boyer Eau de Mélisse is a miraculous elixir whose proven benefits have been acknowledged for years. Its medical success was unequalled by doctors and including those in the court of King Louis XIV. The monks of the Carmelite Order, who studied medicinal plants, are said to have first made it around 1611. They made Eau de Mélisse from 14 plants and 9 spices with medicinal properties. The secret recipe has been handed down from generation to generation for over 400 years. It is said to cure a wide range of ailments, including digestive problems, fatigue and motion sickness.

In 2016, the company was awarded the Living Heritage Label.

The Boyer family workshop in Carrières-sur-Seine is still in operation. You can visit the factory via the Tourist Office.

Your visit to Carrières-sur-Seine

Don’t miss out on a visit to this town on the banks of the Seine in Carrières! Deepen your cultural exploration with your family using the new adventure created on the Paris Region Aventure app. Take a gourmet break in one of its restaurants; are you staying for several days? Settle into one of Saint Germain Boucles de Seine’s cosy accommodation options.