The Impressionists trail at Le Pecq
The town of Le Pecq awaits you! Find out more about the town’s history. Follow in the footsteps of pre- and post-Impressionist artists in Le Pecq such as JMW Turner, Maurice de Vlaminck and Maurice Denis.
We invite you to follow the trail to learn more about the works of the Impressionist movement, its forerunners and its successors. Take advantage of this walk to explore all the Impressionist paths across Saint Germain Boucles de Seine.
The arrival of the first trains and the port boosted the town of Le Pecq
On 24 August 1837, France’s first passenger railway line was opened: the Paris – Saint-Germain line. The station was set up in Le Pecq ten years before before the line actually reached Saint-Germain. This innovation led to a number of changes in the town, including the construction of two large bridges over the Seine and a very long viaduct. The station was located on the banks of the Seine, at the corner of number 190 Route Royale and Quai de l’Orme de Sully.
As well as experiencing changes to the urban landscape, the town of Le Pecq underwent an economic and social transformation at this time.
The station provided connections with steamboats heading for Rouen, as well as an omnibus service to Saint-Germain.
Then, from 1878 until around 1923, bateaux-mouches (excursion boats) appeared, notably Le Touriste and La Madelon. These provided a regular service between Paris and Le Pecq, allowing tourists to admire the banks of the Seine.
The station was demolished in 1896, and with it the various activities linked to maritime transport gradually came to an end, right up to the present day!
Tourist and leisure activities at the port of Le Pecq
Today, the port of Le Pecq bustles with activity. In particular, it welcomes passenger boats and hotel boats travelling to Normandy. Thanks to the Tourist Office, you can also climb aboard a cruise boat during the summer.. So why not enjoy a cruise on the river, with an Impressionist theme.
And let’s not forget the nearby yacht club. It offers sailing courses for young people and adults on the Seine all year round.
The town of Le Pecq: a bridge between the two banks of the Seine
Le Pecq has seen a succession of bridges built to cross the Seine and reach the royal town of Saint-Germain-en-Laye from Paris.
Three wooden bridges were built over the Seine between 1627 and 1830. The first, known as the Pont Marie de Médicis was 195 m long and collapsed under the ice on 9 January 1637. The second bridge was opened in 1649. It was burnt down three years later by the Prince de Condé’s troops during the Fronde Civil Wars. The third bridge was built around 1665. In January 1830, ice swept away this 175-year-old bridge.
It was replaced by a new structure built further downstream, continuing the road from Paris to Saint-Germain, which at the time ran through the forest of Le Vésinet.
This bridge was destroyed directly by the Prussians during the siege of Paris in 1870.
The two current bridges linking the two banks of Le Pecq
Finally, the last and current Le Pecq bridge was inaugurated on 31 December 1963. When it was inaugurated, this bridge was located in the Seine-et-Oise department, whose name evoked two rivers. These are symbolised by two monumental five-metre-long sculptures in Roman travertine, the work of sculptor René Letourneur (1898–1990). In addition to their aesthetic appeal, the statues had a practical function in the past: their weight created a vertical thrust to counterbalance the horizontal thrust of the span.
The other bridge in Le Pecq is a railway bridge that crosses the Seine above Ile Corbière and the park of the same name on the opposite bank, Parc Corbière. This large, relaxing park is very popular with residents and visitors to Le Pecq. It’s an ideal place for the whole family to enjoy themselves, with its playground and mini-farm.
The Post-Impressionists incorporated the work of the time into their landscapes of the banks of the Seine
JMW Turner (1775–1851)
One of Joseph Mallord William Turner’s passions was his travels in Europe, which acted as a stimulus to his art. These trips gave rise to hundreds of sketches and watercolours. He devoted seven of the ten trips he made to Europe between 1802 and 1832 to the Seine. The Seine thus became a fertile source of inspiration for Turner. However, he also produced his views of the Seine in response to commissions for tourist books and travel brochures.
Turner rarely painted “on the spot”, unlike the Impressionists. In fact, he preferred to recompose the nuances of landscapes in his studio, with the help of his colour memory.
Turner painted his picture View of Saint Germain en Laye and its Chateau, around 1829/1830. It incorporates a bridge that had already been destroyed at the time. The bridge disappeared in 1830 and was rebuilt between 1832 and 1835. Turner therefore reintegrated it into his scene using sketches made during one of his last journeys.
In his work, he also depicted the work of the time, which had come about with the arrival of the train and the activity of the port. He illustrated this with the unloading of goods by men on land and the washerwomen bustling about in the foreground.
Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958)
Maurice de Vlaminck and André Derain met in Chatou, near Paris, in 1904. They set up their studio in what is now the Galerie Bessières, on the first floor of the Maison Levanneur.
“In their landscapes, the two artists described the reality of their time. For them, the banks of the Seine were no longer a place of leisure as with the Impressionist painters, but a place of toil.” Centre Pompidou.
Vlaminck produced the majority of his works in the Seine valley between Chatou, Rueil-Malmaison and the surrounding area. As his income did not really allow him to travel, he remained mainly in the Paris region.
Primarily a landscape painter, he also drew his inspiration from the bridges and banks of the Seine. Sometimes silhouettes enliven his landscapes, which are often devoid of any human presence. The elements that make up his scenes are generally linked to working the land and river navigation.
Maurice Denis (1870-1943)
Known as “Le Nabi aux belles icônes” or “the painter of the sacred”, Maurice Denis left his mark on the art world. He had his own interpretation of what an artistic composition should be. And, as Cézanne said, art should not copy nature, but borrow its motifs from it.
Maurice Denis was a painter, decorator, glass painter and illustrator, as well as a theorist, critic, art historian, lecturer and teacher.
After his trip to Italy, Maurice Denis’ style evolved. He once again incorporated perspective into his scenes. His works on Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Le Pecq depict moments in life. These are often nocturnal scenes, depicting the work and leisure activities of the time. Fontaine de la Place du Marché, à Saint-Germain, L’Enterrement dans mon Quartier (Fountain on the Market Square in Saint-Germain, Burial in my Neighbourhood), 1893 and Port du Pecq (Port of Le Pecq), 1896, are perfect examples of this.
In Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the Prieuré – the house that the artist lived in for the last thirty years of his life – is now the Musée Départemental Maurice Denis, offering an ideal setting in which to admire the vast collection of works by the painter and his contemporaries, particularly the Nabis.
Your visit to the town of Le Pecq
Travel between the two banks of the Seine and visit the town of Le Pecq! As well as its cultural treasures, the town offers a range of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets, as well as accommodation to suit all types of stay.