Essoyes en Champagne: Beloved Home of Renoir, and a Lovely Place to Visit

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Essoyes en Champagne: Beloved Home of Renoir, and a Lovely Place to Visit
Of course nothing is certain yet about reopening dates for museums and other historical sites in France. But with the gentle, warm spring breezes hope begins to return… And while we are all waiting for the green light, this seems an appropriate time to think about what direction one might wish to head in for spring and/or summer explorations when the time comes. So why not get out your maps and calendars, and give yourself the chance to dream a little? Champagne Nourissat. Photo credit © Phineas Rueckert, 2020 Essoyes, in southern Champagne, near the border of Burgundy, is one such place to contemplate. A mere two and a half hours away from Paris, this village is where the Renoir family spent many happy summers, and where (when it is open) visitors can visit the restored family home and the painter’s studio. There is also a lovely little interpretive center that tells the story of the Renoir family in Essoyes, and visitors can pay their respects to Pierre Auguste Renoir and his wife, as well as their three artist sons (Pierre, Jean, and Claude) who are all buried in the village cemetery, just steps away from the family home. In addition, several hikes in and around Essoyes offer the opportunity to trek through beautiful landscapes, a few of which have been marked with tasteful, discrete markers showing hikers some of the places where Renoir’s paintings were painted en plein air. And while uncertainty still hangs over this summer’s activities, the Centre Culturel Renoir has not been idle. Here are the exhibitions planned for this summer.  Fingers crossed! Essoyes in Champagne. Photo credit © Phineas Rueckert, 2020 Those planning to head in this direction should be aware of other attractions in the area, or along the way from Paris, not the least of which is the relatively new Musée Camille Claudel in Nogent sur Seine, and the many historic and cultural attractions of Troyes, the capital of l’Aube. Of course you should check ahead to make sure the places you wish to visit will be open when you’re planning to come. But the truth is, this is a lovely part of the world to see even if all you can do is drive, or stroll, through lovely landscapes and villages, and maybe head home with a few bottles of champagne, to celebrate good times to come in the months ahead…Not to mention the happy glow of memories made meeting the people who make this lovely part of the world such a pleasant place to spend time.
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Lead photo credit : Essoyes river view. Photo credit © Phineas Rueckert, 2020

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Janet Hulstrand is a freelance writer, editor and teacher who divides her time between France and the U.S. She is the author of "Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You," and she writes frequently on France for a variety of publications, including her blog, Writing from the Heart, Reading for the Road. She teaches “Paris: A Literary Adventure” for the education abroad program of Queens College of the City University of New York; classes at Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington D.C.; and Writing from the Heart workshop/retreats in Essoyes, a beautiful little village in the Champagne region (l’Aube).