Et voila! La Maison #Renoir is open to the public!

June 3, 2017 at 2:02 pm Leave a comment

La Maison Renoir, a corner of the living room

Some things are just so momentous that it’s hard to believe that they ever really will happen. Christmas morning is like this for many children (at least it was for me). And yesterday in Essoyes I again felt some of that feeling of Christmas-morning wonder-and- joy that I haven’t felt in quite the same way many times since I was a child.

Because yesterday, the Renoir family home, which has been under an intense process of renovation for the past year, was at last ready for visitors–and right on schedule!

You have to realize how amazing this is, first of all. This is how the house looked a few short months ago when I visited there with Mayor Alain Cintrat.

Honestly, when I first heard, last year around this time, that the house was going to be totally renovated, with climate control, an elevator, and other major improvements made, and that it would be totally furnished with period furnishings that would have to be gathered  from various places, all inside of year, I didn’t say anything negative of course, but I thought, “No way. How are they going to do that?”

I even asked someone at the Office de Tourism, sometime during the month of July, what the reopening dates were scheduled to be, just to be sure, and when she told me, I said. “Hmmm. So I guess they’ll have to start the work right away, right?”

Wrong. “Mais non,” she said, smiling. “It’s almost August, you know.”

So. You know how everyone makes fun of the French for taking so much time off? Long, and many, vacations? Long lunches?

Well. They did it. And they did it beautifully and wonderfully well. And they did without giving up those vacations and long lunches that make life so much more pleasant to live.

So, think about that now, Brits and Americans, okay? 🙂  They did it.

Yesterday was the day it was finally ready for viewing. And it is so beautiful. Take a look at this!

Yesterday the honored guests were the residents of Essoyes. The mayor was there all day long, cordially greeting everyone as they arrived. A friendly, cheerful, efficient team of village employees and volunteers were there to greet people, and show them how to use their audiotour kits, which offer commentary in French, English, and several other languages. (I wasn’t able to listen to the whole thing yesterday, but I listened to enough of it to know that it too is very nicely done: it tells the story of the Renoir family, how they came to be in Essoyes in the first place, how and why they loved it so. You can read some of that story here also, if you like.)

And, as of today, the house is open to the general public.

Great pains have been taken to decorate the rooms in the way they might have been, or– to some degree, by relying on photographs, bits of old wallpaper discovered in the renovation, and so on–even how they actually were in 1905, when the Renoirs were living there. The impression given is that the members of the family have just stepped out for a walk and will be back anytime. Some of the original furniture is there, on loan from Sophie Renoir–the great-granddaughter of Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his wife, Aline–who was the last one to live in the house. Period artifacts gathered from other sources give a wonderfully detailed feeling of what a real home of the period, and in this case what the Renoir home, in this period, would have been like. It is a wonderful experience to see it.

For the summer months three original works of Renoir on loan from museums in France: a landscape painted in nearby Loches; a bust of Madame Renoir; and a painting, Jeune femme au mirror, are on display as well.

During the weekend of July 22-23, all of Essoyes will invite visitors to come and, along with them, enter into the spirit of 1905, as they celebrate Essoyes a la belle époque. You can find out more about that, and many other special events planned for the summer, including a Renoir exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Troyes, here.

You’re going to want to come for a visit this summer, aren’t you?

I thought so! 🙂

Janet Hulstrand is a writer, editor, writing coach, and teacher of writing and of literature who divides her time between the U.S. and France. She leads book groups at the American Library in Paris, writing workshops in Essoyes, a village in the Champagne region, and teaches “Paris: A Literary Adventure” each summer, in Paris, for Queens College, CUNY.

Entry filed under: About Essoyes, About France, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , .

A very special spring in Essoyes Interview with Karen Schur-Narula, Author

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