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Paris Day Trip : Barbizon

Day-Trip to Barbizon from Paris - SouthEast to Fontainebleau
glaneuses millet barbizon
On the western edge of the 62.000 acre Fontainebleau forest, the village of Barbizon retains its time-stained allure despite the intrusion of art galleries, souvenir shops, and busloads of tourists.  The group of landscape painters known as the Barbizon School - Camille Corot, Jean-François Millet, Narcisse Diaz de la Pena, and Theodore rousseau, among others - lived here from the 1830s on. They paved the way for the Impressionists by their willingness to accept nature on its own terms rather  use it as an idealized base for carefully structured  compositions. Sealed to one of the famous sandstone rocks in the forest, which starts, literally, at the far end of the main street, is a bronze medallion by sculptor Henri Chapu, paying homage to Millet and Rousseau. Corot and company would often repair to the Auberge Ganne after painting to brush up on their social life. The inn is now the Musée de l'Ecole de Barbizon. Here you'll find documents of the village as it was in the 19th century, as well as a few original works. The Barbizon artists painted on every available surface, and even now you can see some originals on the upstairs walls. Two of the ground floor rooms have been reconstituted as they were in Ganne's time, note the trompe-l'oeil paintings on the buffet doors.  There is also a video on Barbizon School. Though there are no actual Millet works, the Atelier Jean-François Millet is cluttered with photographs and mementos evoking his career. It was here that Millet painted some of his most renowned pieces, including the Gleaners.

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