There is a lot to see in the area of Marly-le-Roi and Louveciennes and many places to linger and so two ‘one-way’ walks have been suggested. It is possible to combine these into one ‘round-trip’ but that would entail a lot of walking and limited time to stand and stare. Display panels showing some paintings by Pissarro, Sisley and Renoir have been erected by the tourist authorities at various places along the routes and these are all highlighted in the walks.
Walk 1 – From Louveciennes to Marly-le-Roi
Sitting on the train at Saint Lazare station, waiting for it to depart on the short journey to Louveciennes, Monet’s series of pictures come to mind. Although the trains have changed – there are no clouds of atmospheric steam and smoke – the fabric of the building, with its tent-like canopies of iron and glass, still conjure up the scene of a century and half past. The station also inspired Norbert Goeneutte to paint several pictures of the station from the Pont de l’Europe. The railways, at the time, were at the cutting edge of new developments and a catalyst for social change and as such were an irresistible subject for these ‘revolutionaries’ of the art world. The journey through the western suburbs of Paris takes in other places that have links with the work of the Impressionists and their contemporaries such as Asniers, La Celle de Saint-Cloud and Bougival, some of which will be explored in more detail on this site. Upon arrival at the pretty nineteenth century station at Louveciennes cross the road to find the first information panel .
All too soon the tranquillity is shattered by the heavy traffic of the Route de Versailles which this road joins. The monumental presence of the aqueduct is visible beyond a substantial house on the other side of the road which was the home and studio of Camille Pissarro between 1869 and 1872. This major thoroughfare provided the subject matter for many paintings by the artist and his contemporaries, including Monet who lived with Pissarro for a while when he was experiencing one of the many periods of financial difficulty. Pissarro painted almost exactly the same scene under many different conditions and at all times of the year. For instance La Route de Versailles, Louveciennes (effet de niege), 1869; La Route de Versailles, Louveciennes, 1870; La Route de Louveciennes, 1872 and La Diligénce à Louveciennes, 1870.
Turn right out of the station and proceed downhill to the crossroads and turn left into Rue de Montbuisson. It was from near here that Sisley painted Le Chemin de Montbuisson à Louveciennes in 1873 – a very open and rural image compared to the more developed scene of today. Walk uphill through this quiet part of the town and at further along on the left at no. 2 (bis) is the house where Anaïs Nis, the American writer, lived between 1931 and 1935 and where she had a passionate affair with Henry Miller. A few steps further on and the road is joined by the Rue de Renoir on the left and at the corner is a house bearing a plaque indicating that this is where Renoir stayed during the summers of 1907 to 1915. The walk continues straight on into the Rue du Pont but it is worth walking a few steps down the hill to the right along Rue du Général Leclerc to see the house of Doctor Baudot at no. 4. His daughter, Jeanne, was a pupil of Renoir and it was here that he stayed and had a studio for several summers.
Continue along the tree-lined avenue to the right until this joins the perimeter path and just before the Abreuvoir at the head of the park is reached there is a further panel  showing Sisley’s L’Abreuvoir de Marly, Gelée Blanche, 1876. Sisley lived very close by and he painted this motif many times in all weathers and at all seasons. It is still possible to identify individual buildings but the very busy traffic roundabout is now a constant reminder of the present day.
Now follow the perimeter path round to the left with the Abreuvoir on the right passing two equestrian statues which are copies of originals by Guillaume Coustou dating from the time of Louis XV. Leave the park a little further along onto the Avenue des Combattants, turn left and walk uphill to the Tourist Office where useful information about the town is available. Now cross the road and walk up the Grande Rue which is the main thoroughfare of the delightful old town of Marly, and is lined with buildings, some dating back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Number 48 is the site of an ancient forge and blacksmiths shop which was depicted in a painting by Sisley (La Forge à Marly-le-Roi, 1875). In addition to the Hôtel Le Ralleye which has a good restaurant there are many other eating places ranging from the relatively inexpensive to fine dining.
Adjacent to this is the Place Général de Gaulle with a restaurant on the left and the town hall directly ahead and here is to be found the first display panel  on this walk. This shows Place du Chenil à Marly, Effet de Neige, 1876 by Alfred Sisley. Take away the cars that are parked everywhere and, although the rooflines have changed slightly, the view is still recognisable. One element that is out of character is the gift from the twin town of Marlow in the form of a bright red telephone kiosk and post box.
Turn right out of the square and follow Rue Raoul Filhos down to the roundabout and then turn right into Avenue Jean Berenger which leads down to the Place de l’Abreuvoir. As mentioned in walk 1 this provided the subject matter for many paintings by Sisley who lived a stones-throw away at no 2 Avenue de l’Abreuvoir, where there is a commemorative plaque on the wall of the present property.
Continue downhill and eventually a glimpse of the monumental aqueduct will appear through the gates of the ‘Clinique du Val de Seine’ on the right. The very busy Route de Versailles is just ahead with heavy traffic in both directions. Fortunately there are traffic lights and so its not too difficult to cross the road to see the next display panel , showing Route de Versailles, 1895 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. In some ways the essence of this view remains the same – a tree-lined main thoroughfare, but the constant passing of heavy lorries makes it almost impossible to imagine yourself in Renoir’s shoes.
This shows Vue de Louveciennes by Camille Pissarro painted in 1870 (please note that the panel describes this as Printemps à Louveciennes but this is incorrect). Much has changed, principally because of the influence of the motor car on the built environment. However, the dominant element of the painting, which is the monumental aqueduct in the distance, is still an impressive feature and the foreground trees give some similarity to the view Pissarro would have had. Renoir (Rue de Louveciennes, 1869) and Sisley (Environs de Louveciennes, 1872) painted similar views from here, both before the arrival of the railway.
Vue de Louveciennes, 1870, Pissarro
Return to the road junction, and it is from here that Pissarro painted Louveciennes in 1871 and where Sisley probably painted Dernier rayon de soleil à Louveciennes in 1873 although new buildings and more mature trees obscure the view he would have seen. Turn into the Ru du Pont and continue downhill until a grand house is reached. This is the Château du Pont and just a little further along on the right is another display panel . This shows Le Château du Pont en Hiver, Effet de Niege by Jeanne Baudot and was painted in 1948. The delightful seventeenth century mansion was probably painted from an upper floor window at the artist’s house is much the same today, although the foreground is now occupied by a neglected tennis court. Continue along this road walking uphill passing no. 10, the house where Renoir’s mother lived between 1881 and 1891 and where the artist was a frequent visitor. At the top of the hill the Rue de l’Étang is on the right and the Chemin de l’Étang is on the left. The walk continues to the left but at this point it may be an idea to take a short diversion downhill into the town, especially if refreshment is required.
Le Chemin de Montbuisson à Louveciennes, 1873, Sisley
Walking downhill notice a rare thatched house at no. 9 on the left and the Maison de l’Étang with a delightful park on the right. At the junction with the main road turn right into Rue du Professeur Tuffier to take a look at the church of Saint Martin in the pretty Place de l’Église, lined with traditional shops and restaurants. Just beyond the church, across Rue du Général Leclerc, is the Château de Louveciennes, a grand eighteenth century edifice now divided into fashionable apartments. A little further along this road on the right-hand side there is an entrance to the Parc des Trois Grilles. Take the Rue Petite through the park and this will bring you back to the Maison de l’Étang on Rue de l’Étang. Turn left and continue uphill until the junction with Rue du Pont and Chemin de l’Étang is reached and it is at this point that the original walk is rejoined.
Take the Chemin de l’Étang as far the entrance to the Bois de Louveciennes, an enormous area providing plenty of opportunities for woodland walks and picnics. Turn right and follow the path through the trees with glimpses of the town and church to the right. Eventually the path rejoins a road, the Chemin de la Chasse du Roi and this should be followed uphill. The Rue des Bois joins on the right. This eventually reaches the main road, Rue du Maréchal Joffre, with a newly restored house on the right bearing a plaque for Emile Philippe (Artiste-Peintre 1881–1937). The view to the right downhill towards the town was painted by Sisley in his Gel à Louveciennes in 1873. Cross the road and continue down Rue du Parc de Marly with the wooded area of the Parc de Pelouse on the left and secluded houses on the right. If you turn round after about 50 metres you will see the view that Pissarro painted in Neige à Louveciennes in 1872. It was also in this area that Pissarro painted Châtaigniers à Louveciennes in 1871–72, Le Bois de châtaigniers en hiver, Louveciennes in 1872 and Environs de Louveciennes in 1869. Sisley also painted a snowy scene along this road with Pissarro’s house in the distance in Effet de neige à Louveciennes in 1874.
Turn left and walk the short distance down this main road to a major roundabout with the impressive aqueduct and the Tour de Jongleur on the right. A closer look at this remarkable feat of engineering may be taken from the Allée de la Tour-de-Jongleur which runs behind the aqueduct. Across the roundabout on the left is the entrance to La Châtaigneraie, a private estate which was once the home of Marshal Joffre and his final resting place is now in the grounds. On the right is the principal entrance to the Parc de Marly.
Just inside the impressive gateway (Grille Royale) is the Musée-Promenade de Marly-le-Roi and the cobbled Allée Royale leads steeply downhill to the foundations of the château. From here there are numerous pathways through a vast area of landscaped parkland and it would be very easy to pass a pleasant hour or two in this leafy domain. However, to continue the walk to Marly it is necessary to turn right and follow a tree-line avenue which runs parallel to the ornamental lake. Eventually another pathway will join on the right and close to this spot there in another display panel . This shows Pissarro’s Vue de Marly-le-Roi, 1870 and although the view is largely unchanged since the artist’s time, the trees lining the boundary of the park have grown so high that most of town is obscured with only the top of the church steeple evident. Sisley painted La Niege à Marly-le-Roi, 1875 from almost exactly the same spot.
La Route de Versailles, Louveciennes (effet dw niege), 1869, Pissarro
Eventually the Rue de l’Église is reached on the left and this leads to the impressive church of Saint-Vigor which was built between 1688 and 1691 to the design of Jules Hardouin-Mansart and is a unique example of church architecture by him. The altar in the church was originally in the royal chapel at Versailles.
Before proceeding to the railway station and while in the area of the church it is worthwhile having a look at the Château du Verduron round the corner on the main road (Rue Georges Tattevin) which was the home of Victorien Sardou, the author and dramatist who was a contemporary of the Impressionists and was much influenced by their work. The house and studio of Aristide Maillol is rather more out-of-the-way and is now abandoned and so is probably not worth the detour.
Return to the church and proceed along the Rue de l’Église and continue straight on when this becomes the Rue Alexandre Dumas. Where the Rue Champflour joins on the right a short detour may be taken to view the house of the author and playwrite who lived in Marly between 1874 and his death in 1895. The son of his more famous father, he again worked at the same time as Pissarro, Sisley and Renoir and together with Sardou they made this small provincial town a veritable hothouse of creativity in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Returning to the Rue Alexandre Dumas continue down this road until a roundabout is reached and from here take the Avenue du Général Leclerc which eventually leads to the railway station for the return journey to central Paris.
Walk 2 – From Marly-le-Roi to Louveciennes
On this walk the station at Marly-le-Roi is the starting point and Louveciennes will be the final destination. Cross the Place de la Gare and take Avenue du Général Leclerc, heading towards the old town. At the roundabout take Rue Alexandre Dumas and follow this until Grande Rue joins on the left. You will see the church of St. Vigor directly in front and, unless already investigated in walk 1, it will be worth a short detour to see this example of ecclesiastical architecture by Mansart. Otherwise turn left down Grande Rue which is the main thoroughfare of the old town. Take a left turn into Rue Mansart and here you will find the entrance to the Jardin de Maillol, a small, pleasant park dedicated to the sculptor who lived and worked in the town. A little further along is the Hôtel Couvé, originally built in 1737 for Pierre Couvé, a wealthy banker who was secretary to Louis XV.
La Forge à Marly-le-Roi, 1875, Sisley
Place du Chenil à Marly, Effet de Neige, 1876, Sisley
This distinctive feature was explored time and again by the artist, maybe as many as seventeen times and amongst the better-known canvases are L’Abreuvoir à Marly, 1875, Baignade de chevaux à Port-Marly, 1875 and L’Abreuvoir de Marly-le-Roi, 1875. The water feature also appears in a painting by Mary Cassatt – Lydia assise sur un banc, 1880. During the summer of 1880 the artist stayed at a grand house overlooking the watering place and the grounds provided subject matter for several paintings including Lydia crochetant dans le jardin à Marly and Lydia assise dans le jardin avec un chien sur ses genoux.
By taking the right exit from the Place de l’Abreuvoir along the main road (D386) you will be walking into yet more Sisley paintings, namely La Route de Marly-le-Roi, 1875 and La Route de Versailles, 1875. After only a few steps turn left off the main road onto the Chemin de Louveciennes, a narrow road proceeding uphill through woodland and a few grand houses. When the junction with the main road is reached turn left onto the Chemin du Coeur Volante.
Lydia crochetant dans le jardin à Marly, 1880, Cassatt
Turn your back to the traffic noise and walk down the much quieter Rue de Voisins in the direction of Louveciennes and here you will find the next display panel . This shows Une Rue de Village, Louveciennes, 1871 by Camille Pissarro. The roads are wider with more noticeable street furniture and there are a few passing cars but essentially the view remains the same with the entrance to the big house on the left and the Avenue St Martin joining on the right. It was also from this point that Sisley painted Premières neiges à Louveciennes in 1870.
A few steps further on turn right into the Avenue St Martin and over on the other side of the road is the next panel , showing Sisley’s L’Aqueduc de Marly, 1874. In this picture the artist depicts the monumental presence of the aqueduct dominating the landscape but trees now all but conceal it with only the top of the Tour du Levant visible.
Une Rue de Village, Louveciennes, 1871, Pissarro
Carry on up the road, crossing over the railway line, and the next panel  is to be found on the other side of the road. This is the point from which Pissarro painted Entrée du Village de Voisins, 1872. Unlike the Route de Versailles, which runs parallel to this road, there is only an occasional passing car and there is a definite echo of the atmosphere captured by the artist. The grand house at centre-left is still recognisable as are some of the other buildings on the left and the railway line which was not constructed at the time of Pissarro’s picture is out of sight beneath the road.
It is now necessary to retrace your steps to rejoin the Rue de Voisins, continuing downhill towards Louveciennes and then turn left into Chemin de la Machine. Passing a grand gateway and gatehouse on the right continue down the tree-lined and usually traffic-free avenue until another display panel  is reached on the right-hand side. This shows Pissarro’s Le Village de Voisins, 1872 and the view of this attractive enclave on the outskirts of Louveciennes is practically unchanged and so is the tranquil atmosphere. However, amidst the beauty and peace of this place it is sad to be reminded of darker times. There is a plaque on the wall of the building featured in the painting dedicated to the 35 Jewish children, some as young as 5 years old, who were sent to Nazi concentration camps from an orphanage here. According to the inscription only one survived.
A few steps further along on the other side of the road is another panel  showing Chemin de la Machine, Louveciennes, 1872 by Alfred Sisley. The trees are much denser now, obscuring the distant view but otherwise the artist would feel he was in familiar surroundings. The Pavillon des Eaux, part of the Château du Barry, on the right is unchanged. Before retracing your steps and walking towards the railway station it is possible to continue further down this delightful avenue and be rewarded by a stunning panoramic view of the Seine valley with the city of Paris in the distance.
Chemin de la Machine, Louveciennes, 1872, Sisley
First of all follow the Place Emile Dreux for a short distance to find the house occupied by Renoir in 1869–70, during which time he painted many local views including Vue de Louveciennes, 1870 and La Vallée de la Seine vue de Louveciennes, 1870. It was while he was living here that Renoir spent a lot of time with Monet collaborating on many projects including the paintings of La Grenouillère. He left the area as the Prussian troops approached and after the war he returned to live with his parents in the village. At a much later date this was the home of the composer Kurt Weil. Return to the Chemin de la Machine and continue downhill. You will come to a point where there is a bridge on the left and from here you can see the huge iron pipe which carried water up from the Seine to supply water features at the palaces of Marly and Versailles. The road now comes to an end with a car park on the right but a footpath continues downhill and at a bend to the right a huge panorama of the urban sprawl of Paris opens up dominated by the high-rise developments at La Défense. What a contrast to the wooded tranquillity you have just walked through.
Just a little further down the path there is a further information panel , which shows Louveciennes, Hauteurs de Marly, vers 1873 by Alfred Sisley. This shows La Ferme de Mi-Côte, on the right, which was originally a forge used during the construction of the ‘Machine’. There is still evidence of the buildings although they are now in ruins and much overgrown and the distant view of the valley of the Seine in now completely obscured by trees. It is possible to continue down the footpath and this would complete the story of the ‘Machine’ with further panels dedicated to paintings by Sisley but this will be at the cost of a strenuous return walk uphill to either Louveciennes or Bougival station and it is probably more sensible to include these panels in the Bougival section and besides, there is still more to see in Louveciennes on the return walk to the station.
Return uphill along Chemin de la Machine and at the end turn left into Rue de la Princesse. At the junction with Rue de l’Etarché is number 2 (indicated by a plaque on the wall) and this is the site of the house where Sisley lived between 1870 and 1874 with some interruptions, mainly as a result of the Franco-Prussian War.
Louveciennes, Hauteurs de Marly, 1873, Sisley
He painted prodigiously in the area and you will find yourself walking into the subjects of many of his canvases as you wander through the quiet lanes. These include Rue de la Princesse, Louveciennes, 1873 and Route de Louveciennes, 1874. If you turn down Rue de l’Etarché you will be walking in the footsteps of the old lady with an umbrella featured in Un jardin à Louveciennes, 1873 and Jardin à Louveciennes, effet de neige, 1874 and as you continue down this road you walk into Coin du village de Voisins, 1874 and Neige à Louveciennes, 1878.
Continue along the Chemin de l’Etarché and where this joins the Rue du Président Paul Doumer turn right and walk under the railway bridge and then turn left into Rue du Général de Gaulle. Carry on along this road until the station is reached on the left.
Entrée du Parc de Marly,
(courtesy of Jean Pierre Philippe)