Halfway between its riverbed and its confluence with the river Vienne, the river Creuse dug gorges which inspired a hundred impressionist and other artists. Monet, Sand, Maillaud… From Fresselines to Crozant, en entire territory is enhanced by this story and shares its unspoilt nature with us. To begin my immersion, I choose the village of Crozant. This is where the « sentier des peintres » painters' path begins ,at the foot of the church. A 4-km family stroll along the Crsue and Sédelle confluence , Charreau granite bridge and the the old fortress ruins. In the village, I stop off at Hotel Lépinat, which has become a Landscape interpretation Centre (Centre d’interprétation du paysage). The old inn's detailed scenography shares the experiences in Creuse of Armand Guillaumin, one of the first impressionists, Francis Picabia, a pioneer of surrealism… Every detail of the valley's history.
A land of inspiration
To learn more about the present, I head off to Fresselines, a few kilometres away. The red and yellow waymarked 18-km circular Val de Creuse GR (hiking trail), enables visitors to walk amongst splendid unspoilt landscapes.
In the small town of Fresselines, Espace Monet-Rollinat boasts an art centre dedicated to recent artists and presents an eventful program, with workshops, master classes, conferences... Upon entering this typical old barn, visitors are totally immersed. On the first floor, I discover exhibitions by contemporary artists, whereas on the second floor, there is an area dedicated to Claude Monet and Maurice Rollinat's presence in the region. At the foot of the building, you can follow a path called « Dans les pas de Monet » (In Monet's footsteps). I decide to follow it and head down towards the Grande and Petite Creuse river confluence : a 3 km path with signs along the way, that present the artists' paintings and quotes about the area's everchanging unspoilt nature. Claude Monet once stated : « I thought I could paint this area in one step. Ah, but yes, it is unbelievably difficult ! » Here, he painted a series of 23 paintings. I understand why... The Creuse valley is infinitely charming !
Idea : Located just a few kilometres from the village of Crozant, the Sédelle arboretum is an ideal setting where nature blossoms over an area of 6 hectares. Do not miss the arboretum's 400 plant species.