Macaroned on French Impressionists’ Island, Chatou and Macaron Pointillism

Somehow I just couldn’t write, ‘mac-arooned’. They’re not macaroons but macarons, right?

Many people think I live in Paris. I used to live there for 7 years before the children were born. It was wonderful. Another chapter. But truth be told it’s just as wonderful living outside the City of Light. It’s close enough to Paris but far enough to feel out in the country.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll give you a taste of our environs. Today let’s kick off with a walk along the River Seine in nearby Chatou. It’s only 10 minutes west from Paris in the RER commuter train (from Charles de Gaulle’s stop at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.) For me, this is just around the corner from my orthoptiste. Would you believe all this work on the computer means I now have to have vision therapy? At least there’s a progressively less blurred view en route.

boat on the Seine

Along the banks of the River Seine, Chatou

Chatou is one of the towns by the River Seine where the Impressionist painters settled down their easles and impressive palettes. Auguste Renoir took Claude Monet to discover this area and they painted together a set of pieces around the “Grenouillère” just near this spot, where Parisians would flock on the weekend to bathe in the countryside (more on that later, since this deserves a separate post.) The neighbouring towns have about 30 reproductions like this below, to mark the Impressionists’ route.

Renoir paintings on the Seine

Les Canotiers à Chatou, by Renoir (1881)

This is one of my favourite spots in Chatou: the Île des Impressionnistes. The hamlet on the Impressionists’ island was a popular hang out of artists and poets. Thankfully it was restored recently to include the original Fournaise restaurant, a museum, and a boating workshop.  One of the most famous regulars was Auguste Renoir, who was often here at the Fournaise Restaurant.

Maison Fournaise Chatou Impressionists

Maison Fournaise Chatou

Do you recognise this painting?  It’s amazing to think that the scene of Auguste Renoir’s masterpiece,”Le Déjeuner des Canotiers” is just here on that balcony.  Amongst his friends in the painting, the lady clutching the dog on the left ended up becoming Madame Renoir a few years later.

Le Déjeuner des Canotiers by Renoir (1881)

Today nothing much has changed.  The light changes dramatically, reflecting the different seasons. The restaurant is still lively and next door, you can now visit the Fournaise museum.

Maison Restaurant Fournaise Chatou

The day I took these shots, the place was deserted. It was almost spooky.  It’s as if you could hear faint laughter of a bunch of artist friends sitting around a table of fruit and wine up on that balcony.

Maison Fournaise Renoir Balcony

Renoir was watching from that balcony

I’m not an artist, although some family members may disagree when it comes to “wine tasting”. The nearest I get to playing with paints is flicking food colouring on macarons. It’s great fun. It’s best to do this once the macarons have aired and are ready to go in the oven.

What’s your impression?

Personally I think it’s dabbling with Pointillism.

spotty macarons

spotty macarons

Have you been going dotty with macarons lately?

52 replies
  1. Cooking_Cuz
    Cooking_Cuz says:

    oozing talent, vivid and exciting writing with fantastic photos to tantalise those of us not lucky enough to live where you do. I enjoyed every word! Thanks Jill <3

  2. Amy
    Amy says:

    These macaroons are so cute! You are definately an artist Jill with all of the beautiful and creative macaroons you create! If you like to flick food coloring onto macaroons you should make some Jackson Pollack ones sometime ;)! Hope you are having a wonderful weekend :)!

  3. Sophie
    Sophie says:

    I am new to your blog & I like your way of writing & your beautiful pictures too! I love to savour macarons & eat them from the best macaron makers in Brussels, Belgium.I never made them though! 🙂

  4. visda
    visda says:

    wow! what a beautiful post. I’m such a fan of impressionists’ art especially Monet. You have created these gorgeous and minimal looking macarons just like a piece of art.

  5. Julie
    Julie says:

    I’m so excited I found your site! I went to Paris last year and am returning next summer. Our first trip was spent tracking down the usually suspects (big museums), but next time I want to “go off the beaten path”.

    Macarons is also on my list….. and I’ll need all the help I can get! 😉

  6. Kim - Liv Life
    Kim - Liv Life says:

    Isn’t it amazing how just a short distance from the “big” city one can find oneself in a quieter, slower paced location? That’s how we fell here in Carlsbad… just outside of San Diego.
    So nice to see some of your town. I’m fairly art illiterate, and really need to study up on the subject, however I actually recognize the painting of the people on the balcony! (Guess that Art History class in college did something!). How fun to be a part of the history!
    And I definitely classify you as an artist. Those macarons you put together are nothing short of classic, temporary (we eat them too fast) works of art.

  7. Lora
    Lora says:

    Love this post and love discovering those off the beaten path places all over the world. What wonderful history and your impressionist shells are masterpieces!

  8. Liz
    Liz says:

    You ARE an artist! Love how your creativity soars when it comes to macarons 🙂 And you must know you were on my mind as I tallied up my brownie and chocolate posts 🙂

    PS…gorgeous photos of Chatou. We’re planning a family trip to France this summer and I’m absorbing every bit of info you share!

  9. Catherine
    Catherine says:

    Oooh I want to hear about the 7 year Paris chapter! 😀

    Your macarons always look so delightful 😀 I LOVE the wee dalmation-esque ones!

    I’m so jealous of your surroundings… sure you don’t want to swap me? You can have all the Glasgow scenery you like :p

  10. shaz
    shaz says:

    Doesn’t matter if it’s Paris or not. I’ll take anywhere in France. Your surrounds look absolutely beautiful.

    And I love the spotty macarons, I want to make some dalmation ones now.

  11. Tiffany
    Tiffany says:

    So artistic! I just met a woman from Nice yesterday and was venting about how much I want to move to France. EVERYtime I come to your site that urge gets stronger!

  12. Nami | Just One Cookbook
    Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    Hehee I’m also not in the city (of SF) either although I claim I live in “SF”. =P With kids, a lot easier to live in suburb but close enough to the city. However Paris and SF are a lot different though. Looking forward to your future posts and your macarons are always unique. I didn’t know the technique of using paint brush (or brush for baking?). Do you keep any record of how many macarons (or how many kinds of macarons) you made so far? I was just thinking of that the other day…

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Nami, you’ve got me: I have NO idea! Lost count ages ago. Only way of knowing is through photos and they are in such a mess right now; hubby reminds me when he tries to work on the computer: what IS all this stuff?! The technique with the paint brush is in the book 😉 Goes with the prune, orange and Armagnac macarons. Paris and SF are perhaps different but kids and suburbia isn’t that bad, is it?

  13. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    Yay – I can access your blog. I love this post, Jill. You did just evoke Renoir paintings and that glorious light. And you are an artist… and a chemist… and a baker. I don’t think I’ll ever turn out a credible macaron. Maybe it’s lack of the hand-eye coordination thing.

    Vision therapy? I believe it – computers are hard on the eyes. Take care.

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Claudia, if you can churn out all of these wonderful dishes, you can easily make macarons! Hand-eye coordination? I’m seeing literally double just now and still making them 😉 Go on, go for it!

  14. patty
    patty says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a nice comment about my interview on Spicie Foodie!
    Believe it or not, I’ve been to Chatou with a friend who lives in the States but is originally from that area. He remembers visiting his grandfather in Chatou and we had lunch at the restaurant that you featured about 3 years ago! It is beautiful and the food was delicious, we also enjoyed the view of the river;-)

  15. Ramona
    Ramona says:

    How lovely! What beautiful macarons, pictures and paintings. I actually have a small copy of Le Déjeuner des Canotiers by Renoir in my house. I’m sure it’s nothing compared to the original, but I like it very much still. It was fun to see where the painting came to life. You’re a lucky woman to live (close) to such a beautiful city. I was in Paris over twenty years ago…beautiful memories. 🙂

  16. The Culinary Lens
    The Culinary Lens says:

    It may be on the outskirts of Paris but at least it does not seem to be cookie cutter suburbia.
    You strike me as pretty artistic and your are certainly imaginative.
    BTW is that Flickr widget on your sidebar new? It is very cool maybe I just did not notice it before.

    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks, Mike. Cookie cutter suburbia? Love it – no it’s not. It’s cool. Flickr thingwy is new – discovered it on Manu’s Menu and played with it. Bit flashy, though. It’s like that “blink” stuff when HTML first came out…

  17. Carolyn
    Carolyn says:

    I disagree, I think you ARE an artist. Your creations are always gorgeous. And the title of this post cracked me up. You live in such a gorgeous area, I am jealous!

  18. FreeSpiritEater
    FreeSpiritEater says:

    Being here in Jersey I don’t have this kind of scenery to wake up to, but through your photos and writing I feel as though I just took that beautiful stroll with you. The paintings and painted macarons are lovely, thanks for sharing Jill! =]

  19. Becky
    Becky says:


    I love your pictures and hope to get your part of the world sometime:) for now the closest that I have come to Pointillism and France is seeing Seurat’s, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte in the Art Institute in Chicago. That painting is huge, 6 ft 10in X 10ft 1 in, but so gorgeous!

  20. Thomasina
    Thomasina says:

    I love walking by the Seine seeing the Impressionists’ paintings along the way. Thanks Jill for the art history lesson. I think your artistic know how comes out in your photos n’est pas?


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] This image of Jean-Paul Hévin to present the new French Touch chocolate collection sums up his quirky humour. I wonder what Renoir would have preferred for a festive dessert at this rather famous lively lunch on the Seine or Déjeuner des Canotiers in Chatou? […]


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