THE MEDIEVAL VILLAGE OF MORET-SUR-LOING … CHARMING …

Is that not a lovely name – Moret-sur-Loing, in English Moret on the Loing. When a town is on a river, the French tell one so. The Loing is 142 km (88 miles) long. It is a tributary of the River Seine, but I’ve admitted this reluctantly because it is like saying “why bother if […]

Is that not a lovely name – Moret-sur-Loing, in English Moret on the Loing. When a town is on a river, the French tell one so.

Moiret-sur-Loing (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Moiret-sur-Loing (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

The Loing is 142 km (88 miles) long. It is a tributary of the River Seine, but I’ve admitted this reluctantly because it is like saying “why bother if you have the Seine”. But oh! The Loing is something to see. And indeed so is the village of Moret that straddles the river.

The Loing (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

The Loing (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Moret is south-west of Paris. To be exact it is 79 kms (49 miles) from Paris. It is easy to reach, but about that later.

You, reading now about Moret, and never having been there, the name may ring a bell to you all the same.

You may also now before your mind’s eye have a painting of a river, or of a bridge or cathedral.

Well yes, that’s Moret, and those are the paintings of the English Impressionist artist Alfred Sisley.

Sisley's painting of the Moret's Notre Dame Cathedral

Sisley’s painting of the Moret’s Notre Dame Cathedral

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Moret-sur-Loing (cc Marilyn Z Tomlins)

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Moret-sur-Loing (cc Marilyn Z Tomlins)

Sisley was born in Paris in 1840 to a wealthy English couple who would lose all their assets during the 1870 Franco-Prussian war. The couple wanted their son to go into business, but he wanted to paint and enrolled at Paris’s École des Beaux-Arts. He met and befriended numerous artists, two of them Claude Monet and August Renoir, and with them had become an Impressionist painter: they painted in the open air rather than indoors, a genre at first frowned upon.

Sisley's painting of the bridge over the Loiret

Sisley’s painting of the bridge over the Loing

The bridge over the Loing in Moret (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

The bridge over the Loing in Moret (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

After having lived in Paris’s artists’ mecca, Montmartre, he moved his wife and two children in 1880 to Moret. The area was known for its light and scenic perfection. Indeed, nearby was the artists’ village of Barbizon.

Sisley, having not only to support his own household but also that of his parents, and not earning much with his art, was poor. Poor he would remain for the rest of his life: he died in Moret on January 29, 1899. He was 59.

Sisley's painting of the Loing

Sisley’s painting of the Loing

 

The Loing in Moret (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

The Loing in Moret (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Today, in Moret, Sisley’s spirit is very much present. I can say that one feels its presence in the stones of the old dwellings and of the bridges and of the church, and of the stone towers, and in the weeping branches of the willows on the river’s banks. And it is for this reason, I am sure, that artists today flock to the village and set up their easels, brushes and paint. They come from all over the world to paint what Sisley had painted. On the day of my visit to the village there were several painters – men and women -sitting in front of easels, quite unaware of my presence behind them: one of the men was Japanese and one of the women Chinese.

There is more to Moret though than the art of its past.

The streets, not one of them burdened by traffic jams, not even the main street Grande Rue, are lined with old stone buildings, some timber-framed, none high. Quite a few buildings are for sale. This means that hard times have come to Moret like just about every other place in France – in Europe for that matter.

Grande Rue (cc marilyn Z Tomlins)

Grande Rue (cc marilyn Z Tomlins)

Some of the buildings with an  à vendre – for sale – boards are restaurants and cafés. This ought not be a complication for visitors because the staff at those which are open receive one with open arms and a broad smile.

A restaurant on Grande Rue which is for sale. One can live upstairs (cc Marilyn Z Tomlins)

A restaurant on Grande Rue which is for sale. One can live upstairs (cc Marilyn Z Tomlins)

Another of the restaurant which is for sale (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Another of the restaurant which is for sale (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

The church is the Église de Notre-Dame and it was built between the 12th and 15 centuries and consecrated by Thomas Becket. It has a most unusual organ as you will see on the photo below: made of oak, it seems to cling to two walls, nothing holding it up.

 

The cathedral's organ.  (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

The cathedral’s organ. (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

About the organ (cc Marilyn Z Tomlins)

About the organ (cc Marilyn Z Tomlins)

The most beautiful building (I think) is the town hall. It is on Place Samois leading from Grande Rue and dates from 1527.

Moret-sur-Loing the town hall (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins) ]

Moret-sur-Loing the town hall (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)
]

If one continues along Grande Rue and passes underneath the stone tower at the end of the street, you will be on Sisley’s bridge. There are footpaths leading from both sides of the bridge and although there are signs up that swimming is forbidden, as you will see on the photo below, people do go into the water.

Someone swimming in the Loing although it i forbidden (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Someone swimming in the Loing although it is forbidden (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

 

One of Moret's stone towers (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

One of Moret’s stone towers (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Standing at the bridge and taking the footpath on the left as you face away from the stone tower, you will, after about 10-minute stroll, reach a small river port.

The river port in Moret (cc Marilyn Z Tomlins)

The river port in Moret (cc Marilyn Z Tomlins)

There is one only museum in Moret. This is the barley sugar museum: no it is not made of barley sugar, but it is about barley sugar. It is open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It has the reputation of being the smallest museum France.

 

The barley sugar museum in Moret (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

The barley sugar museum in Moret (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

This is how you get to Moret-sur-Loing: you take a train from Paris’s Gare de Lyon. It is the train which also serves Fontainebleau and Melun, and there is one every half an hour. It will take you about an hour to reach Moret. The station where you would have to descend is Moret-Veneux-les-Sablons, and the station is in the Veneux-les-Sablons part. This means that you would have to walk to Moret. On exiting the station, walk to your right and after about 20 minutes you will be in Moret.

Moret Sur Loing July 2015 - 14

Moret-Veneux-les-Sablons station (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

A last word: do put Moret-sur-Loing on your list of ‘Have to visit absolutely’. You will not regret it – I promise you that. Above all the Morétaines (female) and Morétains (males) as the locals are known, are friendly people.

Another Moret street (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins

Another Moret street (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins

Grande Rue (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Grande Rue (cc Marilyn Z. Tomlins)

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

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