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On Sunday September 16th 2018, to coincide with Guernsey’s Autumn Walking Festival, local guide Korinne Le Page will be taking walkers on a journey back in time. Setting off from the Old Mill Triangle in St Martins on a walk in Renoir’s footsteps, the route is a short circuit (approximately a mile and a half) around Moulin Huet Valley that visits many of the viewpoints the famous French artist visited and painted during his visit in late summer of 1883. It also includes a visit to the cottage above Moulin Huet, now owned by Korinne’s family, which features in one of Renoir’s famous paintings.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir visited Guernsey with a group of friends but their reason for choosing the Channel Islands (which for the French were often viewed as the rugged islands to the North, in contrast to Briton’s seeing them as the sunny isles to the south) is unclear. Renoir stayed at No.4, George Road, in St Peter Port and regularly walked the two miles or so south to Moulin Huet to picnic and paint.
“What a pretty little place! What pretty paths! Superb rocks, beaches such as Robinson must have had on his island, as well as rump steak and ale at manageable prices – up to now, everything is fine. All I have to do is to take advantage of the admirable weather and bring you back some nice things so that you can forgive my infidelity to beautiful Normandy.”
Renoir, in a letter to Edmond Maitre.
September 5th 1883.
During his time on Guernsey Renoir painted four landscapes of Moulin Huet for his Parisian dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, as well as eleven other studies of the sea, rocks and bathers at Moulin Huet to be developed into paintings in his studio when back in Paris. He rarely strayed far from the path when selecting a scene to sketch or paint, and although Renoir interpreted these scenes favouring the way that light fell upon a scene or his subjects over accuracy of backdrop, it is still possible to stand in the spots where the artist himself would have stood, and enjoy the same views.
Ahead of this year's Autumn Walking Festival, we asked Korinne some questions about what makes this stroll around St Martins so special.
Which is your favourite of Renoir’s Moulin Huet pieces, and why?
My favourite of Renoir’s Moulin Huet works is "Fog in Guernsey", because my parents own this cottage now and are in the process of renovating it to how it was in the painting, and when Victor Hugo previously picnicked there"
How has this area, and the paths and lanes that you follow on your walk, changed since Renoir would have walked them?
The area did not have the trees that you see now - these were introduced later to prevent further land erosion. The water lane would have had the original rough stone pathway that you see to the left as you walk down.
Do you follow the final part of the route that Renoir would have taken when walking from his lodgings in St Peter Port?
Yes - I take walkers down the Water Lane (which Renoir loved and walked along most days from his lodgings in St Peter Port). I also take them to the beach so they can visualise where he painted from. He painted the cottage from behind where the tea room now is.
Booking is essential for this guided walk - Please call Korinne on +44 (0) 7839 200 553 or email: [email protected]