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On Sunday I joined my cousin Brian Boyle, his wife Sheila, and their favorite travel couple — Rick and Cheryl — for a day trip to Moret-sur-Loing, where the impressionist painter Alfred Sisley lived and worked. We used the guide book I have so often appreciated, An Hour From Paris, by Annabel Simms.

We set out from the Gare de Lyon.

Rick, Cheryl, Sheila and cousin Brian, setting out from the Gare de Lyon.

There’s an SNCF express train which takes just half an hour, but it wasn’t running this weekend so we took an RER D local that gets to Moret-sur-Loing in an hour.

You enter and leave Moret-sur-Loing through impressive gates in the medieval town wall.

You enter and leave Moret-sur-Loing through gates in the medieval wall.

You enter and leave Moret-sur-Loing through gates in the medieval wall.

After finding Sisley’s house we looked back at the town from the bridge over the Loing.

The cathedral and a mill building, from the bridge over the Loing.

The cathedral and a mill building, from the bridge over the Loing.

We weren’t quite ready for lunch so we had coffees in Moret-sur-Loing and walked along the river to the adjacent town of Saint-Mammès. The banks of the Loing were quite lovely.

Our walk continued across the river and over to the adjacent village of Saint-Mammès.

Sheila and Cheryl. Our walk continued across the river and over to the adjacent village of Saint-Mammès.

Sisley painted this scene, which looks much the same today.

Sisley painted this scene, which looks much the same today.

Restaurants often close at 2 pm, especially in the provinces, so around 1:30 we followed a bunch of promising signs toward what we supposed was the center of town. After about a mile with no indications of commerce we stopped a kid on a bicycle and asked where the restaurants were. He was initially stumped, then waved vaguely back towards the river and said, « là-bas » (“down there”). After a more careful Google maps check I realized that we had been walking away from the restaurant area, and a fast walk would just get us there by 2 o’clock. We made it with moments to spare … but everything was already closed! Except a Turkish place that was waiting for another diner to finish … which served us a welcome if not exactly gourmet meal. Disaster narrowly avoided, we strolled back along the river bank and returned to Paris from the Saint-Mammès railroad station.

We had intentionally purchased one-way tickets in Paris because we weren’t sure which station we’d return from. There was nobody at the station, but I was able to buy tickets from the machine using one of my trusty chip-and-pin credit cards (not to be confused with the chip-and-signature cards that are becoming standard in the U.S.) I was bemused, however, to find that the provincial machine, unlike the one at Gare de Lyon, would only issue one ticket at a time, so I had to repeat the process five times. If none of us had had a chip-and-pin card we would have had to get 46 euros in coins from somewhere, which might have been quite a daunting task!

We wrapped up our excursion with drinks at the gorgeous restaurant in the Gare de Lyon, Le Train Bleu.

My full photo set is at: An Alfred Sisley Pilgrimage – Moret-sur-Loing

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