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FRANCE

Impressionist train to carry tourists to Monet's Normandy garden

One of the carriages on the impressionist train
One of the carriages on the impressionist train SNCF : Christophe Recoura

Art lovers visiting France can now take "impressionist trains" to Claude Monet's former home in Normandy thanks to a service launched by the SNCF rail network this weekend. The carriages are decorated with reproductions of impressionist paintings and photos of architecture from Paris's Musée d'Orsay.

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Following the success of its service to Versailles, which is decorated with pictures of the famous château, the state-run rail company has launched a summer-time service to Giverny, site of the house and garden where Monet painted his Water lilies series and many other works, and to the Normandy capital, Rouen.

The interiors of the carriages are decorated with reproductions of works by Monet and his fellow impressionists and photos of the Orsay museum's impressive 19th-century iron-work and other architectural features.

There are three themes: Gardens and water, Paris and industrialisation and local landscapes.

French Tourism and Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius was present at the service's inauguration at Paris's Gare St Lazare on Saturday morning along with a number of young artists who set up their easels on the platform.

"If the painters used to go to Normandy that's because it was already well served by the railways then," he said, adding that impressionism is an "extraordinary asset" for the region.

Slideshow: Inside the Train de l'Impressionisme
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The Giverny service will leave at 11.00am and return at 6.53pm every Saturday and Sunday until the end of September.

The ticket will give passengers entry to Monet's house and garden and the village's impressionism museum, currently showing an exhibition of the work of Edgar Degas.

The Rouen train leaves at the same time and offers entry to the town's museums, as well as the possibility of a hotel room and a meal on the banks of the River Seine for those wishing to make a weekend of it.

More than 600,000 tourists visit Giverny every year, 200,000 of them arriving by train.

The local station has also been decorated with reproductions of impressionist works.

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