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How to Visit Barbizon, France
By:Sophie Southern

The town of Barbizon, France, is located in the department of Ile de France, about 60 kilometers southeast of Paris. Barbizon is known for the Barbizon School of painters, who were part of a realist art movement during the Romantic era. The contrast of the Barbizon painters' realism made their work stand out against the more picturesque style of the Romantic era artists. In French, Barbizon is often referred to as "le Village des Peintres," which means "The Village of Painters." Barbizon's contributions to art history have made it a popular tourist destination.

Book a ticket to either Paris Charles de Gaulle or Orly airport. Charles de Gaulle receives more daily flights from the United States than Orly, but both are within an hour's drive to Barbizon.

Reserve a hotel in Barbizon. While you can probably find a hotel available once you arrive, it is always better to book in advance. You can find a list of accommodations on the Barbizon's office of tourism website at Barbizon-tourisme.fr/.

Brush up on your basic French. Barbizon is not far from Paris, but it is a French village and it is not guaranteed that people will speak English. Learning basics such as ordering in a restaurant and making requests at a hotel concierge will facilitate your trip.

Make sure your passport is up to date. You will need a valid passport to enter the European Union.

Use your ATM card to withdraw euros directly from your bank account when you arrive in France. Currency exchange companies do not necessarily give the best rates and take a commission on the money they exchange for you. Your bank will automatically exchange your dollars to euros if you withdraw from a French ATM.

Decide on a method of transportation from Paris to Barbizon. One option is renting a car at the airport and taking highway A6 to Barbizon, It is less than a one hour drive. You can also take the RER D, part of the Parisian public transportation system, to the Melun station and take a 10 minute taxi to Barbizon. You can take an SNCF train in Paris to the station Fontainebleau-Avon, which is a 10 kilometer drive form Barbizon.

Go to the Mairie to find tourist information and activities. The Mairie is similar to a city hall in the United States and provides free information such as maps, brochures, recommended sightseeing, points of interest and museum information. You can also find out about town activities, events and guided tours at the Mairie. You will see signs directing you to the Mairie upon your arrival in Barbizon.

Take a guided walk through the town to learn about the Barbizon painters. The office of tourism offers tours detailing information, events and location of the Barbizon painters and their works. The tour also includes a visit to the Barbizon painters museum.

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