History & Culture

Art Driving Tour of Europe

Take to the roads of Europe to explore its fascinating art history.

Hit the road for a journey of artistic discovery

Whether you’re a fan of art, discovery or a good old-fashioned road trip, our fascinating art driving tour is definitely one to try out. Taking you from the rich artwork of Rembrandt in the Netherlands, through the different cultures of Northern and Southern France, all the way to Southern Spain to explore the magnificent world of Picasso, it’s an artistic tour like no other. So, get your guide at the ready, make the 35-minute journey across the Channel with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, and follow the journey through baroque painting, cubism and the surreal.

Calais to Amsterdam

At the beginning of your art journey, make the four-hour drive from Calais to Amsterdam, not only the home of some of the best selections of Dutch artwork, but also of one of the largest collections of Rembrandt. In Amsterdam, you can visit the Rembrandt House Museum, the very place Rembrandt Van Rijn lived and worked in with his family. Restored to all its 17th century glory, you can wander through his old workshop, and catch a glimpse of how he once lived.

For a chance to admire his work, pay a visit to the Rijksmuseum where some of his most famous works, such as Het Joodse Bruidje (The Jewish Bride) and De Nachtwacht (The Nightwatch) are on display. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore other Dutch artist’s work, from Johannes Vermeer to Frans Hals.

Amsterdam to Auvers-sur-Oise

Another great artist to explore whilst in Amsterdam is Vincent Van Gogh, and the largest collection of his work is housed in the Van Gogh Museum. Around 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 700 of his letters are on display, including the famous Sunflowers and the Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat.

When it’s time for you to leave the Netherlands, travel through Belgium and Northern France to Auvers-sur-Oise, where Van Gogh spent the last years of his life. He originally travelled to this commune in Northern France to be closer to his doctor, Dr. Paul Gachet, the subject of one his famous paintings, Portrait of Dr. Gachet. Drive or walk around the picturesque area that inspired Van Gogh’s last work, right up until his death in 1890.

Auvers-sur-Oise to Montmartre, Paris

After you’ve taken in the beautiful sights of Auvers-sur-Oise, drive 50-minutes to central Paris, to the area of Montmartre. During the Belle Époque (Beautiful Era), between 1871 and 1914, Montmartre was a popular hangout for artists, writers and other creatives, because of the low rent and inspiring atmosphere. One famous artist that resided here for a large portion of his professional career was Pablo Picasso, who shared an apartment in Le Bateau-Lavoir with the Italian artist, Amedeo Modigliani. Picasso famously painted Les Demoiselles d’Avignon during the five-years he lived there, so it’s no wonder that the building they once lived in has become a popular haunt amongst art fans in the city. Although you can’t explore the interiors of Le Bateau-Lavoir, you can still sit and admire this magical part of Paris, which is often said to have been the birthplace of cubism.

Montmartre, Paris to St. Rémy

As you set off on your journey south towards Spain, be sure to stop by the commune of St-Rémy-de-Provence, once the home of Vincent Van Gogh during his stay at St. Paul de Mausole. In just one year at St. Paul de Mausole, he composed 150 paintings, including some of his most famous, The Starry Night and the Bedroom in Arles, which was inspired by the room he lived in, a place that you can now explore for yourself during your stay in St. Remy.

St. Rémy to Figueres

After St. Rémy, head over the border between France and Spain to Figueres, the birthplace of Salvador Dalí. During your time here, be sure to explore the Dalí Theatre Museum, where you can check out his work from the beginning right to the latter years. It’s hard to miss the building, as its architectural design is based on Dali’s work, and houses a collection of incredible examples of his art, such as Port Alguer, Inaugural Gooseflesh and The Galatea of the Spheres.

Figueres to Madrid

Continue your exploration of Spain’s art, by travelling to the country’s capital, Madrid. For a chance to see some of Spain’s finest work, make your way over to Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. As you wander through the exhibitions and collections, you’ll get to admire Picasso’s Femme Nue Assise (Seated Nude Woman) and Dalí’s Figuera en una Finestra (Figure at the Window), as well as the grey-tonal works of Antonio Saura and the colourful creations of Eduardo Arroyo. It’s also the home of one of Picasso’s most famous work, Guernica; a painting that was a direct response to the bombings of the village, Guernica.

Outside of the museum you’ll also have the chance to admire some amazing sculptures too, from Joan Miro’s Oiseau Lunaire (Moonbird) to Alexander Calder’s Carmen.

Madrid to Málaga

From Madrid, take the brief one-hour drive to Málaga, the birthplace of Picasso. Learn all about his life and work at the Picasso Museum, where a varied collection of his work is housed, from the portait, Olga Khokhlova Blanket to the cubism painting Mother and Child. Nearby, is the home that Picasso grew up in, which also currently operates as a museum and gallery that features much of his work and that of others from the 19th century.

Finish your artistic journey with a drive to CAC, the Contemporary Art Centre, which houses a variety of Spanish and international art, from the local work of Miguel Barceló, to the art of British sculptor, Tony Cragg.

Getting there and around

Art can be found right around Europe, so if you’re a lover of all things creative, you’re in luck. It takes just 35-minutes to journey from the UK to Calais with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, meaning you’ll be exploring Europe’s art culture in no time at all. Plus, with no restrictions on luggage, you can bring back as many paintings, sculptures and drawings as your heart desires.

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