18.06.2014 Visiteurs Américains. IBT

18.06.2014 Visiteurs Américains. IBT






A  short historical presentation of Grès* en Gâtinais

The beautiful village of Grès stretches gracefully on the left bank of the Loing.  Once it was a large city and lordship of the Duchy of Nemours , today it is a village of about 1500 inhabitants of the canton de Nemours and the District Council of the Pays de Nemours.

The village of Grès is of modest size with an area of 1297 hectares, however it has a long history. The site was occupied in prehistoric times, established on the seasonal course of reindeer migration from Dordogne to Scandinavia.

On the left bank of the Loing, there is the site of an important Gallo-Roman villa which was uncovered and covered again. Moreover Gallo-Roman sarcophagi were discovered in 1885 in the basement of the former cloister which became a schoolyard and the courtyard of the town hall.

In the Middle Ages, the medieval village of Grès played an important role between the main road and the river Loing, along which goods were sent to Paris: wood, sandstone, wine and cereals. Gates protected the village, the Porte de Paris to the North and one commanding the stone bridge. Two other gates seem to have existed.

There are only three buildings left belonging to the ancient medieval village that reflect the importance of the town at that time . These include the vaulted cellars with stone stairs in the town center.

The stone bridge is the oldest of these monuments as crossing the Loing has always been a constraint. Its overall structure is reminiscent of the Pont Neuf in Paris, Christo came to « pack » it on a trial basis in order to better convince the Parisian councilors.

It has undergone some very serious damage several times during the eventful history of our country,  but the generations that have followed have always been commited to repairing it, as was the case again after the second World War. Like the other monuments, it was built in the 12th century.

The Tour de Ganne dates from the 11th and 12th centuries, when Louis VI Le Gros (1087-1137) participated in the fortified line of defense of the Ile de France against Burgundy and Champagne.

Apparently, the Notre Dame and Saint Laurent church was erected on the site of an ancient Gallic temple, near the Porte Saint Jacques. Its construction dates from around 1180, Philippe Auguste’s time, along with the adoption of the « fleur-de-lys » as a royal emblem. It can still be seen on the milestones that line the old N7. Its shape both majestic and severe is borrowed from the Norbertines stemming from the Cistercians.


In the 19th century, Grez sur Loing welcomed  many foreign painters who came to live at the Hôtel Beauséjour. This Hotel later  became the Pension Laurent, they also stayed at the Hôtel Chevillon, they came  to « paint from nature ». This tradition lasted until the early 20th century.

Famous French artist Jean Baptiste Camille Corot was one of the first to paint the bridge at Grez, followed by many artists such as Giuseppe Palizzi, Chu Asai, Roderic O’Conor, Carl Larsson, John Lavery, Robert Louis Stevenson, Auguste Strindberg, Frank O’Meara (to name a few).  We are still researching and collecting the names of artists who came to Grez (a few hundred so far…)

Many nationalities came to Grez , Scandinavians, Americans, British, Canadians, Italians, Irish and Japanese, they were students of Jules Bastien Lepage, Jean Léon Gérôme, Raphael Collin, Carolus Duran or William Bouguereau. They also attended the Académie Julian and Académie Colarossi during their residence in France which led them from Grez to Giverny, Pont Aven or Saint Ives in Cornwall.

Word of mouth between artists worked perfectly (Come to Grez, come to Grez…) and not only painters, but also writers, musicians and sculptors came to Grez sur Loing. The collection of works belonging to the town of Grez sur Loing is currently presented in the offices of the Town Hall, pending a site better suited to its development and we invite you to discover our heritage.

* This was the old spelling of present GREZ (Grès, Gretz, Gres)