The year of 1837 and the opening of the railway from Paris to Le Pecq marked a turning point in the history of Chatou. The town became a popular leisure destination for Parisians wanting to take advantage of Sundays on the banks of the Seine River. The town’s preserved landscapes, the pleasures of canoeing and the lively open air cafes attracted and inspired great artists and impressionist masters. Renoir, a regular at the Hameau Fournaise, painted the famous “Déjeuner des canotiers” (Luncheon of the Boating Party) here. As for André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck, Chatou was the place where they created Fauvism, an artistic style which went down in history. However, Chatou is also a town of innovation, as shown by the establishment of Pathé’s factories in 1898 – which went on to employ up to 1,700 people in 1955 – and several workshops, in particular ones housing engineering firms. As the years have passed, through modernisation and adaptation, Chatou has protected its heritage and today is a garden town envied for its quality of life.
Located to the west of Paris, in the Hauts-de-Seine department, Meudon has a population of 45,000. Half its surface area is covered by the Meudon public woodland and the town enjoys a quality of life that is the envy of the Île de France region. The history of Meudon is punctuated by famous events and personalities: Rabelais was a priest in this Parish, Isadora Duncan danced here and Wagner stayed in the town to compose music… The banks of the Seine River have developed at the pace of industrial change and have recently undergone a veritable urban remodelling as a result of the opening of the music and performing arts centre on Île Seguin. The town’s slopes, overlooked by the monumental dome of the observatory, are steeped in royal history and harbour some superb discoveries: the Villa des Brillants, the final resting place of Rodin, the house of Armande Béjart, Molière’s wife, the Val district at the foot of the imposing viaduct… Meudon-la-Forêt, a much newer district that stands out from the rest of the town, came into being in the 1960’s on the fields of the Villacoublay plateau. Whilst some neighbourhoods have retained a provincial charm, Meudon also experienced formidable economic development at the start of the 21st century, with the arrival of major firms and the emergence of digital start-ups. Meudon benefits from the competitive and economic drive of western Greater Paris and today counts among the major hubs of sustainable and digital innovation.