French President FranÃ§ois Hollande has apparently pulled out of opening the Normandy Impressionism festival this weekend after anti gay marriage protestors said they would stage a demonstration outside the Beaux Arts Museum in Rouen.
But there is some confusion over whether the President was even due to attend the event with the Elysee Palace saying it was never confirmed despite Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius announcing that Hollande would be there.
It seems that after weeks of violent protests by opponents of gay marriage, which was yesterday approved in the French National Assembley by a vote of 331 to 225, Hollande did not want to face another protest on the subject.
There was huge disappointment in the city when the news was confirmed today (Wednesday 24 April) as Hollande was born in Rouen and Sundayâ€™s opening would have been his first visit to the city since becoming President.
Sports Minister ValÃ©rie Fourneyron and Fabius will both be at the opening event on Sunday. Both have links with Rouen. Fourneyron is a former deputy mayor and Fabius is a former president of the CommnautÃ© Rouen Elbeuf Austreberthe (Crea).
The Impressionism Festival is the biggest of its kind covering both Lower and Upper Normandy and involving all five departments and follows on from the highly successful first Normandy Impressionism festival held in 2010.
The festival has several main exhibitions including one featuring water paintings at the MusÃ©e des Beaux-Arts in Rouen with the works of Monet, Pissarro, Caillebotte, Renoir and Sisley, and an exhibition on Monetâ€™s cliff paintings at the MusÃ©e des PÃªcheries at FÃ©camp.
Summer at the Waterâ€™s Edge, Leisure and Impressionism can be found at the MusÃ©e des Beaux-Arts in Caen which will bring together 80 paintings celebrating a trend that blossomed rapidly in the second half of the nineteenth century that of leisure activities related to water. Pissarro and the Ports will feature the artistâ€™s works with an urban theme at the MusÃ©e dâ€™art Moderne AndrÃ© Malraux in Le Havre.
Overall there will be 600 events across the whole of Normandy. The MusÃ©e des Impressionnismes in Giverny will be holding the exhibition Signac, the Colours of Water as well as a tribute to Monetâ€™s famous Lilies by the contemporary Japanese painter Hiramatsu Reiji.
The Seine featuring in the works of Victor Hugo, the water paintings of Maurice Denis, how impressionism inspired fashion designer Christian Dior and work by the photographer Olivier MÃ©riel will be seen in some of the many smaller exhibitions to be held across the region in Granville, Cherbourg, Vernon, Evreux, Pont-Audemer, Saint-LÃ´, Trouville and JumiÃ¨ges.