Chatou is a town in its own right, but it is commonly considered a suburb of Paris, as it is less than 10 miles from the city. It is rarely spoken of and many visitors will never go here, but for fans of the Impressionist school of painting, it is a must-see–specifically the Musée Fournaise. It is here that the greats of the era came together to paint and learn from each other; Renoir in particular completed several of his masterpieces at the maison.
But that isn't the only art influence this small town has. Alexandre Dumas lived here while writing, and today the Chateau de Monte Cristo hosts both an arts museum and a public park. The Grenouillère museum honors not only the Impressionists who stayed there, but Maupassant as well. And the former home of writer Ivan Tourguéniev, which was a popular meeting place for artists like Maupassant and Flaubert, is a museum, too. Art abounds!
Chatou is reachable from Paris via the RER train line. All museums mentioned above have widely varying opening times (some by appointment) and fees, so plan ahead.