Our visit to Monet’s Gardens in Giverny, France
Margaret is guest author of today’s post.
Monet’s Gardens by Margaret on Ice Floe
“Claude Monet’s gardens at Giverny are like his paintings – brightly colored patches that are messy but balanced. Flowers were his brushstrokes, a bit untamed and slapdash, but part of a carefully composed design” (Rick Steves, Gene Openshaw, and Steve Smith).
|View from the far end of Monet’s flower garden to his home|
I first learned of Monet’s Gardens when I attended a presentation at our local library as part of the Master Gardener “Cabin Fever” lecture series. The presenter was a local watercolor artist, Celia Knapp. Celia has made numerous visits to the gardens and is very well versed in the history of Claude Monet and the development of the gardens.
Claude Monet is considered the “leading light” of the Impressionist movement. He pursued his art in defiance of his family, who were of very modest means, and practiced his art in the “open air”, in contrast to the accepted approach of painting in the “perfect lighting of a controlled studio setting”.
We arrived at Giverny from Paris by way of a high-speed train ride and, then, a “train-like” trolley that included an overhead recorded history of the village of Giverny, whose claim to fame is primarily its connection to Claude Monet. Giverny sits on the right bank of the river Seine.
|Entering Giverny by “train”|
|Left to right, George, Burt, Margaret, Susan
On the little train
From there, we approached the gardens on foot.
Giverny (Zhee-vair-nee or, as George likes to pronounce it, Gib-er-nee) is in the Normandy region of France, about 50 miles north of Paris. Monet discovered Giverny while traveling on a train, and eventually purchased a farmhouse on an orchard, turning a barn on the propery into his studio. He settled into the farmhouse with his wife, Alice, and their eight children. The surrounding land would eventually evolve into one of the most inspirational settings of his art.
|Claude Monet’s home (photo downloaded from wikimedia.org. Author Michal Osmenda from Brussels, Belgium)|
My first impression is that it was a little confusing determining exactly when we reached the gardens. In retrospect, I think it may be because the town, itself, has identified itself so closely with the gardens that it’s difficult to determine where they actually begin, apart from the town. At a certain point, we reached the ticket window. From there, we entered the gift shop. WOW!! The town, and the entity that oversees the gardens, have definitely perfected the commercialization of the site. The gift shop was buzzing with visitors and consumers of books, prints, artwork and memorabilia. In order to enter or exit the gardens you were required to go through the gift shop – genius!
|Dining room in Claude Monet’s home in Giverny (photo from wikimedia.org)|
The Clos Normand gardens were designed to provide colorful blooms and/or foliage year-round. Just as one flower fades, another takes its place. You really have to see it to believe it (which you will with the pictures that Susan will share).
Editor’s note – I am quite certain a thousand pictures cannot substitute for seeing these gardens yourself. We are so glad Margaret suggested we visit. Below are some of my favorite pictures.
Monet’s Water Gardens
|This pond is the destination of the path through the water gardens and the inspiration of many of
Monet’s most famous paintings
|Bridges and walkways allow you to meander through
the extensive water gardens
|Many chaperoned groups of children visited the
gardens the day we were there.
|Margaret and Burt – Two of the most generous people we have ever known and while our lives and paths have taken us very different places, two kindred spirits we treasure spending time with.|
As with our entire 2 weeks in France, George and Susan went out of their way to ensure that we experienced as much of the French culture and “experience” as is humanly possible in that length of time. I particularly wanted to visit Monet’s Gardens and, true to form, they made it happen. If you have the opportunity to visit France, you could not find better tour guides than George and Susan. The most generous couple we have ever known.