Monet’s Inspiration: Giverny, France

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Posted by Cheryl-Anne Millsap on April 6, 2018, midnight

There is instant recognition. When you step onto the narrow path that winds through Claude Monet’s garden in the small Normandy town of Giverny and walk around a turn to see the familiar Japanese bridge over the water lily pond, you know exactly where you are.

The water lily paintings by Impressionist master Claude Monet are among the most recognizable paintings in the world, and the path through his garden takes you straight to the source of his inspiration.

Each spring, when the vast gardens surrounding the ponds open to the public, they are filled with beautiful blooms. Drifts of tulips, daffodils, pansies, and forget-me-nots spread through borders and flower beds. Arching boughs of crab apple and fragrant cherry blossoms cast petals like snowflakes across the paths and meadows.

Monet's Garden

If your schedule allows, Monet’s Garden at Giverny is a place meant for meandering and lingering, for taking in unexpected views and the fragrance of flowers. Summer, when the roses are in bloom, is the busiest season and can be crowded, but the garden casts its spell no matter when you are there.

Monet’s house, a sprawling two-story rustic rose-tinted farmhouse festooned with climbing roses and accented with wide garden-facing windows across the front, sits at the end of a walkway under a row of tall arches. It is the crown of the jeweled landscape.

The distinctive green hue Monet favored – the same brilliant shade he painted the famous bridge across the pond –colors the trim and shutters, benches and even the set of wide steps leading to the emerald front doors. The interior is essentially as it was when the artist lived there, filled with colorful rugs, brightly-painted rooms and facsimiles of his famous paintings.

Monet's Garden

Just a short walk from the house, down a lane nestled between picturesque old cottages and outbuildings, the Musee des Impressionnismes Giverny is a modern building dedicated to all aspects of Impressionist art and it is not to be missed. The three galleries hold rotating exhibitions of art and photography, including recent master works by artists such as Gustave Caillebotte, Degas, and American artists John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt and James Mc Neill Whistler. The little museum gift show is small but top notch – I have a collection of silk scarves purchased from there.

A morning or afternoon spent at Monet’s house and garden in the beautiful region of Normandy is a wonderful addition to a European vacation, either as a side-trip from Paris or a weekend excursion from London. When you are there you step into the artists’ world and into his life, sharing the same view that resulted in the exquisite canvases we all know. After walking along the edge of the pond, or standing in Monet’s bedroom looking out on the paradise he created, you are – just as he meant you to be – enchanted by the view.