Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monet's Garden, Giverny in April

Ever since my niece Kristin spoke enthusiastically about visiting Monet's gardens at Giverny, I have wanted to see them for myself. Kristin was absolutely right; it is a fabulous garden.

We took the fast train from Paris, St Lazare to Vernon in about 42 minutes, where a shuttle bus was waiting to take us to the tiny village Giverny. The village is built around the themes of Monet and impressionism, with a touches of Normandy added. We had a very pleasant lunch outside in the village and walked through various village gardens before entering the best known gardens those maintained by the Fondation Monet (which has the best website).

The gardens open April 1st. We were visiting in mid April, ahead of the tourist rush and yet in time to see splendid displays of tulips and other early spring flowers. many of which were new to me. The pond was larger than I had envisioned, and the paths and gardens are more formal and better kept than those photographed when Monet's personal staff tended them. It is hard to imagine this outlay being enjoyed primarily by a single family and friends, but Monet was undeniably inspired by the water and plants, and by nature generally. The garden is carefully tended, even to the extent of keeping people off many stone paths during our visit, which let me take pictures of larger vistas without tourists interrupting everything. (The house is also worth a visit, but no photographs were allowed.)