May 17, 2009

Monet's House and Gardens

French Impressionist artist, Claude Monet, is famous for his paintings and his house and gardens. Monet moved to his house (as a rental) in the village of Giverny in 1882. Seven years later, he purchased the house and began to develop the gardens in his own style. He lived here until his death in 1926.

During the first years, he did most of the planting himself, but as his paintings sold, he kept a head gardener and five assistant gardeners. His gardens have been the subject of hundreds of his paintings, most notably Water Lilies ("Nymphéas"), which depicts his beautiful pond. He painted many versions of the water lilies, but the most famous panels are installed at the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris, located in the Tuileries gardens (Jardin des Tuileries) right by the Louvre.

The Giverny gardens of Monet have been on the top of my list of "gardens to see before I die" for as long as I can remember. It was time! To try to describe these gardens won't do them justice, so I did my best to capture the gardens with my camera.

It was an overcast day, which worked in my favor to photograph the true colors of the flowers without glare from the sun. We visited on May 6 and the gardens were in spring bloom.

Monet's house of pink and green provides the perfect backdrop for the display gardens planted with pink tulips and underplanted with blue forget-me-nots. The foundation plantings are a mix of colors and flowers, true to "cottage garden" style. I tend to identify the green trim paint with Monet's house. The green color is used on all of the benches, trellises and fences throughout the estate.

No photographs are allowed inside the house, but I loved the dining room in sunny yellow. The kitchen that appears quite functional given the era, is tiled in blue and white with copper pots hanging along the walls.

It seems as though every room in the house has a beautiful view of the gardens. The walled gardens, or Clos Normand, will be featured next in my series of Monet's Gardens at Giverny.

Story and photos by Freda Cameron. Location: Giverny, May 2009.

Getting to Giverny: We took the 8:15 am Rouen-bound train from the Saint Lazare station in Paris. After about 45 minutes on the train, we got off at the village of Vernon. Just outside the train station, buses wait to take travelers to the village of Giverny, 4 km from the station. While you can walk or rent a bike from Vernon, we decided to save our energy for the gardens and took the bus.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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