Friday, 3 July 2015

Gardens of Inspiration

The Norman garden with Monet's house in the back
Today was one of my highlights of the France trip so far -- a visit to Claude Monet's house in Giverny.

We traveled from Bayeux to Giverny and it took about three hours to get there by coach.

The gorgeous waterlily pond is so picturesque!
Our guide explained that the artist saw the small town from the train and decided to rent a house here in 1883. He became successful with selling his impressionist paintings and was able to buy the house seven years later.

At the time he and his second wife Alice moved here with their eight children -- two from Monet's previous marriage with Camille who died in her 30s and then the six with Alice.

He lived at this house until his death in 1926 and afterwards the estate eventually was given to the state by Fondation Claude Monet. And thank goodness for the foundation for allowing us to have a glimpse into Monet's life and see what he saw when he painted his famous waterlily paintings.

A beautiful yellow dahlia flower in the garden
Monet plowed a lot of his money into the house, buying more land around the house and creating gardens. He gave meticulous instructions to his gardeners, complete with drawings -- of course -- to create two gardens, the Japanese garden and the Norman garden. He even diverted the small stream nearby to keep his pond full of water to grow the waterlilies.

We saw the Japanese one first that was completed in 1893 and it was just like his paintings, lots of bamboo in the back, waterlilies in the pond, a small Japanese bridge in green, wisteria trees nearby, lots of roses, Japanese maple trees, flowers in various pastel colours from pink to mauve, purple and lots and lots of green.

Gorgeous roses wrap around arches leading to the house
It's no wonder his garden was such a wonderful source of inspiration for him!

Next was the Norman garden and again so many different flowers and trees, like roses, sunflowers, lilies, daisies, poppies, dahlias, tulips, forget-me-nots, and lavender. Eventually they led to a pink house with green trim, Monet's house.

Inside we were directed into the sitting room filled with Japanese block prints from the 18th and 19th centuries by Kitagawa Utamaro and Katsushika Hokusai -- Monet was very fond of things Japanese -- followed by a study filled with replicas, including those by Renoir and Bonnard.

The bright yellow kitchen that seats 10 people
Then we went up a narrow staircase to Monet's bedroom, the one in which he died, which overlooks the Norman garden. The white bed is surrounded by paintings and black and white photographs, while Alice's bedroom is more floral in terms of the wallpaper and bed cover.

We were unable to see the childrens' rooms, but back downstairs the kitchen is a wonderful creamy yellow colour, complemented with a rustic red and white tiled floor. The large space fit a table with 10 chairs, a fireplace with more Japanese prints, a mixture of Oriental and Western rustic ceramics, and a massive black stove decorated with a blue and white tiled backsplash.

A bust and picture of Monet in the study filled with paintings
Interestingly the gift shop, which is in another small building is actually Monet's studio. In it there were lots of souvenirs to buy and I snagged a copy of a colouring book of the garden. Adult colouring books are the "in" things these days, a way for people to de-stress! Now I have to get some colouring pencils...


  1. You talked about visiting Monet's house months ago. I'm glad that you enjoyed the visit, and your photos of it are lovely.

    1. Yep! Had a wonderful time there! So inspiring! Gotta get those colouring pencils now...

  2. I've been there too and it is sooooo beautiful! Glad you had such a great experience!

    1. HI bluebalu! Wow when did you visit? We were lucky there weren't too many visitors so we were able to get some great pictures!