I don't know about you, but I need a little virtual vacation! The beautiful country home and gardens of the French artist Claude Monet have been on my mind this week. How does that sound to you? Pack your virtual bags and join me for a tour! We are heading for the little village of Giverny, France!
We will be staying at the only hotel in the village..La Musardière. The accommodations are simple and the owner is friendly and welcoming! Bonjour, Madame! Why are we spending the night? Ohhh...but you will see! First let's drop off our bags and then head across the little street....yes, across the street...to Monet's Garden!
Monet came to Giverny in 1883 and spent 43 years here. The atmosphere of this beautiful rural village inspired much of his greatest work. He spent many hours painting in these gardens so you will recognize some of the places that we are going to see. The gardens surrounding his home are divided into two sections...the flower garden and the water garden. Let's visit the water garden first. On the way, stop and turn toward the house. Here's the most famous view of the flower garden with the Grande Allée and its arches. In Monet's time, this would have been your view coming through the main gate.
We go through a tunnel under the road, which was added in recent times as a gift from a group of Americans, and emerge to see a little stream surrounded by daylilies and trees bending slightly toward the water.
The path meanders alongside the stream where the tall trees and bamboo thickets provide shade from the summer sun. Ahhh...I'm starting to relax already! Are you?
The trees open up to a little clearing and we can see that the stream feeds into a small pond. Ohhh!!! Are you seeing what I see?? My heart still races with excitement looking at the photos! Do you see them?
The water lilies!! Monet's water lilies!! Don't they look just like his paintings?
Here's a close-up. Amazing, aren't they? So beautiful! Oh, but it gets even better.....
At the end of the little pond is the Japanese bridge...the green Japanese bridge! Doesn't it look just like the paintings? Look...you can even see the reflection in the pond. It's still a perfect impressionist painting, isn't it? And do you notice anything??? Not a single tourist in this shot! We are here an hour before closing time. All of the day trippers are gone. We are spending the night, remember? Isn't this wonderful? Aren't you glad you came?
Now let's go back through the tunnel and head for the flower garden. Once again, we'll follow the paths that lead us toward his house. The flowers that are in bloom vary greatly by month. We are here in early June so there is an abundance of daylilies and roses.
There is such a profusion of flowers that you can't see the next path, so every turn leads you to a wonderful surprise.
Some of the paths are not accessible, like this one where the flowers are spilling into the walkway. Can't you just imagine Monet wandering through his garden, studying the effect of the light on his flowers?
In the beginning, Monet did all of the planting himself, but by 1890, he was wealthy enough to hire six gardeners and to build two greenhouses. Imagine how much care it must take to maintain these beautiful gardens!
Ohhh!...Do you see there? Peeking above the flowers? It's Monet's house. Let's get a closer look!
Here it is...his wonderful pink house with the masses of geraniums planted in front. The French seem to love geraniums. They are everywhere! I love the vines growing on the house and the green shutters! Once again...not one single tourist spoiling our perfect view! I have to admit that I sat on a bench entranced by the house for about half an hour. If you know me from Rate My Space, you will recognize this as my avatar...the little picture that represents me. If it were at all possible, I would duplicate this house for myself...inside and out. However, we are saving the house for another visit. Sooo...I'm getting hungry! What about you? I know a great place to eat. Let's go!
There is one main street in Giverny...Rue Claude Monet, of course! Just a short walk down from the gardens is the Ancien Hôtel Baudy. Ancien in this case means former. This used to be a hotel where many young American artists came to worship at the feet of Monet, who did not think very highly of them at all. However, he finally relented and permitted his step-daughter to marry one of them !
Today, it is a very charming restaurant that serves wonderful food. It even looks like a painting, doesn't it? Let's try the eggplant caviar for starters...a yummy spread for the crusty French bread...with a bottle of rosé. Then how about guinea hen with tarragon sauce and crème brulée for dessert? All of my favorites...yum!!
The restaurant keeps a fabulous secret. In the back are the most beautiful rose gardens that I have ever seen! The customers are allowed to wander freely and explore them at their leisure, so let's take a quick tour! Aren't the roses amazing?...massive bushes full of blooms!
These steps lead up to a little studio that was used by the Americans who came to stay in Giverny. I think even I could manage to be inspired in this wonderfully charming little village!
We need to hurry now, though. I don't want to miss our last stop!
Isn't this a quaint little church? Virtually every little village in France has one. This one has something that none of the others have, though. Not many tourists seem to know, so we are here alone. Can you guess what we have come to see?
Yes, it's Monet's grave. Amazing, isn't it? He loved this little village so much that he spent half of his life here and was buried here alongside the members of his family. No special fuss is made over his grave site. You have to look for it...just a simple headstone in a country church graveyard. Here is the resting place of one of the greatest artists who has ever lived!
Well...I guess it's time to head back. One good thing about a virtual trip is that there's no jet lag! I don't know about you, but I want to swing by the Japanese bridge one more time before I head home. I'm just going to stay here and gaze at the water lilies for a few moments. Don't wait for me. I'll catch up...
Thanks so much for dropping by! See you nest time! A la prochaine!