Gumbo's Pic of the Day, Oct. 30: Monet's Gardens at Giverny

1-174Almost as if he were painting with plantings and water, the Impressionist painter Claude Monet spent years creating gardens and water features around his house and studio in Giverny, west of Paris and on the edge of Normandy. Monet and his family moved to Giverny in 1883; he lived and worked there until his death in 1926. For most of those years, the gardens were his main subjects.

 

The gardens, house and studio are open to visitors from April through October, with different flowers blooming throughout the year. The gardens are the real feature of the visit, but the house is interesting for its small scale and lived in feel—and its impressive kitchen. The studio is used as a gift shop.

 

There are many day and half-day tours from Paris, but my favorite way for this trip is to take the train from Gare St. Lazare, itself a favorite early subject for Monet, to Vernon. It’s about a 45-minute trip. At Vernon, a bus meets each train for a short ride across the river and down to Giverny, but it’s only a 5-kilometer walk and quite enjoyable. Or, you can ride one way and walk back, stopping for a bite along the way.

Vernon itself is worth a stop on your way home; it has an impressive 10th-century church that dominates the skyline for miles around.

Click here for visit and ticket information

Click here for a calendar of what’s blooming each month

 

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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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You wonder how many times Monet actually used these gardens as inspiration for his art -- likely hundreds.

 

Perhaps his most spectacular pieces are the huge canvases he painted on display in Paris' Orangeria museum.  These were the works of an old man loosing his eyesight to cataracts, but are truly spectacular!

Definitely hundreds! In fact, for the last 40 years of his life, he painted almost nowhere else. He even created a floating studio on a small boat so he could paint within his waters, and nearby on the Seine.

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