Feb 12, 2018

Claude Monet's House and Gardens [part 1]



I am only good at two things, and those are: gardening and painting. ”
- Claude Monet

Back in October 2017, Greg and I went to France and Italy to celebrate our two-year wedding anniversary [click HERE for our time in Paris]. One of my long-time dreams was to visit the home and gardens of my favorite artist, Claude Monet. We made it happen and I was utterly captivated by the stunning surroundings of this masterpiece in real life.

A mere €9 ($11.66) will permit you access to the expansive gardens and the iconic pink and green house of the Father of Impressionism. Located in Giverny, roughly one hour away from Paris by train, it is an affordable day trip for admirers of art and gardening alike. The Fondation Claude Monet has worked hard to preserve the original masterpiece that was lovingly tended by Monet. As you walk through the home and gardens, it is as close to walking back in time as you can get. 

I was a bit nervous whether we'd see a lot of blooms as we were visiting during the middle of autumn rather than the picturesque spring and summertime, but I worried for nothing. Vibrant dahlias, rudbeckias, and euryops,  asters, and purple sage are a feast for the eyes, not to mention the autumnal hues of the trees. The only bummer was that the waterlilies were not in bloom on the pond.

Monet wasn't always a famous painter. It took decades of perseverance in the newly developed impressionist technique, which focused on the perspective of light on everyday objects and scenery with the characteristic brushstrokes that made the paintings clearer the father you stood.  He started off by renting the home in 1883 and as he made more money, eventually bought it. He lived there until his death in 1926. As his artwork began to sell more consistently, he bought  roughly 2.5 acres  of surrounding land to plan and plant the two gardens that became as dear to him as his passion for painting. The two loves became inseparable as his art was inspired by scenery such as the waterlilies resting on the pond and the green Japanese bridges.

In this first of three parts of posts on our time in Giverny, I want to share photos of the gardens and then will proceed to sharing the beautiful home in the next post. 

We started off in the Japanese garden, which is most notable for the bridges and water lilies. This garden was the inspiration for his famous water lilies paintings. It is situated across the street from his home, so we had to walk through an underground tunnel to get there. I bee-lined it for the first Japanese bridge and below is one of my favorite photos from our whole trip.
The Japanese bridges have become famous from multiple Monet masterpieces, the weeping willow that was swaying from a gentle wind, the serene atmosphere, all culminated to such a sweet experience that I teared up a few times. I kept saying "I feel like I am inside a Monet painting!" It truly was one of my favorite moments of the trip. I worried Greg would get bored with all the flowers and picture-taking, but he was such a great sport. He actually enjoyed it because it was such a sweet respite away from the busyness of Paris. We got to walk around at our own pace and rest on benches whenever we felt like it. And since we were visiting on off-season, there weren't huge crowds. 

Below is one of Monet's most recognizable masterpieces showcasing this same bridge. 
(source)

I sat on the same bench Monet sat on. Fan girl moment right here.
(source)


"It took me some time to understand my water lilies… I cultivated them with no thought of painting them… One does not fully appreciate a landscape in one day… And then, suddenly, I had a revelation of the magic of my pond. I took my palette. From this moment, I have had almost no other model." 
-Claude Monet

Sadly the water lilies were not in bloom but here are some of Monet's paintings to give you an idea of what they look like. NymphĂ©as (Water Lilies) is a series of 250 oil paintings depicting the water lilies in all their glory in different seasons and light.
(source)
Another Japanese bridge was hidden on the opposite side of the pond and a fun place to sit in amazement at the beauty surrounding us.
Channeling Monet without even trying... BFFs pretty much
(source)
Ok, one more colorized/reproduced photo of Monet because I am just a little obsessed, if you couldn't tell by now and these photos just bring out so much depth and character that black and white cannot. 
I mean, come on. He is the original gangster. 

Ok ok, back to the gardens. Next we strolled through the garden adjacent to Monet's house. There were so many flowers I had never seen before.  I definitely planned my outfit weeks ahead of our trip to match the flowers. We have already established that I am obsessed, right??
My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece. ”
- Claude Monet

(source)


"I must have flowers, always, and always."
- Claude Monet

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I read two children's books on Monet to help me prepare for this trip. Both are great for kids but also a quick refresher for adults too.

Linnea in Monet's Garden by Christina Bjork follows a little girl and her elderly friend as they tour Monet's home and gardens. It is adorably illustrated by Lena Anderson and also has great history about Monet to give you an idea of the man behind the birth of impressionism.

Who Was Claude Monet by Ann Waldron is a middle-grade chapter book with a great overview of the artist's life. I especially liked hearing about the struggle to introduce impressionism as a new art form as well and his friendship with other artists.

Here are Amazon links to these two books. If you choose to use this link and buy the book, I get a tiny compensation at no extra cost, which would go directly to my book-buying budget, naturally :)




Stay tuned for the next post on Monet's home, coming later this month.



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