Oct 7, 2019

The Paris Diaries #3: Monet. Giverny.

Do you ever have those moments when you just happen to walk past something that's so perfect it could be a painting?  Only you're not an artist so you take a photo of it and your iPhone camera manages to make it look like art?  Never?  Not to worry, come along for the ride via today's post.

After the perfectly proportioned splendour that was Versaille, the group headed onwards to Fourges for lunch.  The restaurant where we ate sits next to this watercolour ready millhouse.

Did you know that the French serve cassis as an apertif with either champagne (making it a Kir Royal, Qatar mix a mean version on their flights, must remember to request one on my way home) or white wine?

It was hungry work power walking throughout the palace and gardens of Versaille so I made short work of lunch.

Our entree was a fish cake and the main a chicken breast with mashed potato.  In my borderline hangry state, I didn't get a picture of the chicken for you.

Dessert was an apple tart with ice cream.  It was all delicious and left me more than ready for an afternoon with Mr Monet.

Claude Monet came to Giverny initially to seek inspiration for his work.  As he became more and more financially successful through the sales of his work, he eventually raised enough capital to buy the land that would eventually house the Japanese Bridge and waterlilies that would be the inspiration for some of his most renown works.

The Japanese Bridge and the garden surrounding it seems to have special aura. It's as if time stood still and that, at any minute, Monsieur Monet himself might wander into his garden, park himself somewhere and get right to work.  Oblivious to all those tourists from the 21st century milling around with their iPhones and cameras.

Friends and visitors would give Monet seeds and cuttings from all over the world which he would then plant in the garden.  These bamboo began life as one of those gifts from afar.

It was just potential Impressionist oil paintings as far as the eye could see, really.  Monet is one of the founding fathers of the Impressionist movement.

Those famous waterlilies that helped define an epoch of art history.

A visits to the gardens also enables you to visit Monet's house.

Which is tucked away behind its own garden that is a riot of colour and shapes.  Both the Monet gardens have a 'method to their madness' kind of beauty which contrasts sharply to the Versailles gardens only 15 minutes away.

From the moment I stepped in the front door after clearing security, I just knew this was the house of an artist.

Works of Monet, as well as sources of his inspiration, occupied every spare inch of wall space.

This is a photo of The Japanese Bridge in Monet's garden.  There was a time when the water supply to it was threatened so Monet somehow got the local government to divert some water his way.

Blue features heavily in the interior design and you can find it in the most unexpected places throught the two storeys of the house.

While the garden may look slightly chaotic at ground level, its flowers take on a more structured beauty when viewed from a first level window.

One of  Monet's paintings (or perhaps it's a replica) casually hung in an anteroom of the house.

I love the bold approach to colour Monet took in his house.  Rooms are painted in yellows or blues with contrasting accents here and there.

The estate is maintained by the Claude Monet Foundation.  Funds come from the adjacent gift store which is located in a refurbished studio.  I couldn't resist these two Christmas decorations.  

PSA - it's 79 days until Christmas.  How frightening.

Giverny is a small town.  Its population numbers in the hundreds and while it is beautiful, its infrastructure just isn't geared towards a twenty-first century lifestyle.

The roads are scarily narrow and winding while the houses are so small and old that it makes their resale value poor.

The major industry in the area appears to be art.

The road beyond Monet's house and gardens plays host to a number of modern artists whose studios are open to the public.

The old and new coexist harmoniously in the artistic world of Giverny.

Nods to Monet and his muses from the landscape can be found in the gardens surrounding the studios.  Bales of hay artfully arranged, gardens bursting with colourful blooms and if you drive on a bit, fields, where poppies bloom in the spring, remain to this day.

The town appears very quiet save for the masses of tourists who descend upon it during the spring and summer.  Businesses beyond the art precinct mostly seem geared to housing and feeding visitors.  Many close over the winter.

The harsh realities of 21st century aside, Giverny is an idyllic place to escape to.  It is a testament to the Claude Monet Foundation that they have made a sustainable business out of the grounds to enable this living piece of history to be appreciated by as many people as possible.

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