I’ve never been a keen gardener – maybe because I’m not a great one for putting down roots (no pun intended) – but I have to admit to loving beautiful gardens and Monet’s garden in Giverny, in Normandy absolutely blew me away.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a garden that was so joyful. I couldn’t pick why it was such a marvellous experience – it was a combination of things – the riot of colour, the amazing variety of flowers, the many different trees, the buzzing of the bees, the perfect way everything worked together to make a gorgeous whole – it was just a perfect place to spend an afternoon.
Maybe part of it was seeing Monet’s paintings come alive – I don’t know – but I would highly recommend a visit to the gardens to anyone visiting France.
Monet lived and worked in his house in Giverny from 1883 until his death in 1926. During that time he first planted his inspirational flower garden and after a few years, his superb Japanese inspired water garden.
In contrast to the frenzy of yellow, orange, red and other vibrant colours in the flower garden the water garden has a cool, green, subdued atmosphere with lots of weeping willows, bamboo, wisteria and of course the famous water lilies.
As we walked through the water garden we marvelled that Monet had created the perfect beauty of the place twice – once by planting and shaping the gardens and then again with his paintings.
His house was also open to the public and it was fascinating to see how he and his family lived. We were able to see his original studio which had reproductions of the works Monet had hung (the originals are now mostly in the Marmottan-Monet museum in Paris) as a visual record of each step of his career.
The dining room is painted – just as it was in Monet’s lifetime – a warm sunshine yellow and in the centre of the room a huge table with ten yellow chairs round it with room for more. It was easy to imagine a room full of family and artist friends enjoying a wonderful lunch in this light and happy room.
We left Giverny feeling uplifted and determined to come back again and experience the garden in other seasons. Put it on your bucket list!
We were now heading back to the Netherlands to visit our daughter and her partner before taking a trip back to Australia for a couple of months.
After our visit to Giverny we drove for a few hours and then spent a peaceful night in the Forest of Compiègne very close to the site of the signing of the Armistice treaty between the Allies and Germany which ended World War One on 11 November 1918.