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britman Giverny - A travel report by Brit
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Giverny,  France - flag France -  Haute-Normandie
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britman's travel reports

Giverny: - Claude Monet’s inspirational home.

  17 votes
Page: 1 2
Situated on the banks of a babbling brook leading to the River Epte, a tributary of the Seine, in the village of Giverny, Normandy, France are the colourful house, studio and gardens of the leader of the French Impressionist School, Claude Monet, who lived here from 1883 until his death at 86 years of age in 1926


Monet's Lotus Pool & Bridge.
Monet's Lotus Pool & Bridge.
In 1883 Claude Monet moved from Paris to Giverny and rented the house and gardens in this small manicured village, just a few miles from the River Seine. He attracted many other artists to the village. The house, gardens and particularly the lotus ponds with its Japanese style bridges became the inspiration for many of his most famous “paintings from nature”, admired and described as, “masterpieces” by his contemporaries. The property later acquired by his family was left by Monet’s son following his own death in 1966 to the Academie des Beaux-Arts. The Claude Monet Foundation was formed and the extensive restoration work to the house and gardens began. It took some 10 years to complete the renovations to the gardens and house. They are restored to Monet’s original design with their true colours being replicated

Favourite spots:
Monet's pink and apple green house
Monet's pink and apple green house
Opened to the public in 1980 the house and gardens are open daily between April and October between 10.00am and 6.00pm. They say that some 500 000 visitors discover Monet’s gardens each year during the seven months that it is open. During the busier months of July & August many groups book to visit and the whole village can become quite congested. It is best to try and visit at lunchtime or late afternoon to be sure of avoiding the hordes of group visitors. Monet was the leader of the Impressionists, the term being derived in 1874 from his landscape impression “Soleil Levant”. He liked painting a subject in the open air at different times of day to show the variation in light and this is particularly illustrated in his series of paintings on Rouen Cathedral. Monet designed the original gardens and their layout himself. It is said that he was “ecstatic about flowers”. He arranged for the famous Japanese bridges to be constructed by local craftsmen out of beech wood – these were later remade by local craftsmen from nearby Vernon during the restorations and painted in the trademark apple green shade so endeared by Monet. The house is spectacular for its use of colour; its decorative schemes are simple – but most effective and striking. The outside is constructed of “crushed pink” brick with a contrasting painted shade of “apple green” used for shutters, doors and stairways. Inside the palette of decorative colours continues to delight, from the pale blue salon, to the yellow dining room and the blue kitchen with its original blue and white tiles surrounding the cooking range complete with the original gleaming copper cooking utensils hanging from the wall. Many copies of Monet’s works line the walls together with his collection of Japanese prints. All in all a delightful house and well worth the 5.50 Euro admission fee charged for both house and gardens.

What's really great:
Taken before I was told to stop photographing inside the house!
Taken before I was told to stop photographing inside the house!
The gardens like the house are similarly impressive for their use of colour, reminding me of an English Country House Garden in layout. Near the house is a traditional Normandy “clos”, - a walled garden for vegetables and fruit. Monet apparently placed rose strewn arches over paths and intermixed flowers with fruit trees. In the nineteenth century manner, he favoured brightly coloured annuals, herbaceous perennials and shrubs. I read that he planted “Japanese cherries, tulips, irises, oriental poppies, gladioli, phlox, delphiniums, lupins, roses and pelargoniums. Trailing nasturtiums grow across the gravel paths. In 1893 ten years after moving to Giverny, Monet acquired the land at the bottom of his garden. Now reached by an underground tunnel under the railway track and road is the “Ru”, a brook that is a diversion of the Epte, which eventually joins the River Seine. Monet envisaged this new water garden after gleaning many of the Japanese prints that he had avidly collected, he then set about its construction. The pond has been enlarged several times; it is connected by Japanese bridges painted again in, apple green. It is planted with wisterias, water lilies, weeping willows, bamboos and herbaceous plants and is simply breathtaking. It startles the senses, almost déjà vu, to visit a place that you feel that know intimately, but know, it’s really only from seeing many pictures. Monet’s Water Lily series were painted here. It was cloudy on my visit but the quality of light was immediately perceptible, even startling. It makes the pond most photographable! The apple green bridges and boats that featured in some of Monet’s paintings were authentically reproduced during the renovations. The whole experience is surreal and the tour is thoroughly recommended.

Sights:
The theme for a famous picture
The theme for a famous picture
As you leave the property you will be directed through what was once Monet’s large studio, which now terms itself a “Visitor Centre”. Frankly, it is the just another glorified tourist shop that you expect to find at every tourist attraction worldwide. It also sells, again just what you would expect - Monet Memorabilia! From fridge magnets to 100% genuine copies of the “Water Lilies” that could impress the neighbours; you will soon see, they seem to stock it all!

Much better is to head back to the Rue Claude Monet (between the car-parks and the Monet Museum) where is the excellent “Musee Americain Giverny” which was opened in 1992, funded by the Terra Foundation for the Arts in America. The museum allows visitors to explore the historical connection between French and American artists throughout the Impressionist and other 19th and 20th century periods. This museum is well worth a visit. Even more spectacular are the small, individual, compartmentalised gardens bounded by small hedges that front the museum. The many beds burst with a profusion of harmonious colour and shapes, they were particularly effective in July when I visited and both their “white garden” and the “wild flower garden” were then most spectacular.

Accommodations:
More of Monet's garden colours.
More of Monet's garden colours.
1. Le Bon Marechal, 1, Rue Du Colombier, Giverny. This place is so handy and really has the feel of “being in amongst the action”. It houses the café where Monet and his friends used to meet. They also have just three small bedrooms that they offer on a bed and breakfast basis at a very reasonable 39 to 62 Euros per room per night.
2. The D5 Road that runs through Giverny from Vernon (3km away) to La Roche-Guyon, houses several bed and breakfast signs on various establishments if you wish to arrive and take pot luck.
Alternatives are to stay in nearby Vernon at either:-
3. Evreux Hotel, in Place du Evreux – has 12 rooms charging 54 Euros for a double.
4. Normandy Hotel, 1, Avenue Mendes-France, which has 50 rooms of varying sizes and price.
5. A further alternative is to stay, as I did en route to Giverny, I thoroughly recommend a pretty town called Pacy-Sur-Eure, just 17km from Giverny. There I found an excellent hotel - “L’Etape de la Vallee” -under new ownership right on the River in the centre of the town. The owner is the chef and his wife is front of house. They serve outstanding food at excellent value and the place is already full of local customers (a good sign). Breakfast in this hotel incidentally, was the best of my whole trip.

Nightlife:
The street where he lived
The street where he lived
Ask your local hotelier. It is pretty quiet around here and you will have to go to your nearest town, perhaps Vernon to find the action.

Hangouts:
Boats on the pond - another picture
Boats on the pond - another picture
There are pubs everywhere, however, far more atmospheric are the numerous and more authentic café style bars, brasseries and bistros These establishments serve in addition to non alcoholic or alcoholic drinks, sandwiches, salads, snacks even hot-dogs if you must! Maybe the fixed price menu or simple plat du jour. Come what may, you will be able to get a drink with or without food.

As every restaurant, café, bar or pub has its own selection of regional French wines – here is a chance to sample a few glasses. A glass of vin rouge, rose or blanc will cost you a couple of Euros’, as will a small beer or lager, the choice of beers is tremendous from excellent local draft brews, ask for “pression” if you want draft, or go for the increasingly omnipresent, imported brand names that you are already familiar.

Restaurants:
American Garden Givenry
American Garden Givenry
1. Les Jardins de Giverny, off the D5 Road. Great place – good recommendation at the top end. Porcelain tableware and crystal glass with a bill to match!
2. Restaurant-Musee-Baudy right opposite the Monet Museum on Rue Claude-Monet, Giverny. Was formerly the Hotel Baudy (as opposed to bawdy) that lodged the Impressionist painters. Pricey lunch but most atmospheric. The most impressive rose garden here is best in the months of May and June
3. “Les Fleurs”, 71 Rue Carnot, in Vernon, 3km from Giverny. Is also highly rated and reasonably priced.
4. “Bistro” right next door to “Les Fleurs” at 73 Rue Carnot, Vernon.
5. “L’Etape de la Vallee”, Pacy-Sur-Eure just 17km from Giverny.

Other recommendations:
Japanese bridge, willows, lillies - heaven!
Japanese bridge, willows, lillies - heaven!
FURTHER INFORMATION & WEBSITES:-

http://giverny.org/

Don't go without buying:-
Michelin – Red Guide to France.
Michelin – Green Guide to Normandy.
Michelin Maps 311 & 312
Their outlay you can immediately save with their choice of sensible accommodation, decent restaurants and things to see on the way!

Do look at http://www.viamichelin.com

DK – Eyewitness Travel Guide to France - great pictorial overview.

GETTING THERE:-
Address: Fondation Claude Monet, Musee Monet, 27620 Giverny, France,
Telephone:- 32 51 28 21.
By Rail: - Paris-Rouen train alights at Vernon Station.
By Road: - 4km south east of Vernon, by the D5. Paris 80km Rouen 65km.

Even better; log on to http://www.viamichelin.com - it can map out your free route - door to door!!



Published on Sunday August 1th, 2004


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Mon, Jul 24 2006 - 01:56 PM rating by zrusseff

Awesome! I love it. Great photographs and comments. I planning a trip to France and off to Giverny I go.

Mon, Jan 17 2005 - 02:56 PM rating by davidx

Wow! This is really something. We 'chose' a day when the pond was being cleaned! Cheaper, but not what we intended. Great memories of the rest though.

Sat, Aug 21 2004 - 03:19 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

hiii brit,
what a wonderful report u have written,i am glad to read it .
ravi

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