Synopsis:  An excu3-Giverny Japanese Bridge-Rrsion to the home and garden of the late Monet at the village of Giverny, 76 km North-East of Paris.

I wonder what the villagers of medieval Giverny made of this odd fellow who for the last forty some years of his long life lived in Giverny.  He bought property there and then did the unthinkable:  he took water from the public stream used by the locals for irrigation of their fields and as water for the cattle, and diverted it onto his private property.  There, he dug out a pond and planted water lilies!  Water lilies?!  Nobody had even heard of an exotic plant such as this and for the longest time it was suspected of poisoning the waters…

Monet’s life style (read the story of his second wife Alice Hoschede) must have been nothing short of scandalous for this remote village.  But in the end – are they glad they had such a famous man in their midst?  I wonder. It certainly turned life upside down for them perhaps more so now, than back then. Just the one train I came with from Paris spat out about 300 visitors who were shuttled into the village in four huge coaches.  The parking lot was only one of many; cars and buses were parked as far as the eye could see.  Obviously, thousands of people come here day after day after day during the summer season.  Monet’s property was located at one end of the village.  There was hardly room to breathe among the tourists.   Cafes, restaurants, artists’ shops, bed-and-breakfasts sprout like mushrooms after a rain to accommodate the visitors.

A little down the road there was a newly constructed Museum for Impressionism.  Only a few hundred of the visitors were found there.   When I decided to walk down into the village to see the tomb of Monet, I only had about a handful of fellows with me.  And when I explored the village church and later continued deep into the medieval village, I was finally all alone.  It is amazing how a crowd such as this disperses after all.

The house and garden of Monet are nothing short of amazing.  I wonder how many gardeners it takes to keep this going.  Everything seemed in bloom and supposedly just as Monet had planned and planted it.  Whites and blues together, yellows and oranges together were creating color symphonies.  When Monet was alive he must have been able to cross through the garden to reach his pond on the other side of the village path.  Now, there is a paved road and visitors are channeled into the underground tunnel reaching the lily pond from there.  Already from across the road you can hear the frog concert.  Unreal!  These were bull-frogs, I think, who puff up two sacs left and right of their face and trumpet across the lake.  Each call is clearly answered by at least another dozen frogs.  What they are “talking” about is anyone’s guess, but they are talking!

It took me almost 15 minutes to catch the famous Japanese bridge for about 10 seconds without anyone posing on it for a photograph…  Just enough to snap one picture.   

The house was given to a foundation by the son of Monet and is still furnished with his original furniture and décor.  Over 60 of his paintings, a huge collection of Japanese prints and gifts from friends are displayed here; obviously all in copies as this would be anyone’s security nightmare:  Thousands of visitors push through the narrow corridors of the house literally within touching distance of the paintings.   Copies or not, it is nice to get a feeling how Monet lived.

There is a second house on the property which might have functioned as a guest house. But it was not open to visitors.  It also had one side with large windows, presumably one of the studios.  The main house had a studio as well, and a third studio was constructed to paint his huge continuous water lily pond canvases; now it is a gift store.   The water lilies were donated to the city of Paris.

I got lucky with the weather today.   It was mostly sunny even if still cold.    This is definitely a well-worth excursion, especially for somebody like me who has been in Paris twice before. Now I can skip the Louvre to seek out more remote places.  Even though, of course, the Louvre has more paintings to see than I could take in during a life time of visits!

And so it was night by the time I got back and … raining again!  Good night. 

6 comments so far

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  1. This was spectacular! Thanks for describing everything so perfectly. Monet has always been one of my favorite artists, and now I have seen his house! Like Elida said, it looks like you stepped into one of his paintings.

  2. The first time I went to Giverny and was walking through the rainy garden, I ran out of film in my camera so hung around by myself while replacing the roll. All of a sudden I found myself totally alone and in a most magical moment watching the raindrops on the pond while the frogs sang to me. Bill and our daughter Jill joined me several years ago for a return trip to Paris and the garden was as lovely as the first time. We got there before the house was even opened and by the time that we left, the waiting crowd stretched way down the road. Jill remarked that it was like walking through Monet’s paintings – and it was.

  3. Wow, looks so beautiful. Sometimes I wonder if making amazing places like that only open to a limited number of people would be better or worse. I mean, the idea of everyone being able to go is great, but I know from experience that extreme crowds can really get in the way of appreciating what everyone is there to see. Just a thought, there are definitely pros and cons both ways.
    I really like the picture of the kitchen with all the copper pots. I wonder if Monet liked to cook… 🙂

  4. Wonderful photos, Elisabeth. I especially like the one of the Monet bridge (and the pots and pans one). I would love to spend some time photographing there, but the way you describe the mass of humanity might indeed make it somewhat difficult.
    Glad you had some sun for your time at Giverny, though the sky in that one picture looks a bit threatening.
    What will the new day bring? With you, one can only guess…and then probably be way under-shot. LOL

    • Had to take the indoor shots secretly – no photography allowed inside. But who can tell these days who is shooting from the hips!? 🙂 ET

  5. I loved this post! Thanks for bringing this to me all the way in Ann Arbor. The photos really give me a sense of the place. The thoughtful way the photos are hung and the vases and pots are laid out reminds me a bit of you.