I can’t imagine there are many people in Europe who’ve not heard of Monet’s garden at Giverny. In fact, I can’t imagine there are many garden lovers or art lovers in the world who don’t know about his house and garden. In the 17 years I’ve lived in the UK, I’ve heard many.many accolades for the garden and can’t recall one person who has felt disappointed in the visit.
We decided to take advantage of the morning of our drive back from Paris and swing past Giverny to visit the garden. Opening time is 9.30 am. We arrived at 9.45 am and were pleased to see many free spaces in the car park. Even so, when we got to the entrance the queue was already pretty daunting.
It wasn’t quite as bad as it looks – we only had to wait for 20 minutes to get into the garden. Once inside, it was clear that it was well worth the wait – the garden in June is truly breathtaking. The density of the planting, the intensity of the blossoms, and the colour combinations in the planting plan, all come together to create an unforgettable visit.
Giverny’s gardeners have found some wonderful plants, producing displays of spectacular colours, sizes and scents.
The famous lily pond, across the road, wasn’t at all serene – it was alive with very raucous residents who made their presence obvious.
Wandering back under the road, we headed for the famous pink house.
Once inside, the real wonder is the density of paintings on the walls by Monet himself, by Manet, by Renoir, by Cezanne. These were all artists of the same era who left their distinct marks on the art world. To see their work grouped together, not in a gallery, but in the home of one of their contemporaries, is an experience that feels very personal. You almost feel that Monet could be sitting in his bright yellow kitchen, sharing a cuppa (or perhaps un cafe) with his talented friends. His extensive collection of Japanese artwork fills the walls of two or three rooms too. I gathered from my sister (who studied these things, so is rather like my personal art encyclopedia), tells me that Japanese paintings were seen as quite revolutionary in their composition. Previously, western artists had ensured that all the key figures in a painting were fully depicted within the painting. Japanese works were far more like a current day snapshop with people and articles appearing to be entering or exiting the painting, with only part of their form in view. (Did I get that right, Sis?) His love of Japanese form extends into the lily garden where his Japanese bridges at either end of the water provide access, look out points, and painting subjects.
If you were Monet, and opened your bedroom shutters every morning to see this view (without the tourists, of course), wouldn’t you just want to grab a brush and start painting?