Sunday, 11 May 2008
Under the blazing sun at Giverny
In the middle of a five-day weekend thanks to bank holidays falling on a Thursday and the following Monday and many companies in France writing the Friday off as a bad loss and closing for the day. A mini-holiday, even if it is involving boring visits to the bank and boring flat-buying paperwork.
On Thursday we went to Giverny, to see Monet's house and garden, under a glorious blazing sun.
The trian took us as far as Vernon, where we took a hot, stuffy bus the extra 7km through the Normandy countryside. Beautiful views, lush fields, rolling hills. The main garden is a 'Clos Normand' flower garden, with gravelled paths running between herbs and flora beds. The day was so bright that the colours appear bleached in Ali's photos (thank you!) but it is beautifully thought-out, recreated just as it was during Monet's later years with the addition of some plants and flowers from a town in Japan which works with the Foundation, reflecting his love of the Japanese art displayed inside his former home.
The garden was glorious, we spent a while wandering round in a heady fug of scent before escaping the sun in his long, low house with crazy yellow kitchen. Next came the waterlilly pond and Japanese bridge, the subject of some of his best-known works, a complete change of scene from the bucolic flower garden. The bamboo rustling in the wind reminded me of the bamboo lawns in Hawai'i near the Stairway to Heaven.
The American Museum of Art just up the road also has an impressive contemporay garden for further wanderings, which banks up a hill from which you can see the river as you doze in the sun. It also has a great restaurant, and local Normandy cider. Happy faces.
Fondation Claude Monet
An hour away from Paris St Lazare
Buses leave from vernon to Giverny 15 mins after train arrives, or you can hire bikes and cycle through the fields by the Seine.
House + garden entry E5.50