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Giverny sits in a little quiet area in Normandy about an hours’ drive from the hustle and bustle of Paris. As areas go, it is relatively unremarkable. A quiet little village lane, a few houses on either side. It is actually hard to believe that it was home to one of the world’s most renowned painters, Claude Monet.
Thousands of people make their way through the gates of his chateau hoping to catch a glimpse of where the man lived and to see for themselves the views that inspired the wonderfully serene views of the lily ponds and gardens.
The chateau, it is said, is much in the same as it was when Monet lived in it. Monet’s art collection is placed as it was when he lived there. Photographs are not allowed inside. Although you can now visit the chateau virtually at the Monet Foundation’s website: https://fondation-monet.com/visite-virtuelle
Monet’s Chateau in Giverny
The lily pond that inspired over 200 paintings was not an original feature of the property. Monet paid teams of gardeners to have a stream (that ran through the bottom part of his garden) diverted. Digging out a huge pond that was filled by the stream but also eventually drained back in to the same stream. Giving rise to the infamous water lily pond with the bridge across it.
Monet’s Water Lily Pond in Giverny
On a Bateau boat ride in Paris, an American ophthalmologist explained to me, how because Monet had cataracts in his eyes, over time, his lily pond paints started to take on a more orange-brown hues whereas this earlier paintings had more vibrant greens and blues. These later stage water lily paintings are the ones that dominate the circular exhibition space in the Musee le Orangerie. You can take the virtual tour here.
Giverney’s gardens are wonderfully tended to by teams and teams of volunteers who ensure that the plants look their very best throughout the summer months and the lily pond with it’s boats and Japanese bridge are still wonderfully romantic and despite the throngs of people about there is something inescapably magically about it all.
Flowers at Giverny
We visited in August 2013 and stayed at a nearby Campanile hotel.
To learn more about Monet: https://www.biography.com/artist/claude-monet