Monet’s house and garden in Giverny (France)
For one of us, Normandy was all about D-day and war monuments, for me, it was the cradle of 19th-century Impressionism (and fossils but that’s a whole other story).
Impressionism is based on the revolutionary idea of painting outdoors and capturing the momentary and transient effects of light with visible brush strokes resulting in vibrant paintings. Two inventions that made this new movement possible are: 1. vivid synthetic pigments that became commercially available and 2. paint in tin tubes.
After reading too many one-star reviews, I almost skipped a visit to Monet’s house and garden. I’m not sure what I expected, but reading about ‘horror visits’ to an overcrowded garden, or people not being able to see anything from the house except for the backpack of the person shuffling in front of them, did certainly not appeal to me.
Arriving at the small town, it looked indeed rather busy, especially after the many quiet villages we visited the week before. It took me some French baguette with butter to gather the courage to look for the entrance, and as I walked up there, I decided that if I had to wait in line, I would simply get back to the car and watch a documentary instead.
Somehow, luck was on my side. The entrance was so quiet that I walked past it. Making the best of this advantage, the house was the first thing I visited before wandering around the garden.
In the category “useless and random thoughts” I wondered if Monet would have changed his house if he’d known that this many people would wander all the way from his living room and kitchen through his bedroom. I would certainly not want people to be taking selfies in my bedroom.
Most people seem to be fascinated by the yellow dining room, but the blue kitchen with copper tools was definitely my favorite.
Off to the garden, into the world of marvelous flowers, and into the pond-looking selfie crowd. The garden itself was absolutely stunning with blossoming trees, tulips, and small paths. Then an unexpected underground passageway leads us through a magnificent bamboo forest to the pond with the green bridges.
There was not the slightest hope for a somewhat decent photo- unless I would be aiming for one of the Instagram vs reality shots. Visitors were video calling, waiting in line for selfies, and looking absolutely ridiculous with all the peace sign fingers and fake smiles that instantly dropped when their partners showed the pictures they took.
By the time I left, a long line was forming in front of the entrance and I was glad that I could happily walk the other way, feeling inspired by the colors of both the house and the garden.
+ There were other visitors but not a crowd in the beginning.
+ Beautiful rooms, inspiring colors
+ You get an idea of how Monet lived his last years and it feels a bit like time traveling.
+ Colorful garden with a lot of variety in plants.
– I would prefer more focus on art tools/supplies and studio space than on furniture.
– By the pond, it was too busy to really enjoy the environment.
– The biggest space was the shop, but most books had a terrible layout as if they were from the 90s.
– It’s not allowed to paint in the garden.