Giverny, designed by artist Claude Monet, looks good in any season, but spring time visits are glorious! Bulbs, early spring flowers, blooming shrubs and trees, make it a impressionistic painting of flowers. Visually striking from the moment you step foot in the garden, most people upon entering, pause and let it all soak in before continuing.
Giverny, a quaint Norman village set on the banks of the Seine which runs through Paris, is the scene of many of Claude Monet’s most famous and iconic works. Full of picturesque towns and lovely countryside landscapes, Giverny was the perfect backdrop for Monet’s painterly style of impressionistic landscapes of open countryside, quaint villages, and beaches. ‘En Plein Air’ was the coined term for painting outdoors using natural light- not a studio.
Claude Monet lived in Giverny for 43 years, and continued to paint even though in later years, he was in poor health. Monet’s most famous painting of the lily pads at Giverny is known all over the world and he designed and created those gardens. Painting Giverny at all times of the year presented him with an endless palette of flowers by season. Go to Monet’s Garden Calendar to see the succession of flowers by month.
Edging of blue Campanula
Next to the house is the Close Normand, with its metallic arches underplanted with bulbs and wildflowers. When I visited it in the spring, tulips were the main flower and in September it was the orange nasturtium. The flowers are carefully selected so that from early spring to late summer, a succession of color is on display. Just steps away from the front door, you can imagine Monet walking out with coffee in hand to the garden every morning to see what was blooming.
To prevent people from treading on plants, the inner alleys are closed off to the public and visitors can walk on the side alleys to admire the garden.
A central alley separates the Clos into two parts and is a veritable mélange and symphony of colors. Flowerbeds, fruit trees, ornamental trees, climbing roses, annuals, perennials fill the area. You can tell that Claude Monet didn’t like organized or constrained gardens. He loved the billowing display of cottagey type of gardens. And he was a plant collector which I can relate to and spent a a lot of money acquiring rare and unusual plants. To read more about his long life, go to About Claude Monet and read about his interesting life.
Venturing into the water garden, which is on the other side of a road, you go through an underground passageway and emerge into a different world entirely and can travel around the pond seeing it through different perspectives. The still water reflects everything!
As you walk around the very large pond, the flowers are grouped by color. You pass through a white area, red, blue, yellow, and pink areas that lead you along the pathway.
Monet was inspired by Japanese prints to create a man-made pond and diverted a river in town to create it. In keeping with the Asian theme, Monet planted bamboo, ginkgo trees, and Japanese peonies with weeping willows dripping into the pond.
Photographing the scene is a photographer’s dream, with the reflection of the willows and bridge on the water. Japanese cherry trees and azaleas ring the pond with color mixed with flowering bulbs and pansies and violas for a riot of color. The famous Japanese bridge is covered with wisteria and was just starting to bloom when I visited this spring.
Monet died in 1926 and the garden was taken care of by his step-daughter Blanche for a number of years. But after the Second World War, the property fell into disrepair from bombings and neglect. Over the course of 10 years Giverny was restored to it’s former magnificence with the pond having to be re-excavated as it had filled in. The house was fully restored and has been open to the public since 1980.
Traveling from Giverny, we passed through La Roche-Guyon, which located about 10 kilometers from Giverny is labeled as one of the most beautiful villages in France. A place that I have put on my list as to go back to when I have more time!