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A day in Claude Monet’s garden, Giverny, France

Oh what a beautiful world Claude Monet created around his home in the small village of Giverny, just about an hour out of Paris.

The plantings are casual – drifts of nasturtiums, bold beds of geraniums, and blocks of other brightly coloured flowers dance around the garden but the effect is soothing.

It provided inspiration for this famous painter for more than 20 years and it’s not hard to see why.

I visited the garden with a Trafalgar Insider tour and Travel Director Sarah told us that Monet actually thought he was a better cook than painter.  From the size of his dining table, meals must have been a popular event and the large kitchen was well equipped to handle a crowd.  

The dining table is long and set with a white cloth and 14 yellow chairs that often featured in his paintings. A long row of shiny copper pans hang on the blue tiled kitchen walls but the now the wood stove is cold. You can’t take photographs in the house but I managed to capture a glimpse through the kitchen door.

The house was damaged during the World War II and then later the staircase collapsed and floors and ceilings rotted. After 10 years of restoration work, Monet’s house and garden was opened to the public in the 1980s.  Visitors can wander through the gardens and the house from April 1 to November 1 each year. When the property is closed the gardens are replanted for the following year’s opening.

There are two sections to the garden - a flower garden called Clos Normand in front of the house and a Japanese inspired water garden on the other side of the road. Today the water garden is reached via 
a subway but in Monet’s time he merely strolled across the road.

The water garden is where you will find the famous green Japanese bridge draped with wisterias.  There are other similar small bridges and graceful weeping willows all surrounded by a swath of flowers. As I wander the willow-shaded pathways, my Trafalgar Travel Director, Sarah, reminds me to look at the reflections, not just the view, as the reflections feature strongly in Monet’s paintings.

After I’ve had my fill of the garden and house it’s off down to the historic Giverny village for lunch at the café.  It seems to be the only one around but that certainly hasn’t made them complacent and the food and coffee are good.

There’s a short, self-guided walk through the village which has a lovely church to view. 

Monet’s spirit remains in these flower-filled gardens, in the studio filled with paintings just as he liked to view them and in the garden view through the wide open windows visible from his comfortable bed.

Disclaimer: Kerry Heaney travelled to Monet’s Garden  as a guest of Trafalgar on a Trafalgar Insider tour


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