Monet’s Gardens – Giverny, France

Claude Monet 

Impressionist Painter  1840-1926

When you visit Paris, France it is sometimes difficult to image the calm, serene and grass flowered land that is less than an hour outside of the city.  On a visit to France we made time to take an excursion to see the gardens of Claude Monet.  Like Paris, it did not disappoint.

My journey began in the little town of Vernon. Vernon and Giverny are synonymous – Vernon is the pulse of the area with the markets, town square and shopping, while Giverny is country roads and the quite of a simple lifestyle.

Vernon Market

 The market is a great place to try the local cheese.  Pick out a sweet and strong cheese and the “cheesemonger” will cut and wrap it for you.

While we didn’t purchase any seafood, it was certainly in abundance at the center village market.IMG_4398

Eggs, vegetables, meats and sweets – all fresh and purchased daily by the locals.

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Baguettes plain and filled, fruit and sweets can be purchased at Rose – a market style store in the village center in Vernon.

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These little piggies are made of marzipan and a macaron like cookie.

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En route to Giverny

After exploring the market and gathering up our food for lunch.  We hopped on bikes and began the ride into Giverny with lunch carefully stowed away in the basket on the side of the bike.IMG_5064

Even though it is June, you have to notice I’m in a jacket and scarf!

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The bike ride into Giverny and the gardens of Claude Monet was about five miles from Vernon on narrow side roads winding through the village.  Stopping only once for a quick photo for the memory book.

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 Claude Monet’s Home
Giverny

Claude Monet lived in Giverny and in this home for over 40 years with his wife Alice and their eight children from two families.  He lived in this home until his passing in 1926.

There are two parts in Monet’s garden: a flower garden called Clos Normand in front of the house and a Japanese inspired water garden on the other side.

The two parts of Monet’s garden contrast and complement one another.

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The gardens were beyond description with colors so vivid it would be hard to imagine through description unless you saw them in person. One of the reasons Monet stayed in Giverny is because of the ever changing light that is experienced all throughout the day.

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  Walk ways were lined with every imaginable color and worked in sync and symmetry to keep the eyes excited and calmed at the same time.

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A moody, reserved, and very private man whose daily routine revolved totally around his painting, and secondary – gardening.  Monet nevertheless enjoyed entertaining his friends: Fellow Impressionists — in particular Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Degas and Cezanne — other regular guests included Rodin, Whistler, Maupassant, Valery!  Artists, gardeners and poets – can you imagine the conversations?

 Friends came to dine in almost ritual form, first visiting Monet’s studio and the greenhouses, then having lunch at 11:30 (the time the family always dined, to enable Monet to make the most of the afternoon light). Tea would later be served under the lime trees or near the pond. Guests were never invited to dinner; because Monet went to bed very early in order to rise at dawn.  All the guests were familiar with Monet’s rigid timetable.

The Flowers

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These flowers could be almost anywhere, but the significant difference here on these grounds is truly the lighting.  All day long the colors changed and what were originally bright pink flowers became soft pale pink after the rain or cloud cover.  It was so interesting to see the contrasts as the day unfolded.  Hence, one of the main reasons Claude stayed in the area for so many years – It became his rapture.

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Japanese Water Garden

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The famous bridge in the water garden

Claude Monet’s famous painting of the bridge over the pond – These gardens were completely asymmetrical unlike the Clos Normand garden near the house that was designed linear & sequential in nature.  The water that feeds into this pond is a tributary from the Seine River.

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And, a view of the house from the water garden

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THE INSIDE OF THE HOME

The Kitchen

The kitchen of Claude Monet was quite functional and elaborate for that era.  The copper pots, pitchers and utensils were all considered staples of the time and were used daily.  Aubergine Antiques, our French Culinary Shop in Fairhope carries French copper cookware like what is seen here.

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IMG_5016 Milk/water pitchers at Aubergine Antiques, Fairhope AL  251-928-0902IMG_5020

IMG_5019     IMG_5009  Copper Pots

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The pots and bowls and sauce pans below are all currently at our French Culinary shop, Aubergine AntiquesIMG_5012

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The Dining Room

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The green confit pots below can be purchased at Aubergine Antiques – I saw these type vessels in the dining room and kitchen in Claude Monet’s home.  So beautiful in his home and in a 21st century home today!

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A French commode (French for chest) at Crown and Colony Antiques is similar in nature to the chest in Monet’s home (on the above right) – exact same marble!  I found it thrilling to see copper pots, the confit pitchers, and furniture in Claude Monet’s home similar to items for sale in our shops.  If you want the feel of that era in your own home, please visit us in Fairhope!  See for yourself all the options that are available, thanks to the hard work of the Fargason Family traveling many times a year to Europe to collect treasures and ship them home for all of us to enjoy and if we’re lucky, purchase!

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In the study Claude Monet enjoyed his drop front desk, chaise lounge and bamboo accessories – all choices for a lifestyle of ease and simplicity exhibited in the home of Claude Monet

The visit to the country side was undeniably a trip to remember.  An opportunity to see country French living at its best.  It has been a privilege for me to walk among these gardens, write this blog post for Defining France and to share Giverny, France with my family.

  Here I am with my husband saying goodbye to Monet’s Gardens.

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Special Read:

Family meals, special celebrations, luncheons with friends, picnics: all reflected the Monets’ love of good food. Just as the inspiration for many of Monet’s paintings was drawn from his beloved gardens and the surrounding Normandy landscape, so the meals served at Giverny were based upon superb ingredients from the kitchen-garden (a work of art in itself), the farmyard, and the French countryside.

The recipes collected in his cooking journals include dishes Monet had encountered in his travels or had come across in restaurants he frequented in Paris as well as recipes from friends, such as Cezanne’s “bouillabaisse” and Millet’s “petits pains.”

Enjoy!!

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

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