After a few days of hardcore tourism, it was time to get out of dodge and cool our heels. Firstly though we had to hot foot it to Gare Saint Lazare where I ran around like a chook with it’s head cut-off trying to get tickets in time for the next train to Vernon. I eventually found the right ticket booth but bought the wrong tickets (in the rush, I did it all in French and ended up with only the return section of the fare – ah well, the inspector didn’t seem too bothered and let us get away with it). Once we were aboard we could relax and enjoy the most delicious macarons ever that we’d bought from our local macaron shop (you should all have one, just look around!)
We got off at Vernon to transfer to a bus to Giverny and the home and garden of Monsieur Claude Monet (he’s still there but about six feet lower than he used to be). Mum and I decided to hang back and have a coffee while the first two bus loads of fellow tourists left and only just managed to squeeze onto the third and final bus for that particular train load.
Once at the gardens, my instinct for directions once again led us on an adventure – we turned left without noticing everyone else turned right. We came upon garden after colour-coded garden, each more beautiful than the one before. Each garden seemed to host its own mini eco-system too – in one garden alone, we saw three types of bees: normal ones, fluffy bumblely ones and the biggest, blackest bee’s I have ever seen! Amazing!
Eventually we found ourselves in Monet’s apple orchard complete with haystacks that could’ve been straight out of one of his paintings. We stopped to munch on our own apples that we’d bought with us and just soak up the glorious sunshine. We wondered back, had some baguettes at a little cafe and thought we’d just go see what was down the other end before heading home…
…oh yeah, that’s right, Monet’s HOUSE and GARDEN!!! The whole reason we’d come and we almost missed it entirely so entranced were we by the ancillary grounds! If we’d been impressed by those, what we saw in the actual grounds of his house absolutely blew our minds and nearly burst our eyes with the frenzy of intense colour and barely contained natural beauty.
We started in the house which, aside from a staggering collection of original works, also houses an extensive and impressive collection of Japanese woodcut prints. It turns out that he was quite the fan of the art form although apparently never travelled to Japan.
Back in the garden, we hardly knew where to look or how to take it all in. Luckily paths are laid out to herd the overwhelmed and open-mouthed along in a somewhat orderly manner. From the gardens surrounding the house, we wound our way across to the more muted water garden. Although the palette was softer, the impact was breathtaking as we entered a scene so unmistakably familiar that it was like stepping into a Monet canvas. The large pond with lily pads and footbridges bound on one side by a resplendent bamboo grove, softly dappling the light and speaking further of the Japanese influence on his art.
We left the gardens still in awe at all we’d seen and made our way home, stopping to pick up some ingredients to make dinner and a delicious bottle of red wine – every now and then I come across a wine I just love – this was one of them – so dark and intense that the light didn’t even penetrate it yet not so heavy that I couldn’t pick it up with one hand. Just as well, because today was definitely a day to raise a glass to!
What a wonderful way to start the day with macarons that look even better than Adrian Zumbo’s. A beautiful railway station at Gare Saint Lazare and then to Vernon and a bus to Monet’s house and gardens.
We went to the orchard and saw the haystacks and finally found what we’d come to see – the house and gardens of Monet. So beautiful and relaxing as we meandered around the lily pond and finally standing on ‘the bridge’ that appeared in so many of his painting over the years. These are my favourite paintings of his and to be actually standing there was unbelievable.
What made me smile today: The whole beauty of Monet’s home and gardens and lily pond and ‘the bridge’ and of course, Naomi’s company. Love to all.