Mark and Lou's Excellent Adventure travel blog

Lavender with multiple bee species

Many different twists and turns

So many colours in Monet's garden

Pink and red geraniums

Water lily pond and weeping willow

Hydrangea with butterfly

On the Japanese bridge


Monet's Garden, Giverny

Monet's garden has been a dream of mine for a long time. We got on the Metro to Saint-Lazare and then changed trains for the regional town of Vernon, Normandy, about a 40 minute train ride out of Paris. A naff little mini road "train" awaited us at the station. We chose that over the connecting bus and trundled around the picturesque streets of Vernon with a pre-recorded voice pointing out the highlights and history of the little town.

I nearly choked on my baguette when the voice talked about William the Bastard's conquest of the area, leading Mark to quip "aw, he wasn't that bad". Luckily, William was given the much grander and more apt "the Conquerer" title and the rest, they say, is history.

We crossed the new bridge over the Seine at Vernon - the current model is from the 1950's, the previous two having been deliberately destroyed, firstly in 1870 to stop the invading Prussian forces and secondly in WWII to hold back the Nazis. We could see the remnants of the original medieval bridge with the mill house still intact, that and the tower miraculously having survived the bombings in WWII. The church wasn't so lucky, the original stained glass windows shattered in the blasts - replaced now with modern windows (sadly).

After the bridge, we turned right for Giverny, taking in the scenery that had captivated Monet from the moment he had seen it from a train window, all those years ago. We waited about half an hour or so in the queue before entering, firstly the nymphaea studio and then the wondrous garden.

Words really can't adequately describe the garden, but I will try. It is beauty and wonder on a grand scale. Lavender all along the main path on both sides, leading to the house, the fragrance is beautiful and there are about four different species of bee. Flowers I don't recognise, alongside fuschias, apples that have been trained to grow along a fence, vine like, their fruit peeking cheekily out as you walk past. A garden bed outside the house has a brilliant combination of bright pink and red geraniums, intermingled, which makes the separate colours appear even brighter.

Many different colours of hydrangeas, some with butterflies resting, others with a bright turquoise dragonfly flitting. Majestic weeping willows with their fronds touching the water lily pond - and then there are the water lilies themselves, pale and bright, pink and white, carpeting the pond in a stunning scene that almost doesn't look real, eyes are drawn to the famous bright green Japanese bridge. The beauty and fragrance and the sense of peace and tranquility, despite the crowds, will stay with me always.

Dotted throughout the garden are artists with their pastels and water colours, entranced by and lost in the scenes that compel them to create, so inspired as the great Monsieur Monet once was. Hey, I was starting to think I could paint and sketch too, such was the effect of that wonderful place where everything seemed much brighter, more translucent and alive, brimming and overflowing with creativity and potential. How he must have loved it here, the architect of this magnificent garden.

The house is just as it was when Monet lived and died here - everything kept meticulously. All of his precious and beautiful Japanese fine prints, alongside his own and Renoir's works. Every window overlooks his garden paradise and from his bedroom upstairs, the windows open and the garden can be seen from every part, including the bed.

Time flew and it was time to head back, leaving me with a somewhat selfish dream of being able to stay here all by myself for a couple of days, to be lost in the beauty, peace and wonder in solitude.

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