Monet’s Gardens

This is post is a little overdue. Sorry.

Two Sundays ago, I had a chance to go to Giverny to see Monet’s gardens with a fellow au pair. We had planned to meet at Gare St. Lazare at noon to catch the 12:20 train to Vernon, but confusing ticket windows and long lines left us breathless as, at 12:22, we were forced to purchase our ticket on the 2:20 train instead. Oops.

We decided to make the best out of the lost time, so we went to a local park and ate lunch by the pond—not a bad way to spend a couple of hours in Paris!

When we did finally board the train, we ended up sitting next to a really sweet French lady (girl, lady, woman? She was probably in her late twenties/early thirties…what do you call these people?!) She had been an au pair in California several years ago, as well as in the Blue Mountains in Australia—what a small world! She was going home to Rouen and told us all about her town; apparently it was the city where Joan of Arc was executed. She even invited us to come visit her one weekend so she could show us around. The whole time I kept thinking, “wow God, you knew what you were doing when you made us 2 minutes late for the last train!”

We got to Vernon just after 3pm and opted to rent bikes to ride to the gardens. Giverny is only about 5km from Vernon, and visitors can take shuttle buses or taxis to Monet’s house. But if you are ever there and are of able body, let me advise you to rent a bike! It’s pretty cheap and the ride is gorgeous—first through the little town of Vernon, across the river, and then into the countryside. I tried to take a couple of pictures, but nothing could ever really do it justice.

So there I was, riding a little bike through la campagne on my way to see the gardens of one of my most favorite artists…sometimes life is so beautiful.

Once we made it to Giverny, we booked it straight to Monet’s house and were immediately greeted by his flourishing backyard. While ambling down the many paths, I overheard a British woman remark, “Can you believe this? It’s so beautiful! And it’s not even spring!” My thoughts exactly.

Afterwards, we made our way over to the famous water garden. And it did not disappoint. The willows, the pond, the lily pads, the bridges—here it all was right in front of me. I wanted to lay out a blanket on a patch of grass and stay there all day…or forever. I just kept thinking, “This is it. This is the place where he sat and watched and dreamed and painted.” I’ve often heard Monet described as being twice an artist—once with the creation of his gardens and second by painting them.

Finally, I made my way into his house, and I was amazed how open it was to the public. Except for his studio where they kept a bunch of paintings, nothing was roped off. There were only a few polite signs asking you not to touch anything (and, of course, to not take pictures…c’est dommage). His studio was definitely my favorite part, but I also loved how every room had giant windows with a view of the gardens. Imagine waking up to that every morning!

We ended our day riding our bikes back into Vernon and hopping on the last train back to Paris. Because we got to Giverny a bit later than originally planned, we didn’t have time to see the rest of the little town—the church, cafes, and museums. But not to worry, I fully intend on going back in the spring.


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