Day trips out of the city are a great way to go. I’m not feeling so much in love with Paris as everyone else seems to – it’s such a huge city, dirty and smelly and full of cigarette smoke a bit impersonal (except for yesterday when I managed to ask for a glass of white wine in French which delighted the waiter no end and for which he rewarded me with a massive smile). So I’m glad that we are catching the train from Gare Saint Lazare to Vernon so we can visit Giverny – home to the gardens of Claude Monet.
Once we arrive in Vernon, we bypass the other train passengers, most of which are also visiting Giverny and heading for the Giverny shuttle bus, to the only waiting taxi. As a result we arrive quite before everyone else and are third in the queue for entry. Entering the grounds, we skirt around the back and make straight for the water lily pond (this way you can get some great photos without 70 million people in the background and enjoy the tranquility of the gardens!). The pond was part of a Japanese Garden created by Claude, no doubt inspired by his love of Japanese wood block prints.
Claude Monet was the French Impressionist painter perhaps most well known for his painting ‘Water Lillies’. Growing up I had a quilt on my bed fashioned after this painting, though cheaply purchased from Kmart or some other department store for a song. The painting was taken from his water lily garden (photographed below). I have always loved the beautiful pastel colours, soft blues, greens, pinks and mauves, a shimmering reflection of a pond covered in beautiful water plants.
There’s a calmness to his paintings, like sitting in a park by yourself on a warm sunny day reading, the same kind of feeling that you get by strolling through his gardens.
Giverny in Spring is simply stunning. There are tulips, ranunculus, daffodils, pansies, violas and beautiful flowering cherry trees. They are arranged in plots, colours mixed brilliantly, but not so perfectly planted that it feels forced.
There are several areas to explore in the garden – the Japanese Garden, which I mentioned above and the Clois Normand (the Normandy garden) which sits in front of his beautiful salmon pink home, decorated with its bright green shutters.
And of course you can visit the brightly coloured interior of the Monet home.
For lunch we stopped in at the local hotel restaurant and fed ourselves up with buckwheat crepes, whilst overlooking the gorgeous valleys surrounding Giverny and then caught a little train bus back to the centre of Vernon.