A visit to Monet's gardens, is not just a a visit to wonderful inspiring gardens, they are equally an insight into the great Impressionist painter, Claude Monet himself.
Monet was as passionate about his gardens and gardening as he was about his painting. He would often invite friends to visit, timing their arrival so certain plants, such as his roses, irises and wisteria would be, not just at their best, but at the peak of their glory. He meticulously kept catalogues from specialist nurseries from where he ordered rare plants, like his beloved water lilies and irises. He planted out his garden to reflect his love of plants and natures, but also very much as his outdoor studio. He even diverted the Seine, to create his famous and fabulous water lily pond, which in his day lay across a road and railway line.
Monet created his gardens to reflect and deploy light in much the same way as he used it within his paintings. Careful plantings, vary colour and texture of favourite plants. White is used extensively in underplantings to make brighter colours pop and single, rather than double blooms are selected for their luminosity. Colours are used to maximise the impact of light in the early morning and late evening. His water garden with its Japanese bridge, extensive plantings of Japanese and oriental plants and extensive Japanese woodblock collection inside his house, reflect the fascination and fashion of the times for all things Japanese. Such influences are equally evident in his impressionist paintings.
Le Clos Normand is entered via Monet's home. Careful access and exclusion zones, always give the many visitors the impression the garden zones are much less crowded than they actually are, even during the high season. The famous Grand Allee of climbing roses is out of bounds to the general public. The access paths flow naturally around the zones, beginning with those closest to the house, including espalliered fruit trees, perennial and mixed borders, through the tunnel that these days goes under the road, into the extensive water garden and back, to access his famous seating areas, the Grand Allee and ultimately into his extraordinary home and studio, where photography is not permitted. Elsewhere is a photographer's paradise, as the garden moves through the seasons.
Monet's gardens are worth visiting if you love magnificent and inspiring gardens, equally so if you love art. The quaint village of Giverny is also worth a visit in its own right, with many fabulous eateries, boutique accomodation and a museum dedicated to Monet and the Impressionists. You can visit Giverny as a highly scenic day trip from Paris, as the railway line runs through picturesque country side and along the banks of the Seine, but ideally spend a few days enjoying all that this idyllic area of Normandy offers.
Information for planning a visit:
- From Paris go to the Saint Lazarre station and buy a ticket to Vernon, on the Paris/Rouen/Le Havre line. The trip takes around 45 minutes.
- At Vernon station a bus regularly connects directly to Giverny.
- It is possible to book tickets for Monet's Garden in advance at http://giverny.org/gardens/fcm/visitgb.htm, which is advisable as queues can be long and take away valueable time inside the garden, especially in the high season, between mid-may and late August.
- The garden is open between late March and early November.
- Excellent food outlets and cafes abound in the area neighbouring Monet's Garden, but do take water. Picnics are not permitted.
- Accomodation in the village of Giverny itself comes at a premium price, but neighbouring villages and Vernon are cheaper.
- Further information is available at http://giverny.org/gardens/fcm/visitgb.htm
My photos of Le Clos Normand