One of my favorite parts of our trip was visiting Giverny and Claude Monet’s home there. Giverny is a village in Normandy, located on the Seine, but it only takes 45 minutes via a TGV train to get there. Besides seeing Versailles, this was the day trip I was intent on doing, and I’m so glad we made it.
Once we got to the village, we stopped at an inn for lunch. Something I noticed right away in Paris was the pride of place: most windows in the city had flower boxes on them, or whole rose bushes growing from balconies. Trees were all extremely well-manicured, and every city park was beautiful, not just their green space crown jewel. So though we came to Giverny to see Monet’s garden, the rest of the village featured their own lush gardens, done in the English style. We ate en terrasse, enjoying the pastoral views and eating, as was usual at this point, entirely too much.
By the time we finished lunch it was closing in on 3, a time my travel book said was a good time to visit the gardens–most tour groups would be gone by then, and this was true. When I walked into the garden, I was glad I wore sunglasses despite the overcast sky, because I let slip a few tears. As beautiful as the highly-manicured French garden style is, my heart breaks a little when I see an English garden. The style tricks you into believing things could grow that way. This must be how I picture Eden; a garden touched not by gardeners, only god.
This is the garden with Monet’s waterlilies. But Monet, of course, lived here as well. The rooms in the home are wonderful color studies, using traditional color pairings to amazing effect. The kitchen was probably my favorite: buttery yellow paired with a more manic citron, and the color of blue porcelain. Then there was a bedroom that used robin’s egg blue with plum and green, so unexpected and yet necessary.
Giverny felt like a pilgrimage, and far more vital of a day trip than Versailles. Maybe it’s because I’m so cut off from nature in New York, but this place is what my heart needed to see. Since coming back I find myself wanting a patch of dirt to call my own. I’ll work on a window box for now.