15 Jul 2013

Giverny and Monet's Water Lilies

So a few weekends ago (yes, I'm a little *en retard in writing this), I went to Giverny, the former home of French Impressionist painter Claude Monet.  I could have just called him Monet but after a colleague in Paris asked me who exactly this Monet was, I felt that I should be a little more lucid, in case any of you confused him with the 21st century child rapper Chi Chi Monet. FYI, no relation.

Giverny is located 50 miles outside of Paris in Haute-Normandy and is accessible by train to Vernon followed by a one hour trail walk or 3€ shuttle bus. We picked up some treats from the bakery for lunch before making our way. It was boiling that day which called for factor 50+ suncream and a hat but I don't own the latter so had to make do with rubbing suncream into my scalp. A greasy affair.

The trail was nice in the sunshine, albeit a little long and monotonous, and after an hour we were entering the picturesque village of Giverny. The whole village was blooming with brightly coloured flowers and green; so much green. Quaint houses were hidden by charming gates and mini stone facades. It all seemed so mystical and I cherished the sweet chirping of birds and fragrant scent of roses. So much beauty in one place.

We couldn't have come at a better time of year.  It was none other than breathtaking as we walked down the rows of flowers of every colour imaginable. I drew my camera up to the buds but the end result could not even begin to capture what I beheld.

We followed the garden down into a small underpass which opened up into the pond. THE pond, with water lilies galore and an abandoned wooden boat which must have been used once upon a time when its owner came out to paint the ladies amongst the water lilies. We crossed a bridge and tiptoed through the gorgeous melange of forest green and vibrant purples, pinks and oranges. Delicate petals, as white as they were pure, clouded together to create a hanging bouquet over the water's surface. Large fish swam lazily through the murky water, just clear enough to see their dark shapes easing through the pond.  
We sidled up to Le Pont Japonais. It really was picture perfect with the branches hanging like a veil of green over the painted green bridge. A large weeping willow stood imposingly on the opposite side of the pond, its gallant arms sulking towards the water. I could see so easily the inspiration this place evoked.

We then entered Monet's house.  I was initially surprised by his obsession with Japanese art - the endless engravings; the walls were covered.  I had felt an immense curiosity to go inside and explore the world of such a renowned artist; to feel an essence of his being which he has undoubtedly left behind. It had such a magical air about it, as if living there would be like living on the pages of a storybook, much like the village itself which seemed so bite-sized; so mignon. I suppose I was charmed by its winding streets and sweeping landscape views, its sereneness and its ability to let your imagination paddle with the water lilies and never look back.

A definite must.

*late in French, not retarded

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