Artist Claude Monet‘s name is synonymous with his dreamlike paintings which were inspired by his graceful gardens in Giverny, France, where he lived for 43 years. In 1980, his home and garden were opened to the public allowing Monet’s canvases to come to life.
Today, visitors to Giverny can see the Japanese-style footbridge that spans the property’s small pond, clusters of water lilies wearing faint pink flowers, and pathways studded with clusters of vibrant blooms.
Traveling to Paris from Normandy’s D-Day commemorations, we set out to explore Giverny. Though Monet’s gardens had been relatively calm during my previous two visits there, it was bustling during this third trip, leading us to share the pretty pathways with hurried visitors from around the world. We found it challenging trying to photograph the irises, roses, daisies, and peonies without inadvertently capturing someone with an iPhone or camera in hand. As we strolled the crowded lanes, I imagined what Monet would think of all the attention now being given to his once-serene garden.
Giverny, which is just over one hour’s drive from Paris, first caught Monet’s eye from a train window. It’s said that the Impressionist artist was so taken by the town that he vowed to one day live there. In 1883 he did, and seven years later, he’d scrounged together enough funds to purchase a home and a plot of land, on which he dreamed of creating a vibrant garden that could serve as an ever-changing subject for his paintings.
Though Claude Monet’s paintings are now appreciated worldwide — with some having fetched more than $80 million at auction — his work was not always so well-received. When Monet and his Impressionist contemporaries debuted their paintings in the 1870s, they were met with severe criticism from conventional French critics. Their dreamy landscapes and still life works contrasted sharply with the more somber historical and religious subjects and portraits that were highly respected at the time. Traditionalists were also shocked that the Impressionists sometimes completed their paintings outdoors, instead of inside studios.
In the late 1800s, Impressionist painters from the United States settled in Giverny, drawn by the village’s ambience, and the possibility to work closer to the Impressionist master. Monet remained in Giverny until his death in 1926.
Today, his spirit lives on through his masterful paintings and musings, some of which I’ve shared below.
Where in the World?
- Visit the Claude Monet Foundation website to ensure Monet’s home and gardens will be open when you visit. You can find Giverny ticket prices here. If you’ll be traveling with little ones, they even have a free activity book for children.
- Though it’s hard to get lost in the gardens, peruse this Giverny map in advance to get a better feel for the property and scope out spots to take photographs.
- We drove to Giverny, but you can also take the train from Paris to Vernon, and a shuttle from Vernon to Giverny.
- Are you looking for more inspiration as you plan your French adventures. Here is a link to all my posts from France.
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.