Friday, July 1, 2011
I love Paris. I could spend the rest of my life there. I would never tire of the beautiful architecture, delicious food, and world-class art. But while seeing Monet’s water lilies on canvases in the Musee d’Orsay and Musee Marmottan is one thing, seeing them in person on a Giverny day trip from Paris is another.
On Monday I decided that it was time tear myself away from Paris. I hopped on a train at Gare Saint Lazare and found myself at Vernon station in Normandy 44 minutes later.
I took a shuttle to get from Vernon to Giverny. It was so crowded that I had to stand, and so hot that I thought I would melt, but 15 minutes later I alighted in the beautiful riverside village that was home to Monet’s gardens.
After waiting in a long line to buy my ticket, I entered the world of the Impressionist painter. Everywhere tall green grasses grew up wildly from overflowing flowerbeds. The verdant scene was punctuated by the reds of poppies, pinks of hollyhocks, and the myriad of other colors of flora on the painter’s palette.
After taking in the scene, I did a quick walk-through of Monet’s house. The two-storey building reminded me a lot of Beatrix Potter’s house in the Lake District. It was full of art, some of which was Monet’s, but most of which was Japanese woodcuts. While simple, the house was cozy and truly a home.
Back outside, I waded through the heat and crowds and made my way under a tunnel to the other half of the garden. It was here that I began to recognize scenes from Monet’s paintings.
Everywhere there were ponds, bridges, boats, and of course, water lilies. The dark water stood still in the summer heat, and the pinks and whites of the flowers were like mirages in sun.
Around the ponds were smaller gardens, which, like their counterparts in the other areas, were overgrown with flowers and foliage. I walked along several paths, waving hello to some friendly cows in the neighboring enclosure as I went.
Back at the front of Monet’s Gardens, I exited the gift shop and continued my Giverny day trip from Paris by hunting down some food. The main street in Giverny was packed with small hotels, restaurants, cafes, and art galleries, and I found myself a seat in the garden of a small cafe. There I enjoyed a chevre and beetroot sandwich in the shade.
Refreshed, I continued along the main road in Giverny. I passed by the Museum of Impressionism, which had a buzzing cafe and stunning manicured gardens. Further along there was a sand sculpture exhibition in front of a picturesque historic building.
At the end of the road, I came to the village church, where Monet’s gravestone was located. I paid my homage to the artist, then walked back along the hollyhock-lined street to the main part of the village.
In the mid-afternoon, I boarded my bus back to Vernon station, then caught my train. Despite a 35-minute delay en route, I arrived at the Gare Saint Lazare happy to have taken my Giverny day trip from Paris, and determined to continue the tradition on my next trip. Any recommendations for other day trips from Paris?