Giverny is a small village in Normandy, France, that has been a place of pilgrimage for millions of art lovers for over 100 years. The Impressionist master Claude Monet spent the last 43 years of his life here creating numerous masterpieces that put tiny Giverny on the international artistic map.
The main attractions in the village are The Monet House and Gardens. The beautiful pink house with green shutters has been restored to its former glory and is exactly the way it was when Monet lived here. Inside the house, apart from delightful colourful interiors, visitors can admire a rare collection of Japanese engravings that Monet collected.
Although Giverny is pretty all year around, the best time to visit the Monet bloom-filled gardens is in spring and early summer when they burst with colours. When the artists set off to create a small Water Garden (Jardin d’Eau) with a its trademark lily ponds and Japanese bridge covered with wisterias, some locals were not very happy as a stream had to be shifted to supply the water. Little did they know that the garden would make the village famous across the world. Here, in the garden, blooming water lilies inspired Monet’s finest paintings from the series Les Nymphéas.
Another garden created by the artist, Clos Normand, occupies the space in front of the pastel-coloured house. In spring daisies, daffodils, irises and tulips fill it up with a riot of colour with poppies, roses and sweet peas following them in summer.
Only a short walk from Maison de Claude Monet is the Giverny Museum of Impressionisms set up in partnership with the Musée d’Orsay where you can see works by various artists who studied and painted in Giverny.
The old pretty church of Giverny is also worth a visit. Claude Monet and a few members of his family are buried there. After an exhausting day of artistic pilgrimage you can re-fuel at The Hôtel Baudy, where in its heyday famous artists such as Cézanne and Rodin stayed. Today it is a cosy café-restaurant serving excellent local dishes.
Photos via Flickr by: Jean Pierre Belot, Poul-Werner Dam, Joy Weese Moll.