Chelsea London Paris
May, 2006

June 2nd it was up bright and early to travel to Claude Monet’s home at Giverny and after visiting to have lunch at Hotel Baudy and explore the little village before heading back. I have been here before and if you look at past tours to Paris you will see a lot more pictures in our Pix area of the site.

‘If, I can someday see M. Claude Monet's garden, I feel sure that I shall see something that is not so much a garden of flowers as of colours and tones, less an old-fashioned flower garden than a colour garden, so to speak, one that achieves an effect not entirely nature's, because it was planted so that only the flowers with matching colours will bloom at the same time, harmonized in an infinite stretch of blue or pink."

The house, with its pink roughcast façade, where the leader of the Impressionist School lived from 1883 to 1926, once again has the colourful decor and intimate charm of former times. The precious collection of Japanese engravings is displayed in several rooms, as the master of Giverny himself had chosen to. The huge Nympheas studio, a stone's throw from the house, has also been restored. It

houses the Foundation's Shop. The gardens have been replanted as they once were and offer for the admiration of visitors the "painting from nature" which Claude Monet's contemporaries considered one of his masterpieces. The rectangular Clos Normand, with archways of climbing plants entwined around brilliantly coloured shrubs, lies varying colours of the painter-gardener who was "ecstatic about flowers". Lastly, the Water Garden, formed by a tributary of the Epte, lies further away, shaded by weeping willows. With its famous Japanese Bridge, its wisterias, azaleas and its pond, it has once more become that setting of sky and water which inspired the pictorial universe of the water lilies.

After visiting the gift shop we were lead out the back way which just happens to be the way to the Hotel Baudy and further on the church where Monet is buried. This lane was so beautiful, on either side profusions of iris and roses all the way, I would think for a good two to three blocks. There are little shops and places to sit and drink and each one has its own garden brimming with plants. Along this way there is a garden that belongs to the Musee d/Art Americain Giverny presenting the unique collection of the Terra Foundation for the Arts, in a setting that calls o mind the Impressionists landscapes painted by American artists in France during the time of Claude Monet. The gardens were ‘rooms’ each containing different types of plants and was really a surprise to see.

The former Hotel Baudy housed the first painters - mainly Americans - who came to work in Giverny. The garden presents a collection of ancient perfumed rose bushes planted in the shade of trees along the slope of the hill. The hotel has kept the decoration of the dining room where the residents used to meet, and also the studio where they liked to work. This is where we enjoyed lunch. When Claude Monet came to Giverny, the hotel Baudy didn't exist as such. The small "epicerie - buvette" owned by Angelina and Gaston Baudy offered nothing but a simple meal. There were no rooms available to welcome travelers - in any case, who would want to sleep in this little village? In the spring of 1886, all this changed. The American painter William Metcalf arrived at Vernon station and came to Giverny by way of a little train that, at the time, passed through all the villages from Vernon to Gisors. The Norman countryside offered the young artist a magnificent spectacle of blossoming apple orchards and rolling hills. Metcalf regretted that he had left his paints behind....

We had a wonderful meal there of a big filling salad, fresh homemade bread and of course wine. Desert was so good, well - you will just have to join me on tour to find out what we had…then it was time to leave and head back to Paris…and of course one last shot of the Eiffel Tower although you really must see it at night as it is magical with the lights on.

Our last night in Paris, for it was up the next morning to head home…and bring with us fond memories of a wonderful group of people in two incredible cities.







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