Just as spring finally made its way to Paris, my program and I spent a little time enjoying the sun in Giverny, France where we visited Claude Monet’s house and gardens. One thing I’ve learned to love about Paris is the short amount of time it takes to take the train anywhere. If you want to get out of the city for the day, all you need is a train ticket, and in about a short hour, you’re there! After we arrived at the train station in Vernon, we rented bicylces and took the scenic route to Giverny just a few miles away. The day was absolutely gorgeous, so we stopped and had a picnic for lunch. The town of Giverny is a typical small, French village or in other words, just adorable. I just love seeing the other side of French life outside of Paris. The green fields and complete silence reminds me of my home in the country back in the states.
Monet’s house and gardens are quite a popular place to visit in France, and we saw at least four other American study abroad groups there on the same day. The property has been open to the public since 1980, but before that, it took many years and a lot of money to restore the house and gardens back to their former glory after the bombings in World War II.
I had seen Monet’s water lily paintings in the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, and I was very excited to see them in person. Unfortunately, the water lilies were not in bloom yet (July is when they really bloom), so we were a little disappointed. Despite this small setback, the rest of the gardens were quite beautiful. It was so refreshing to see so many colorful flowers everywhere after such a long winter. There were tulips, violets, and many other kinds of flowers that I couldn’t name offhand. By the small pond, there was a weeping willow along with a Japanese bridge, which can be seen in Monet’s paintings.
I naively assumed that Monet’s house wouldn’t be anything special next to the amazing gardens, but I proved myself wrong as soon as I stepped in the door. Monet’s house is moderate in size but makes up for this fact with what is inside. All of the furniture is old fashioned, and the walls are covered with Japanese art. One thing I really enjoyed was the brightly colored walls in the dining room and the kitchen, which were yellow and blue respectively. My favorite room was the studio, which held at least twenty paintings by Monet. I am currently learning about Monet in my art history class, so it was really nice to see some of his work and its inspirations in person. I would love to come back to Giverny someday in the summer to see the water lilies in full bloom and to see this quaint house again.