Thursday 8th July
Today was a chance for Joy to experience one more of her desired destinations - Monet’s garden at Giverny.
We took the highly efficient train system to Vernon where we boarded a local bus, driven by a woman who looked as though she was modeling for a fashion magazine - complete in flowing chiffon dress, high heels and jewelry. This dress sense we discovered later appeared to be standard as the woman driving the afternoon bus was just as well dressed but with higher heels!
The bus delivered us to Giverny and Monet’s house and garden where we joined the swarms of other tourists queueing to pay homage to the great impressionist. The environs of the estate were lush with willows and other majestic trees growing along a stream whose waters were dimpled by iridescent blue dragonflies dipping onto the surface. A bust of Monet stood among the trees patiently modeling for the many tourists posing beside him.
We made our way into the village and, after queueing, into the grounds of his house and the fabled gardens and lily pond. The house, which is seemingly only one room wide, runs along the edge of the garden so that every room gets the vista Monet obviously aspired to. The gardens were bustling with colour - purple lavenders, red and white pansies, pink and yellow hollyhocks and roses of different shades of reds. The place was an obvious inspiration for any artist without any other source of model.
The house was full of 19th century Japanese prints with every wall covered in them. These prints and the 19th century fascination with Japan had a big influence on Monet and his fellow Impressionists and judging from the sheer number of prints Monet had become quite a collector over his lifetime.
From here we followed the paths to the Lily pond - the inspiration for Monet’s classic paintings. Here, too, the colours, the interplay of light and shade from the trees and bamboos on the water in the pond, could be seen as Monet probably did as he painted the huge canvases of the water-lilies in his garden.
Joy was obviously inspired as she commented, while taking photographs, that this was the highlight of the trip for her. It will be interesting to see which of her photos of the gardens will appear in her paintings.
We took the opportunity to wander through the Impressionist Museum in the village. Here an American Foundation has assembled a collection of works from the French and American Impressionists who lived and worked in the area until the outbreak of W.W.II.
The gallery was playing host to a couple of groups of school children on a holiday programme - 6 to 10 year olds - who were being given art appreciation lessons by two very enthusiastic and informed art guides. We watched and listened as these children were quick to offer answers to the questions raised by the guides about the pictures they were being shown. There was no hint of boredom of lack of interest evident among them.
From here we walked through the village to the local church yard to view the Monet family grave site then turned and ambled past the local bars and art galleries to the bus and the return to Rouen.