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Claude Monet's Gardens

With the arrival of spring, have you considered a trip to Giverny, France to visit Monet’s gardens? Located just 80km (50 miles) outside of Paris are some of Europe’s, if not the world’s, most famous gardens.

The “master of impressionism”, Monet was a pioneer as one of the first “open air” artists, setting up his easel on the great outdoors and painting what he saw. He painted in bright, basic colors, his style messy but balanced. His gardens were inspiration behind much of his most famous work.

In 1883, Claude Monet, by this time a famous artist, moved with his wife and eight children to Giverny, where he would spend the last 40 years of his life. He began renovating his garden and built the now-familiar Japanese garden complete with a pond and footbridge. Tragically, during the last decade or so of his life, Monet began to go blind with cataracts. He started using larger canvases and fewer details.

After his death in 1926, the gardens were neglected and eventually abandoned following WWII. In 1977, a grand reconstruction of his house and gardens that took ten years brought them back to their former magnificence. In 1980, amid the reconstruction, the property was opened to the public. Currently, 500,000 people per year visit the gardens.

Monet’s garden consists of two contrasting yet complimentary parts: a flower garden named Clos Normand located in front of the house and a Japanese- inspired water garden on his property across the road.

Clos Normand consists of flowerbeds, climbing flowering vines, fruit trees and ornamentals of differing heights, shapes and colors. Monet was not a fan of constraint, and the beauty lays in the freedom that he so loved.

In the water garden, Monet diverted a brook into a pond, and much to the dismay of his neighbors, planted a variety of plants including willows, bamboo and lilies. (His neighbors were afraid that the plants would poison the water). Inspired by the Japanese gardens in many of the prints that he collected, he hired a local craftsman to build footbridges over the pond. It was here that the artist dedicated his paintings to the reflections in the water.

To get to Giverny from Paris, you can take a day trip with a large or small commercial tour company. If you prefer independent sightseeing, take the main line train from Paris to Vernon, then a taxi, bus, or bicycle will get you the additional four miles to Giverny. It is also possible to drive your own car.

The gardens are open April 1-November 1. They are closed on Mondays, with the exception of bank holidays that fall on Monday. Check hours in advance, as they vary depending on the season.

Admission varies. Guided tours arranged in advance by appointment only.

2 perspectives of Monet's Gardens from Amazon.com

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