When we visited Paris in 2018, one of our “must see” sites was Monet’s house and gardens in the small French Village of Giverny.
Giverny is a short hour and a half ride from Paris into the French countryside of the Normandy region.
Monet and his family lived at Giverny in a modest, but colorful, cottage from 1883, until his death in 1924. It was at Giverny, among his beautiful surrounding gardens, that he created some of his most amazing and renowned works of art.
And as you walk its grounds, if you’re a Monet fan, you can see the places he used in his masterful works.
The History of Monet’s House and Gardens
After Monet’s death, the cottage and gardens passed to his only son Michel Monet. Michel hardly ever visited Giverny, so it was up to his step-sister Blanche Hoschede Monet, who was a gifted artist herself, to look after the property. Blanche maintained the grounds, along with the help from Monet’s former gardener Louis Lebret, until her death in 1947. After that the house and gardens went untended, becoming overrun and slowly deteriorating.
When Michel was killed in an auto accident in 1966 the house and gardens passed to the Paris Academie des Beaux-Arts (Academy of Fine Arts), which he had bequeath it in his will. In 1977 the Academy gave oversite of the grounds to Gerald Van der Kemp, the former curator of the Palace of Versailles. Van der Kemp was the person that earnestly began the much needed restoration of the cottage and gardens. In 1980 control of the estate was again transferred, this time to the Fondation Claude Monet (Foundation Claude Monet). This organization’s sole purpose is to continue the restoration and the day-to-day operation of the Estate.
Monet’s cottage is a really interestingly built house. When seen from the outside gardens its long and two stored, giving the impression of being a very large home. However, this is deceiving; for once inside you find that the house maybe long, but it’s not very deep. The width of the cottages is only one room.
We found that the line to tour the inside of his home was long, and were told it’s always that way. However, thankfully it moved quickly. Once inside you follow an outlined route that takes you through: the blue salon reading room, Monet’s living room/studio, the dining room, and the beautiful blue-titled kitchen.
The Fondation Claude Monet is continually renovating the house: In 2013 they finished the first floor family rooms as well as his wife’s, Alice Hoschede Monet, bedroom. That same year they also reconstructed Blanche Hoschede Monet’s room, using uncovered archive photos, as well as other existing elements found in the house for their work.
When you leave the main house you can wander over to the large building next to it. It was within this building that Monet painted some of his most famous works of art, notably his large water lily murals. Today this building holds the gift shop.
The Garden by the Cottage
This garden is formally known as the Clos-Normand. Monet himself laid out the garden shortly after moving to Giverny. He planted thousands of verities of flowers in straight-lined patterns spreading out from the cottage. One of the garden’s most stunning features is the long and wide metal trellis that runs from the road up to the cottage.
The Lily Pond Garden
In 1873 Monet purchased the vacant land across the road from his home. He then worked with the village officials to divert water from a branch of the Epte River, creating a large pond.
Monet was very much taken with Japanese culture, so he planted around this pond a wide variety of oriental plants. He also added a green Japanese bridge to complete the setting. Many of his paintings feature this bridge, making it the most recognizable Japanese bridge in the world. Today there are two Japanese bridges, one at each end of the pond.
Some of Monet’s most famous works were painted from the banks of this pond, or from a small boat on it. The most well known is his water lily series of paintings, that includes the large murals.
The Haystack Field
Just a short walk down the road from the cottage is an open field where Monet painted his equally famous haystack paintings. Each painting depicts one of the four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Today they’ve recreated those haystacks in the field for us tourists.
For this post I only used one source:
Wikipedia . “Fondation Monet in Giverny.” Wikipedia, Wikipedia, 15 Aug. 2019, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fondation_Monet_in_Giverny.